Wishing pseudo-medieval Europe had toothbrushes to clean the taste out of my mouth, I put on the magic boots I stole from the giant (see prog 131 - Zhu) and head off to get some Nuns hair and saints ashes. Throwing 4 coins at an underbridge toll-man beggar, he informs me that nuns shave their heads before entering a coven (so it's downstairs nun hair I'm looking for?!?) - I head off to desecrate a shrine and steal some charred saint corpse. The gods spot that I'm a good for nothing low-life scum and send an Angel Warrior to defend their saintly relics. A swig of Franks (not so bad with the second go) to aid my courage and I send him back to the mists he came from. Rolling the 3 dice the 2 'to Hit' and one 'Damage' at the same time, speeds up combat dramatically. I steal the urn and head off to the hills.
I come across a gang of robbers beating up an old man and his travelling companions and decide to help them out, an epic amount of dice rolling ensues as I fight off 4 robbers, one named Emaj Dogbreath, perhaps he had some of Frank's Alcoholic Root Beer earlier in the day. But rather than show him sympathy for his stinky-breathed plight, I beat the living daylights out of him. I get 2 points of honour for my efforts and disapproving looks from a novice-to-be, probably due to the stench of Root Beer exuding from my mouth. Nonetheless I escort them to the nunnery, where the nuns heal me up, give me food and board and a strand of newly shaven nuns hair. So it was upstairs hair all along. Thank goodness for that!
Off we go, and come across some guy fishing, I try to pass off some of my Root Beer on to him and he hands me his fishing rod. Together we land a fish the size of a dog and he gives me a magical 'ring of light'. What a lovely chap, despite his hints of cannibalism. Wander off, away from the river and taking another swig, decide that the Alcoholic Root Beer is really not for me, but, I'll see it though to the aniseedy end. Suddenly. out of no-where a Lammasu appears. I take the pseudo-medieval comment back, there is clearly some middle-eastern thing going on. Time for some game-theory: I know Lammasu in D&D are good aligned, but I also know that Dave Morris expects that I know that Lammasu in D&D are good aligned. But Dave Morris also knows that I expect him to throw a googly every now and then, so if he thinks that I expect a trick, then it won't be a trick and the winged lion-man will be good. While debating my next move with myself, the Root Beer seems to have gone flat (which doesn't improve the flavour at all) and the Lammasu shows me his paw has a thorn in it. Like something out of the Bible, I remove the thorn from the Lammasu and he gives me a point of Honour, congratulates me on a fine use of game-theory and advises me to not try that sort of thing in future in case I doublethink myself into oblivion.
|What's in your backpack?|
Stinky potion of healing, the 3 dice combat-fu and Ljósdvergar
At last we enter Castle Greyskull (at least that is what the illustration looks like) I poke around on the ground floor for a bit, finding nothing. Then go upstairs, ignore a lot of doors and get into a fight with a bearskin rug. I'm not sure ignoring the doors is the best thing to do, the Castle of Lost Souls seems to generally reward curiosity and exploration, but I'm eager to see the end. Not as eager as I am to get to the end of the foul brew I'm forcing myself to drink. Nonetheless, I manage not to freeze to death in a freezing trap of death and not be turned to a minion of the demon Slank by having enough Honour Points. Then ta-da, up pops the final battle with the demon himself. He's a toughie, who guarantees a hit every round, but of course evil is vanquished in the end. Liberally sprinkling powdered saint over his demon corpse I free the imprisoned spirits from the castle and have finally won the day! The people of the land celebrate, give me some mithril armour (no mention of it's armour value tho') and 700 GP, which should pay off this adventurers bar tab. THE END.
If you like Root Beer a lot, then give Frank's a try. If your not a frequent Root Beer drinker, avoid it. Not even with a 10ft pole. Rancid doesn't come close to describing its awfulness, it's just not worth it. Never again.
Overall, I really enjoyed the Castle of Lost Souls. The episodic format works nicely, the combat system is quick, but like most solos, involves a lot of dice rolling. The multi-combatant combat even had a slightly tactical element, as choosing the order of which enemy to fight has an impact on the outcome. The use of Honour is a well implemented 'alignment' system, that allows you the freedom to do good or bad things and those actions to have consequences. For example - the episode with the robbers and the nun gave the choice of fighting on the robbers side, I don't know what happens if you take that choice, but just having the 'do evil' choice there has a much more mature feel than only giving the options of heroic or cowardly action. The moral-relativity 'grittyness' is balanced with encounters which are both colourful and enjoyable, the quirkiness of giants with rubber gloves and acid lakes or Lammasu with thorns in their paws doesn't become ridiculous, but added flavour and interest.
The series ran in White Dwarf issues 52-55, and was reprinted in the Golden Dragon Gamebook series, which was named after my local Chinese restaurant (or not).
Beer: -1 Gamebook: 4 (just need a graphic of Derek the Troll jumping with glee)