Written by Luke Sharp, Artwork by Russ Nicholson
Never played this adventure before, so let's dive right in. Are you ready?
One little trick when you're writing fantasy - throw letters together and hope for the best.
Fer instance, Chasms of Malice takes place in the lands of Hgsetegs (or something similar). The evil Guiegew has stolen the powerful Shield of Tsgseggt, and as the Heir of Fgjrgnsgs you need to go and save the world by slaying the seven demons of Iseghsurw. But fear not, for the Goddess Igseugsejiise watches over you and guides your path, as you confront the foul minions of Cjrnhjisdih, Jvrguiwe and Rvnjsrnhso.
Make sensible names for things, damn it!!
Right, so this adventure starts off with you as a third-assistant rabbit skinner in the king's kitchen. One morning, you're yanked by the ear to the throne room, where the King tells you that some nasty buggers tunneled into his vaults and his magic shield has been nicked. So now you need to go save the universe. He gives you a pointy stick and has you shoved into the tunnel.
I kinda wish I was exaggerating there. In fact, I am. He gives you a cat, too. I'm not sure why, maybe the dark lord is allergic to kittens. Throughout the adventure, it serves to occasionally meow at me, claw at my coat, sometimes go off and catch fish, and generally be the object of my prayers.
Soon, we find our way into a large cavern which contains a 'famous' tavern. Famous, no doubt, for being the only tavern set into the wall of a large cavern. A figure stumbles out of the door and falls over, I try to help him, but he tries to kill me instead so I have no option but to chop his arms and legs off. The tavern is full of orcs and trolls, but the barmaid asks me to go upstairs to meet her dad, who tells me that the Dark Lord knows of my quest and that the tunnels are full of his servants, so I should meet one of his friends in the nearby caves.
Those glyphs tell me the safe direction to travel in the next tunnel, so after a quick rest for dinner I encounter a group of dwarves. Their leader casts a sleeping spell on me, and I wake up in their hovel sometime later. The dwarf gives me my sword back, tells me that they are my friends, and their home is then immediately attacked by orcs. I fight off three of them, one of which is hit by one of the dwarves poison spray arrows (the book doesn't indicate what the result of this happens to be, though, so I assume it just dies).
Aspra decides to raid one of the dark lord's provision caravans. I decide that it's a good time to pray to the goddess Etuegtasg to regain my luck points, which are quite low at this point. I'm glad of this, because during the raid I leap onto a caravan and am almost chopped up by an elf. Barely surviving, we return to camp and I decide that it's time to venture into the dark lord's lands via hiding in a cart full of foul-smelling leather skins. By a process of sheer luck, I manage to only get stabbed by the dark lord's guards once while they check the cart, instead of a full possible three times.
Given that I've spent my whole life skinning rabbits in the kitchen, I decide that I really don't want to sneak into the orc's kitchen, and instead work my way through some tunnels until I get to a room full of orcs who are having fun torturing a dwarf that's chained to a table. I free the dwarf. By a process of sheer luck, I manage to only get stabed by the orcs seven times while I fight them off, instead of dying horribly right there and... this isn't so lucky after all, I realise. I hope that the dwarf I've rescued will be of some use, but he instead opts to sit in a corner and not move.
I stumble through the tunnels for a while longer until I find a bottomless pit, which I attempt to jump over. By a process of sheer luck, I manage to only tumble and fall into the bottomless pit...
This book is largely forgettable. I didn't play it as a kid, so I don't have any fond memories associated with it, and it's not left a huge impression on me as an adult. It's alright, there's nothing bad about it, but there's nothing that really stands out about it. You spend most of your time moving through tunnels and tunnels, and more tunnels, and a few more tunnels. If it wants to give you a really big surprise with some new landscape, it might give you a cavern. If you've ever trudged all your way through Blackwing Lair, you'll know the feeling.