Friday, 5 June 2015

Lone Wolf 4 - The Chasm of Doom playthrough

(You can follow Justin McCormack on Facebook and Twitter.
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Justin is the author of two bestselling novels, a collection of horror stories - "Hush!: A Horror Anthology", and the young adult coming-of-age comedy "Diary of a gay teenage zombie".
The first in his newest series of books, "Tales of Monsterotica" - a series of erotic comedies, is available now.)


"The Chasm of Doom", written by Joe Dever, illustrated by Gary Chalk.

So, it seems that a kai lord's work is never quite done.

Following my abject failure to track down the wanted fugitive, Vonotor the Nice-Guy, the king has decided that I cannot be trusted to deal with the important matters any more. Instead, he has given me a much more simple task, befitting the status of someone who is probably still struggling to rebuild his ruined monastery. It seems that the gold convoy from a local village didn't arrive on time, and when the king sent out one of his retinues to find out where it's gone, they vanished without a word.

Because I've proven myself to be incapable of tying a piece of string that's already tied, the king sends fifty heavily-armed guards with me to make sure that I don't make a right royal mess of things. Naturally, these chaps won't survive past Tuesday. I also take the new kai skill, mind over matter.

Not more than two miles or so into my travels, we find a small hut. Squatting inside is an old man, who gives me a scroll. The scroll itself tells me, in rhyme (because all prophecy is written in rhyming couplets, it's a rule) that a great evil is going to rise when a sacrifice is made. I want to ask the old man more questions, but he simply laughs and vanishes. I guess this must be scene 24, then. Thankfully, I now also know to pack an extra shrubbery for later.

We travel on, and quickly encounter the worst, most awful and terrible thing to plague all of Sommerlund - actors. A whole troupe of them, no less, riding in a caravan from town to town. We sit around and have dinner with them, while I plot how I can quickly dispatch these foul beasts back to the nether-realms from which all jugglers and mines come from. During the meal, I notice that one of the actors has the sword that belonged to the captain of the King's retinue. After threatening to beat him to death (Lone Wolf doesn't do subtlety), the actor tells me that he bought it at a nearby inn.

Soon, we stop at a ruined temple. I'm half-expecting that this temple is going to be related to the sacrifice that the prophecy discussed, and so I jump to attack two weird black-robed figures who are skulking around in the ruins. Strangely enough, it turns out that the men in robes are actually healers. Who are, as far as I can guess, just chilling out here, instead of going and, y'know, healing people. Frankly, I still think they were up to something.

That night, we are attacked by a group of bandits, who butcher our steeds. They're easy enough to dispatch, but the work of doing so means that only a handful of my soldiers can continue onwards. We continue onwards, through a field where we find the rotting corpses of most of the king's regiment. Hey, do you remember what children's books were like before they had rotting corpses lying at roadsides? No? Me neither.

It isn't long before we arrive in a small town. I happen to notice the name of the local inn as being the one where the actor purchased the sword, so I'm a bit suspicious. Sure enough, bandits immediately leap out and attack, hurling razor-edged dinner plates at me. I flee the place, knowing that I'm no match for them because I'm not a gunslinger in a Stephen King book.

Fleeing into the woods, I notice that I'm now the last surviving member of my party. Told you that they wouldn't make it past Tuesday. Anyway, we eventually find a way into the mines. If I can travel through them, I can get out through the main entrance and into the town. I head in, and realise find that the mines seems to be employing slave labour. You can blame David Cameron for that. The slaves are made up of the local villagers, with the bandits acting as guards.

With the help of one of the slaves, I make my way through the mines and slap-bang into a warzone. The entire town has been fortified, and the bandits are laying seige to it. I fight my way through, sustaining quite a bit of injury in the process. In the tower in the town, I meet the baron who manages the town. He explains to me that the man who is employing the bandits, Barraka, has kidnapped his daughter and plans to sacrifice her in order to resurrect an entire army of the dead. Huh. And I thought that this would be a simple mission, didn't I?

