Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Eye of the Dragon vs. Hobgoblin Ale

 Success at last! After years of scouring local charity shops, I finally picked up a Fighting Fantasy book - Ian Livingstones Eye of the Dragon - for the bargain price of 30p! It's the first non-Puffin published FF book I've bought. To celebrate I purchased a bottle of Hobgoblin Ale from Wychwood breweries. I like beer, and I like Fighting Fantasy. But which is best? There's only one way to find out... fiiiiiiiight!

So I open the bottle, pour out a glass admire the warm nutty citrusy notes and note the dark ruby colour. Time to  roll-up a character using the book-dice (similar to the technique used in Sorcery! of little dice printed at the bottom of the page)... Skill: 10, Stamina: 23. that's really good! Luck: 7, not so good.

Some random stranger called Henry (!) gives me a map and a deadly poison that will kill me in 14 days if I don't return with his treasure. The background  story name-checks a bunch of early Fighting-Fantasy locations, Firetop Mountain, Fang and Darkwood Forest. Setting out to the aforementioned Forest, I find a hut, search it, find an axe with a mysterious inscription on it and head down some gloomy stairs into the dungeon complex below. Swigging the ale I immediately notice the clean, dry, nutty flavour, and that I'm standing at a T-junction with absolutely no indication of which is the correct direction, the rats and wall slime aren't helping either.

Deciding to head left, barge into a locked door and enter a room with a mirror in it. Avoiding a mirror, I end up in a room with a wishing well, where I'm offered the opportunity of losing a Gold Piece to make a wish but not to nick all the gold. I sit down and drink some more Hobgoblin ale, noting the sharp citrusy bite whilst pondering this quandary: the instructions don't say how much gold I started out with, so I don't know if I have any to make a wish with. I decide to ignore the wishing well deciding that it's some kind of weird meta-gaming trap. A bit further on, I stumble into a Medusa and passing a Skill test manage to run off. Facing yet another oak door I end up accidentally releasing the Queen of Spades from what looks like a playing-card prison, and she gives me 5 gold pieces for my trouble, and I return to the door-laden corridor from whence I came.

After easily dispatching three Giant Rats in a kitchen, very nicely illustrated by Martin McKenna (see below), I find a healing potion in a cupboard. It's time for some more ale and a brief spell pondering a dungeon ecology that has Medusas in rooms almost directly after rooms with mirrors and why there's a kitchen. Whilst savouring the beers nice digestive biscuitty finish I leave the room and head down the corridor.

Perhaps it's the effect of half-empty bottle of 5.2% (vol) beer or the fact that yet again I'm faced with  a paragraph asking me if I want to open a door or not, but I'm getting a little irritated with the door corridor, door corridor pattern, it's like a 10 year olds first dungeon. Thank goodness that when I open the door there's a dual-weaponing Goblin to vent my anger upon. In a furious beer fuelled fighting frenzy I loose 2 Stamina, but gain 1 Skill from stealing some magic chain-mail from the goblins corpse. The celebratory quaffing of ale reveals the nutty flavour giving way to some very subtle bitter dark-chocolate notes.

Somehow I find I've staggered into in a marble room with gold footprints and a disembodied evil laugh. I didn't think I'd drunk that much! What on earth is going on? It's like I've ended up in a Dali painting. Cautiously I stand on the footprints and I'm  automagically transport myself to the woodsmans hut right at beginning of the adventure, with no items and -4 Strength and Stamina.

Cue much fist-waving and yelling "Curse you Livingstone!".  I spend the rest of the night drinking Wychwoods finest until I pass out, deciding that when I've sobered up I'll have to find Henry, get the antidote and tell him to go get the treasure himself. Final result: Beer:1 Fighting Fantasy:0

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