|The world would be a better place if |
everyone had a pet Dinosaur.
The rules are fairly standard FF fare; the usual rolls for skill, stamina and luck, with no additional stat boxes, so at least I wouldn't have too many things to keep track of on my first adventure. One thing worth noting though is a very brief statement at the start of the rules easily missed that states you start with 2 Provisions. Not that 2 meals will get you very far, but it's better than eating dirt I suppose. You also spend your last 2 gold coins in the introduction to buy the colour map reproduced on the inside of the front cover, which as far as I can tell is of no real use to you during the adventure, so I felt like asking the merchant I bought it off for a refund so I could have some Gold back.
|I wonder whether all gold is|
Hmm. Skill - 9. Stamina - 17. Luck - 7. This was going to go fantastically bad. I decided maybe my former sumo wrestler had some mining heritage in him, and affectionately named him Klondike Pete. Turning to paragraph 1, I'm loving Portal of Evil already. A dinosaur straight away! Except this dinosaur is badly wounded, and has an Elf woman as a companion. It then proceeded to blow my mind by talking to me in perfect English. I like to think it was rather eloquent, kinda Hugh Grant-esque. Anyway, some soldiers arrived and it became apparent they were the bastards who'd injured poor Hugh. I was given the option of standing back, grabbing some popcorn and watching the fight unfold before me, or jumping to the aid of the Elf and the Dinosaur. Despite my average skill, I decided to do the chivalrous thing and assist the Elf, not to mention it'd be blasphemy to stand back and allow Hugh Grant to meet a bloody end. Despite only having a measly skill of 5 (Some soldier that is), Klondike was too slow to avoid being hit once. Injuring the soldier a bit, he eventually fled, allowing me to complete a life-long ambition by holding a conversation with a Spinosaurus. It told me it was once an Elf, and had been captured by cursed Slave Warriors and put through the Portal, whereupon it transformed into a Dinosaur. Ok then... This was some major shit going down. Hugh finished by telling me to find Gartax, who was trying to organise a resistance of some sort.
|Possibly the best talking Dinosaur there's never been.|
I came across a man being attacked by what seems to be a giant Ostrich of some sort. I foolishly decided to once again come to the aid of the wounded party. Except he's not. The man is working with the Ostrich, and now I'm his prisoner. Fucking fantastic. I surrender, and tell the man the truth, that I'm here in response to Gloten's appeal for sumo wrestlers (sorry, warriors) to come and vanquish the mysterious portal. The man then drops his guard - turns out he is the very Gartax I've been looking for! He tells me the easy way to get Gloten to help me is challenge him to a pickaxe-handle fight and lose. Yay! I get to fulfil Klondike's dreams of wielding a pickaxe after all! He then tells me of a mysterious wizard who might have some idea what's going on to the south. I offer to stay and help Gartax defend his camp, and get a delicious 4 stamina meal as a reward. It transpires that these Slave Warriors who attack us were formerly Goblins and miners subjected to the portal, yet these ones did not reach God mode and transform into Dinosaurs. Expecting a series of fights, I instead get a paragraph detailing the fight where I am told many die from both sides but I 'come through without a scratch'. Hooray! I may have luck of 7 but I can still get lucky through a random fluky paragraph. I search the bodies of the Slave Warriors, and relieve him of his talisman around his neck. Neglecting to wear the talisman myself (Not falling for that one) I return to Gartax's camp.
Gartax has nothing more to say to me, and gives me a parting gift of 5 provisions before I set off into the forest. I decide searching for this Wizard sounds like a plan, and head south towards a stream. I sneak past a cave (I passed a luck test, Klondike is the luckiest luck 7 guy ever!) and come across a hut. A Dwarf and a Parrot greet me, whereupon he announces himself as the boatman. The Dwarf, not the Parrot. (I think it lacks the opposable thumbs required to row a boat.) He wants no money, but instead a meal in return for passage downriver. Giving up some of Gartax's delicious food, I take a boat and sail downriver. Ignoring the opportunity to investigate ripples in the water to the east (again, not falling for that one) I continue onwards.
|I am a Mole and I live in a... Cellar?|
Trekking through the forest, I am approached by 5 'southerners' on ponies. Sensing they're sissies by virtue of choosing to ride ponies as opposed to horses, I let them come to me. Their description now extends to 'dark-skinned southerners' who promptly announce their aim to rob me blind as they are bandits. Hmm, no racial stereotypes here then... Realising my 9 skill is unlikely to outfight 5 of them, I empty my backpack for them. I enter a game of gambling with them over my gold, which I promptly lose. Bugger. Left with a sultry gold piece, I shed a brief tear and go onwards. A silhouette asks me to throw it a single gold piece (how highly conveinient I have one left, eh?) and I oblige. Informing the silhouette I am looking for a Wizard, I am given a riddle. Fortunately, the riddle's a piece of cake (Shadow was the answer) and I am taken via boat to a coracle.
