Sunday, 22 September 2013
Battleblade Warrior playthrough
I'm the worst blogger in the history of the internet.
This post was due to be up weeks ago, and it's not been anywhere near ready. I've definitely let my schedule slip all the way down, and I'm very sorry to everyone.
But still I'll press on, with only a handful of Fighting Fantasy books left to go I'm sure the end is in sight and victory will soon be ours. We're getting so close, my friends! So close. But yeah, let's crack on with this adventure, shall we?
This post's entry is on Battleblade Warrior, a book that I did own as a kid and don't remember anything about. I remember the cover easily enough, but none of the content. Frankly, I have a better memory of My Little Pony episodes than this book, which is oddly specific in a haunting and vaguely traumatising way. Also, my spellcheck seems to believe that Battleblade isn't a word. I suspect it may be right.
Right, let's have a look. Battleblade Warrior has a picture of a lizardman on a giant flying pterodactyl on the front, and the system works with the basic Fighting Fantasy system, no additional stats added. The background section tells the tale of your homeland under siege by the lizardmen, who are invading because that's the kind of things that lizardmen do. As prince of the kingdom, you're soon charged with going on a big ol' quest to find a special weapon, etc. We've heard it all before, but what really shines here is Marc's writing, giving little details here and there that make the intro feel genuinely unique and involving. Huge points there.
So the queen allows me to take a few items along, I grab my dad's bow and arrow set and a crystal orb full of swirling mist. I bid goodbye to the queen ("See you later mum") and head out on my quest. I'm given the choice of fighting my way through the siege, sneaking out, or swiping a boat and sailing out, so I choose the sneaky option, because my skill score is a mere 9.
Evidently my plan to sneak out was overseen by my mother, who decided to send an entire squadron of soldiers off on a suicide mission to distract the lizardman army, purely so that I can sneak out through a tunnel. With an amazing tactical mind like that, it's no surprise we're losing the war. I shuffle through a trench for a while, clambering over dead bodies and mud, until I hear a sound above the edge of the trench. I look up and see a lizardman riding on a triceratops. "Roar" it says, and whaps me over the head with its javelin.
By now I've snuck all the way to the enemy camp. I'm ready to head off, when I see a large set of catapults launching a variety of fiery bales at my home. I decide that this is a good time to use one of my dad's three magic arrows, and fire it at the barrel of pitch nearby. The barrel promptly explodes, somehow. I don't know how, but eh, it works. With the catapults reduced to smouldering ruins, I press onwards.
I slip through some tents in the camp, hiding behind some barrels from patrols, until I arrive at the stables. I promptly steal one of the riding lizard mounts, and charge off into the sunset. The lizardmen, of course, notice me and give chase. The chase sequence is actually pretty tense, with arrows flying and lots of tension, until I near a copse of trees. My mount is promptly shot by a man in the trees, who I confront angrily. He apologises, and makes it up to me by shooting two of the pursuing lizardmen with arrows. I'm given the option of helping open fire with my own bow at this point, but as I only have two arrows and the stranger's pet saber-toothed tiger (!) scares the rest off, I leave the six survivors to be.
That night, twelve lizardmen return to the trees and try to hunt us out. By that point we've set up a trap involving gunpowder that Lecarte got from Sardarth (ah, continuity, don't you love it?) which explodes in a giant fireball, roasting the screaming lizardmen alive, their flesh charring and blistering... y'know, they just don't make kids books like this any more.
We arrive in Capra, to find that nobody there is any help whatsoever. I take my leave of Lecarte, who suggests I wear a disguise for the next part of my journey, so he stands on the other side of the room and throws handfuls of mud at me. "Honest, this'll make you look like an orc" he explains. Sure enough, about a day's travel north of Capra, I stumble across an orc encampment. Good thing I was in costume, I suspect.
I slip into the orc camp, where they are having a funeral for one of their dead elders. I pay my respects to the elder in the traditional orc way, which is to take a huge bite out of the dead man's body. Following this, one of the elders realises that I'm not actually an orc after all, and whacks me over the head with a stick until I run away.
So the next morning we NO ARTAX PLEASE DON'T LET THE SADNESS OF THE SWAMPS GET TO YOU PLEASE GO ON ARTAX NO DON'T DIE!! ahem, sorry, can't help myself sometimes. Yeah anyway, the next morning we continue our expedition, only to encounter yet more fantasy tropes. As we enter a desert region, we can hear a rider approaching on the road in front of us. We attempt to hide from it, but this ersatz nazgul catches us instead. It chains us to Conan's tree of woe, where we bake in the sun for a few days.
Having killed the thing, I decide to climb up a nearby tree to sleep. The following day, I climb higher in order to see my route through the swamp, and catch sight of some mountains in the distance. I also manage to find some rope ladders and vine swings, which quickly alerts me to a small village set into the treetops. My luck starts to turn, however, when I find a preserved body of one of these treetop inhabitants mummified among the leaves.
"Are you the old man I'm looking for?" I ask the man who lives in the camp. He nods. "Good" I say, and pass out.
Stumbling through the first few tunnels of the dungeon, I am soon met by a pair of stone guardians who do the whole "None shall pass" schtick. I make short work of reducing them to pieces of flint, but at the cost of most of the stamina that my provisions have regained. I slip into the chamber that they were guarding, only to find that it is inhabited by a giant slug.
"I know, I'll sneak past it" says I.
I genuinely enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. I was worried that it would be one of those bland, tedious books without much character of its own, but Mark's writing really helps elevate it above any risk of that. You've got a huge sense of landscape and travel here, and the many characters you encounter definitely bring the adventure to life. Take note, this is a very standard Fighting Fantasy adventure that boils down to 'go get weapon and kill enemy', but the way it's written sets it as one of the examples of the series doing it at its best.
So yeah, this book gets a very shiny and positive review from me, and I'm thrilled to have rediscovered it. This is what this blog was all about, finding those adventures that I didn't notice the first time around. I'm very, very happy with this.
Next time... I dunno, I've only got like five more books to pick up or something, woo!!