I took a crack at Fighting Fantasy: Caverns of the Snow Witch

Awhile ago, I was at Goodwill and happened to see this book called “Fighting Fantasy: in which YOU become the hero!” proper title: “Caverns of the Snow Witch.” by Ian Livingstone.

The name “Ian Livingstone” sounded familiar to me, and I later remembered why–I had been about 20 when ads for a game adaptation of Deathtrap Dungeon (which at the time I didn’t know was based on a book) were in magazines. I never played that, and I had no pre-existing familiarity with Fighting Fantasy except that some role-players I’d talked to had spoken highly of it.

So I was like, “I’ll buy this. It’s only a dollar.”

Fighting Fantasy is basically, if Choose Your Own Adventure and Dungeons & Dragons got married and had a baby. If you make Decision A, turn to page XXX, if you make Decision B, turn to page XXY. The twist is you roll stats, and there are parts where your page reference isn’t made by decision but by dice roll. There are also monster fights.

The system works. Basically you and the monster have a “skill” rating and then you both roll dice, add that to your skill to get an “attack power” and whoever has higher AP is the one who deals damage (if you tie, its assumed you both miss). You can also spend a luck point for a chance at doing extra damage, or reducing the amount received. Its pretty elegant, though it means battles basically come down to whether the dice screw you or not.

On my first attempt, that’s precisely what happened–I got attacked by wolves and every. Single. Turn I would take damage until I died. Thus ended my first, very short adventure (literally the only decision I had made at that point was whether or not to cross a bridge).

Now, I gotta admit that while I loved Choose Your Own Adventure as a kid, these days I don’t have quite the fortitude I used to–I usually read until I reach a definite ending of some sort, and then I’m done for the day. So after the wolves killed me, I was like “Oh well, that’s that” and went to play some Outrun. But then today I decided to tackle it again.

I decided to roll a new character to see if I could get better stats, then went once more into the brink.

This time, I discovered something about combat. What I had been doing for awhile was rolling both sets of dice at once–mine in the left hand, and the monster’s in the right–but when I instead switched to rolling the monster first and then rolling my own, I tended to have far better results. I’m not sure why this would matter, but we live in an illogical, magical world, so its time to start believing illogical, magical things.

In general, I seemed to be doing a lot better. Any time I was called to make a dice roll, I succeeded more often than not, and almost none of my decisions got me into too much trouble… until the end.

What finally happened, after I had the fight of my life against a White Dragon (at a huge disadvantage because I didn’t have any of the magic items which were supposed to make this encounter much easier, save for a Sword of Speed) which I just barely managed to win–using my luck to do additional damage and end the combat one round early–I discovered the Snow Witch.

Who was a freaking vampire.

And I didn’t have garlic. Or a runic stave. I had a half-dozen other odds and ends that I never used anywhere (a key found in a loaf of bread, a slingshot and three iron balls, a candle, and so on) but apparently I needed that runic stave to kill the toothy bitch, and since I didn’t have it, she proceeded to make me her undead servant.

This is NOT sexy.

Very well, Snow Bitch, you win this round, but just wait until my mental fortitude returns! I’m gonna record it, too.

… So yeah, this was a fun little diversion. One thing about “Gamebooks” in general though…. I loved CYOA as a kid, but I think it was because they were a kind of video game I could play while in school. Whenever I was at home I, of course, preferred my computer or my SNES, and I do think part of the reason is that being a book, you know much of it is “canned.” Fighting Fantasy does an admirable job of fighting this problem actually, since you have a character sheet and outcomes can depend on inventory or die rolls, but still, there are times where I wish I was playing this as either a Sierra adventure game or as an actual D&D session with people.

Then again, the primary point of these is that they’re for when you don’t have those other things, so lets not shoot for the moon here.

Still, there was something oddly enthralling about playing essentially Quest for Glory but in book form. I’m thinking of hunting down more of these books, particularly Deathtrap Dungeon.

And like I said, next time I attempt Caverns of the Snow Witch I’m gonna record it. Would that be considered a “Let’s Play?”

Lacking Inspiration

So, this time my lack of updates has a rather mundane explanation… in addition to inconsistent weather (seriously there’s so many pop-up thunderstorms lately) and my having suffered inexplicable back pains the last 2-3 days, the main reason I haven’t posted new videos or done much of anything is simply… I’m out of ideas.

Yeah, seriously. Its like I’ll have a thought, but then when I try to act on it, I realize there’s not enough there to fuel the fire.

It’s kinda extending everywhere lately. Like I’ll sit down to play a game but immediately get bored, that kind of thing. The only game lately I’ve been able to play consistently is Outrun 2006: Coast 2 Coast.

Which all sucks because I had a lot of projects I wanted to do. I still want to do a video about the sucktitude of the LOTR movies, a Zippcast version of my Linkara Hobbit response, some vlogs about fantasy, a book review of a book I’m surprised even exists, a lets play, and most important of all: Recently I made up a character to tell my niece stories about–this character being a pink cat named Punky Dazzle. I promised her I would write and illustrate a book about Punky, and I’ve written the prose part down, but haven’t done the drawing yet. This wasn’t gonna be just a pet project either–I intended to put this book up for download on my Google Drive, and use it as a springboard for a webcomic (or possibly illustrated web-novel?) project.

(Yeah, a webcomic would probably be better because people actually read those. When it comes to prose writing, I get the feeling nobody on the internet likes to read unless its a smutty fanfic and even then they just skip to the steamy parts. Though to be honest, I don’t like reading on a screen either, which is why I buy physical copies of books even when I can download them from Project Gutenburg. The flipside though, is that its harder to create a comic than it is to write a novel, even one that has the occasional illustration).

Well, that’s whats happening.

Well, here’s an odd experience

The power has gone out, and yet thanks to a UPS I am still able to use the internet. I am literally sitting in the dark, surrounded by candles, while I type this. I feel anachronastic somehow.

Its actually kind of cool. I guess I should go download some scary story videos.