Fighting Fantasy #3: The Forest of Doom

The Forest of Doom, by Ian Livingstone

Fighting Fantasy #3: The Forest of Doom
By Ian Livingstone

Run-through Recap #1

When last we spoke, Corky, our intrepid adventurer, made a valiant stab at the chaos inside this series’ infamous Citadel, but he was ultimately found wanting. Today, we’re heading deep into The Forest of Doom, one of Fighting Fantasy’s stone-cold classic tomes. Trees, towers, funky lizards… what’s not to love?

Welcome once more, readers young and old, as we gather for a tale of danger and derring do from the dark depths of The Forest of Doooom. If you’ve an insight on the number of o’s I should use when writing Doom, to impart the desired amount of foreboding and gravitas, please chime off in the comments. I’ve not yet settled on a number myself, although it’s at least four. [JC: Just pound that o until it feels right.] [Dove: Like R L Stine writing screams, “YAAAAIIIIIIIIII!“.]

Below, I present a Recap Crib Sheet for the Fighting Fantasy series, delivered to inform those new to the site and genre about the intricacies of reading and playing this particular series of gamebooks. I’ll be including the Crib Sheet at this stage of the first five recaps, before hiding it behind a link going forward from there. If you’re an old hand at this sort of thing, feel free to skip to Initial Thoughts, below.

Fighting Fantasy Recap Crib Sheet

What IS Fighting Fantasy?
Fighting Fantasy is a 60-odd strong series of adventure gamebooks. In each, you create a character by rolling dice for various stats. Your character then tackles a branching narrative through which the decisions are at the reader’s whim, and battles fantastical monsters with the aid of foraged equipment and the roll of a dice. It’s Choose Your Own Adventure meets Dungeons and Dragons.

How will I recap the series?
While I did read a chunk of these in the Eighties, I can’t remember ANYTHING about them other than their titles. Also, I cheated hugely every time I played. For this run, I’ll run a playthrough for each book, in original publication order (Puffin), from one to fifty-nine (I’ll likely throw in the four-book Sorcery saga at some point too). My playthroughs will be strictly No Cheating and Fair, likely seeing me killed without completing the story. Then, once the series has been completed, I’ll head back to the beginning and try them all again!

What are the character’s statistics?
Most books (if not all) have three stats: SKILL (1D6+6), STAMINA (2D6+12), and LUCK (1D6+6). Some books have more stats, or other things to administrate; these will be discussed in the various books in which it’s applicable.

How do battles work?
When you encounter an enemy, you are presented with its SKILL and STAMINA stats. Then you battle it over a series of rounds, with each round broken up as follows:

  • Roll 2D6 and add your SKILL. This is your Attack Strength for the round.
  • Roll 2D6 and add the enemy’s SKILL. This is the enemy’s Attack Strength for the round.
  • Whoever has the higher Attack Strength has won the round. The loser subtracts 2 from their STAMINA score (this number can be affected by LUCK, as described in a section below).
  • If the Attack Strengths are tied, everyone misses, and the battle continues.
  • If one of the combatants is reduced to zero STAMINA, they are defeated. If both still have STAMINA, the round ends and a new round begins (go back to Point 1).

(Note: Sometimes, you are offered the chance to ESCAPE. This is basically running away, and if it’s not explicitly presented as an option then it cannot be done. As you ESCAPE, the enemy hacks at your fleeing back and you lose 2 STAMINA.)

How does LUCK work?
Occasionally, when faced with a dilemma, you’ll be asked to TEST YOUR LUCK. To do so, roll 2D6 and compare it to your LUCK score. If the number is equal to or lower than your LUCK score, you are LUCKY, and progress along that path in the story. If the roll is higher than your LUCK score, you are UNLUCKY, and you progress along that path instead. Either way, you then subtract 1 point from your LUCK score, as pushing your LUCK gets trickier over time.

In any round of a battle, after Attack Strengths are compared, you can TEST YOUR LUCK to improve your result. If your Attack Strength is the higher, a LUCKY result increases the amount of damage done to the enemy’s STAMINA to 4 (instead of 2), but an UNLUCKY result drops it from 2 down to a lowly 1. Similarly, if your Attack Strength is the lower, a LUCKY result reduces the damage you take down to 1, but an UNLUCKY result increases it up to 3.

Stats drop… can they increase?
Yes they can! Various items can increase your stats, such as potions or provisions. These can be given to you at the start of an adventure, or found along the way. Specific items will be explained in their appropriate recaps. Unless explicitly stated, however, such boons will never increase your stats above their initial level.

Anything else I need to know?
Adventurers generally start their quests with an inventory of items, again specific to the books and stories in which they appear. You can find things and lose things en route to your goal, and making maps and notes is probably a great idea. Me? I’ll be keeping notes, but I’m no cartographer. For these initial playthroughs, at least.

So! That’s all you need to know about Fighting Fantasy concepts going in. Let’s head to The Forest of Doooooom! (Six o’s… that feels better.)

Initial Thoughts

The Forest of Doooooom is one of the series’ marquee releases. The Top 3 classics are probably this, City of Thieves, and Deathtrap Dungeon, with the latter being my favourite from back in the day. I still can’t remember squat about the specifics of any of these titles, mind, so I’m sure we’ll have fun uncovering the surprises in each. And there are many more great books aside from the three I mentioned… there’s the Mad Max riff of Freeway Fighter, the Superhero pastiche Appointment With F.E.A.R., the horror-fest of House of Hell… there’s even some Vampire and Werewolf stories, which should please certain members of the recapping team. [bat: Oh, you know us so well, Raven!] [JC: I ping-pong happily back and forth between vampires and werewolves, but my real love lies in haunted houses. I eagerly anticipate House of Hell!] [Dove: I’m with JC here. Although my adoration for being lost in the woods has me hopeful for this one too. Good luck, Cork!] [Raven: House of Hell is apparently one of the best books in the series.]

The original artwork in this series is always a total delight, and Ian McCaig’s iconic cover is no exception. I remember drawing this for Art class when I was 12 or 13, and getting a decent grade despite the gruesome subject. A few years back, I attended a lecture and Q&A given by Ian Livingstone, and learned that he and Steve (the series founders) had constant battles with the publishers over their chosen cover art, battles from which they’d never back down. Puffin wanted the covers to be more dream-like and idyllic in their concept and design, while Ian and Steve wanted, and I quote, “cover art that looked as though it could rip the face off the reader.” The cover for this book delivers that, in spades. I also learned that Ian displays most of the original cover art for this series on the walls of his gaming room at home.


