|She's just a devil woman, with|
evil claws for her hands...
|It's a trap! And, like that mouse, I fall for it without|
being given an option to not be so stupid.
I wake. By 'I', I mean Francis Wayland Thurston, which is my personal moniker this time around. If anyone gets my reasoning for this, give yourself a gold star! I don't normally quote the books that much in my playthroughs but the second line of the first entry is quite a wonderful fantasy metaphor: 'A particularly insistent Dwarf blacksmith seems to be using your head as an anvil.' I've got to remember that for the next excuse when I have a hangover! Apparently time passes and suddenly a voice whispers that it has a knife and will sever my bonds if I shuffle my way over to the source of the voice. Fortunately for Francis, the voice is good to its word and soon I am free! Well, of my bonds at least. Tearing my blindfold off, it becomes apparent that I'm in a cellar. Neglecting the opportunity to add to that Dwarven hangover, I escape up the stairs. In the stone room that follows, there are conveniently no guards to bring a swift halt to my escape. Even more conveniently my sword is lying on the floor. Francis deduces that he is in one of the towers of Neuberg's east gate. Interesting. To escape from the gatehouse I am faced with a refreshingly different kind of stat test; I must roll under my combined Skill and Stamina scores using eight dice in order to break down the door. To my immense frustration, I roll tantalisingly close to doing so; I actually roll 27, the exact total of my combined scores. I knew that low stamina score would prove my downfall! Thankfully, his inability to open a door does not spell the end of the adventure for Francis, at least not yet. As I am mentally preparing myself for another go, 6 of my southern captors return. Freedom is mine if I can best them all in combat, conveniently one at a time.
|These would have proved a far more|
formidable set of Southern Pansies to fight.
|You asked for heavenly assistance?....|
|I may be a Tree now, but I'm the best darned Tree|
in the land!
Well that was unexpected. What's nice is that I didn't strictly die; I merely became a feature in a garden for years to come. Trust me, that's alot more pleasant than many of the ways to go in this one! It must be said though that I'm rather gutted to go quite early on; I was really enjoying the slow build up to this one, with more of the plot becoming apparent as I went on. My brief yet enjoyable journey was as follows:
Only 29 paragraphs then. Short but sweet. It did feel like the adventure was only really beginning, despite the fact that alot of stuff happened in that short space of time. After all, I had only just entered Neuberg Keep. Only one combat for me in this one, albeit against six opponents.
First Swordsman - Skill: 5 Stamina: 5
Second Swordsman - Skill: 6 Stamina: 4
Third Swordsman - Skill: 4 Stamina: 6
Fourth Swordsman - Skill: 5 Stamina: 5
Fifth Swordsman - Skill: 4 Stamina: 3
Sixth Swordsman - Skill: 4 Stamina: 8
As I said before, a bunch of pansies that lot were, no real challenge even if you had a weak initial skill roll. Of course, had I progressed further I would have faced far worse creatures and abominations than those. Anyway, I enjoyed this one enough to flick through to get a very good understanding of...
HOW MUCH FIGHT WAS IN THIS FANTASY?
|Look everybody, Its Cthulhu!...|
Monsters/other NPC encounters: Joy. That's the best way to describe the nest of horrors within this one. From those delightfully macabre Blood-Lurchers to groups of homicidal children hanging out in the marketplace, almost every encounter has an entertainingly refreshing feel to it, again with more than a few subtle references to the works of HP Lovecraft, which is no bad thing. Oh, that Woman on the cover. She's a tragic character should you ever encounter her. Saving her from her tragic fate is no easy task either. There is a nice variety of nasties here to please all of those with a fascination for the strange and deadly. 9/10.
Storyline/Plot: I liked the fact that so little was known from the introduction. Indeed, I didn't even know who the big bad was until I spoke to Huw. Although, is Xakhaz operating solely on his own without any assistance whatsoever?! I'm saying nothing here... I highly imagine more would have been slowly drip-fed (Ironic I know, seeing how it ended!) had I not become a Tree, but I was intriguied by what I had learnt. Traces of cult like behaviour were lying in the shadows it seems, and again a Lovecraftian influence to the plot appears to be present. That's not a complaint, this was going all nicely until the end. 7/10.
Difficulty: This is perhaps the one weak point of Beneath Nightmare Castle. It's not easy. In fact, it's fiendishly difficult to even escape from those Southerners at the very beginning. I just got lucky with my choices. If you don't accept the stranger (Huw)'s help, you die. If you stay to search the cellar, you die. If I attacked Huw when he had the knife to my throat, I would have died. If I ventured outside the inn at night, there was a high possibility that I would have had all the blood sucked out of me. Get the point? It's very difficult to get anywhere fast in this book, which is a crying shame as it's a highly entertaining ride. I get the feeling an immense sense of satisfaction and achievement is due to the person who survives this. 9/10.
Seal of Approval?: High difficulty level aside, Beneath Nightmare Castle is a real delight. The horror themes work really well, whilst some of the death scenes are simply a pleasure to read. Well, a pleasure to read if you're into that sense of the macabre, coupled with a sadistic love of twisted and inventive deaths. Yes, turning into a Tree counts as an inventive death. It's ridiculously obvious at this point as to whether that fluffy Seal is making a reappearance to this blog as my love for this FF is quite clear. Is it my favourite so far? That's a toughie. I loved Portal of Evil for different reasons; mainly involving Dinosaurs. So I can't decide. It doesn't matter. They're both written by Peter Darvill-Evans. Therefore it is safe to say he is my favourite FF author at the moment. It's been a pleasure, it really has.
|Admit it. You've missed this face.|
For those of you in search of something a bit different, Marsten's been taking a cruise on the Freeway whilst I've been taking up gardening in unexpected ways. The moral of this story is Never drink anything green; it might have unexpected after-effects. You might all note some flashy new links along the top of this blog; I've spent this week sprucing up the blog with some new pages to make it easier to access previous playthroughs and to also see what playthroughs may be coming up. Check them out, I like to feel that they've given a bit more polish to this place.
NEXT TIME ON
May Your Stamina Never Fail...
I decide it's time to take a break and relax for a bit, heading for a tavern to meet up with some old friends. Perhaps I should've picked a better place to go than Port Blacksand though, also known as the City of Thieves....