Magical Cards: Legacy Elf Deck

I’ve been playing Magic: The Gathering for a little over 20 years, and wow I bet you are all stunned by this revelation – a Fighting Fantasy blogger also plays Magic: the Gathering? Stop the presses! So the problem was, my girlfriend has been playing for little more than a year. Getting new cards is okay, but I have boxes full of cards that I’d like to occasionally get some use out of. So we needed to make an old school cool deck for her to play. When I asked her what she wanted to play, she said “cute Elf girls” – Great! It’s good to have a starting point. But there’s a funny thing, I just don’t have a large pile of old elf cards. Well, beyond the obvious ones.

Llanowar Elves was the only elf we needed when we walked uphill both way, in the snow, to the game store to play magic! And we had to use batches!

Llanowar Elves was the only elf we needed when we walked uphill both way, in the snow, to the game store to play magic! And we had to use batches!

So we needed to get some elves. And preferably good ones. Sorry, Fallen Empires elves.

Less time farming Thallids and more time being useful in combat and you'd all have been in this deck.

Less time farming Thallids and more time being useful in combat and you’d all have been in this deck.

Other criteria were: Affordable, actually wins some games, does interesting things, and Legacy legal. So after we dug around it turned out there was a viable elf strategy after all. Involving this:

Old man Archdruid wants you kids to keep off his lawn, and his friends are here to help with that.

Old man Archdruid wants you kids to keep off his lawn, and his friends are here to help with that.

Let me tell you how it looks coming back after a 10 year break: Magic went a bit bonkers with power creep. But there was now a plan. A simple plan, but also a crazy plan. Here’s the plan: Get lots of elves out, make huge amounts of green mana, do something destructive. I’m old school and I know what destructive mana sink means in green…

Still hilarious good fun for the person casting it after all these years.

Still hilarious good fun for the person casting it after all these years.

What else can you do with mana and a lot of elves?

If you don't understand this game at all, assume this card says "Crush your enemies" and you'll be fine.

If you don’t understand this game at all, assume this card says “Crush your enemies” and you’ll be fine.

Okay that’s cool, anything else?

Technically an elf. The best kind of an elf.

Technically an elf. The best kind of an elf.

Berserk on a stick. That’s good. For my partner. Not for me. But also it’s nice to see this doubling effect on stuff after it was declared “too hard for n00bs” or “this is too powerful” by WOTC back in the 90’s.

"What do you mean I'm redundant now?! Graaaah!"

“What do you mean I’m redundant now?! Graaaah!”

What this deck won’t have is Gaea’s Cradle, because of this:

Ridiculous!

Ridiculous!

As usual, a creature deck is vulnerable to mass removal, so drawing more creatures is good. Lead the Stampede pulls more than one creature from the top five, which enables quick recoveries. Invigorate deals with damage-based removal on small creatures, but there’s no real answer for Swords to Ploughshares and other spot removal than play more creatures. Oh yeah, green is all creatures, all the time. So here’s a cheap and cheerful Legacy Elf Deck.

4 x Lead the Stampede
3 x Overrun
4 x Invigorate
3 x Hurricane

4 x Llanowar Elves
4 x Elvish Mystic
4 x Elvish Archers
4 x Reclamation Sage
4 x Elvish Archdruid
4 x Chameleon Colossus
1 x Yeva, Nature’s Herald
1 x Imperious Perfect

20 x Forest

So, looking at my online card seller of choice (which is American due to availability reasons) that comes to… US$26.20 at the time of me pricing it up last week. Half of which is the Elvish Archdruids, and $2 more is the forests if you need them. Oh sure, it’s not going to win the Pro Tour (mainly because there’s no Legacy Pro Tour), but it’s going to have some good, fun games involving Overrun, gargantuan chameleons, and Hurricane for the win.

Elvish Archers are useful, no matter what people think: First strike is broken when you can pump them for more or less free thanks to Invigorate, making them handy in combat. Reclamation Sage is a bit overcosted for beatdown if you’re casting her with just lands, but mana elves make anything costing 3 come out on turn 2. Plus she’s removal, so she’s not there for the beatdown.

Elvish Archdruid is a super mana elf and turns all your mana elves into better attackers, so that’s good. Imperious Perfect lets you churn out little attackers that immediately get pumped up for the fight while being annoyingly hard to say properly for added comedy value (Adjective Adjective is not a name, we all know it’s not a name, so naturally people will say Perfect instead). Yeva? She’s just handy for playing creatures on opponent’s turns – this is always a good thing. Plus she’s cheap.

So that’s a nice start for a new player to build up. What are the upgrades? Well, there’s an endless supply of interesting small elves and pump spells, and you can totally make this into a land destruction machine easily. But the obvious way to shift it up?

If you want to annoy people, every time you play this sing "Here comes the sun" and don't stop until you're done shuffling.

If you want to annoy people, every time you play this sing “Here comes the sun” and don’t stop until you’re done shuffling.

Green Sun’s Zenith allows a switch from bulk draw to value plays, and the option for more utility elves. That means more comes-into-play effects, or one-of cards to give bonuses such as Elvish Champion and her forestwalk granting powers; or if you have a lot of money Eladamri, Lord of Leaves.

More like Eladamri, Elven Forcefield

More like Eladamri, Elven Forcefield

The list of creatures that help elves out of a jam gets rather long and included non-elf creatures that are worth having one of in this deck, like Craterhoof Behemoth. In fact you could just stick in some super effective, hard to kill huge creature to pull out of the deck or cast with your near-bottomless pool of mana. So let’s move on to… Lands. Hmmmm… I favour avoiding non-basic lands because clearly they’re vulnerable to Wasteland or other hilarious ways to punish people for spending a fortune on small pieces of cardboard. But some cards are so good, like Pendelhaven.

Good enough that the invisible "Wasteland this!" on it is worth the risk.

Good enough that the invisible “Wasteland this!” on it is worth the risk.

…but not only is that a bit pricey, it actually doesn’t work since the goal is to give all our 1/1 creatures bonuses. We’re going for cheap as hell here and want the bonuses from Elf Lords. So how about Heart of Yavimaya?

See that blue number? That's much more realistic.

See that blue number? That’s much more realistic.

Much better. All right, yes, that costs you if someone Wastelands it, but it costs a forest and you don’t need forests – if they’re prioritising your lands when you have mana elves in play, they’re not really going to get anywhere other than Overruntown (this is a real town – seriously, look it up). If you want a land with the potential to save critters and have money to burn then there’s Yavimaya Hollow. Other options are perhaps Wirewood Lodge (it untaps an Elf for one green mana, which can mean doubling the output of an Archdruid or untapping a creature to block with), or Treetop Village, which can turn into a 3/3 creature and hit your opponent in the event of all your creatures dying.

As always, you can put in Homelands lands to mess with your opponent. They’ll be so confused they won’t know what’s going on.

The sheer power!

The sheer power!

You’ll also have trouble casting your spells, and lose outright if you only draw these, but that’s the price you pay for utilising the powerful psychological games that only these lands make possible.

What’s it vulnerable to? Creature removal, obviously (hold back creatures). Things that make you pay costs to attack or stop attacks outright (remove them or get more mana out). Really, this is so old school it’s not really got any particularly odd weaknesses. It’s the same stuff magic was doing in the 90’s, just faster and more of it.

There we have it, a fun starter Legacy Elf Deck for people to put together and change in whatever direction they want to take it. It goes wide with hordes of mana elves psyched up to kill, it can pull a giant creature into play, it blasts opponents to pieces with powerful damage spells.

Neverwinter Nights Part 6: Sidequestorama

Previously on Neverwinter Nights…

So there’s this cult and they’re really bad. They want everyone dead for crazy reasons, and so all the most important and powerful adventurers in the northern Sword Coast are… sitting at home with their feet up while a gnome illusionist goes out to look for answers. The priorities of the rulers of Neverwinter are pretty screwed up, let me tell you. But at least this time all I have to do is walk down a road.

Onward to Adventure!

The South Road is called this for two reasons. Firstly, it’s a road. Second, it heads south. The road passes through rather desolate territory, but there’s plenty to be seen if you look. For example, gnomes hiding in tree stumps. Hello, gnome!

Oh come on, they're defenceless babies. You don't even get XP for them.

Oh come on, they’re defenceless babies. You don’t even get XP for them.

Stirge is one of those convicts I’ve heard about. This clown was in prison for killing babies, apparently. I think that means he’s a bit of a jerk. Stirge proposes a sort of riddle contest, and I agree. The game is that he says something and I have to name something that defeats it but is not the opposite. For example, he names candle, and I name crossbow bolt to the head.

Cha-ching!

Next, it’s off to Wanev’s Tower to “ask” him for the other jewel Eliath Sillyhair wants. This proves difficult because there’s a lot of trolls and ogres outside. I don’t quite know where this rates on the Minion Based Wizard Evilness Scale but I’m not too fussed.

Obligatory Troll Bridge

Obligatory Troll Bridge

His tower is certainly impressive…

Either that's an invisible tower, or there's something fundamentally wrong with the universe.

Either that’s an invisible tower, or there’s something fundamentally wrong with the universe.

Inside I run into the butler. The butler does not care because I am carrying a magical wardstone I looted from Wanev’s cottage in Port Llast. Of course, the butler is a flesh golem, so that moves Wanev several points up the Minion Based Wizard Evilness Scale.

Pretty far up the scale when you consider what's involved in making these.

Pretty far up the scale when you consider what’s involved in making these.

I wander around the tower, finding a rare mystical tome that I’m going to turn in to the local wizard library book drive, and then eventually find my way into Wanev’s study. Where he attacks me. Or tries to, it really doesn’t work too well for him.

Stoneskin is really only useful against non-casters. Why wizards always fire it up as soon as they see another wizard I will never know (spoiler: only one combat script).

Stoneskin is really only useful against non-casters. Why wizards always fire it up as soon as they see another wizard I will never know (spoiler: only one combat script).

