Monday, 10 September 2018

LP Lone Wolf #1 - Flight From the Dark (Part 3) - Is This the Way to the Capital?


We're back for another round of everyone's favourite green-tunic wearing hero. No not Link, Green Arrow, Robin Hood, Peter Pan, Green Lantern, The Jolly Green Giant, or Captain Kirk in that one Deep Space 9 episode. I refer to Lone Wolf, the eponymous hero of Joe Dever's Lone Wolf series of gamebooks. Lone Wolf being the sort of name you'd expect to see on the Tinder profile of a man who poses with his knives in his profile picture, and has military quotes as his bio.

The adventure so far: Our Jedi Temple has been destroyed by Adam Driver, we've spent a lot of time walking/running and invariably helping - or hiding from - refugees. We also fought a Gorgaz - a horrible humanoid swamp lizard who resembles how you pictured your dad after seeing him in the bath during your childhood. Also, The Prince had been mortally wounded in battle and he requested we go to the Capital to warn his father, the King (duh), of the impending invasion of Dark Forces.

See Part One and Part Two for more detail.

Section 235: The Prince's horse turns out to be rather decent, who'd have thought? With a stead that's fast and sure of foot (and something to shag later), we continue our journey to the Capital. Surely with a horse as great as this we'll be there in time for tea. Somebody smoke us a kipper.

Speaking of which, turns out I'm hungry and need to eat a meal. Fortunately I have the Hunting Kai Discipline, and thus can source my meal from the road.

Eventually we arrive at a junction. The signpost that was here has been hacked down.

We can:

Use the Kai Discipline of Tracking, go to 254.
Take the left path, go to 32.
Take the right path, go to 146. 

I don't have Tracking, so that's right out. I've flipped a coin, and thus we go left and turn to section 32.

Section 32: We ride for a few miles when we spot five large Direwolves (sorry wrong franchise) Doomwolves and their Giak riders. The wiki describes Giaks thusly: "human like, with grey skin color and are squat figures", so they're basically the real me.

The Doomwolves are heading forwards, towards an open meadow. All but one. One of the vicious bastards is racing towards us.

We can:

Hide in the undergrowth and let him pass, go to 176.
Fight him in real life, go to 340. 

Given that I'm rather wounded from the last fight, the prudent thing to do would be hide like Saddam Hussein. But we all know what happened to him. Plus, I'm a roleplaying as a reckless bastard. Like one of those little guys in pubs who always try to start fights.

So I'm going to fight him. We go to section 340.

Section 340: We gallop on forward to meet our enemy in battle, thankful that we've worn our brown pants today. I must fight both Giak and Doomwolf as one enemy.

Full combat rules here.



Combat

Iron Stats: Combat Skill = 18 (16 base + 2 for Mind Blast), Endurance = 10/21, Weapon = Quarterstaff

Doomwolf + Giak Stats: Combat Skill = 14, Endurance = 24, Weapon = Scimitar

Combat Ratio is +4.

This time we have a positive combat ratio as, even though it's two against one, I have the superior combat skill. Therefore we shall be using the positive combat chart, as per below. It's exactly the same as before, but the damage dealt should weigh more in my favour.


Round One: Result is 7. Table shows 11 damage to the enemy, 1 damage to me.

Enemy EP = 13 - Iron EP = 9

Summary: A fantastic start, aided by my superior combat skill. I used Gandalf's go-to move and cracked them over the bonce with my staff. Given how low my Endurance Points are currently, this is the only way for me to win.

Round Two: Result is 2. Table shows 6 damage to the enemy, 3 to me.

Enemy EP = 7 - Iron EP = 6

Summary: They fought back harder this time, showing that the distance between us can still be narrowed. Fortunately, it's inevitable that I'll kill the bastards now. Unfortunately, they might also do me in too.

Round Three: Result is 9. Table shows 14 damage to the enemy, 0 to me.

Enemy EP = -7 (Dead) - Iron EP = 6

Conclusion: Recovering from the previous round, I show my enemies why my colleagues back at the Jedi Temple (or whatever it's called) dubbed me Staff Handler. I whack my enemies so hard that they'll think The Last Jedi was good. Obviously that'll never happen, so instead they're dead.

We go to 193.