We’ll get into the backstory of The Forest of Doom in a second. But first, let’s make an adventurer.

Let’s call him… Corky. [bat: The third of his name.]


That’s three recaps, with three adventurers. All called Corky.

I guess an explanation is in order.

I mentioned, in my first recap, that I’ve been planning on tackling this series for some time. The last time I was seriously pondering the format and function was in 2018.

In 2018, we lost our cat, Corky.

He was sixteen years old, a fine age, but it still hit me hard. I met him when I met my wife Dove. He was almost two years old back then, and he was family.

He was an odd boy, who loved a lot of things not usually associated with cats. One such thing was car travel. Whenever we took him to the vets, or the cattery, he’d sit up in his carrier and check out the world whizzing by, with an uncommon spirit of adventure. He was so alert, even on his final trip.

I knew, back then, that whenever I tackled the Fighting Fantasy series, I’d name each adventurer. It’s fun, and it adds something personal to the recap. I’d have a Roll of Honour, cataloguing the brave yet fallen heroes that gave their all for our entertainment.

I decided, when Corky left, that he deserved a few more adventures.

Corky will be the named adventurer for the first seven recaps in this series. Why seven? Because that’s the length of the publisher’s first run. Why, period? Because it’s three years gone, and I still miss my boy.

For books eight and above? Who knows. We lost Corky’s brother Jupitus eighteen months later, and I’m sure he’ll make an appearance. We’ve new cats too, Meeple and Zuu, and they’re so full of spring and vigour they’re bound to feature. It won’t all be cat-based, I’ll throw in some whimsy too. I do like the name Beefy Slams from the last recap.

For now, and the next four books, it’s Corky the Adventurer. Wide eyed, alert, ready to take on the world.

But please, Corky, for the love of God… roll higher than a bloody one for your SKILL stat.

End aside.

[bat: I think that’s a very sweet tribute, Raven. Weiland has been gone seven and a half years now, and I still miss him every day. Long live fair adventurers Corky, Jupitus, Meeple, and Zuu!]

[JC: Raven brought a tear to my eye, no joke. I was 99.9% sure Corky the cat was the reason for Corky the Adventurer. A fitting tribute!]

[Dove: And for those of you not blessed with knowing The Cork, behold our beautiful boy:

] [Raven: Such a cutie. I do miss him. Thanks all.]

SKILL (1D6+6): I roll… a 6! Go on, Corky! My SKILL is 12!

STAMINA (2D6+12): I roll… a 7. My STAMINA is 19.

LUCK (1D6+6): I roll… a 2. My LUCK is 8.

Decent stats there, LUCK notwithstanding. Maximum SKILL, and bang-average STAMINA. In the last recap, I declared I’d be Gung-Ho should I ever roll a 6 for SKILL, and I’d kick down every door and fight every monster. I don’t think the rest of my stats lead into that, but I’ll certainly be more up-front and confrontational.

This adventure ditches the cool MAGIC stat from The Citadel of Chaos and returns to the Potions and Provisions system from The Warlock of Firetop Mountain. So, 10 Provisions, each restoring 4 STAMINA when eaten, but only to be eaten when explicitly offered the option [Future Raven: Seems like this has changed, and Provisions can be eaten at any non-battle time. Oh, and Hai! I’m still alive at this point!]. And 1 double-hit Potion, of Skill, Strength or Fortune, to restore SKILL, STAMINA or LUCK respectively. I think this iteration of Corky could use a boost to his LUCK, as his high SKILL will hopefully stop his STAMINA dropping too quickly. A Potion of Fortune it is!

Fair faces and friendly folk, I present… Corky the Adventurer!

Equipment: Sword, Leather Armour, Lantern, Backpack, 10 Provisions, 1 Potion of Fortune.

Fare the well, brave sir!

Let’s get to the preamble.

In this book, I play the part of a wandering sword-for-hire in search of wealth and danger. For the past ten days, I’ve been wandering through the northern borderlands, happy with my own company. One night, while camped under the stars, belly full of hunted rabbit, my tranquility is shattered by the clumsy approach of a half-dead aging dwarven fighter.

After making him comfortable by the fire, the crossbow-bolt-riddled dwarf begins babbling in a fit of delirium. I discern that his name is Bigleg (Bigleg!) [bat: …as opposed to Big-something-else?] [JC: It’s his third leg!] [Dove: “He’s got a big fucking leg!], and that he and his retinue were recently ambushed by forces unknown. It appears that Bigleg’s crew were looking to find and deliver a hammer of renown to someone called Gillibran, the Lord of Stonebridge, but their quest was cut fatally short. He beseeches me to take up the task. [bat: Of course it was a magic hammer.]

Fair enough, I reckon. Go to a Place, find a Maguffin, deliver it to a Bloke. All standard fantasy fare. Some details:

The Place: The Darkwood Forest (of Dooooooooom). [bat: I’m gonna sing the Doom Song now!] [JC: I’m gonna emulate our best bud Ralph from Friday the 13th – Doom! You’re all dooooooomed!]
The Maguffin: An important Dwarfish Hammer.
The Bloke: Gillibran, Lord of Stonebridge.

Bigleg also suggests I visit the tower of Yaztromo, the powerful mage, located near the entrance to the Darkwood Forest. Yaztromo should help with wards and spells to aid in the journey. Bigleg also says that there’s a map and some coin in his pouch, before exhaling his dying breath and popping his presumably bigfoot clogs, his plot-imparting business complete.

Sure enough, there’s 30 Gold Pieces in the dead dwarf’s pouch, along with the most singularly pointless map in all of creation.

The Pancake of Doooooom

It’s basically a tower at the bottom, a town at the top, and a bloody pancake in the middle. Still, 30 Gold Pieces is decent enough. [JC: You see a pancake, I see a ping-pong paddle.] [bat: The more I look at it, the more I see The Head. Is this becoming some weird ink blot test?] [Dove: No, isn’t it The Magic Faraway Tree?] [Raven: I go by many names.]

After the barest minimum soul-searching possible, I decide that fetching The Hammer Of Maguffin for Clan Bigleg is likely to pay well. I head off towards Yaztromo’s tower, and begin the adventure proper.