After surrendering, Wanev is most apologetic for trying to kill me. As he should be. Who the hell tries to defend their home from intruders, anyway? Wanev says I can have the gem for Eliath Sillyhair if I go and banish an imp from his summoning room. How hard can this be? Its only summoned… fifty… other… demons…

Wait a minute! He’s got a small army of monsters and golems, why can’t they do it? That’s what minions are for! That’s certainly what mine are for.

Eventually I find the imp, kill it, and chuck its heart into the portal, which causes a large explosion.

Portals to Baator and the Abyss are rather unstable, and thus make excellent tools for mining or clearing rocks from farmland.

Portals to Baator and the Abyss are rather unstable, and thus make excellent tools for mining, or clearing rocks from farmland.

Wanev gives me some gold and the gem I need to tick off my to-do list, and I get out of there. On my way to Charwood I find a cave, go in, and find a lot of wolves. Which I kill. I also manage to cure another of those kids who got turned into a werewolf. This one is a pretty easy quest because I just have to hit them until they agree to put on the magic pendant that will turn them back to normal. Well… Grimgnaw does the hitting. I just make sure there’s fancy coloured lights blinking in the air while he’s doing it.

It's okay, it was a proper fight, not just a psycho monk beating up an innocent wolf man.

It’s okay, it was a proper fight, not just a psycho monk beating up an innocent wolf man.

Further south I go, finding a pair of farms. At Plant Farm I find a surly teenage boy, who has managed to let the teenage girl living at the other farm steal the locket of his dead mother, the only thing his father has to remember the long-deceased woman by. I subtly point out to him that there’s probably easier approaches to his hormonal urges…

“Kid, you do know the whores in Port Llast are cheaper and less likely to get you thrashed by your father, right?”

“But she’s so hot!”

I stare incredulously at him for a second, before remembering that young human men are basically incapable of reason and logic when attractive young women are involved. Or plain young women. Or basically any young woman, or old women, or cows, or dogs, or shrubs with a wig on top and a note attached that says “I am a woman, not a shrub”. I decide that I might as well go and see what all the fuss is about. Um, I mean go and get that locket back.

I go over to Cow Farm and first have a chat to the farmer. There’s some crazy wolf killing his cows. Hmmm. Two quests. One is to kill some wolves, probably for a reward. The other is to recover a locket from some girl, probably for a reward. Now, given my past experiences working as an agent of Neverwinter, I know exactly what to do when I need to get a valuable item back from someone. It means killing everyone in the entire region. But if I kill the farmer, I can’t get a reward for the wolf killing. Maybe I’ll do the wolves first? Yeah, that will work.

This cow was pushed TOO FAR and is OUT FOR REVENGE. But cannot CLIMB HILLS.

This cow was pushed TOO FAR and is OUT FOR REVENGE. But cannot CLIMB HILLS.

Into the wolf cave we go, killing every wolf we see. Then I meet a talking wolf. It’s some rangers animal companion who has gone rogue and is out to kill all the cows in the region. This is too weird, so I kill it. Problem solved! The farmer gives me some gold, which I then use to buy back the locket from his own bratty daughter after she spins a sob story about how she was going to sell it to buy replacement cows.

Locket returned, it’s off to Charwood. Now, I don’t know about you, but normally when I hear that there’s a forest full of mystery and shadows, I go the other damn way. They’re always filled with orcs, zombies, devil spiders, necromancers, mysterious tinkers… and this forest doesn’t even have a wizard tower outside where you can buy single-use magic items. But I do get paid well for finding evidence of the cult so we can figure out it’s location. Which is probably Luskan. Maybe I should forge a letter or a diary or something? No, damn it, the Paladin can detect lies.

Oh damn it, NOW I develop a conscience!

Oh damn it, NOW I develop a conscience!

Well, into Charwood it is.

This is much more serene, tranquil, and not-evil than I expected.

This is much more serene, tranquil, and not-evil than I expected.

Charwood is actually kind of nice. It’s well lit, not too full of undead, and generally a nice little break from the tiresome farmland. In fact it’s probably a nice spot to camp out after clearing a campsite of rocks, branches, and skeletons waving rusty swords. Peaceful, quiet, and…

Okay: rain is only tranquil and serene when I'm not trying to sleep outside in it.

Okay: rain is only tranquil and serene when I’m not trying to sleep outside in it.

Typical! Even the corpses staked out for the crows have better sleeping arrangements.

Hammock of Death! Hmmm, that sounds like a Fighting Fantasy book...

Hammock of Death! Hmmm, that sounds like a Fighting Fantasy book…

In the morning I am feeling well rested after a relaxing night in sleeping in a freezing torrential downpour in a forest full of skeletons, I roam around some more. Eventually I find one of the myriad dead archaeologists whose bodies litter the lands of the Faerun. Between you and me, I think an archaeologist is an adventurer who doesn’t just loot tombs for forgotten wealth, but expects to get tenure afterwards. Like all archaeologists this one died with his journal nearby and curiously unaffected by the dampness and mouldering decay that inhabits all forests. It mentions that a nearby pillar is some kind of magic key to a treasure trove. After locating the pillar I decide that nothing could possibly go wrong here and push the buttons.

"Oh an eldritch pillar, this will be fine!"

“Oh an eldritch pillar, this will be fine!”

Oh no, not again.

Oh no, not again.

I’m teleported to an outcrop of rock with a portal leading down into the ground. Inside are the…

Inevitable Skeletons!

Inevitable Skeletons!

Hordes of zombies!

Hordes of zombies!

Mummy battle! Note: Not about cleaning my room.

Mummy battle! Note: Not about cleaning my room.

…and I get an axe. Or something. I hate fighting undead so much, thanks to their immunity to illusions, that very little is worth the trouble.

Anyway, I need to explore more of this forest to find secret evil cult information about secret evil cult schemes, so it’s off to the village of Charwood…

This does not look foreboding at all!

This does not look foreboding at all!

I am sure there is a perfectly good explanation for all these impaled bodies.

I am sure there is a perfectly good explanation for all these impaled bodies.

…But let’s be honest, they’re probably demon worshipping cannibals.

Charwood Village is, well… the people are wandering around in a daze and don’t seem to know what’s going on. Either they’re all hung over or they’re about to flip out at attack me. I head to the inn to see what’s going on, where I find a crazy person who attacks me. After killing him in self defence – no, really – it turns out he’s another one of those secretive cultists who doesn’t know to burn his orders and not keep a journal of his evil cult expedition. Hooray.

I decide to see what the problem is in Charwood, and it turns out that the town is probably trapped in some weird time vortex. Oh well, I better go check out the castle and fix it. Mainly because there might be loot.

Castle Jhareg. Or Cave Jhareg. Or maybe Castlecave Jhareg. Whatever.

Castle Jhareg. Or Cave Jhareg. Or maybe Castlecave Jhareg. Whatever.

I am sure this will be simple.

Skyrim Part 1 – Dragonwhat?

Hey there adventurers, it is time for a NEW ADVENTURE because I lost my Neverwinter Nights save and Dragon Age is so tiresomely long, and also hey here’s a new adventure to post about. I figure, why not try this first person malarkey on my blog? Okay, to be honest it will probably look awful because I can’t just hit pause and arrange the camera angle for a screenshot. But tough. You’ll read your Skyrim post and like it. There’s starving orphans who don’t get a Skyrim post!

This is Skyrim: Legendary Edition which means in addition to killing some dragons and saving the world, I have Dawnguard. Where you kill some vampires and save the world. Also there’s Dragonborn. Which is about killing some ancient dude and saving the world. Oh, and there’s Hearthfire, which is vicarious home ownership for those of us who will never afford a real house.

My Skyrim is modded up. I’m running SkyUI, which is some awesome interface business that also has the added feature of letting players properly bind dual wielding.

Probably the best Skyrim mod.

Probably the best Skyrim mod.

It requires the Skyrim Script Extender but whatever, that’s cool. It’s on Steam now so there’s no effort required. Also running here is the Unofficial Skyrim Legendary Edition Patch, because this is a Bethesda game and we wouldn’t buy their games if we didn’t love patching the bugs out, would we?

Oh and there’s also Run For Your Lives, which gives the deranged and stupid NPCs an ounce of brains so they know to run inside and hide from dragons. This prevents broken quests when the local shopkeeper or tavern wench comes running outside to try and punch a dragon in the face. There is also When Vampires Attack which does the same thing for when vampires turn up.

SkyUI: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/3863/

Unofficial Skyrim Legendary Edition Patch: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/71214/

Run For Your Lives: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/23906/

When Vampires Attack: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/28235/

Onward to Adventure! Or at least a lot of walking…

Ow, my head. Where am I?

Oh right, I'm in Skyrim. Thanks, hallucinatory placename!

Oh right, I’m in Skyrim. Thanks, hallucinatory placename!

So I was trying to get into Skyrim, and what happened? I got caught up in some band of ruffians being arrested. Now I’m in a cart and being taken off to some town for some reason. I’m sure this is all just a misunderstanding. I don’t know what all this “Stormcloak” business the other prisoners are going on about is, but I’m sure that the Imperials will let me go once they figure out their mistake.

This is certainly a quaint little town. I am certain this will all be cleared up soon. The horse thief caught up in his own misunderstanding is a little distressed and tries to run away, but the guards catch him…

A very pointed response from the guards.

A very pointed response from the guards.

…with arrows. Well, I’ll not run away then. We can clear this up right… oh they want to execute some people. Well you all shouldn’t have been illegal criminal types then.

He's not the Dragonborn! He's a very naughty boy!

He’s not the Dragonborn! He’s a very naughty boy!

Hey wait, why do they want to execute me? I’m not some dirty horse thief or whatever these other people are! I haven’t done anything illegal! At least, not in Skyrim! I am too young and pointy-eared to die!

No really it's bad luck to chop an Elf's head off! Like, seven years of bad luck times walking under a ladder and... what the hell is that?!

No really it’s bad luck to chop an Elf’s head off! Like, seven years of bad luck times walking under a ladder and… what the hell is that?!

"YOU IN TROUBLE NOW, KIDS!"

“YOU IN TROUBLE NOW, KIDS!”

Well, this day is going splendidly well.