I meet back up with the surviving captain of the king's regiment, who is managing the battle against the bandits, and return his sword to him. At that very moment, the entire force of the bandit army attack, with massive warhounds and catapults of boiling oil and the like. This battle sequence is all kinds of epic. It feels tight, claustrophobic, chaotic and frantic. You're barely given a moment to catch your breath as you're thrown from one challenge and battle to another.

But, even with some heavy injuries, I survive and we are able to route the bandits, rescuing the village in the process. That is good, great even. But we only have a short break, because one thing yet remains. We have to journey south, into the enemy lands, in order to find where their leader is going to perform the ritual that the old man from scene 24 warned me about.

This is, frankly, where the entire adventure kinda starts to become more difficult for me, because I'm required to sneak a lot. We have to sneak past a patrol of enemies as we travel south, without much luck. When we arrive in the ruined city, I have to try to sneak past a few more guards, unsuccessfully, and have to kill them as well. I really should have taken camouflage, instead of mind over matter. Mind over matter has been of very little use in this book, when compared to camouflage.

Still, I'm eventually able to find the tomb in which the ritual is to be held. After dispatching a few more guards, I venture down into the tunnels of the crypt, eventually arriving at a t-junction. I suppose I must have chosen the wrong turn, because I'm immediately knocked out from behind. When I wake up, I'm in a cell. The sacrifice goes ahead, and the bandit leader feeds me to a skeleton.

This adventure is such an improvement over the last book that it's unreal. Rather than moving across the relatively bland landscapes of a tundra, a tunnel and a castle, we are presented with a strong variety of locations, with some real challenges and a powerful sense of atmosphere, particularly in the war sequence. The death I encountered felt very sudden and I definitely wish that I had selected the camouflage skill. Sadly, I wasn't able to recover the very cool dagger at the end of this book, but that's just the way it goes!

So, tune in once more in two weeks time to check out the fifth part in the Lone Wolf saga, in which we encounter our most dangerous to date - a diplomatic mission to sign a treaty! Bewaaaare!!

Lone Wolf Statistics at this point
Combat Skill – 15, Endurance – 25
Kai Skills - hunting, healing, sixth sense, mindshield, animal kinship, weaponskill swords (+2 CS), tracking, mind over matter
Special items – Map, Crystal Star Pendant, Sommerswerd (+8 CS), Firesphere, Blue Stone Pyramid, Silver Helmet (+2 CS)



(You can follow Justin McCormack on Facebook and Twitter.
You can also support Justin on Patreon and receive exclusive content including an advanced preview of next week's Fighting Fantasy playthrough, "The Crimson Tide"!
Justin is the author of two bestselling novels, a collection of horror stories - "Hush!: A Horror Anthology", and the young adult coming-of-age comedy "Diary of a gay teenage zombie".
The first in his newest series of books, "Tales of Monsterotica" - a series of erotic comedies, is available now.)


2 comments:

  1. I think this and the next book are probably the tops of the series. Books 4 & 5 have both a lot of flavor and a lot of action. The tentative nature of the first book and the continuity and design errors of the next couple have been avoided. There are of course some decent ones later on but it's clear the ideas start to run a little in the late books. I can't blame Dever too much for that - I can't imagine writing something like four books a year leaves much room for refinement of the series. There's also the problem of power creep as Lone Wolf grows stronger and stronger - eventually it all gets a bit over the top as by book 5 you're already taking down Darklords.

    I seem to recall a way of keeping at least a few of your men with you up to the mines, where you need to part ways. I could be wrong though. It's been a long time since I've read this one.

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    1. It is possible for three of your men to survive, though there's at least one path on which they just disappear without explanation. This was 'fixed' in the Mongoose Books reissue, with the side-effect that there are now a couple of paths on which all the guards die, and then three of them apparently come back to life and rejoin you just in time to get separated from you by a collapsing bridge.

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