The Fighting Fantasy gamebooks by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone were blockbusters of the era. The final book in the original line is here – CURSE OF THE MUMMY!
In 1982, Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, founders of Games Workshop, released the book ‘The Warlock of Firetop Mountain’. Intended as an introduction to tabletop role-playing games of the era, the book’s choose-your-own-adventure format mixed with simple dice-based combat proved massively successful, giving rise to a full series of books – Fighting Fantasy. With over 65 books in the series by a legion of authors and illustrators, the series’ legacy continues to this day. Come along with us as Cybe and co play through each one – with no prior knowledge, no hints or walkthroughs and no cheating!
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I guess that quite a few people want me to play this. I received two copies in the post, after all. One of which was from the author himself. This is always a nice thing, and I certainly could get used to it. I’d encourage other authors to maybe someday send me free copies of their books, so that I can read them and rate them on a score out of ten. I also accept bottles of wine as gifts, by the way.
I never actually played this adventure as a kid, mostly because mummy men are’t really my type. No, really, it’s a sore spot that definitely needs some bandaging. Nah, I’m not going to look a gift Horus in the mouth here… Okay, enough bad puns.
I had the chance to get this book in a shop when I was a kid, but chose Revenge of the Vampire instead, because at the time I didn’t know that Revenge was as awful as it would be.
The only additional stat to take care of is poison. If it hits 18, you die. Simple enough. Must admit, by this point in the franchise we’re all a bit tired of the more complicated, unnecessary additional stats, so a simple one like this is a breeze. We begin the adventure by washing up ashore from a shipwreck, which only goes to support my belief that undertaking ANY journey by water in one of these books is always, always doomed to horrible failure.
I find my way into a nearby merchant town and take a job as bodyguard to an archaeologist who tells me that there is a particularly nasty old mummy in a tomb somewhere around. He intends to rob the tomb for all its worth, but a particularly nasty cult of villainous villains want to bring the mummy back to life, because they’re gits like that.
No sooner have I taken the job, than a group of said cultists attack. Together we fight off the group, causing one to flee. I give chase, but he escapes when he sets a nearby giant black lion on me.Pausing for a moment to consider the health and safety ramifications of any merchant town that lets people carry around giant killer lions in easily-unlockable boxes that any villainous cultist could open and unleash on poor hapless adventurers…. Okay, done.
We head out into the desert, and make camp for the night, during which we are attacked by giant scorpions and the archaeologist is killed. This is the usual fate for any companions you make in Fighting Fantasy adventures. In some parts of Titan, they call you ‘doombringer’.
Stumbling around in the desert, I find an old ruined amphitheater where I meet a crazy old man who is convinced that he’s an actor. He has a few items that he’s willing to trade, no doubt for items that I could have picked up in the market earlier if I’d stuck around to do so, and no doubt very important key items for the plot. But without any, all I can do is wave him goodbye.
My next destination is to find an old shaman, purely because the archaeologist told me to check in with him. My path to him takes me through an old gorge, which the locals use to ambush travelers Thankfully the actor warned me about this, so I’m able to avoid being attacked.
It isn’t long before I find the shaman’s hut, which is on top of a very nasty cliff. I attempt to climb said cliff, and only wind up in falling off the side of it, breaking a few ribs and bones along the way. Fortunately I survive, although I’m in some very bad shape.
I’m also slightly poisoned by this point, because I indulged in my habit of eating random plants I found lying on the ground. Oh well. I chew down on some provisions and decide to head onwards anyway, without any real clue which direction to travel in.
That night, I’m attacked by a nandibear, a creature I’ve not seen in quite a few FF books, and it manages to deal quite a bit of damage to me before I kill it. I find a cultist’s ring in its cave, and shortly thereafter I find an explorer’s journal in another cave, this time belonging to a giant lizard which I’ve also killed. Y’know, I really should have kept a list of how many things I’ve murdered during all of these books, it must number in the thousands by now.
Without anything to light a fire with, I’m forced to spend a night shivering for warmth, just like I’m needing to do in this new flat here in Leeds. Bleh. The next morning, however, I reach the valley of the kings. Heading right along into the ruins, I find a large map of the area carved onto an old wall. I expect that it will guide me to the mummy’s treasure, or at very least, to the lost arc.
But without any way to decipher the map, I’ve no idea where to start looking for the entrance to the tomb. So my adventure ends here. I suspect I’d have fared better had I got a few items from the market, traded them with the actor, and actually managed to speak with the shaman, who I expect was meant to tell me how to use the map. That’s just my guess, though. It’s a fair ending, for a first playthrough.
I’d like to play this again, mostly because I really don’t think I got very far. And partly because I think that I know what I’d need to do in order to succeed, which is something that a lot of the FF books tend to lack – a feeling that you can win if you play again and do this, this, and this differently.
The structure of this book is nicely different from the usual ‘go kill the evil wizard’ type, instead giving you more the feeling that you’re exploring a new region of Titan with a new history to it. In short, it’s a first-rate book, clear to see why it earned a wizard reprint, and I’d have much preferred it instead of Revenge of the Vampire.
Cause of death: Got lost.