Cart Dude thinks I should follow him and I’m not about to argue. I run into a tower and Ulfric Stormcloak, who thinks he’s the king but isn’t, suggests going up the stairs. Of the tower not connected to any other structure. I go up anyway since maybe I can hide up there

"NO HIDING FOR YOU!"

“NO HIDING FOR YOU!”

...and I don't even have any marshmallows!

…and I don’t even have any marshmallows!

Okay jump to the ruined inn and then out and… oh that imperial guard. Plus an old guy and some kid who apparently doesn’t seem to understand the whole deadly fire-breathing death lizard thing. Whatever, the dragon is gone. I follow Guard Dude, no dragon in sight. Everything is fine now.

No it is not fine now!

No it is not fine now!

Okay, dragon is gone to breathe fiery death on other, more deserving, people. Time to flee into the keep and probably escape through some tunnels. I rush around getting some equipment and other vitally essential items.

All right, if you insist!

All right, if you insist!

I tried to take this but it was nailed to the wall, leaving me without a vital piece of equipment.

I tried to take this but it was nailed to the wall, leaving me without a vital piece of equipment.

After finding some spare armour I follow Guard Dude and we meet some of the Stormcloaks, who I still know nothing about. They try to attack us, but I have a pointy metal stick.

Either that or the game gives you loads of critical hits in the tutorial to make it look cooler.

Either that or the game gives you loads of critical hits in the tutorial to make it look cooler.

Thusly armed I flee through the cellars, through the inevitable torture chamber. Guard Dude says he wishes they didn’t need torture chambers, though he doesn’t sound like he has a huge problem with the concept of torturing people.

Further on there’s some more Stormcloaks, who for some reason are standing in a puddle of oil. Hey, funny story: I have fire magic.

You Stormcloaks really need to lighten up.

You Stormcloaks really need to lighten up.

Well, that was certainly enlightening.

You could say they were out of the frying pan, into the fire.

It was as though there was um… some elf chick who er… set them on fire?

Okay enough puns, I have a castle to escape from. Run down some tunnels, over some water, kill some spiders, shoot a bear full of arrows, and finally…

Unlike the rest of Tamriel, Skyrim's caves have not been fitted with doors.

Unlike the rest of Tamriel, Skyrim’s caves have not been fitted with doors.

The dragon has finished setting Helgen on fire, and for added drama flies away as I leave the cave. What’s-his-name suggests going to Riverwood and getting from free equipment from his uncle who is surprisingly relaxed about strangers taking things. Sounds good. Along the way I get a tour of the local sights.

Well that's foreboding, but I certainly can't imagine I'll be going there any time soon.

Well that’s foreboding, but I certainly can’t imagine I’ll be going there any time soon.


Apparently these days people can pick their star sign if they're willing to wander around and find the magic rocks. Thankfully the rocks in question are not in space.

Apparently these days people can pick their star sign if they’re willing to wander around and find the magic rocks. Thankfully the rocks in question are not in space.

Eventually we reach the town of Riverwood, which is a collection of houses next to a river and amongst some trees. This is definitely an imaginative way to name a town. After a quick chat about how dragons are totally real now and probably going to kill us all I agree that maybe I’ll go and tell some Jarl about it in exchange for some equipment. Such is the adventurer’s life, I suppose. But first I need to upgrade my bow. For that I apparently need some wood. I wander off to chop some.

Adventure!

Adventure!

Excitement!

Excitement!

Really wild things!

Really wild things!

Stay tuned for the next exciting instalment of Skyrim, where I post some letters and pick up some milk from the shops.

Seven Serpents Summary

Try saying that title three times fast. Here’s the score:

Days: 12

Skill Lost: 0

Stamina Lost: 65

Luck Lost: 7

Provisions Gained: 19

Provisions Eaten: 11

Treasure Gained:

99 Gold Pieces
Golden Locket (value of 8 gold)

Gold Spent: 45

Spells Cast: 20

Dop: 2
Doz: 1
Dud: 1
Fal: 1
Far: 1
Hot: 2
How: 1
Huf: 1
Jig: 2
Mag: 1
Mud: 1
Rap: 2
Wal: 1
Wok: 2
Zap: 1

Inventory

Sword
Backpack
Glandragor’s Axe
Spellbook Page 102
Bag of Teeth
Silver Key no. 111
Borrinskin Boots
Bomba Fruit
Ragnar’s Armband of Swordmastery
Crystal Waterfall Pass
Spare Sword
Kharé Gate Key no. 12
Gauntlets of Weaponry
Golden Locket (worth 8 gold)
Lucky Talisman
Enchanted Compass of North Gate Spell Line Holder Finding
Large Backpack
Bow
Quiver of Silver Arrows: 11 8
Tinderbox
Snake Bite Antidote
Note from Analand
Chakram
Chainmail
Diantainta’s Vial of Stopping Some Evil Monster I Know Little About
Diantainta’s Serpent Staff (see spell components section)
Handful of Green Leaves
Yellow Feathers
Flask of Oil
Silver Whistle of Ferryman Calling
Potion of Cure Disease
Parchment of Time Serpent Stopping

Spell Components Found: 13

Flute
Goblin Teeth (4 2)
Giant Teeth (1)
Beeswax (1 Infinity)
Sand (1 Lots 0)
Bracelet of Bone
Sun Jewel
Green Wig
Gold-Backed Mirror
Galehorn
Yellow Powder (1)
Crystal Orb
Brass Pendulum
Staff of Oak Sapling (Diantainta’s Serpent Staff)
Pebbles (5)
Stone Dust (1)
Pearl Ring

The Seven Serpents

Previously in this Adventure

“Oh right, the bird has a better invisibility spell than I do.”

The Seven Serpents by Steve Jackson

Covers: John Blanche, Mel Grant

Illustrations: John Blanche

Sun Serpent secret spoiler!

Mel Grant puts the band back together.

Now it gets interesting, because I only owned the first two books when I was young – the second hand bookstore I got Fighting Fantasy books from sold the last two before I got copies – and thus I have only read this one once before. Oh well, let’s have a try anyway.

The plot is not just for me to cross a dangerous wilderness, but the Archmage’s seven magical flying serpents are also out there for me to take down before they warn him I’m coming. The fourth book has extra options if you kill them all, letting you avoid any trouble from the fortress inhabitants. Er, I mean avoid extra trouble.

People keep making a joke about this book but I refuse to perpetuate such terrible puns. I have terrible puns of my own!

Statistics

Skill: 8
Stamina: 18
Luck: 13

Equipment: Sword, Extra Large Backpack, 5 Provisions, 22 Gold, Bag of Miscellaneous Teeth, Silver Key no. 111, Borrinskin Boots, Bomba Fruit, Ragnar’s Armband of Swordmastery, Gauntlets of Weaponry, Gold Locket (without picture), Lucky Talisman, Enchanted Compass (now useless), Bow, Silver Arrows (8), Tinderbox, Snake Bite Antidote, Silver Serpent Ring.

Spell Components: Flute, Goblin Teeth (4), Giant Teeth (1), Beeswax (infinite), Bone Bracelet, Green Wig, Gold-Backed Mirror.

Special: I can call on Libra again, who is apparently bound by some kind of rules about geography. I also have the power, thanks to my silver serpent ring, to command information from any Serpents (well, only those seven) I happen to meet.

Onward to Adventure!

I trudge across the Baklands. First up in this no-man’s land is the Baddu-Bak Plains, which is nothing more than a dry, desolate waste devoid of anything remotely interesting. The most dangerous feature is probably the mind-crushing boredom that awaits all who set foot in this land. But wait, a cry! What could it be? It’s some angry birds.

At least it's not harpies this time!

At least it’s not harpies this time!

The boredom has driven all knowledge of useful spells from my mind, so instead I draw my sword. I am incredibly lucky to only take one wound from the avian offensive before a magical eagle appears and mauls them. It’s carrying a message from home. The message says I have to find and kill seven magical serpents if I want to stand a chance, for they will tell the Archmage of Mampang I’m coming. Apparently a fortress of evil has no defences ready unless they know trouble is coming – though I’m not complaining! The note also says to find someone called Shadrack the Hermit, who apparently knows everything that’s going on in the Baklands. Given that he lives in this desolate and tedious place I’m guessing that’s not too hard.

The goldcrest eagle has turned invisible and left, so I’m on my own. I set off, and take some lunch under a dead tree. The tree forms a face out of its branches tells me to go east to meet Shadrack. What a helpful dead tree. I set off to Fishtail Rock and meet the old hermit, who gives me some of his food and tells me all about the Seven Serpents. Apparently they were magically created from the heads of a hydra slain by the Archmage and given the powers of the seven gods he worships. One for each element, one for the sun and moon, and of course a time serpent. Oh goody. Shadrack knows that the air serpent can leave its body for a few minutes as a cloud of gas, but the body is still vulnerable. The serpents apparently keep their own weaknesses as their closest secrets (who wouldn’t?), but my serpent ring might help me there.

The next morning I set off back to the main trail. Shadrack gives me a galehorn before I go, which might prove handy for casting spells. On the trail I encounter some centaurs…

They're kinda metal. Or punk, since this was written in the early 80's.

They’re kinda metal. Or punk, since this was written in the early 80’s.

I cut a deal with them: I’ll cast a luck spell on them if they drop me off somewhere helpful. I can’t actually cast that spell, because I’m lacking one vital spell component: it actually existing in the first place. But they don’t know that. They suggest I could visit a caravan heading to Kharé, or Manata the Snake Charmer. The latter sounds like he might have some good advice for dealing with magical serpents, so I get them to take me there. It turns out Manta lives in a pit and has quite a few scaly friends. The one thing he wants is my borrinskin boots, which is no big deal since I found them at the bottom of a mineshaft. He trades me knowledge of the whereabouts of one of the Seven Serpents, which his sisters – the snakes – have found out.

