Fighting Fantasy – The Warlock of Firetop Mountain Part 1

Welcome to the first of what will be many a blog post as I go through my adventures into the Fighting Fantasy – Choose Your Own Adventure Gamebooks.  The Warlock of Firetop Mountain is the very first book published in the series which means its definitely where I’m going to start.

The first thing you have to do is create your character.  I’ll be using the random dice generator that the book comes with which means flipping pages and stopping on a random number presented at the bottom of the page.  The Warlock of Firetop Mountain gives us three characteristics to roll for.  I need a Skill (fighting), Stamina (hit points) and Luck (exactly what it sounds like).  I flip through the book and find a picture of a pair of dice looking at the first one, a five.  A good choice!  Adding the six base the book gives me I have a fight Skill of 11.  Pretty solid when twelve is the max.  For Stamina I flip again and end up seeing a six and four which I add to the indicated twelve base giving me a twenty-two.  Finally for my luck I add a base six to another die which after flipping to a three gives me a nine; pretty solid stats.  I fill in my inventory with the basic items the book provides me; a sword, shield, leather armor, backpack and lantern.  I’m also given ten rations which when eaten will restore four stamina although it also restricts me that I can only eat the rations when the book gives me the option to sit and eat.  I then get a choice of potions.  I can take a potion that will restore my Skill should it be diminished, my stamina, or a potion which will not only increase my Luck stat by +1 but also restore it to the new base level.  Each of these potions is good for two drinks and unlike provisions, can be used at any time.

While we’re on this discussion of Skills I suppose I should let you know how exactly these are used.  When you encounter a monster that you must fight it, will list that monsters Skill and Stamina.   You’ll do the page flicky thing or roll 2D6 adding that total to the monsters Skill.  You’ll then roll again and add that to your own Skill.  The higher result inflicts wins, inflicting two damage.  If you tie, nobody takes damage.  You can use your Luck after a successful or failed attack.  If you succeed and use your luck you roll 2D6.  If this result is equal to or under your current Luck value then you inflict an extra point of damage, but if it is over your current Luck you inflict one less.  If you were the one initially taking damage you can use the luck in the same way to suffer one less damage or if you fail your Luck check suffer one additional.  Sometimes the book will simply call for a Luck check as well as using your luck in this way.  Also, every time you use your luck you lose a point and so as you push your luck it becomes more and more likely that you will fail.  Finally one other note is that sometimes an encounter will give you the option to run for it and Escape.  Escaping will get you away from a fight but you will automatically suffer two damage as a parting blow from the enemy.
I almost forgot one of the most important parts!  A name!  A good suitable fantasy name for what seems simply to be an adventuring fighter type of character.  I think I’ll call him Dresden.  Yes, it’s a rip from the Jim Butcher novels, but it also sounds suitably D&D like.  So, with the basics covered and the character created let’s begin!

There is no pretext as to why my adventurer is choosing to go into Firetop Mountain so let’s assume rumors of a great treasure because I know that’s kind of the goal anyway.  Previous to heading up to the mountain though I spent a few days in a local village a few miles away gathering rumors and information.  It would be too foolhardy to just waltz right in.  Many of the rumors revolve around the great wealth of treasure that the Warlock has accumulated.  There are many stories of adventurers heading to the mountain but few ever return although those that do are of two kinds.  Some return with treasure in hand having fought bravely and some return with naught but the scars of a valiant but fruitless endeavor.  The Warlock is rumored to have his powers granted to him by either a magically enchanted deck of cards (I’m thinking the deck of many things) or a pair of black magical silk gloves.  Naturally there are many monsters in the labyrinth of caves in the mountain and somewhere amongst these beasts are two keys which are used to unlock the Warlocks treasure chest in the deepest part of the dungeon.  My final recommendation from the townsfolk is to keep a good map as without it I will surely be lost within the mountain forever.

It seems that to me I spent some “special” time with some of the ladies in town as when I go to leave many of the townsfolk turn out and some of the womenfolk shed tears, though I can’t seem to decide if it’s because they’ll miss me or they just know I’m leaving on a trip from which I’m destined to not return.  To reach the mountain I’ll have to cross at a ferry, where, I apparently haggle the boatman down to a single gold piece for the trip.  I’m guessing this is the only gold piece I have after carousing in the town since the character creation never mentioned me having any money.  There were Goblins guarding the area outside the caves but since there was no combat I assume they were either away, perhaps raiding a village or distracted from perhaps too much drinking the night before my arrival.

When I reach the entrance to the caves I come upon a steep rocky face with giant crags torn into it as though it had been savaged by gargantuan beast.  I enter the cave, lantern lit and push my way through cobwebs hanging from the ceiling and walk through small pools of water near the entrance.  I only come a few yards before I’m faced with my first of many soon to be fateful decisions.  The cave branches in a T, one to the west and one east.  I choose east!