It takes half a day to trek to the outskirts of Darkwood Forest, and further time is wasted hunting out the tower itself. It’s sat some fifty yards from the path, nestled into the edge of the forest itself. Strangely, there are no animal or bird sounds to be heard, which is standard Creepy Shit 101.

I ring the bell on the stout oak door, which fetches an inquisitive grump who, once I’ve announced I’m interested in buying some magical items, claims to be Yaztromo himself. He opens the door and begins climbing the stairs back up the tower, beckoning me to follow.

I can follow him (TURN TO 261) or I can attack him with my sword (TURN to 54).

This dude feels nothing but genuine, and running him through from behind isn’t particularly heroic, so I’ll follow him for now.

The old man huffs and puffs up the stairs, and we eventually enter his quarters atop the tower. Here, amongst the shelves and books and librarian-chic clutter, Yaztromo writes up a list of his available wares. Each item has a one-shot use, and each has instructions for their application attached.

There are SEVENTEEN items for sale. It doesn’t say if they can be purchased in multiples, but I’m guessing not.

Here’s the list, and price in Gold Pieces (GP):

Potion of Healing – 3GP
Potion of Plant Control – 2GP
Potion of Stillness – 3GP
Potion of Insect Control – 2GP
Potion of Anti-Poison – 2GP
Holy Water – 3GP
Ring of Light – 3GP
Boots of Leaping – 2GP
Rope of Climbing – 3GP
Net of Entanglement – 3GP
Armband of Strength – 3GP
Glove of Missile Dexterity – 2GP
Rod of Water-Finding – 2GP
Garlic Buds – 2GP
Headband of Concentration – 3GP
Fire Capsules – 3GP
Nose Filters – 3GP [bat: Appropriate for times of plague.]

What should we buy? There is no other information about the choices at this time. [JC: I’m worried about why you might need to control plants.] [Dove: JC, he’s in a forest. Why wouldn’t he?] [JC: Yes. I’m worried specifically about the plants that will come to life, necessitating controlling them.]

First question: should we spend the full 30GP? I reckon we should. You have to speculate to accumulate, after all. If we were heading into a City or something, I’d suggest holding back a few quid for Starbucks and Guard Bribes, but in a Forest it’s unlikely to be much use other than to jangle in my pocket to scare off a wild animal. [bat: This isn’t a run of The Oregon Trail; spend all that gold, Raven!]

Of the five potions, I’m mostly interested in Healing and Anti-Poison. I’ll also take a Plant Control potion, because we’ll be surrounded by plants for the entire adventure (7GP spent). Next, I’m definitely taking all of the “let’s do cool shit” options, so that’s the Ring of Light, Boots of Leaping, Rope of Climbing, Net of Entanglement, Armband of Strength and Glove of Missile Dexterity (Total 23GP). For the rest, I’m thinking Fire Capsules, and for some reason Nose Filters (Total 29GP). This leaves a cheeky quid in our pocket, which covers all bases. [JC: One coin left to flip for those difficult decisions.]

Rather than wax lyrical on my choices, which feel rather arbitrary, here’s a few words on why I didn’t pick your favourite.

Potion of Stillness seems very niche, although useful if I expect to fight a T-Rex. Potion of Insect Control seems niche too, although being attacked by a giant mosquito might see me changing my tune.

Holy Water seems incongruous, as does Garlic Buds. [bat: Garlic doesn’t work… oh wait, different universe.] Then again, having two clear weapons against vampires does make me wonder. If I get killed by a vampire, I’ll know what to do next time out. [bat: I hope there’s a vampire. Not because I want Corky to die, just the opposite! I want Corky to be immortal!]

Rod of Water-Finding does sound useful, I guess. I’d hate to die of dehydration. I just think that’s more of an issue for books set in a desert or similar. Finally, Headband of Concentration doesn’t feel like a proactive choice. Boots for leaping, ropes for climbing, nets for tangling? These all seem very forward-facing and useful. Headbands for concentrating? I’m crusading through a forest, not retaking my GCSEs. [bat: I’m wondering, you can’t carry over items to the next book? I would totally be that kid.] [JC: Plot twist – the final boss is a scantron.]

As I’m handing over the cash, I make small talk with the dealer. He fleshes out the dwarven backstory considerably: the good dwarves of Stonebridge have lost their war-hammer, without which they cannot rouse their populace against the attacking hill trolls. Apparently, an envious dwarven ruler from a nearby settlement despatched an eagle to steal Stonebrige’s hammer. The eagle succeeded, but dropped it into Darkwood Forest when returning home with the spoils. The hammer was found by two forest goblins, who unscrewed head from handle and went their separate ways. Each part is inscribed with the letter G, and each part is currently Whereabouts Unknown.

I thank Yaztromo for the plotty bollocks, and head out.

Stat Update (mainly to record the purchases)!

Equipment: Sword, Leather Armour, Lantern, Backpack, 10 Provisions, 1 Potion of Fortune, 1GP.
Yaztromo Items: Potion of Healing, Potion of Plant Control, Potion of Anti-Poison, Ring of Light, Boots of Leaping, Rope of Climbing, Net of Entanglement, Armband of Strength, Glove of Missile Dexterity, Fire Capsules, Nose Filters.

I leave Yaztromo’s tower, and head north into the gloomy woods. I notice the lack of background sound, and the cool air, and eventually come to a junction that forks around a mammoth tree.

Do I head east (TURN TO 160) or west (TURN TO 289)?

Coinflip, but a coinflip in which the Pet Shop Boys are on both sides of the coin. Go West! [Dove: I don’t think it’ll be peaceful there.]

The overgrown path continues, then branches once more. My choices are head north (TURN TO 147) or continue westwards (TURN TO 76). I see no reason to deviate from my course, so westwards I go.

The westward path takes a sudden turn to the north, into dense undergrowth. As I head north, I hear a sudden cry for help off to my left.

Should I rush to the aid of the pitiful cries (TURN TO 253)? Or do I ignore their plight, and continue on (TURN TO 187)?

At last, a real decision to make!

On balance, I think I must rush in to help whoever is bleating. My quest is to find the Plot Hammer, but that doesn’t mean I have to be an arse about it. I’ve got a SKILL of 12, and am happy to put my pythons through their paces, brother! [JC: If there’s one thing Disney movies have taught me, it’s that if you ignore someone in need, they will inevitably turn out to be a sorcerer who will curse you for being an arse to them.] [Dove: Might be a prince with plot amnesia, cast out by a dark wizard who is going for the crown themselves.]