I trek across the wastes, keeping an eye out for ophidian opponents. Instead a skeletal figure materialises. It’s a deathwraith. Except this doesn’t seem like suitably deathwraithy place for it to be hanging out, so I try to dispell it. Bingo! There’s an illusionist behind it. He’s more than relieved that I offer him a chance at not being killed, and gives me all his gold, a chakram, and some yellow powder to snort for one of my spells. I ask him if he knows anything about the Seven Serpents and he says he does, then screams out in fright at something he sees over my shoulder and keels over, dead. Gosh, I wonder what he saw behind me?

That's no moon!

That’s no moon!

Yeah, it’s the Moon Serpent.

It snuffs out all the light and tries to attack me. First I compel it to tell me some information – four guards are at the gate to the Mampang Fortress – and then I waste it with a fireball. Sucker. It dies and shrivels up into a ball, leaving behind a crystal orb, which I pocket. With nothing left to do here, I set off to the northwest, and find a caravan of dark elves who fire a few arrows at me just for effect. I tell them I’m a trader and they let me peruse their crowded shop.

Best shop in Fighting Fantasy EVER! Well, other than Yaztromo's Emporium Of Single Use Magic Items.

Best shop in Fighting Fantasy EVER! Well, other than Yaztromo’s Emporium Of Single Use Magic Items.

So much to choose from, so little gold. I grab a brass pendulum, some chain mail, and some more provisions. Then I decide to leave, since I’m not keen to spend the night in a trade caravan that fires arrows at every lone traveller they meet.

I camp out on the plains and eat cheese sandwiches. In the morning I head off to the northeast and meet a tiny little dwarf thing that zooms about very quickly. As I wonder to myself if it’s friend or foe, it tells me that’s up to me! Oh good, a mind-reading gnome. It demands a gift, so I offer it some of my bottomless supply of beeswax. The gnome turns out to be a sorceress in disguise. Diatainta, aka The Sham, is overjoyed by my gift of what amounts to industrial cement made by bees, and tells me how to take out the nearby Earth Serpent (which is no surprise because it’s obvious it’s going to be more powerful on the ground than in the air), gives me a vial of vapour to take on something called The Sleepless Ram, and gives me her serpent staff, which is made of oak and therefore a Staff of Oak Sapling. Then she turns back into a gnome and speeds off over the horizon. I can’t say I am not relieved though. Gnomes are trouble, and they’re always out there. Waiting…

Gnomes: The hidden killer.

Gnomes: The hidden killer.

I travel north and scout ahead from the top of a hill. On the way down a chunk of rock that I knocked loose comes rolling back up and hits my ankle. Um, okay, not what I expected. The top of the hill exploding is something I expected even less. I create a magical shield and hold it over my head as I run…. right into a pit that opens before me. Then a rock rises from the ground and starts to heat up. What the hell?! I jump up to get out and something bites my hand. I have a feeling I know what that was! I try again, and get bitten again, but this time I make it out of the pit.

On the surface, the ground starts to split open around the pit. A boulder up the hill is wobbling, getting ready to roll down and crush me. On top of that, a tiny little snake is coiled about my leg and is about to bite me. I think I’ll got for the tiny snake. Or not so tiny – it splits open and giant brown serpent with wings emerges. Right, then. Time to put this galehorn to use: I cast the Huf spell, which blows it into the air where it turns into a tiny green snake again. I catch it and break its neck. Job completed, I set off again.

I trek onward towards the Forest of Snatta, and camp for the night on the outskirts of this mysterious forest. Apparently there are things called snattacats living here. I don’t know much about them other than their name. What could they be? In the morning I set off, eyes peeled for these cats, gathering all kinds of things in the forest. Stone dust, sand, pebbles, yellow feathers, nuts and berries, leaves…

Now I have UNLIMITED POWER!

Now I have UNLIMITED POWER!

It’s a good thing I brought that large backpack back in Khare. Further along the trail a red snake slithers across the path. I decide to follow it, on the basis that it’s probably evil and needs to be killed with extreme prejudice. In the undergrowth I find it climbing a tree. Then it bursts into flames.

Only you can prevent forest Fire Serpents!

Only you can prevent forest Fire Serpents!

Right, it’s the fire serpent. I climb into the tree to fight it, like an idiot, and it drops to the ground. I follow (which is totally not code for “fall down”, no, absolutely not), and when it bursts into flames I chuck a handful of sand over it to put the fire out, and then kill the serpent.

This serpent killing has been pretty easy so far.

I set off further into the forest and stop for a rest on a fallen tree. It’s quite peaceful here. Except for that odd noise I just heard. What could it be? It could be the invisible thing that just bit me. I make like a tree and get out of there, and come across a door in a small hill. I know what you’re thinking: I have an important mission and shouldn’t get side tracked by underground lairs. Unfortunately, it’s too late for that, because I’ve already gone inside!

At the end of the corridor I find an elven woman staring intently at a crystal ball. I’ve had a pretty even run with witches, enchantresses, and magically inclined women on this adventure so I see no reason to not be reasonable here. I step into the room and say hello.

Sevent Serpents: Puffin Edition

Fenestra does me a huge favour since who knows how bad the Sun Serpent would have been to fight?

The occupant of this cave is Fenestra, a sorceress who is pleased to meet someone else who knows magic. I trade her a pile of teeth for a pearl ring I may find useful later for turning invisible related purposes. She then slyly tells me she’s trapped the Sun Serpent as bait for the Water Serpent, who she wants to kill in revenge for murdering her father. She even has a large supply of oil which will break its watery form up, and gives me some just on the off chance I meet it. I then demand information from the Sun Serpent and it tells me to beware the breath of the mucalytics. Um, okay, I’ll watch out for them, whatever they are. Fenestra also tells me that she gave some marsh goblins a scroll with a magic chant that can deal with the Time Serpent, and I’ll have to find them to get it. She also offers to sell me a whistle that will summon the ferryman at Lake Ilklala. Then she gives me a potion that cures disease. Then I get given the kitchen sink too.

As I set off again I consider that I might actually make it through this after all. I set off into the woods, following a stream. Then I trip over something I can’t see. Then I can see it, and so I finally get to find out what a snattacat is. Here’s what it is: A tiger that turns invisible. Damn, I didn’t see that coming!

The invisible tiger, pictured in its natural habitat.

The invisible tiger, pictured in its natural habitat.

Thankfully I have some magic that will fix the Snattacat problem. I produce my crystal ball and cast a spell that will let me see them, and thus can avoid them with ease – they’re obviously not used to having their edge neutralized. I wander out of the forest and camp out near the shore of the lake.

In the morning I use the Magic Whistle of Ferryman Summoning and he wanders out of the undergrowth. It’s hard to tell though because he’s so grubby it looks like part of the undergrowth came with him. I pay the four gold pieces required to get across and he goes off to get his boat. He’s a lot more surly when he comes back, even expecting me to row the damn thing. I’m not taking that, he’s the ferryman not the boat hire man. I tell him to get stuffed. Then it turns out he was – by the Air Serpent!

I’m not entirely intimidated by an animated wisp of air, because I know it must have stowed its body here somewhere. It’s in the deflated ferryman’s disgusting and rat-dropping filled pocket. The Air Serpent freaks out and tries to cut a deal. I don’t accept that, and shred the snakeskin, killing it. Of course, now I have to row the damn boat myself. I set off on my lake crossing, resolving that if I get back to Analand I’ll be creating some kind of flying spell, or teleporting spell, or rowboat-auto-rowing spell. Anything to avoid this irritating task. Look at me, powerful sorceress, quest to save the world from the armies or evil, and I’m having to row my own damn boat.

As I row I notice there’s bubbling water up ahead. Goodness me, I wonder what could be causing that? I’m pretty sure I know what’s causing that and sigh as I head towards it. The thing, whatever could it be, tries to capsize my boat but fails to tip me into the water. Suddenly up from the lake rises – big surprise – the water serpent. I’m not very impressed and compel it to give me some advice. Then I throw some oil over it, breaking the watery form of the creature up into thousands of droplets. No problem. Time to get off this lake.

Eventually I reach the Vischlami Swamp. It’s a swamp, you know? Full of mud and slime and water. Also marsh goblins running away from what I find out, thanks to wearing a ridiculous green wig to cast the spell that lets me speak any language, is a magical serpent. They show me the magical scroll they were given and I memorize the chant and promise to take care of the winged serpent troubling them.

Wait a minute, there's no spell of Read Magic in my spellbook!

Wait a minute, there’s no spell of Read Magic in my spellbook!

As I head off in the direction they came from I hope like hell this works. The Serpent of Time is probably bad news. I run into it and find out it’s terrible news, since it can slow me down to a crawl. I compel it to advise me while I mutter the chant under my breath. The serpent slows down in mid air, its own powers turned against it! I kill it easily and then trudge out of the swamps and into the foothills of Low Xamen. I can see the Mampang Fortress on the skyline as the sun sets. Well, this last stage of my quest should be fun…

Wrapup

Well it’s a lot better than I remembered, though I question why the author even bothered putting a possible score of zero serpents at the end of the book since you have to kill at least two to make it through to the end (whatever justifications you hear for this, the real one is the obvious PEOPLE MIGHT SEE IT IN ADVANCE). The book is very linear, though there’s a nice touch in that for readers who chose to use magic there’s more than one way to approach dealing with the serpents.

Suspension of Disbelief Shattered: What kind of rowboat lets the rower see what is in front of them?

Ridiculous Battle: There are so many hard fights for the unprepared adventurer!

Moon Serpent: Skill 13 Stamina 10 (7/6 with fire)
Earth Serpent: sk 12 st 14
Fire Serpent: Sk 13 St 12
Air Serpent Sk 11 St 14 (You have to hit it twice in succession and that only deals 3 damage. The serpent only deals 1 damage, but for every successive round it wins the damage is doubled)
Water Serpent Sk10 St 11

Of course all of them can either be severely reduced in power or outright killed with no effort.

Victory: All stats restored, permanent bonus to maximum Skill of 2, permanent bonus to maximum Luck of 1, and a special stealth ability in the next book. Pretty good, that. Of course that’s for the perfect victory of all seven.

What Was I Thinking? If you tell some goblin jokes to the trade caravan everything becomes half price. Of course, I wouldn’t have been able to buy everything I wanted anyway since that option requires dropping some gold on a meal first.