I don’t get very far before I encounter a locked wooden door.  I place my ear to it but hear no noise from the other side.  I can choose to kick in the door (very Munchkin), or I can turn and try my luck going west at the branch.  I decide to backtrack.  I don’t want to go making too much noise too soon.  Surely nothing good could come from possibly alerting other creatures to my presence.  So I head the way I came, crossing the T junction I can see the dim light from the cave entrance as I now head west.  The corridor after some time turns northwards where I encounter a sentry post.  There is a Goblin guard wearing leather armor but he is also asleep.  Being a murder-hobo type of player that I sometimes am I want to stab him in his sleep and take his stuff, but apparently I decide that sneaking past is a better choice so I test my Luck!  My first test, how exciting!  Keeping my index finger firmly wedged on the page I thumb from the back of the book forward stopping on a pair of dice which reads six and one for a seven.  The result is under my Luck of nine which is successful but of course now my Luck moves down to an eight as I stealthily sneak past the guard and continue north.

As I continue down the corridor I come across a number of doors to the west of me.  I place my ear up to each before moving on making note of what I’ve heard.  At the first door I hear snoring.  Perhaps the guards sleeping quarters.  I fear going in may cause him to wake and he may consequently yell for the other so I continue.  The second door I hear nothing which is unsettling on its own so I move on.  At the third door I hear what has to be the worst singing I’ve ever heard.  I choose to move on rather than subject my poor ears to more.  Eventually I reach another junction with a branch west and east.  I figure the first junction was dead to the east so I go west again and encounter yet another door down that hallway.  This door however contains a different noise.  I hear a person being yelled at and screaming in pain while they are clearly being beaten.  My bleeding heart forces me to open the door at which point I take in the surroundings.  A table with a chair behind it and a small chest on top is in the center of the room.  Huddled in the corner on the floor is a disheveled and weak looking orc.  Above him stands an orc chieftain who is berating and beating him for being a bad servant.  I could care less if an orc kills another orc, but still perhaps I could get some useful information from the servant so I rush the chieftain hoping the servant will ally himself with me.  Alas, I am to be disappointed.  Not only does the chieftain turn his rage on me, the servant, perhaps trying to return to his master’s good graces also rushes me, I am attacked!

The chieftain and I tussle for a few rounds with me gaining the upper hand and slaying him.  His servant, malnourished and weaker than his master falls quickly to my blade.  Rummaging through their pockets I find twenty-five gold!  My first riches from my exploits thus far.  The chest on the table is locked but I am easily able to hammer the lock with the pommel of my sword and break it open.  Inside, I find a potion of invisibility which has a single use and a silky black glove!  I wonder now if perhaps the warlock isn’t already dead and the monsters just occupying his once upon a time lair.  While I ponder this I hear a twang from the chest below as a latent trap sends a poisoned dart into my belly inflicting three damage.  I feel weak but no other ill effects.  I bandage the wound and eat a small meal to replenish myself before moving on.

After some rest and a meal I move on back down beyond the junction going east this time.  I pass another corridor to the north which would lead further into the mountain and eventually come to a door.  Listening at it I hear the sounds of pots and pans and other noises that might be those of a kitchen in use.  Given the noise there is obviously someone inside at work and if it is a kitchen it is very likely that they have knives.  Also, it could be more than one so I just to backtrack to the north passage.  Heading that direction I come to a door on the right.  Behind it I hear pleading and requests for help.  I try the door but it is locked so I kick it down.  I am greeted by a foul stench which nearly forces me to wretch my recent meal and I see a filthy prison cell occupied by a ravening old man with scraggly grey hair and a beard wearing naught but rags.

He brandishes the leg of an old broken chair and moves towards me aggressively.  As he is human I do my best to reason with him and eventually convince him that I am no threat but am indeed here to free him.  He calms and tells me that he was once like me, an adventurer seeking his fortune before the orcs imprisoned him here as a plaything.  He has nothing to give me but information.

·         Be respectful of the ferry man
·         The keys to the boathouse are guarded by a man and his dog
·         At the portcullis the lever on the right will open the way

He takes his leave and for being the good samaritan I am awarded with an increase to my Luck stat of +1.  Also this new information makes me question what I assumed at the beginning of this story.  Perhaps I’m not even in the Warlocks dungeon yet and I didn’t actually cross that ferry that I believed I did at the beginning of the story.  If this is indeed the case then I’ve hardly scratched the surface of my adventure.  How interesting.

I continue northward up the corridor where I come upon another door where I hear nothing.  A little more emboldened from my thus far successful exploits I try the handle but the door is locked.  I was willing to open a door but I don’t want to kick it down so I continue on.  I come to another door but this time the door is made of heavy steel.  From beyond I can hear the agonized screams of someone being tortured and the sadistic laughs of the person’s tormentors.  I burst through the door where two goblins turn from their duty.  A naked dwarf hangs naked by his hands from a hook in the ceiling covered in cuts and blood he is clearly in bad shape.  The goblins rush me and I once again forced into combat.  The goblins are no match for my skill however and both go down easily.  Sadly, by the time I am able to get to the dwarf he has perished from his wounds.  Discouraged I search the room and find a block of cheese, probably the goblins lunch and take it with me.  (I wonder as it wasn’t a “provision” if this will be useful later for something else.)

Continuing north in the corridor I come to the portcullis.  I can see on the other side yet another junction going west and east.  To my right are two levers which operate the portcullis.  Remembering what the prisoner I freed said I know that I should operate the right lever to pass but I am suddenly stopped by my own thoughts.  My success thus far is heartening and I wonder if this being an excellent choke point I shouldn’t return and check the rest of this area of the caves.  A decision for another time.