After clambering over some fallen trees, I spot the source of the noise: a robed and masked man, seemingly trapped by the ankle in a rabbit snare. His dark robes do a grand job in concealing any weapons he may be packing, and they cover his face to leave nothing but his dark brown eyes.

Should I help the man free his foot (TURN TO 344)? Or should I tip him a wink and head back north (TURN TO 187)?

I’m hearing alarm bells here. This has Ambush written all over it, in permanent marker pen. Why on earth is his face covered? It’s for disguise and nothing more. I’m almost positive this guy will rear up and stick me with a dagger. [JC: A dagger named love!] [bat: Some day I’m going to have to make you a sign or embroider a sampler with that on it for your abode, JC.] [JC: I’m letting the joke die out here. The further away from Loki we get, the less relevance it has.]

But I’m feeling feisty today.

I’m sure, if this is a trap, that it will be a trap that ends in a fight rather than an oops-you’re-dead ending. And as I’ve established, as far as fighting goes, I’m gangbusters. So I’m stepping up and repping the Samaritans, but I’m ready with a throat punch should things get fruity.

I use my sword to pry open the rabbit snare, and the robed figure scrambles free. He’s most thankful, which shows me up as being a paranoid asshat, and he tells me that he’s searching the forest for his long lost hermit-like brother. I ask him to join me on my travels north, but he politely declines. We shake hands, and he heads off south. Good luck to him, say I. Nice chap.

I now expect I’ll stumble upon his brother at some point, and that this meeting here will serve me well. Unless the hermit hates his brother, of course. Then he’ll probably throw his faeces at me and run away.

As I head north, however, I start to feel uneasy. The robed figure was off, somehow. A quick inventory of my belongings tell me that, yes, he was a dirty tea-leaf. Well, that’s taught me not to help anyone in future. I’ve the choice of losing all my remaining Gold Pieces, or to lose two of my possessions from Yaztromo. It now seems like genius that I retained a single Gold Piece, as I can pitch that to the robbing bastard and we can say no more about it.

I retract all the nice things I said about him, the bellend. If fact, I hope his long lost brother is actually an identical twin, so that the thief will feel the pain when I slap his hermit relative in the chops. [JC: I think Sweet Valley has misled you on How Twins Work.] [Dove: Imagine if he just met Elizabeth Wakefield and has yet to meet Jessica?]

The path twists before me, and I soon stumble on a new creature. This time, it’s a sinewy thing with brown scaly skin, sitting on a log and tossing a black shiny rod from hand to hand. This could be a Goblin, and thus I have options.

Should I draw my sword and wade in? (TURN TO 286)
Should I talk to the creature? (TURN TO 203)
Should I ignore him and head north? (TURN TO 6)

The pragmatist in me says talk to the creature. But honestly, I’m fucked off by the scheming thief from my previous encounter, and I feel like smashing skulls. I’m sorely tempted to kick ass now and ask questions later.

But I think that The Citadel of Chaos taught me that gaining information is useful, as it’s the key to progression, moreso that brute force. So I’ll talk to this scaly fella, with my hand on my sword just in case. On the hilt, not the pointy bit.

I hail the “Goblin”, who turns and smiles. But, instead of replying, he starts to metamorphose before me. He gains height, and girth, and menace, and a tail and spikes and a greenish hue. He’s no Goblin. He’s a Shape Changer. And he’s ready to rip my face off.


I shouldn’t be surprised that he’s primed to rip my face off… he’s the bloke on the cover of the bloody book!

Gotta say, I’m surprised that I’m meeting THIS guy so early on in this adventure. It shows that the author means business. The Shape Changer’s stats, as you’ll see, are also a declaration of intent.

I’m so glad I’ve a decent SKILL stat this week. Because I’m sure going to need it.

End aside.


With a lump in my throat, I draw my sword, and step forward. I’ve faced stronger foes than this spiky beat, but not many. Thankfully, my hours of practice on my stance and my swordplay serve me well, and my swings hit their mark again or again. There’s a brief moment when a clawed finger makes it past my parrying sweep, but it digs harmlessly into my leather armour without drawing blood. In six short rounds, I bring the beast low without breaking a sweat.

Strongest foe in three books, and I’m unscathed, motherfucker! Damn, that feels good. [bat: GO, CORKY III, GO!] [JC: All hail Corky the Skillful!] [Dove: Let’s go, Corky / Monster sucks!]

The book then tells me I slump, exhausted from my long battle, which honestly sounds sarcastic after what felt like an ass-whooping. The black rod? Turns out it was part of the Shape Changer’s illusion. But there is a silver lining: I spot some tasty-looking purple mushrooms behind the log.

I can eat them (TURN TO 308), or continue north (TURN TO 148).

I’m pretty sure these are healing mushrooms of a sort, as that’d be what I’d offer after the fight against the book’s hard-hitting cover star, but I don’t have to risk eating them. If they ARE healing, they’ll be no good for me unless they can boost my initial stats, which is doubtful. If they’re poisonous, they could cause me harm.

… but I’ve a Potion of Anti-Poison if they’re bad, and I am a very curious fellow. Ah, sod it, let’s get them fuckers down my neck. [JC: This feels like a bad idea.] [Dove: Pretty sure one of the major rules of hiking is don’t chow down on wild mushies unless you’re certain you know they’re ok. You’ve seen Shrooms, you know how this will go.]




As soon as I eat them, I feel topsy turvy. Initially, it seems as though I may be becoming a Shape Changer, but no. it’s much worse than that.

Apparently, they are Mix-Up Mushrooms. And I’m Mixed Up.

My SKILL score becomes my LUCK score, and my LUCK score becomes my SKILL score.

I mean, FUUUUUUUUUUUCK! [bat: DAMN IT, RAVEN, DAMN IT!] [JC: Don’t eat strange mushrooms in the Forest of Doom, kids.] [bat: Did you not read the recaps of My Little Pony that Dove and I laboured over, Raven? DRUGS ARE BAD, MMKAY.] [Dove: He couldn’t get on there because of all the Russian bots flooding the page. And FFS, Raven/Corky. You fool! Shrooms might be a terrible movie, but it has a good moral! DON’T EAT MUSHROOMS IN THE WOODS.] [Raven: Just gonna say it again. Fuck.]