You can see a summary of the running totals here.

Dragon Age: Origins: Part 1

For a bit of a change on the computer game front I thought I’d play through Dragon Age: Origins again, what with a new one coming out and also the fact that a woman cannot live on Neverwinter Nights alone.

Oh look a collage. Better throw some cleavage in there to sell the game!

Oh look a collage. Better throw some cleavage in there to sell the game!

Something that really motivated me was that I never played the game with a wizard. Oh okay, “mage” because “wizard” is such a cliché. This is certainly not a game that leaves you suffering choice paralysis at character creation. You get a choice of rogue (thief but socially acceptable), warrior (snore), or mage. Then you pick a couple of things from the short lists of skills and powers and get dropped into the action.

According to Wikipedia “BioWare describes Dragon Age: Origins as a ‘dark heroic fantasy set in a unique world,'” – this obviously means unique in the sense that it’s got it’s own place names, and dark in that some women get raped. Or implied to be raped because only implying it helps deflect criticism. Let me tell you: There’s nothing else in here that can be called “dark” to a Fighting Fantasy reader. Demons, human sacrifice, blood everywhere, you name it, we’ve seen it all before. Or in many cases, done it.

Why is it called Dragon Age: Origins and not Dragon Age: Big Fight With Darkspawn? Because there’s multiple character backgrounds with their own intro to the story. Well… There’s two for dwarves (who can’t be mages in this “unique fantasy world”) and two for non-wizard elves. All mages get the same story, and humans who are a rogue or warrior get the same one. So it’s Dragon Age: Some Origins.

But I can’t really complain. Other than the persistent belief that gritty and dark fantasy has to involve misogyny, it’s a good game and a lot of fun. Or at least it was when I played it with a thief. Er, rogue. It should be even more fun when I can be a wizard, right? Oh stop looking at me like that. Wizard, mage, what’s the difference?

Onward to Adventure!

I’m a wizard, which means I am at risk of being possessed by a demon, turning into a monster, and being hunted down and killed by the Templars. On the other hand, I’m an elf, so therefore being locked in a tower which has actual beds and proper food is preferable to being a slave in all but name. So I live in the Circle of Magi which is part guild, part prison, part school, and part home. It’s in the middle of a lake, because of course no wizard can swim or row a boat. Templars are not very clever people.

This tower is sodding enormous!

This tower is sodding enormous!

I’m also about to graduate from Apprentice Mage to Actual Mage and thus I have to do something called a “harrowing” which is probably not a euphemism. I’m woken up in the middle of the night and taken up to the top of the tower, where the head of the Circle, Irving, and Head Dick to Mages, Greagoir, are waiting.

Even bigger on the inside. Like some kind of thing that's bigger on the inside than the outside. Um.

Even bigger on the inside. Like some kind of thing that’s bigger on the inside than the outside. Um.

Greagoir rattles off some tired old anti-mage Chantry propaganda and then tells me I have to drink some lyrium.

You want me to WHAT?

You want me to WHAT?

I don’t really have a choice – it’s this or lobotomy – and so I drink down some of this glowing blue liquid. It’s probably Orlaisian drain cleaner and this is all some kind of joke.

Uhhhhh... okay...

Uhhhhh… okay…

Naturally I’m surprised to see the fade, despite seeing it every night anyway due to my consciousness residing there when I dream being one of the side effects of being a wizard. I wander off, and meet a floating ball of light. Which tries to electrocute me. I shoot it with magic, because my magic works here. I’m loaded up with the ability to drain life out of people and turn them into blood-splattering bombs, which is apparently okay with the Templars, which goes to show that rebelling against authority is harder than I expected. Then I meet a talking mouse.

No prize for guessing where this is going...

No prize for guessing where this is going…

He’s apparently a failed wizard who had his head lopped off by the Templars for being crap at harrowings, and somehow has survived all this time pretending to be a mouse. I don’t believe this, but all he wants is to tag along and be useless, so I figure that’s okay for now. I wander further into the fade, bypassing a burning area which is probably bad news, and then get a nice view of the Black City.

God damn it, Tevinter Imperium!

God damn it, Tevinter Imperium!

Let’s just say that a certain empire did something really stupid and leave it at that. I also meet a benign fade spirit called Valour. It’s not well documented that there’s nice spirits here. All we hear about are the big five types of demon and all the minor evil things. I ask Valour for one of his imaginary weapons and he offers to duel me for it. So he’s not a nice spirit, he’s more a lawful neutral spirit (if I knew what “lawful neutral” even meant). I wander on, killing spirit wolves and then find a devil bear. Which is really a Sloth demon.

Too damn lazy to have their own form, apparently. Yeah, the demon is the lazy one. Suuuuure.

Too damn lazy to have their own form, apparently. Yeah, the demon is the lazy one. Suuuuure.

Mr. McLazydemon wants to get on with his nap, but I persuade him to teach Mouse how to take on bear form. I have to answer some fairly easy riddles, and then we head off to meet the demon I have to face in the fade.

These guys are so angry they don't have the patience to think up thesaurus-based names.

These guys are so angry they don’t have the patience to think up thesaurus-based names.

Demons of rage are essentially things in the form of living lava blobs. Thankfully they’re usually too stupid to use fire magic. So I blow it up. Not a problem. Then “mouse” turns out to be a demon. What a big surprise. So surprised. Didn’t see it coming. Never in a million years. Nope.

Since I didn’t get suckered I’m allowed back into the real world. I wake up back in the dorms with a really bad headache and creepy Jowan standing nearby. Jowan persistently assumes we’re friends, seriously cramping my style when it comes to picking up cute mage chicks.

No I will not relax, you insufferably creepy arsehole! Go away!

No I will not relax, you insufferably creepy arsehole! Go away!

He then pesters me about the harrowing, which I’m not allowed to tell him about in case apprentice mages go into the fade and are all “dude you’re a demon, this totally isn’t gonna fool me” – you know, that’s probably so the Templars have more people to execute. While that’s a bit immoral, there’s more chance of annoying git Jowan being executed if he doesn’t know. So tough shit, not telling. That’s what he gets for wrecking my game. Jowan tells me the head enchanter wants to see me, so I tell him to piss off and then head away. Oh hey some of the women are talking about me and my harrowing…

"Hey, I'd be happy to tell you both all about it, just come and sit with me on my bunk... hey, I'm right here. Hello!" - See what I mean about Jowan ruining my chances with the ladies?

“Hey, I’d be happy to tell you both all about it, just come and sit with me on my bunk… hey, I’m right here. Hello!” – See what I mean about Jowan ruining my chances with the ladies?

So off I go. I promptly get lost and find some giant doors. I ask what is behind them. Like this:

“So hey, what’s through the doors?”

I bet everyone asks what's through the door.

I bet everyone asks what’s through the door.

It turns out they’re the big doors I came through when I was brought here. Hey, if we never get outside in the sun, why don’t we all have rickets? Anyway, I travel up the tower. Past the comically bad wizarding lessons, to the library. Where I greet another elven mage with the utterly stupid line “I just wanted to greet another of my kind”. As he talks I wonder if I left part of my brain on the harrowing chamber floor. Who even talks like that? Oh, wait, he’s asking me where I’m from…

No, this does nothing, it's utterly pointless.

No, this does nothing, it’s utterly pointless.

I then wander on. I’ll give the circle of magi this: They sure know how to stock a library. Further ahead I meet some wizards arguing about the various philosophical factions and their views on magic. Niall, for example, is an isolationist who thinks mages should just all stop arguing and not have strong opinions about anything. I bet that won’t have any ironic consequences for him later.

This guy? Totally dead.

This guy? Totally dead.

Other people I know of in the tower are Cullen the Creep…

Totally creepy that a prison guard, who is allowed to kill the prisoners, has the hots for a prisoner. Thanks, Bioware.

Totally creepy that a prison guard, who is allowed to kill the prisoners, has the hots for a prisoner. Thanks, Bioware.

…and Whatshername, the mage who is worried she’s inherently evil and has turne to the religion that says she’s evil to get solace.

Who says fantasy RPGs can't have real world commentary?

Who says fantasy RPGs can’t have real world commentary?

This place is totally fucked up.

Finally I find Irving, who is arguing with Greagoir, Head Dick to Mages, about something. I interrupt their little spat, which they’re having in front of some visitor. Who needs malefacarum to make us look bad to the general population? We have those two old prats. I am given my Magic Staff of Being a Real Mage Now and Ring of +1 Against Nothing and then introduced to the visitor, Duncan, who is a bit surprised by the whole vial of blood thing.

Duncan seems a little unimpressed by the Chantry's messed up scheming.

Duncan seems a little unimpressed by the Chantry’s messed up scheming.

He’s one of the legendary Grey Wardens. They’re so legendary I have to ask all about them. It’s okay though, because my first duty as an official circle mage is to show the visitor to his room. Jerkass head enchanter. So I get the rundown on everything, including the darkspawn, which are also the number one cautionary tale about magic being bad, yet somehow I missed that in Magic 101: Introduction to Why You’re a Vile Blasphemy on the World.

After that little interlude Jowan pesters me some more. This time he’s got a girlfriend, who turns out to be a Chantry sister. They want to elope. Jowan wants his phylactery smashed so he can’t be tracked down. I figure that if I help them Jowan will be gone and no longer around to cramp my style, so I go along with it. First off, convincing the senior enchanter in charge of the storeroom that I’m an all right kind of woman. By killing spiders.

I always assume they're poisonous! Because they always are! It's a bit redundant!

I always assume they’re poisonous! Because they always are! It’s a bit redundant!

I should probably tell someone about this. I hope it's no-one I cared about.

I should probably tell someone about this. I hope it’s no-one I cared about.

I walk out of the storage cave – the storage cave on the second floor of a bloody tower – wondering what spiders do with all the money they carry. Is there a shop somewhere? Arachne’s Spider Stuff Emporium? Anyway, now I’m finished I ask Owain for a rod of fire. He wants to know why I need it…

It's like this in real life too. "I need this funding for my research into burning things" "But you're a computer scientist!" "...and?"