Setion 193: Well, the Giak and Doomwolf are dead and apparently I'm searching their corpses. I know this because I find that the Giak is packing a whopping scroll in his...belt, which I'm going to take. We mark this on our Action Chart.

The rest of the Doomwolves are charging towards us.

We can:

Fight them, go to 253.
Flee into the woods, go to 126

I know that I'm playing my Lone Wolf as an absolute thick berk who (mistakenly) thinks he's a triple-hard bastard, but there's only so thick that you can be. He's more of a getting his knob caught in the suction hole of a swimming pool kind of stupid, anyway. If we get into another fight so soon it's probably game over.

We'll flee into the woods and go to section 126.

Section 126: We ride deeper into the forest, our horse effortlessly making his way over the tangle of briars and roots. I should probably have thanked the Prince for letting me rob him and leave him for dead. By the time danger has well and truly passed, it is approaching night.

We can:

Press on ahead, go to 46.
Bear left and rejoin the path we left behind, go to 143. 

At this point, I don't really know which way we're supposed to be going. But I am British, so I'll do the British thing of stubbornly pursuing the same route, and when I get lost, I'll just blame the wife.

We'll rejoin the path and turn to 143.


With all gamebooks the pace is usually fairly staggered. Flight From the Dark is no exception. Instead of letting us pick a route and being done with it, the books drag each choice out into sub-choices and so on. Which is fine, but ultimately the biggest choices you make are which direction you head, and the books are usually 90% walking. Like a supercut of all the rambling scenes from Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.

In the end, you're left questioning your decisions. It's like being a parent and raising a Generation Z brat.

Section 143: The woods lead onto the main highway. The highway apparently connects the port of Toran in the North and the Capital in the South. I know this because Joe Dever wills it. We should reach the Capital by morning.

Turn to 149.

Section 149: The light is rapidly failing and it will soon be night. In order to avoid doing a Christopher Reeve and getting into a life-changing equine accident, we make camp at the wood's edge.

Picking a good safe spot, we cover ourselves in our cloak and drift off to sleep - content in the knowledge that despite all these quick linear sections, nothing bad is about to happen.

Turn to 256.

Section 256: We are awoken by the cries of the Kraan, horrific bird-like creatures I imagine to resemble those racist crows from Dumbo. Fortunately, I usually have a blunt weapon to hand in the mornings with which to bludgeon them to death. Through the canopy of the branches we spy the horrible creatures fly off to the North.

We haven't been spotted but they've already woken me from that Barbara Crampton dream, so it's best that we just continue our journey.

Turn to 224.

Section 224: After several miles of riding, and no signs of the enemy hordes or the refugee crisis, we approach a high ridge. This should provide a view of the Capital.

The view from the peak does confirm that we are approaching the Capital. But there's also bad news.

Turn to 153.

Section 153: 

Before us are the tall grey-white walls and glimmering spires of Holmgard, the city’s banners fluttering from the battlements in the fresh morning breeze. Stretching out towards the west, the River Eledil traces its course from the mountains of the Durncrag Range to the Holmgulf. But below the mountain peaks we can see a vast black army marching relentlessly on towards the capital.

Firstly, put the Tolkien dictionary down Joe Dever. The way ahead is clearly the big setpiece of the book. But we're given a few options on how we can approach it.

To our right, the highway crosses the rolling plains towards Holmgard, the Capital. It is the most direct route, but also the most open and dangerous. Reaching the threshold of the city will require luck on the part of me and my horse.

In front of me lies a tribute to the River Eledil. I could swim to the Capital. This would mean abandoning my horse. And I've grown fond of this horse.

To the left, a third option presents itself. The Graveyard of Ancients. It's concealed, but come on. The description literally states: "Many are the unnamed horrors that lie there in restless sleep, waiting to consume the unwary trespasser". Fuck that for a laugh. That's like shacking up with a sex offender because you're scared to be alone. Plus the name alone sounds like baby's first black metal band.

We can:

Try the Highway, go to 202.
Swim via the river, go to 135.
Risk the Graveyard of Ancients, go to 329.

Well, given that my Lone Wolf is a reckless fool - I'm going to risk the Highway. It's a no brainer. The Graveyard of Ancients sounds a rejected set from the video to Michael Jackson's Thriller; I've also been stung by too many 90's RPGs on PC and instinctively know that swimming is never a viable option.

I urge the horse forward, and we race down the Highway to section 202...



To be continued...

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