Stat update.

Equipment: Sword, Leather Armour, Lantern, Backpack, 10 Provisions, 1 Potion of Fortune.
Yaztromo Items: Potion of Healing, Potion of Plant Control, Potion of Anti-Poison, Ring of Light, Boots of Leaping, Rope of Climbing, Net of Entanglement, Armband of Strength, Glove of Missile Dexterity, Fire Capsules, Nose Filters.


Why the HELL did I eat those stupid mushrooms?!

There was literally NO UPSIDE to that course of action.

I thought I was so clever, that I’d logicked out all the possible outcomes. But the author had something from left field that’s left me reeling. My hubris got its cock out and stuck it in my ear.

SKILL 8… Man, that sucks balls. If I don’t wise up, curiosity will kill the Corky.

End aside.

I continue north, feeling a quart less skilful and a half more lucky. Soon, the path branches, meaning I can continue north (TURN TO 97) or head east (TURN TO 20). The map says that the town of Stonebridge lies to the north, but I do need to explore and find the hammer, so as long as I keep my focus on north as a concept, I can afford a little dalliance off-centre now and again. I head east.

After heading east for a spell, and ignoring a southern branch, the path twists north and begins to narrow. As I make my way, a branch swings out from the overgrowth and catches me squarely on the snozz. I lose 1 STAMINA, and fall to the floor. I rise, to find a Treeman blocking my way, squaring up a spoiling for a fight.



I was ambushed by an Ent.

[Dove: Believe it or not, this is not the first time Raven’s party has been ambushed by a fucking Ent.]

End aside.

My options are:

ESCAPE and run back to the junction (TURN TO 234), or fight the Treeman (TURN TO 114).

I have a Potion of Plant Control, can’t I use that? Also, why couldn’t I use my Anti-Poison or Healing on the bloody Mix-Up Mushrooms? [JC: What about fire? Light this bitch up!] [Raven: SPOILERS!]

I know I should run away here, but it’s a Treeman. Surely it’ll be low SKILL and high STAMINA?

I’m going to fight it.

I may take a chunk for this, but I’m hoping to get a gauge on the level of foe to expect in this forest. I’ve only faced the Shape Changer this far, and I feel he was pumped due to him being the book’s poster boy.

I draw my sword.


As the Treeman lurches towards me, I’m prompted about Fire Capsules. Do I have them? (TURN TO 350). I do have them, so I’ll not bore you with the other branch. To 350 I go!

I pull out my pouch of five Capsules, and throw one at the Treeman’s roots / feet. A sliver of flame shoots up, forcing Tree-bloke to back up a touch. Emboldened, I fling the remaining four capsules at the wooden prick, trapping him and facilitating my escape. Thankfully, he can’t follow, and soon the trees begin to thin out. [JC: That was rather underwhelming, as fire goes.]

The trees eventually give way to a large plain clearing with tall grasses. At the other side, I see low hills rising. My choices are continue north through the clearing (TURN TO 180) or head down a new path to the east (TURN TO 252).

East, I think. There’s time for more north later in the day.

The path soon leads to a four-way junction. South leads back to the forest, so that’s not an option. Instead, there’s north (TURN TO 309) or continuing east (TURN TO 72).

Huh. I didn’t realise the plain was both north and east, I thought I was still in the forest. Weird. Ah well, I’ve gone so far east I may as well continue. East!

I come to a junction, and as the south path heads back to the forest I’m forced to head north. All roads lead to Stonebridge, it seems.

I head north through the waist-high grasses, watching them writhe and ripple in the breeze. In fact, the grasses seem to be moving a little more lustily that the wind could reliably muster, and the hackles on my neck begin to ride in trepidation. Sure enough, the undulating grasses begin to dart and stretch forward, grasping at my arms and legs! It’s Tangleweed, and I’m in trouble.

… or am I?

Do I have a Potion of Plant Control (TURN TO 64)? If not… (TURN TO 159).

Why yes, I do have such a thing. [JC: Control that plant! Make it rob banks for you!] [Dove: *blinks* Is that an option? If so, sod this quest, have grass steal money for you.]

As the reeds encircle my body, I use my last reserves to fumble to potion from my backpack and pour it down my throat. Immediately, the tangleweed recoils from my skin as if touched by cleansing fire, and I dash down the path at a lick before the potion wears off.

Gotta hand it to Yaztromo. His shit works.

Stat Update!

Equipment: Sword, Leather Armour, Lantern, Backpack, 10 Provisions, 1 Potion of Fortune.
Yaztromo Items: Potion of Healing, Potion of Anti-Poison, Ring of Light, Boots of Leaping, Rope of Climbing, Net of Entanglement, Armband of Strength, Glove of Missile Dexterity, Nose Filters.

As I head further north, the grasses at my side begin to shrink back to a non-threatening height. The ground rises slightly, and soon I find myself halted by a gentle river bisecting my path. There’s no bridge. A more pressing concern, however, is the noble and majestic Centaur, armed with a bow and a quiver of arrows. My choices?

I can talk to the Centaur (TURN TO 366), or I can walk around him and wade into the river (TURN TO 178). Alternately, I can sword him in the face! (TURN TO 251)

I’m definitely talking to this guy. Centaurs are wise and noble, traditionally, so attacking him is a hiding to nothing. Ignoring him seems like an insult that’d likely lead to fisticuffs, so that’s out. Then again, who fucking knows? Maybe Fighting Fantasy Centaurs are like petulant toddlers, and he’ll just scream in my face then double-hoof my scrotum.

It seems as though this Centaur is friendly, as after a brief greeting we start chatting politely. I ask if he know anything that may help my quest for the hammer, but he has nothing. He then offers to carry me safely across the river for 3 Gold Pieces, which is unfortunately a price I cannot afford to pay. [bat: Damn it! It’s just like in The Oregon Trail, when you can’t afford the ferry and have to ford the river.] With the choice being cough up the moolah (TURN TO 127) or refuse politely and wade into the river (TURN TO 178), it looks like I flip him the metaphorical bird and teabag the gentle river water.

This is a trope. The river will soon be rushing.