It’s like this in real life too. “I need this funding for my research into burning things” “But you’re a computer scientist!” “…and?”

And then gives me some forms to get signed by a senior enchanter. Happily one is entebted to me for killing some spiders. Rod of fire secured, it’s off to rob the circle treasure vault! Er, I mean, off to find Jowan’s phylactery so he’ll get the hell out of here! The first step is to try and open the third set of ominous doors I’ve been standing around in front of today. Lily just insults me first.

I'll curse you, wench! I'll curse you so hard!

I’ll curse you, wench! I’ll curse you so hard!

Naturally the door is magicproof. So now we have to go the long way around.

Well at least in this game the animated armour isn't immune to mind spells.

Well at least in this game the animated armour isn’t immune to mind spells.

What in the hell?!?! I should have just killed Jowan instead of this convoluted plan full of horror lizards!

What in the hell?!?! I should have just killed Jowan instead of this convoluted plan full of horror lizards!

After going through all that crap we find the secret store room which contains eerie objects with no real explanation of what they are. They should be labelled or something. There is a talking statue, though.

I wonder if I could take it's head off and carry it around as a talking PDA?

I wonder if I could take it’s head off and carry it around as a talking PDA?

“Hi there, talking statue,” I say. “What are you up to?”

“Just standing around.”

“Been up to anything interesting lately?” I say, while taking a step to the side.

“Just standing around…”

“Got any plans for the weekend?” I ask, stepping back.

“Just. Standing. Around.”

“You should get out more,” I suggest, taking another step.

The statue starts swearing a lot while I double up in laughter. Unfortunately the devout and slightly boring Chantry sister doesn’t want me to mess with the statue any more. I silently resolve to release some pigeons in here at the first opportunity. Nagged by the ever annoying Jowan I blast a hole in the wall and we go into the cold store where the vials are kept. Jowan finds his and smashes it.

Smashing things is always the answer in games.

Smashing things is always the answer in games.

Right, that’s done, now I can just shove Jowan and his girlfriend out the door when no-one is looking. Actually I should have shoved them out the window earlier, but I suppose the problem with that is there are no windows. Anyway, off to the front do-

YOU IN TROUBLE NOW, KIDS!

YOU IN TROUBLE NOW, KIDS!

So somehow Irving knew what was going down (hint: MAGIC), and he told Gregoir, Head Dick to Mages, and now we’re all in trouble. But they’re accusing Jowan of being a blood mage? This seems a bit…

Don't stab yourself, idiot! Stab them!

Don’t stab yourself, idiot! Stab them!

HOLY FUCKING SHIT!

HOLY FUCKING SHIT!

Jowan then proceeds to explain how he’s totally not addicted to blood magic:

Hahahahaha, SURE. More like he's going to keep her on hand for a sacrifice.

Hahahahaha, SURE. More like he’s going to keep her on hand for a sacrifice.

…and then he runs away while everyone is dazed. You know, I should have just beaten him to death with a footstool ages ago. What a colossal wanker. His girlfriend is, of course, blamed for all this because she’s a woman and therefore the Chantry thinks she’s even more of an accursed blight on the earth than mages. She’s going to be sent off to the scary drive-you-crazy prison for mages. Greagoir, Head Dick to Mages, is a bit pissed because of the broken phylactery.

“How will we track him now?”

“Geee I dunno, there’s all this fucking BLOOD everywhere!”

I am feeling kind of pleased overall, since now Jowan is gone I’ll be able to chat up the hot mage chicks without interfering whiny prats pestering me. Yes, it’s going to be great now here in the… wait, they want to send me off to be a Grey Warden? Hey, wait, I finally got rid of Jowan and now I have to LEAVE? What the hell?!

To be continued…

Neverwinter Nights Part 5: One Llast Thing

Previously on Neverwinter Nights…

The plague is gone, but the population of Neverwinter is uneasy with the ineffective nature of their rulers. So the people in charge think maybe killing this secretive evil cult might be a good idea to reinforce that things are okay. Do they send out a band of elite adventurers to seek them out wherever they might hide? No. Do they send out an army to scour every inch of the countryside? No. Do they send out a gnome illusionist who has no idea what she’s doing? Of course they do!

Onward to Adventure!

So, with the plague dealt with, Desther burned alive – tee hee – and everything sorted, I get some much needed rest and relaxation. Oh wait, Aribeth says I have to go up coast to the frontier town of Port Llast and look for information on the evil cult. I figure I can stretch this out to be a nice long holiday in the countryside, and go to bed in my luxurious suite in Port Llast confident that there will be no surprises on this job. Then in the morning I wake up to…

So you stood there all night but didn't think to have breakfast ready? Bad wench! Bad!

So you stood there all night but didn’t think to have breakfast ready? Bad wench! Bad!

A woman who has been standing there watching me sleep all night. Creepy. Apparently the mission to find the cult is starting before breakfast.

Aribeth fills me in on some of the plan and then passes me off to the Neverwinter Spymaster, Arin Gend. Who tells me to check out some goblin caves, or the creepy forest of Charwood, or the Neverwinter Wood.

“What about Luskan? Luskan is a city of evil and everyone who is anyone there wants to wreck Neverwinter,” I point out.

“Oh no,” says Gend, “you should definitely check out these three locations and find evidence before we go after the most likely hiding place.”

Riiiiight.

Meanwhile, the local mayor wants me to waste some escaped convicts, the local priest wants me to not waste some werewolves, a ranger wants me to check out the problem with berserk animals in the local Nice Forest without wasting the animals if I can help it, and the head of the wizard’s guild wants me to loot some magic books.

Winner of the Most Evil Guildhall Award at the Sword Coast Evil Architecture Awards

Winner of the Most Evil Guildhall Award at the Sword Coast Evil Architecture Awards

So I figure I can prioritise these far more profitable quests and maybe turn up some cult related information on the side. I go off to the tavern to talk to Anders, the young lad who survived the werewolf attack. I don’t make it to him before I’m sidetracked by Eliath Craulnober, master of stupid hairstyles. He wants some special gems for making some thing for some reason, I didn’t really listen past the bit where he would pay me to find them. I think it’s something to do with not being allowed back in Evermeet because he used up the entire elven nation’s supply of hair gel.

I hope that hair style isn't a requirement for any prestige class I want to take.

I hope that hair style isn’t a requirement for any prestige class I want to take.

On top of that diversion, there’s also some dwarf who wants to share info on cult hunting, and a halfling who thinks I’m cool. I don’t blame him. Finally I make it across the tiny taproom and find Ander. He’s talking to some guy who sells anti-werewolf supplies called Alhelor.

“Hi Ander,” I say. “I’m looking into the we-”

I hope you like repetitive dialog!

“Don’t worry, young Ander, this will work out yet. Everything happens for a reason, it does.”

“-rewolves and wondered if you could te-

I hope you like repetitive dialog!

“Don’t worry, young Ander, this will work out yet. Everything happens for a reason, it does.”

“-ll me anything about the incident?”

“Well…” begins Ander before he’s interrupted again.

I hope you like repetitive dialog!

“Don’t worry, young Ander, this will work out yet. Everything happens for a reason, it does.”

“My friends and I thought it would be cool to-”

I hope you like repetitive dialog!

“Don’t worry, young Ander, this will work out yet. Everything happens for a reason, it does.”

“-go out and help that werewolf hunting knight b-”

I hope you like repetitive dialog!

“Don’t worry, young Ander, this will work out yet. Everything happens for a reason, it does.”

“-ut then we all got attacked and I ran away. But th-”

I hope you like repetitive dialog!

“Don’t worry, young Ander, this will work out yet. Everything happens for a reason, it does.”

“-e others might have gone off to their favourite hangouts around here. Try the Ne-”

I hope you like repetitive dialog!

“Don’t worry, young Ander, this will work out yet. Everything happens for a reason, it does.”

“-verwinter Woods, Charwood, and um, I dunno, I guess you should ask U-”

I hope you like repetitive dialog!

“Don’t worry, young Ander, this will work out yet. Everything happens for a reason, it does.”

“-rth’s parents where he might be.”

“Thanks, Ander,” I say. “I’ll try to save them from the cu-”

I hope you like repetitive dialog!

“Don’t worry young Ander, everything ha-” “For pity’s sake, shut up Alhelor! You’ve said that ten times since I walked in thirty seconds ago! What have you got to say for yourself?” “Don’t worry, young Ander, this will work out yet. Everything happens for a reason, it does.”

I leave before I am reduced to a gibbering wreck by Alhelor’s ability to repeat the same thing over and over. Outside I am accosted by some kid who thinks I can help rescue his mother. For pity’s sake, there’s a whole building full of adventurers over there and he’s bothering me? Fine, whatever, I was going that way.

Port Llast’s main industry seems to be quests.

So I set off up the road, and run into Solomon the Creepy Halfling, who tries to murder me because I’m investigating the local evil plague cult. I guess the cult figured they only needed to send a band of psychopathic munchkins after me because I’m a gnome, but it’s going to take more than that to slow my investigation down. Further up the road, I make contact with Gerrol, who despite having a +2 scythe of murder doesn’t seem to be down with cutting the grass around here.

He tells me that I should head up the road, find some caves full of monsters and then rescue his wife, Leah. She’s been kidnapped by the ogre mage, which is not an ogre with a job description, but more a subspecies of ogre with innate magical powers.

It better not be a nuclear armed cyborg tank that can do magic.

It better not be a nuclear armed cyborg tank that can do magic.

So I head up the road and down the caves, wherein I negotiate with the goblins for passage deeper into the cave network.

Negotiations broke down rapidly when Grimgnaw screamed "The Silent Lord take you!" and starting kicking goblins in the head. I think he was overcome with joy at having targets whose heads he could actually reach.

Negotiations broke down rapidly when Grimgnaw screamed “The Silent Lord take you!” and starting kicking goblins in the head. I think he was overcome with joy at having targets whose heads he could actually reach.

Further into the caves I met the local orc chieftain. I don’t bother negotiating with him, since orcs are more prone to violence than my henchman. Unfortunately, these orcs turn out to be quite tough. But that’s okay, I came prepared for this.

