Well, it's been a while. This isn't a childhood favourite (like Whoever Fights Monsters), but one I picked up recently in a bookshop on Mull for fifty pence. This blog is a great excuse to dig it out, while deciding what to read next. YOU decide what to read next, etc.
I decided to play it by the book - no re-rolls for stats, no stamina resets after fights. I even drew a map as recommended. I'm a grown man, dammit. And otherwise I'd only be cheating myself.
You start by choosing a wizard on the edge of the swamp, who gives you a mission and different spells. Good, evil, and wild card. I plumped for the wild card. Turns out he's not even a wizard. Bad move.
My first attempt ended after two steps on encountering the Master of Spiders. I, predictably, died. I started again at the swamp entrance with the same stats, and carefully avoided him. This time I got a lot further, survived a few fights and ended up in a scrap with three orcs. After killing two, I was finished off by the last one.
I had to rethink my whole strategy. So I started from scratch, created new stats (which were much healthier) and decided to see the good wizard. I chose wisely. Better spells, and a lot more people helping me out.
This time, I did it. I was successful in my quest, as the book says. Oh, it wasn't easy. I had to be careful, make notes, keep my map up to date and use my spells at the right moment. And you can't get anywhere in Fighting Fantasy without some lucky rolls. Yes, I found myself screaming at the dice. Yes, I punched the air when I killed the Sword Trees (trees with swords) for the final time. No, I'm not proud of myself.
That's not true - I am.
Since there are three different missions here, I should really give it another go with the evil wizard. But I've learned something today - it's nice to be nice. You help people out, people help you out. Non zero sum. I choose not to be evil.
There's now a Citadel of Chaos iphone app. You shake the phone to roll the dice! On the basis of Scorpion Swamp, I think I'll be checking it out.