I wade into the river as the Centaur trots away. Soon, I’m up to my waist in the green and brackish water. I feel reeds and murmurs around my rapidly-numbing legs, but make my way across without incident, and without the predicted roiling wave. As I drag myself out on the opposite bank, I’m horrified to find a six-inch throbbing black leech affixed to my thigh. [JC: Could be worse. Anyone remember Stand By Me? Or Congo?] [bat: Or that episode of the Simpson’s?] I pull out one of my Provisions from my backpack, using the salt to shrivel and detach the leech, before locating a high oak tree and settling down for the evening, sword at my side, as the light grows dim.

So I lost a Provision by salting a Leech, but I don’t get a chance to eat a Provision as an evening meal? Let me check something…

*checks book*

Huh. Apparently, I can eat Provisions any time I like, outside of a battle situation. That wasn’t the case in The Warlock of Firetop Mountain. That’s a good idea. I’d best go correct the preamble above.

Also, I like the fact that my provisions have individual salt options, like a KFC meal. I now imagine them having a lemon wet-wipe too. [bat: My, sounds like a fancy wet-wipe, we just have plain ones here.] [JC: We’d probably just try to eat them if we had the lemon ones.]

Taking a look at the book’s pancake map, it looks like the forest is bisected by a river. This should mean I’ve crossed to the second half of the forest, and thus the adventure. I don’t feel like I’ve explored a great deal, and I’ve found nothing of use regarding the hammer… Ah well, maybe things will look rosier after a good night’s sleep.

I don’t get a good night’s sleep, of course. After an hour, I’m awoken by a terrifying howl, thankfully far off enough to allow me to pay it little heed. [bat: Where wolves?? THERE WOLVES!] However, as I glace around my campsite in the light of the full moon, I notice an ominous shape descending from a nearby tree. If unfurls itself as a Giant Spider, and gives me no other option but to fight it. [Dove: Wing’s probably glad she’s not here. Imagine the promise of werewolves, her favourite, followed by a giant spider, her phobia.]


Swords out, and charge!

Still groggy from sleep, and eyes blurred in the midnight haze, the Giant Spider gets a few clean swipes with the foremost pair of its bristling legs. Thankfully, this pain spurs me into action, and I put my elbow into the task. Four rounds later, I’m surrounded by severed legs and spider blood.

I settle down to a fitful sleep, before rising and chomping down on a Provision to bolster my strength (glad I discovered that rule change!). I gain 4 STAMINA, wiping out the losses from the Spider fight.

Stat Update!

Equipment: Sword, Leather Armour, Lantern, Backpack, 8 Provisions, 1 Potion of Fortune.
Yaztromo Items: Potion of Healing, Potion of Anti-Poison, Ring of Light, Boots of Leaping, Rope of Climbing, Net of Entanglement, Armband of Strength, Glove of Missile Dexterity, Nose Filters.

I head north along the path into some burgeoning hills, beginning a leisurely climb that takes most of the morning. Eventually, I crest the top and begin wending my way down the far side. As I do so, I see that the path down the hill branches to the east.

Do I continue north down the hill (TURN TO 25), or turn east (TURN TO 267)?

East, I think. My earlier logic holds strong.

The path east leads to a cave entrance. It’s large, and dark, and scary. I’m given the option to turn back at this point (TURN TO 25), but of course I’m going into the bloody cave (TURN TO 196). I’ve got a lantern, after all.

It’s cold and dark in the cave. I’ve chosen to step in with sword drawn rather than lantern, which I suppose is prudent. As I venture deeper, I hear the low rumble of a snoring creature. My eyes adjust, and sure enough I see a slumbering Cave Troll. He has a club on his lap, and a leather bag hanging from the back of his nap-time chair.

My options?

Creep up and steal the bag (TURN TO 376)?
Take the Net of Entanglement out of my bag (TURN TO 39)?
Turn back empty handed and head north (TURN TO 25)?

Well, I have the Net of Entanglement, so unless this is another Gargoyle-Smash-The-Mirror or Miks-Hate-Illusions scenario, I’m good to go. I’ll whip out my net and see what’s what.

Happily, Yaztromo delivers in spades once more. I cast the net over the sleeping Cave Troll. It wakes him, but it pins hum to his chair, and he snarls impotently as I grab his leather bag and exit the cave quickly. (Note: “Grab his leather bag” is not a euphemism.) [JC: Agree to disagree.] [bat: I was totally waiting for this JC reaction.]

A quick gander into the bag reveals 5 Gold Pieces and a small brass bell. Nice! Added to the Equipment List. I head back to the hill and head north down the path.

Eventually, the path levels out, before a new branch on the valley floor leads off to the west. What to do, what to do…?

Head west (TURN TO 56)?
Continue north (TURN TO 369)?

Pet Shop Boys, baby! Go WEEEEEEEEEST….

The tranquil path on the valet floor hits a crossroads. South leads back to the hills, so the choices are north (TURN TO 163) or further west (TURN TO 233). I’ve not heard my fill of Neil Tennant quite yet, so it’s west, west and more west.

The westward path passes a stone well, replete with bucket and winding handle. I can investigate (TURN TO 17), or continue my merry way (TURN TO 238).

OF COURSE I’m checking the well. OF COURSE I’m expecting Samara. [JC: I’m expecting a bucket full of blood. Or snakes.] [Dove: Or just a red notebook to record your thoughts.]

There’s a ladder dropping into the well, which leads to a tunnel just above the waterline, running north. Intriguing. I’ve a few options here.

I can toss a Gold Piece into the well, and make a wish (TURN TO 89).
I can descend the ladder and check out the tunnel (TURN TO 256).
I can leave the well and continue west (TURN TO 238).

My legitimate choices are Make a Wish or Use the Ladder. I’m sorry, but I’m not John Cena. Make a wish? Behave yourself. That’s a waste of a Gold Piece, and nothing else. [bat: Can’t you just wish for the magic hammer??] [JC: What if there’s something friendly down there that will help you if you toss a coin to your Witcher it?] [bat: Now I want apple juice, DAMN IT, JC.] So I’m heading down the ladder, maybe to my death. If I get trapped down there, I’ll simply attract the attention of a passing bush kangaroo and ask it to fetch help.

As I descend, my feet slip on the slimy wall where a rung is missing. I have to TEST MY LUCK. As I need to roll less than or equal to 12, it’s academic.

I roll… a 3! I’m LUCKY.