When the going gets tough, the gnome casts cloudkill! Then she hopes it actually kills someone.

When the going gets tough, the gnome casts cloudkill! Then she hopes it actually kills someone.

Then it’s off to loot the orc leader’s treasure room… er… treasure ledge by the underground lake. But even treasure ledges by underground lakes have doors. I guess I was due for some ridiculous doors eventually.

What would a fantasy tale be without ridiculous doors? It's a good thing no-one in Neverwinter Nights can swim...

What would a fantasy tale be without ridiculous doors? It’s a good thing no-one in Neverwinter Nights can swim…

So, that’s two species of barely-civilized jerks encountered. Who is next? Oh, damn. Bugbears. Bugbears are one of the worst monsters because they’re so confusing for new adventurers. You get the folks who think they’re a kind of insect, the people who think they’re a kind of bear, and the people who think they’re a kind of bear/insect hybrid – but I suppose anyone who sets out to take on bugbears with with that expectation is going to be expecting a far worse battle than what they’ll get, so it’s okay. Thankfully I’m a well-educated gnome (is there any other kind?) and know they’re just big stupid gits.

I trek further into the caves, killing the elite monsters and finally reach the home of whoever is in charge here. That turns out to be Derigab, the ogre mage. Who knows fireball. That’s okay, though. I know Evard’s Black Tentacles.

Actually getting the tentacles in the right place is harder than it looks.

Actually getting the tentacles in the right place is harder than it looks.

After the battle I’ve wiped out all the evil races living in these caves, killed the evil cultist and ogre mage running the show, and thus have saved the region from them. At least I hope so. I’m wondering if it might have been a goblinoid literacy program.

I hope it's just a goblinoid literacy program. The alternative is I just wiped out a kindergarten.

I hope it’s just a goblinoid literacy program. The alternative is I just wiped out a kindergarten.

But that’s a problem for another day. I loot the treasure, and get out of there. One ogre mage head delivered to a farmer later, I decide to celebrate by heading to the Green Griffon Inn. There’s a lot of retired adventurers hanging around, and quite a few actual adventurers too. I ask someone what’s going on.

"Answer my questions or I'll crossbow you to death!"

“Answer my questions or I’ll crossbow you to death!”

Oh, really? One of those Deathtrap Dungeon type deals? I’m up for that! The rules for this contest are 1: You can take henchmen; 2: You can take all your gear. There’s nothing about not being allowed to take magic teleportation stones. Hahahahaha, suckers. I head on down to begin my journey to triumph. This can’t be so bad. I mean the dungeon only has every illusionist’s least favourite creature: spiders.

There really is a spider in this picture.

There really is a spider in this picture.

…and…

Immune to illusions and they can cast spells?! What is this, the dungeon of making fun of illusionists?

Immune to illusions and they can cast spells?! What is this, the dungeon of making fun of illusionists?

But then I run into…

Saving throw bonuses and an axe, AND spike traps?!

Saving throw bonuses and an axe, AND spike traps?!

But that’s okay, there’s just one more challenge…

OH, COME ON!

OH, COME ON!

Finally I reach the end, where I have to hand over a crystal carved into the answer to a riddle. Thankfully I’m aware of this sort of final twist in trials of champions, and so I have been looking for gewgaws. No problem, dungeon won, I get… some armour. Oh, that’s handy, since I’m an illusionist and my henchman is a monk. We can’t even use it to bludgeon enemies to death!

I’m so annoyed by this I decide to rob the inn. This turns out to be a good thing, since one of those gems Eliath Craulnober wanted is upstairs. So is its owner but that’s not a problem. I also find one of those escaped convicts, who we kill after drinking a lot of potions.

No, I don't know where I'm carrying all that stuff either.

No, I don’t know where I’m carrying all that stuff either.

After that it’s a jaunt over the road to a graveyard to find one of those books. Naturally the graveyard I crawling with undead, so I just let Grimgnaw have fun with that while I sulk. Then it’s back to town where I drop off all the stuff I’m carrying. I decide to drop in at a local farmstead and see if I can learn anything about where the werewolves might be, and find the people who live there acting very suspiciously. Naturally I kick in the door to the upstairs and barge on in to find a werewolf. He’s a crap werewolf though, because I just have to cast a few acid arrows at him and he surrenders and takes one of those de-lycanthroping charms that cures him.

Werewolves? Pah! I laugh at werewolves. Wait, what’s that noise…

WERECHICKEN ATTACK!

WERECHICKEN ATTACK!

Tune in next post for the exciting next episode!

Robot Commando

“Screw jaegers! Screw kaiju! This is the real deal right here!”

Robot Commando by American Steve Jackson

Cover: David Martin

Illustrations: Gary Mayes

I know, I know. You think this book is about being a robot and going on a commando mission. Well, sorry, no. The book is about…

Holy crap!

Holy crap!

Hell yes! Piloting giant robots and fighting dinosaurs! I think there’s a plot. Who knows? WHO CARES?

Statistics

Skill: 11
Stamina: 16 (this not a problem, I’m spending most of the book in a giant robot) Luck: 11

Equipment: I have a sword (The hell?) and 5 medkits which heal… ONE STAMINA? Oooookay, so in this futuristic setting full of giant robots medical science isn’t as good as a sandwich.

Oh yes… I get robots, So I should tell you about robots. Okay let me see… Robots have Armour, which is how much damage they can take, Speed (slow, medium, fast, very fast) which means if you’re faster you get a bonus, Combat Bonus which adds or subtracts from my skill score. Right, what’s next? I guess its…

Onward to Adventure!

I’m a rancher in the land of Thalos. Our civilization has giant robots, because they’re so good for mining, transport, construction – construction is a popular job now we’ve turned it into playing with Lego – and of course, punching dinosaurs. Stop looking at me like that, it’s part of our cultural tradition of… okay, all right. We don’t have an excuse for this, it’s just cool.

I am having breakfast one morning on the old family dinosaur ranch, where I uphold the time-worn Thalosian tradition of piloting giant robots to herd dinosaurs, and I notice everyone who works on the ranch is keeling over, asleep. I raise an eyebrow and turn on the radio. All I get is the announcer muttering something about the evil Karossean’s sedating the population before starting to snore. I fiddle with the radio for a bit and pick up the Karossean military communications: They’re invading with an army of a thousand giant robots.

I was going to be really sarcastic about the dated technology, but then I realised radio is not that silly in this scenario.

I was going to be really sarcastic about the dated technology, but then I realised radio is not that silly in this scenario.

All right then, I suppose I’m the lone rebel standing in the way of an army of evil invaders. I guess that means I better load up. I grab the best weapon I can find – a sword – and head out to grab a robot.

Yes, this will do nicely against all those dinosaurs and giant robots.

Yes, this will do nicely against all those dinosaurs and giant robots.

I have a choice of the dragonfly flyer, which looks pretty but is only marginally more durable than a hang glider made of tinfoil, or the Mark 5a “Cowboy” Utility Robot. What the hell? Some of the ranch hands must have taken the other, tougher robots off to the underground giant robot fighting circuit last night.

Robot fighting game? ROBOT FIGHTING GAME!

Like all fighting games this one has a contrived reason to smash opponents, when really people would just buy it for the whole robot fighting thing. Who needs a plot?

I choose the robot that isn’t going to die if a bug hits the windscreen and head off to save the nation. I have two choices of destination: The City of Knowledge, and the City of Industry. This is difficult, because I have no idea what useful things I could find at these locations. What could possibly be found in the City of Knowledge? What could possibly be useful to my aims in the City of Industry? I’m at the gate to my dinosaur ranch and already I’m faced with an impossible decision to make, no idea what the outcomes of either choice might be. The pressure is astounding, and I feel I may not be up to the task. I contemplate going back inside and pretending to be asleep so I don’t have to deal with these difficult obfuscated choices.

Just kidding, I head to the City of Knowledge. Seriously, who would name a city “City of Industry”?

Let's all take a moment to laugh at America. Hahahahaha. What's next? Naming islands after cardinal compass points?

Let’s all take a moment to laugh at America. Hahahahaha. What’s next? Naming islands after cardinal compass points?

So I’m cruising along. I’m piloting a giant robot. I’m going to fight some dinosaurs with it, on my way to saving the country from fascist invaders. Life is pretty good, you know? Then a pteranodon attacks, and I knock it down after it bites my robot. Afterwards I stop off at a village and find an abandoned digger robot. This thing looks like something made by Martians, but it’s probably handy. Despite the slow speed it can attack with an excavator scoop, so it’s more like a tank armed with a shovel. I trade up, since my rubbish robot got damaged by a flying reptile that isn’t even a real dinosaur.

I drive my totally sweet excavator robot into the city and then head to the College of Medicine. I start looking through books for an answer. Once I have find a text that tells me what to do, I take the book over to the deserted research lab which is full of ominous squeaking, and mix up what the book calls the Blue Potion. All one litre of it.

A thrilling time was had by all.

A thrilling time was had by all.

So I have one litre of Blue Potion and no way to administer it to the entire population in one go. The ingredients are wildly rare, and one of them has probably gone off and comes from a carnivorous plant, and there’s some weird squeaking noises somewhere around here. Through this door, in fact. I know, I know, if I open it there will be some kind of monsters. But if I don’t open it then they will just jump out at me later. I opt for fighting them now, and kick open the door.

Wait, they’re giant lizards? The whole planet is full of giant lizards, and by the standards of dinosaurs these ones lurking the dark are pretty small. I wrangle dinosaurs for a living, so this turns out to be no problem. I get out of there in case there’s something worse than large lizards, and drive my digging robot over to the museum. The museum has an information robot, which points me towards the exhibition on the Karosseans. I spend some time trying to find out anything useful, and all I get is that these war-mad lunatics will actually settle their disputes with duels between leaders. On the way out of the museum I notice there were some Karosseans here, and they’ve been blown up by something which then walked through the wall. Why do I get the feeling I’m not going to like this? I grab a uniform from one of the dead soldiers to use as a disguise, and get out of there.

