Monday, 31 January 2011

The Legend of Weathertop and Black Sheep Ale

Some crusty old guy called Eldamar believes there is a Staff of Truth in a tomb beneath Weathertop, and sends me off on a quest to retrieve it. I decide I'll take a bottle of Black Sheep Ale with me for company. Yes it's another Beer vs. Gamebook challenge.

Casually walking around the Oaks, Birches and random shrubbery, I find a spring and sup some ale,  it tastes darker than it's auburn colour would belie, a smooth tipple with a bitter finish. I wonder if that Eldamar fellow knows this quest would also be a drinking binge? Ah well, I've got a map of the hill, but unfortunately no clue how to find the entrance, so it's just a case of wandering around trying to find it.

The fruity brew goes down nicely as I explore a pile of rocks, finding no entrance. The once beautiful tower is now naught but ruins, and the faded glories past weighs heavily on the mind, fortunately I haven't drunk too much, else I'd be yelling poetry into the sky like something out of Withnail and I. Traping around, admiring the view (hey, I can see the Misty Mountains from here!) poking at rocks, I spot a group of Dwarves at the bottom of the hill, and "Where theres a Dwarf, theres an Ale" as my old Gaffer used to say, so I stagger down the hill to meet them. The smell of frying bacon greets me and we settle down to a cosy chat, they're on their way to Bree from the Blue Mountains, and I tell them I'm hopelessly mooching about tring to get into a cave, a trained adventurer, reduced to the status of a bum. Taking a swig of Black Sheep, admiring it's bittersweet taste, the dwarf points at some random locations and says something about trying to find entrances there (spoiler: none of them are correct, bloody dwarves). They finish their meal and move on down the road, whilst I head uphill to admire the wild-flowers.

Either I'm distracted by the wild flowers or the Black Sheeps 4.4% is fast acting, as I manage to twist my ankle in a rabbit warren, but spot a trail and follow it, watching some squirrels playing in the trees listen to the song of a blackbird and revel in the scent of wildflowers. This is actually quite therapeutic, a country stroll, ruins of gothic beauty, a nice dry ale, some cute wildlife. Ahh, but what's this I espy some "flowers lay brutally crushed". Brutally crushed flowers? What evil is this? At last at the end of the trail (spoiler: 10C) I find signs of Orcs. Finishing the bottle with the conumdum of going back and getting some help from Bree or entering cave. More drink will help, so to Bree we go.

Heading off to the Prancing Pony, meet head of the Bree guard, go back with troops some, kill all the Orcs, can't find the staff. Quest is over. I put my feet up by the fire and decide that a little holiday in the country was just what I needed after all.

Black Sheep Ale (definitely a 'special' rather than a regular drink for me, this one)

Legend of Weathertop (demian gamebook page for a 'proper review' - I like the innovative map system, the MERP-lite rules, the descriptions of rural scenes - it's hardly Thomas Hardy, but, all in all very enjoyable)

Beer: 1 Gamebooks: 1


  1. Hey Zhu, like these posts! You should do a Thai beer like Singha or Chang (although neither compare remotely to Beer Lao), versus the Thailand-inspired Deathtrap Dungeon...



  2. Wow, I had no idea these Merp books existed, I assume they are rare. Did you have this from way back or was it an Ebay find?

    Black sheep is OK but has a darker taste than I usually go for.

  3. @andy. Great idea, wasn't Shamutanti Hills based on somewhere eastern too?

    @Erny. I got the first two Tolkien Quest books and the second two Middle Earth Quest books back in the day. Either the Tolkien Estate or Tolkien Enterprises objected to the use of Tolkiens name. ICE changed the series title and withdrew/pulped the Tolkien Quest editions.

    They are rare in the UK - but they seem quite common in the USA, the "Tolkien Quest" being rarer than the "Middle-earth Quest" due to the withdrawal.

    Abebooks is probably the best place to source them.

  4. Yeah, the whole Sorcery! sequence was apparently inspired by Steve Jackson's trip to Nepal, but I'm unfamiliar with Nepalese beer...

    Ian Livingstone's trip to Thailand inspired Deathtrap Dungeon (and possibly Island of the Lizard King - so there's two beer throwdowns right there!).



  5. Hmm... So Beer Lao for Deathtrap Dungeon and Gerka for Shamutanti. Hmm, wonder how much Space Beer for Starship Traveller will cost me!