I cling on to the ladder, and continue down. For those interested, being UNLUCKY would have dropped me into the well water below. Oh, and if I’d not eaten the Mix-Up Mushrooms? Still would have fucking passed.

At the foot of the ladder, I see that the tunnel travels quite some distance north. It’s also lit by torches on the walls. I can crawl down the tunnel (TURN TO 135), or I can head back up and continue along the path (TURN TO 362).


This adventure seems to be full of “Are you sure? Are you REALLY sure?” choices. It’s getting on my tits a bit, not gonna lie. Like, I’m hardly going to go “Yes, I’m sure. Actually, I’m not”, am I? Especially if there’s nothing changed at all since my initial choice.

[Dove: It’s designed for people like me who agonise over choices, and then second-guess themselves when someone goes, “Oh, really. Is that what you’re choosing?” I’d be a mess of back and forth decisions if I was playing.]

End aside.

The tunnel crawl reaches a junction, where the choices are east (TURN TO 151) or west (TURN TO 284). Predictably, it’s west for me.

This leads to a north / south junction. I’ll ignore south (TURN TO 270) and head north instead (TURN TO 81).


Also, there’s a lot of “north, west, west, north, east, north, west, south” stuff going on in this adventure. I feel I should have been drawing a map as I progressed. Ah well, it’s a bit late now.

End aside.

The northern tunnel starts opening towards a cave entrance, from which emanates some high-pitched voices. They seem to be calling to one another. As I gingerly approach, an arrow shoots my way from inside the cave, and I’m tasked to TEST MY LUCK.

I roll… a 6! I’m LUCKY!

Happily, the arrow whizzes past my ear.

I enter the cave on my hands and knees, to discover it’s some sort of living area for two green-skinned Gremlins. The floor is littered with trinkets and curios, and the Gremlins are not happy to see me. They set about me, and I’m forced to fight them both. And, as an extra special hindrance, my SKILL is dropped by three points as I’m battling in very cramped conditions.


It’s obvious that the Gremlins are very much at home in their burrow, and they manage to stick me with a dagger before I find my feet (or knees). However, once I’m accustomed to the cave’s dimensions, I’m much more at ease, and I polish off both stooges without issue.

Upon inspection, it seems that the interesting trinkets that litter the Gremlins’ cave are actually pointless crap. There’s row after row of crudely sculpted clay hands, which is bizarre, but I pocket one regardless. I do find a copper jar containing 3 Gold Pieces, so there’s that. I crawl back to the junction.


That encounter makes me feel sad.

I mean, I basically stormed their hideaway house, where they were minding their own business making weird-ass clay hands, then killed them both and took their stuff.

Poor little Gremlins. I’m so sorry.

End aside.

Stat Update!

Equipment: Sword, Leather Armour, Lantern, Backpack, 8 Provisions, 1 Potion of Fortune, Brass Bell, Clay Hand, 8 Gold Pieces.
Yaztromo Items: Potion of Healing, Potion of Anti-Poison, Ring of Light, Boots of Leaping, Rope of Climbing, Armband of Strength, Glove of Missile Dexterity, Nose Filters.

Back at the junction, I can head east (TURN TO 61) or continue south (TURN TO 270).

East will take me back to the tunnel system’s first junction, so I guess if I’m being thorough I should head south here.

The south tunnel ends with a cave entrance, but the cave itself is still cramped and small, and I can’t stand up. It seems to be home to some intelligent life, as there’s furniture here, the most interesting being a metre-long box at the back of the cave.  My choices are:

Lift the lid off the box (TURN TO 229), or head back to the junction (TURN TO 121).

I will be opening the box at this time. Before I do, let’s see if I can work out the contents. It’s a metre long, so I’m thinking magical sword at best, or another bloody Box Snake at worst. Actually, “at worst” gives me a lot more to consider. It could contain killer bees, or an angry pangolin, or a tiny gnomish vampire. Who knows?

As I touch the box, the lid springs open, and out pops another bloody Gremlin. [JC: It’s the third Stooge!] This one has a dagger, like the rest, and he’s dressed in sacking. I’m presuming he heard me coming and hid in the box, as the alternative, that he’s the other two Gremlins’ Pulp Fiction Gimp, is rather unsavoury.

Before I can stove his head in with a rock, he stabs at my thigh. I’m tasked to TEST YOU LUCK.

I roll… an 8. I’m LUCKY!

Instead of getting stabbed in the leg, I dodge his blade.

This little git is more agile than his brethren, and I’m backed into a corner to fight. As before, my SKILL is reduced by 3 points thanks to the cramped conditions.


Happily, from my recumbent position at the rear of the cave, I have a large arc of attack. He ducks, he dives, but he can’t get close, and I take him down without injury.

In searching the dwelling, I find a large gold ingot worth 28 Gold Pieces. However, it’s a chunky lad, and I’ll have to ditch another object to make space.

Here’s a question… can I ditch a single provision? Or a single Gold Piece?

I’m going with NO, as that feels like it’s against the spirit of the game. I think I can legitimately ditch anything non-Gold-Piece related that I’ve found (or bought) on my quest thus far.

First choice: do I want to take the nugget? I’m settling on yes, I do want to take the nugget. Corky is a sword for hire, looking for riches, so it’s in keeping with his role.

So, do I ditch one of my Yaztromo items? Maybe. Of the eight remaining, the realistic choices are my Potion of Healing (I have provisions) or my Ring of Light (I have a lantern). But these might have magical or niche applications.

Of my found items, I can ditch the Brass Bell or the Clay Hand. The Clay Hand is the obvious choice, as I can’t see it doing anything. Then again, it’s so random it might be exactly what’s required in a bizarre scenario later on.

Okay, so I’m torn between Potion of Healing and Clay Hand.

I’m going to let the dice decide. I’ll roll 1D6, with an odd number meaning I ditch the potion, and an even number meaning I ditch the Clay Hand.

I roll… a 3. Goodbye Potion of Healing!


I now have immediate Seller’s Remorse.

Thich stupid hand had better come in useful.

End aside.

With both nugget and hand in my backpack, I head back to the original junction and head east, passing the turning to the well exit as I go.

This tunnel ends at another cave entrance. This time, there’s a curtain obscuring the view inside. I can throw back the curtain and enter (TURN TO 71), or I can head back, and presumably out (TURN TO 296). [JC: Are you sure? Are you REALLY sure?]