I head for the College of War, and bluff my way past the lone enemy sentry. I don’t have much time, because more Karosseans arrive in robots that can change into a fighter and back. I manage to grab a map reference to the Thalosian military base and then run out a side door. The Karosseans left the keys in their robots, so I steal one and head for the Dinosaur Preserve.

Admit it, you're wishing Jurassic Park had giant robots now, aren't you?

Admit it, you’re wishing Jurassic Park had giant robots now, aren’t you?

There’s not much there of use, other than some upgraded dinosaur wrangling robots which don’t turn into a plane and are therefore rubbish. I decide I have dredged the murky depths of Thalosian knowledge enough for this invasion, and decide to head off to another city. Let’s see, I can go to the City of Industry, City of the Jungle, City of Storms, or City of Worship. I feel like some variety, so City of the Jungle it is.

The City of the Jungle is more an outpost for crazed explorers who think that there’s not enough excitement as it is with all the dinosaurs and giant robots. I explore the city and find a fantastic robot called a Serpent VII. It’s a giant robot python that can constrict enemy robots and dinosaurs. Okay that seems way cooler than the one I’ve got, so I trade up and slither off into the jungle.

The jungle is relatively boring, but I find a sign that says a mantrap plant is nearby. Oh, good, this is that plant I need. Thankfully, having a giant robot means I can steal a flower from it easily. Unsure what to do with the flower, I just chuck it in the Blue Potion – which turns into a Lavender Potion. Right, now I have to figure out how to distribute a litre of easily-evaporated Lavender Potion to the entire nation. I’m sure that won’t be a problem. This, however, is a problem:

Must we constantly talk about Biollante?

Must we constantly talk about Biollante?

Drat. I was so very much hoping to get out of here without having to have a fight with a carnivorous plant. Thankfully I crush it into paste with ease and slither out of the jungle, to the The City of the Jungle. The jungle city is by now being patrolled heavily so I decide to make for the City of Industry. The City of Industry is a bit rubbish, with nothing really worth looking at, so I decide to head for the secret military base. The secret military base that was so secret they kept the information in a book, on a shelf, in a relatively easy to access building. The City of the Guardians has an automated system which won’t let me inside, but will let me take a robot. That’s secure, isn’t it? I grab a plane/robot transforming one – it’s a Thalossian model called a Trouper XI, clearly designed for endeavours both military and thespian – and zoom off to the City of Storms. It’s really an entire city devoted to weather services. Not nifty ones like weather control, but just boring old weather prediction. They use high-tech devices, such as flags on the top of buildings, to show there’s a storm coming.

The Thalosian robot obsession has driven our society to such lows. No wonder the Karosseans think we’re easy pickings.

Inside, a printout tells me that the storm is going to make landfall at the City of Worship, which means I might be able to distribute my Lavender Potion there. I might pull this off without any more trouble! I fly at speed to the City of Worship and fly right into the heart of the oncoming storm. I am briefly thrown about in the cockpit but I manage to get to the middle of the tempest and throw the potion out. When I land everyone has woken up and the day is saved. Unfortunately no-one knows I saved them from a fate worse than death.

Wrapup

There’s so much to do! Most of it actually interesting! The best part is the multiple paths to victory: The relatively peaceful (or possibly boring) one, the one where you manage to exploit the Karossean cultural values to duel their leader, and the one with an epic robot battle. It’s also possible to smash the enemy army, defeat their leader, and die in the process. I think that should be a victory.

There are a lot of robots. In fact, most of the time swapping robots is there purely for the sake of having new ones (which is needed, the robots don’t get fixed often). There’s also the ability to backtrack between cities (and get back ditched robots), which I think makes for a good experience reading this book.

The really silly names for the cure for the sedative poison are like that because you have to add the number of letters together, so that looks silly but has a purpose. If I have one complaint, it’s the rubbish names for the cities. But we can’t have everything.

Suspension of Disbelief Shattered: Gee, I don’t know. Could it be the cure for sleeping sickness is called Lavender Potion? No, probably the worst is how it’s easy to find the College of War because it’s a large, five-sided building.

Times I Typoed “Dinosaur” While Writing This: 8

Number of Times I Fought an Actual Dinosaur: 0

Ridiculous Battle: Minos, leader of the Karosseans, is Skill 12, Stamina 12, so he’s not a pushover. To fight him you have to go through an office who is Skill 11, Stamina 11.

On the robot front, I saw a Robot Tyrannosaurus which is Skill 10, Armour 11. But that’s nothing compared to Minos’ ridiculously powerful Supertank, which is barely even a robot but with Skill 12 and Armour 16 and the ability to deal 1 damage even in losing rounds, is not really a fair fight.

Oh, and of course our friend the Tyrannosaurus Rex is in the book, but is only Skill 9, Armour 8. That’s no Pit Fiend.

Victory: In all three endings, you win and are the hero of the land. In one of them you get a national holiday named after you, so I guess that’s the best ending. It’s the one where you duel the evil Minos and then according to the cultural mores of Kaross you run everything so you tell them to pack up and go home.

What Was I Thinking? I feel like I cheated myself by not having massive amounts of dinosaur battles, or robot battles. That’s what the book is for!

Fighting Fantasy Christmas Gift Ideas

So, it’s the season of buying gifts for people. What to buy? What does one get the adventurer who has everything? More importantly, what do you get the adventurer who had everything but blew it all on a week-long binge in Port Blacksand and now has to go off and find a wizard to kill and rob so they can pay their tavern bill? Well fear not, for I have some excellent gift ideas for this holiday season, straight from the pages of the Allansian Adventurer Catalogue!

Bird Hat

A bird hat is a stunning item, part accessory, part headgear. It’s stylish, it’s intriguing, it’s a bird on your head that won’t shit all over your hair and down your back. Just look at how great it looks:

Woman with fangs and bird hat. Looks angry. Possibly because someone made fun of her hat

“I got resurrected for THIS?”

They’re not just for the ladies, and not just birds!

At this point it's a Luck test to nail him with the silver arrow. That's why I took that potion at the start.

I’d come back from the dead, – um, I mean redead – for that hat too.

As you can see, our model is wearing the classic bat hat, which is suave and sophisticated and very slimming. There are hats made from flappy airborne things available for everyone’s tastes and everyone’s head, even Zanbar Bone!

Zanbar Bone appears out of nowhere to scythe you up!

Muahahahahahaha!

Your loved one will be the talk of the Allansian Bird Hat Society for months after they show up wearing one of these!

Garlic Wreath

All adventurers know that when you see garlic, there’s a vampire somewhere near. Why not save the adventurer in your life the trouble of having to search through every storeroom and visit every market stall by buying them this inexpensive yet festive garland of garlic? They’ll be ready for any number of insidious blood-sucking freaks, and the best thing is, it doesn’t matter how old the garlic is, it’s just gotta be garlic! It’s so essential that if you were an adventurer yourself you’d have bought this already. This year there’ll be no more excuses about how it’s too dangerous to go on holiday to Mauristatia!

Fire Sword

The Lizard King is a total badass and it's best not to try and sell him Amway.

No-one can ever have enough fire swords.

Nothing says hot stuff like a fire sword! It’s not just good for killing enemies; it’s also handy for clearing a snowed-in driveway, and it radiates enough heat that the wielder won’t even need clothes to walk their pet lion! On top of that, when barbecue season rolls around it won’t just cut the steak, it grills it too! It’s also handy for dealing with those pesky gonchongs that make summer vacations a drag.

SPECIAL OFFER: Buy a Fire Sword from this catalogue and we’ll throw in a theft proofing illusion that makes this valuable flaming sword look like a rusty knife. That’s an illusion worth 30gp for FREE! Just make sure no-one forgets the rusty knife on the sideboard is really a flaming blade of fiery death!

Gravity Bomb

“But what about the space-faring adventurer in the family,” you ask? Fear not, you can always get them a gravity bomb! This little beauty creates a small, localised black hole. It sucks in everything it touches and then fizzles out of existence, so there’s no chance the kids will fall into it and be crushed like an incompetent starship captain. If you don’t know any intrepid Space Assassins who may need one of these, then there’s always the option of using it to clean up the wrapping paper after the gifts have been opened!

Black hole comes in any colour you want as long as it’s black. No refunds. Gravity bomb not for human consumption.

Single-Use Magic Item Gift Basket

Every adventurer knows that having the right item on hand can be the difference between a gentle walk in the forest or a deadly struggle with a deadly monster. Well, with this gift basket of Yaztromotm brand single-use magic items your favourite adventurer will have everything they need to trek through the most wild and dangerous wilderness! The gift basket includes nose plugs, glove of missile dexterity, armband of strength, fire seeds, holy water, potion of plant control, potion of anti-poison, headband of concentration, boots of leaping, and of course everyone’s favourite; a y-shaped stick!

Khare Summary

Well, that was fun, wasn’t it? I thought so. Here’s the score:

Days: 7

Skill Lost: 0

Stamina Lost: 49

Luck Lost: 1

Provisions Gained: 12

Provisions Eaten: 7

Treasure Gained:

78 Gold Pieces
Golden Locket (value of 8 gold)

Gold Spent: 40

Spells Cast: 14

Dop: 2
Doz: 1
Dud: 1
Fal: 1
Hot: 1
How: 1
Jig: 2
Mag: 1
Mud: 1
Rap: 1
Wal: 1
Zap: 1

Inventory

Sword
Backpack
Glandragor’s Axe
Spellbook Page 102
Bag of Teeth
Silver Key no. 111
Borrinskin Boots
Bomba Fruit
Ragnar’s Armband of Swordmastery
Crystal Waterfall Pass
Spare Sword
Kharé Gate Key no. 12
Gauntlets of Weaponry
Golden Locket
Lucky Talisman
Enchanted Compass of North Gate Spell Line Holder Finding
Large Backpack
Bow
Quiver of Silver Arrows: 11 8
Tinderbox
Snake Bite Antidote

Spell Components Found: 13

Flute
Goblin Teeth (4)
Giant Teeth (1)
Beeswax (Infinity plus one)
Sand (1)
Bracelet of Bone
Sun Jewel
Green Wig
Gold-Backed Mirror

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