Sunday, 14 February 2016

Deathtrap Dungeon playthrough

Written by Ian Livingstone, Artwork by Iain McCaig

I have not had a good  few days. It's been quite a rough time, and as a result of this, my post today may be a little more bloodthirsty and cruel than it would otherwise be. Forgive me for that. I'm the type of person who works out my sadness through black comedy, and I have a lot of that to work out. So without further ado... DEATHTRAP DUNGEON!!

I asked a friend of mine what book I should review next. He said "One you can win". So I chose this one purely to spite him. DD is one of Livingstone's babies, and has a large abundance of instant-death sections which will catch pretty much anyone off-guard.

I also remember it being especially gruelling and challenging even if you used the 'keep your finger on the previous page' cheat. The book was early in the FF series, 6th if I remember right, and earned its place as a classic. I also remember a playstation video game based on it released sometime in mid-to-late 1990s.

The cheerful and happy Baron Sukumvit has built a dungeon filled with traps and monsters, and has been having great fun inviting people to come along and try to survive. My character, evidently having nothing much to live for and deciding that jumping off a nearby cliff would be too painless, has decided to volunteer. His stats are fairly nice, with a skill of 9 and stamina of 15.

Consider which is more difficult - surviving the
Hunger Games, or surviving Deathtrap Dungeon. 
He also picked up a potion that will restore his stamina to its full level, which is bound to be very helpful against monsters that can swallow you whole. There really isn't much of a storyline here, more of a vague excuse, but it's enough to get the adventure going. "Hey, some crazy man built a dungeon that'll make the Hunger Games look like playing on a bouncy castle, let's go give it a shot!"

Immediately inside, I find a box that contains a couple gold coins, and I'm shocked it doesn't explode or anything. I head east at the crossroads, and find the path obstructed by a large fungus, which I attempt to cut through, only this DOES explore and injure me. The tunnel continues until it is quickly growing to be as hot as a furnace, and I am offered the chance to drink some 'clear liquid'. Opting not to drink the obviously-acid, I press on and my high skill ensures I'm able to get through the tunnel without roasting like a christmas turkey.

Waiting room times in the
dentist surgery are out of control.
I'm able to grab a coil of rope from a nearby room, and am promptly beset by orcs. They're able to knock my sword from my hand, which seriously handicaps my skill score. I lose a full 10 stamina in this fight, so I'm feeling quite beaten by this point, but choose to press on without using any of my precious stamina potion. I should mention that according to the rules here, I can only use my provisions to recover stamina specifically when the book tells me to, so I'm hoping it will offer me this choice very soon.

The next room contains one of my fave pictures in the book - one of the rival contestants in the game impaled on a trap, having carelessly tried to grab some rather-obvious treasure. I pick his pockets and eat some of his provisions. Due to my high luck score, I'm able to grab the gem-encrusted goblet that the hapless adventurer was trying to grab without meeting a similar fate.

Venturing on, I come across a giant buddah statue that has glistening gems for eyes. The book asks if I want to try to steal them - oh yeah, as if I haven't learned anything from the dead fool in the previous room! No chance, I press on right past that obvious trap!

I enter another room, in which a booming disembodied voice demands that I pay tribute to the master of the dungeon. Given how I've been feeling after this weekend, I'm in no mood to tolerate foolish bastards who screw around with people for their own delusions of grandeur, so I reply "Sukumvit is a worm" and get ready to kick some ass. Curiously, the voice seems happy that I show such spirit, and gives me a gold ring. Shame, I was hoping to get to kick some ass again.

The next thing I encounter is even stranger - a pillar of blue light filled with laughing faces. I have the choice of stepping into it, perhaps assuming I can save my game here. But I don't quite trust all the laughing faces, so I decide to go around the thing. With some luck, I find an opal-encrusted dagger lying in a pit of worms. The book asks if I want to grab it - y'know, as a hardy and vicious adventurer,

I doubt I have any fear of worms. I grab the dagger without hesitation, and am quickly beset by a giant fly. I crush the fly without too much trouble, but the injuries I've accumulated now require me to use a swig of the healing potion. Only one swig left, I have to be careful with it!

Let's just pretend that she was in
the video game for other 'assets'...
I head to the west, and get the chance to fight a rock grub, which is essentially a giant dungeon centipede. The game asks if I want to run away. Run away? Don't be ridiculous! Sure enough, I beat it down and only sustain a single injury. No problem. The book then asks if I wish to explore the grub's tunnel. I hop on in, and am immediately eaten by the grub's friend, who is sitting waiting in the tunnel. Hm, there's a certain irony there.

Yes, that was one of the book's many sudden-death sections. Warned you about them, didn't I?

There's a lot more crazy things in this book than I remember, like the furnace tunnel, the beam of light with laughing faces and so on. It's all quite odd, but also imaginative. There's really very little in the way of storyline here, it's a classic old-fashioned dungeon crawl. I'm also not sure I got the rules for the provisions right - the rules say that you can eat them when the book instructs you that you can, but I never came across any such mentions in the text! Very odd.

Anyway, hope that was an enjoyable ride for everyone.


(If you've enjoyed this article, be sure to check out Justin MacCormack's two bestselling collections of horror stories - "Return to 'Return to Oz'", "Cthulhu Doesn't Dance" and the young adult coming-of-age comedy "Diary of a gay teenage zombie". His newest novel, book one of "Twilight of the Faerie", is available now)

3 comments:

  1. According to the wiki, the provisions rule is a misprint in the Wizard Books edition.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The version of the book I have with a green spine says:
    "You may rest and eat at any time except when engaged in a Battle. Eating a meal restores 4 STAMINA points."
    Interestingly, in Master of Chaos just before the Dark Elf tries to grab the Staff of Power off of you; a meal only takes 30 seconds to eat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The first edition says the same as the green spine edition.

      A lot of the early Wizard Books reissues used the rules section from The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, which is one of the few FF books that does specify when you may eat.

      Delete