Somewhat suspicious of the Wizard, Klondike decides to dispose of his sword onto a heap of fellow swords before saying hello. A shrewd move that loses me a massive 4 Skill. Fucking fantastic. I come across a small man and am told I can either ask him whether he's a Wizard, or throw a pebble at him. Just about containing my childish urges to do the latter, I decide to be civil. He gives me some Zombie-repellent ring, a sword that can turn white-hot (skill back to 9, phew) and then I make him scream by showing him my talisman I've had loitering in my bag for ages. The Wizard does some research - to avoid being turned into a Dinosaur I need 2 animals and a fuck-load of torches. Despite being sorely tempted to get turned into a Dinosaur, Klondike tells the Wizard he will find these items. Before leaving me, the Wizard takes me on a magical horse ride to a village, and gives me some gold.
|This would have been a most pathetic end.|
Bidding everyone farewell, I strode off into a forest, and was ambushed by a Struthiomimus. (Nope, I can't pronounce it either) Being unable to deal it any pain due to an impeccable run of rolling 1's for my attack strength, I was more than glad to end the fight after 3 attack rounds. The unpronounceable's owner then turns up, and my ring of zombie-repelling saves me from having to fight him too. Klondike then comes to an abandoned village which quickly becomes the opposite. Some of the Margrave's men find me, march me somewhere and ask me if I have a warrant. Which I do, having got one for winning the tournament. They apologise as I shout at them for being so abusive towards me beforehand, and give me a meal. (You'd think I was a chicken, the way everyone seems to be giving me food everytime I meet them) In the village I find a rope and a bundle of torches (Hello, these wouldn't be the same fuck-load of torches needed to pass through the portal would they?) Finding nothing else exciting, I promptly sod off back into the forest.
Shortly down the path I come across another rope-ladder, and climb it (as you do). I am greeted by some form of Dryad called Lignia. She's mightily pissed I have a sword, and insists I give up my weapon for a bit and perform some manual labour (Damn community service!). I oblige, as Dryads can be fickle creatures. As a reward, she lectures me, gives me my sword back, and 2 birds; one blue, one red (2 creatures, this seems to be going well!). I leave Lignia, and get set on almost instantly by Wood Elves, although my potion of true-seeing tells me they're actually Slave Warriors! Gulp. I go along with them to their hut, pretending I don't know who they are. Or at least, the book tells me I do. I'd have far prefered to have got the fuck out of there, but that option didn't exist, much to the annoyance of my belief in free will. Worse still, I can't go out the front door, as some stupid riddle-locked door with a riddle that this time beats me prevents me from doing so.
|Isn't my son just adorable?!|
Despite ending my life as a scorpion, it was an extremely disappointing ending to my life as Klondike Pete. I'd saved Hugh Grant from certain death, given birth, only to have it all go skywards and turn into an arachnid. The Samaritans have nothing on this shit. I'd really been enjoying Portal of Evil; it was an interesting concept and I also felt I was pretty much on the right path all the way through. In my entire run I only had 4 fights, and 2 tests of stats (One for luck, one for skill) My Journey through the book was as follows:
That means I read 107 of the 400 paragraphs, so I must've been near the end, which would make sense as I found the Portal I was looking for. However, my only fights were:
Soldier - Skill: 5 Stamina: 8
Pterandon - Skill: 5 Stamina: 8
Gloten - Skill: 9 Stamina: 16
Struthiomimus - Skill: 9 Stamina: 12
Nothing particularly horrible there, but my dice meant the last two hurt Klondike quite a bit. Anyway, it's time for......
HOW MUCH FIGHT WAS IN THIS FANTASY?
|My awful photography skills really don't do this |
illustration justice. Honest!
Illustrations: Well, the cover was nice if not spectacular. The interior illustrations were very good, with my favourite being the Pterandon whose nest I so rudely disturbed. So yeah, I was mightily impressed really. 9/10
Monsters/other NPC encounters: This book had more NPC's to talk with than most FF books I remember, which I think is a good thing. It gives a different depth to the story, and helps flesh out the plot too. Being fascinated by Dinosaurs as I am, I'm not afraid to be biased here due to the sheer volume of Dinosaurs in this book. (I checked, there were many encounters with dinos I avoided in my playthrough) Again, fairly impressed here. 8/10
Storyline/Plot: It made sense. Some FF books have little sense of plot or purpose, just like Jack Sparrow's third adventure. This one had both plot and purpose. The concept of a Portal of pure evil was interesting, although was the Portal the book's main villain? The Wizard spoke of a Warlord of the Portal but I found no evidence of one. If this was a novel, it would have been interesting. Not the best story, but certainly not the worst. 7/10.
Difficulty: I didn't complete it, but I wasn't expecting to. In fact, for the best part I found the whole adventure rather easy. I may have fluked my way along the best route, but appeared to be finding all the items I was needing (except maybe that Igneolite) at all the right times. The fights were rather few and easy, and there were few tests of stats. Saying that, I died by failing the only skill test I found, but given my distinctly average stats I'll go out on a limb (Hey, I have plenty to waste now) and say you could perhaps even win this one with the weakest initial rolls. 4/10.
Seal of approval?: I love Dinosaurs, in case you hadn't guessed. Therefore a level of bias is bound to be applied when judging this book. But even throwing bias aside like that hand-knitted jumper by your Grandma that you never want to wear in public, this was a good FF book. I've really enjoyed devoting my Thursday to playing this, taking me back to the good old days of my pre-teen youth where I'd play with nigh-invincible stats. (although not as obscure as those used by my most-hated person in the world) So yes, I failed, but Portal of Evil gets the Galactrix seal of approval.
|Admit it - you weren't expecting to see a fluffy|
Seal in a blog about Fighting Fantasy.
Wow. This blog entry is massive with a capital M. If anybody has bothered to actually read all of this, feedback would be greatly appreciated. Is this too long? I doubt I'll get this far through a book on all my attempts, so future entries may not be quite so long. Is there anything you feel is missing from this? (HA. I doubt it.) Is the inclusion of a fluffy Seal a massive NO in a blog about killing things with sharp objects? I appreciate all feedback. Seeing how this took me over 10 hours, I will probably be waiting till after the weekend before my next playthrough. I've decided on The Warlock of Firetop Mountain. I know it's a generic choice, but it was my first ever FF book, and I remember it being annoying but not too challenging. Oh, one last thing before I go. The moral of this story. Greed shall consume all, and turn thee into a Dinosaur. I think that's a powerful life story for us all.