The old saying of “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” butters no parsnips today. I’m ready to explore beyond the veil. The literal veil, not the metaphorical one.

The man behind the curtain is revealed to be… a Gremlin! This time, it’s the Gremlin Chief. He’s sat at a table, wearing a medallion, examining a clay hand. When he sees me, he takes a stone hammer (HAMMERTIME!) and smashes the hand to smithereens, before rounding on me with malice in his eyes. SA with the previous fights in this section, my SKILL is dropped by 3 points.


The Chief, it seems, is well suited to his position, and he’s adept with the hammer. He lands two stout blows to my neck and shoulder, jarring my senses but hardening my resolve. My sword soon makes its mark, thrusting, once, twice, three times, and the Gremlin Chief falls like his brothers before him.

I take the medallion, worth a decent 9 Gold Pieces, before heading back to the junction. It appears that the Gremlin’s hammer wasn’t worth a second look, despite my whole reason for my presence in these fucking woods being to search for a hammer. Ah well. [JC: Wait, what about the clay hand? Why did he smash his? WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF THE CLAY HANDS???] [Dove: Yeah, I feel there’s a whole untold story, maybe even a creepypasta, in there somewhere.]

At the junction, I head towards the well exit. I’ve exhausted my search of these tunnels. As I approach the exit, however, I hear footsteps from above. Someone is coming down the ladder! Should I…

… Reach out and try to grab the first leg I can (TURN TO 320)?
… Wait until the visitor enters the tunnel (TURN TO 193)?

Now this is a question!

Who’s likely to be coming down here? Another Gremlin, returning after a had day’s work, to find all his family and friends dead? Or maybe an adventurer like me, looking for a maguffin of his own.

The pragmatist in me says I should reach out and grab leg, because I could dislodge the visitor and throw them into the well water below. Or I could get kicked and stomped on. The curious George in me says wait and see, because it could be someone friendly. Or, more likely, it could be someone I’d need to fight, but someone who’d have something useful for my quest ahead. I’ll not be able to steal from his corpse if he’s thrashing in the water below.

Screw it, let’s wait and see who it is.

Well, what do you know. It’s another bloody GREMLIN. Should have hooned him into the well.

Usual cramped fighting rules apply here.


I get the first blow, with a lazy swat of my sword as he rounds the tunnel corner from the ladder. This angers him, and he lands two good strikes with his dagger before my fist finds his face and smashes him to the ground. He fought well, but he dropped like the rest.

I’m now given an odd choice, to search his leather backpack (TURN TO 257) or leave without delay (TURN TO 31). I can’t imagine anyone choosing to leave here.

Nice! Inside I find some Elven Bread, which will restore 4 STAMINA when eaten. I also gain a LUCK point. [Dove: Weird how you can carry this bread, even though earlier you had to ditch items to make space. *headtilt*]

I crawl out of the tunnel, climb the ladder, exit the well, and return to the path. Before I continue, I’m going to eat two Provisions.

Stat Update!

Equipment: Sword, Leather Armour, Lantern, Backpack, 6 Provisions, 1 Potion of Fortune, Brass Bell, Clay Hand, Gold Nugget (28GP), Medallion (9GP), Elven Bread, 8 Gold Pieces.
Yaztromo Items: Potion of Anti-Poison, Ring of Light, Boots of Leaping, Rope of Climbing, Armband of Strength, Glove of Missile Dexterity, Nose Filters.

Back at the path, I can go east (TURN TO 281) or west (TURN TO 238). East would take me back the way I came, so I continue west. I pass and ignore a junction to the south as I go. And soon come to a more interesting junction. Head north (TURN TO 199) or continue west (TURN TO 378). More west for me!

Soon, I stumble upon a very curious sight. There’s a man, with a bright red jacket and cap, sitting cross-legged atop a huge mushroom, to the side of the continuing path. He’s snoring loudly. [JC: Is he smoking a hookah?] I can either…

… gently wake him with a nudge (TURN TO 307)?
… or tiptoe past him and continue (TURN TO 67)?

This guy is obviously some sort of gnome, so any encounter with him is likely to be riddling rather than sword-based. I’m getting a sense of O’Seamus from him [bat: WHO R U?] [Dove: Exactly where I went too.], which does not bode well, because that guy was a colossal prick. Nevertheless, I’ll poke him in the ribs and see what’s occurring.

My poke sends him tumbling off the mushroom, where we wakes with a start. He leaps back on top of the mushroom, shouting “who did that?!”, before turning to see me and scowling.

Yup, he’s a Gnome. And I can fight him (TURN TO 192) or attempt a conversation (TURN TO 271).

If I’d wanted to kill him I could have stabbed him while he slept (if given the option). I’ll try and talk to him. Gnomes are fun.

I offer my hand in friendship, which he shakes with a dubious look. I then tell of my quest, and Bigleg (“Bigleg! He’s got a big fuckin’ leg.”) [JC: Is “fuckin” an adjective or a verb in this scenario?] [Raven: Little from column A, little from column b.], and the hammer, and the dwarves of Stonebridge. I ask if he has any pertinent info for me. He tells me that he doesn’t really care for dwarves, but he does have some information, which he can share for a payment of 5 Gold Pieces or an item from my backpack. I can accept his offer and pay (TURN TO 297), or flick him the v’s and continue west (TURN TO 67).

Quite a steep price, I believe, but all the money I have has been purloined from Giants or Gremlins, so it’s easy come, easy go. I pony up the cash and wait expectantly.

With a smile, the Gnome tells me that he’s seen the skeleton of a Goblin in a crypt to the north. It may have been one of the Goblins I’m looking for. Or perhaps it was just a pile of bones. Annoyed at his likely useless information, I head off west.

After ignoring another path to the south, the westward path I’m on turns to the north. In doing so, it happens upon a large pond. A small hut with a thatched roof stands nearby.

Should I investigate the hut (TURN TO 324) or continue north (TURN TO 149)?


On a first playthrough, you investigate EVERYTHING, right?

That’s the only way to be sure you’re not missing anything.

I suppose if you’re at death’s door, or pursued by The Otters of Evil Intent, then you’d scurry past, head down. But with all things being equal, you shine your torch and take your licks.

Then, next time, you’ll KNOW whether you can, I dunno, leave that bloke in the rabbit snare or walk past the Gremlin Well unscathed.

So for now, I knock on the door of the Gingerbread House and deal with the witches within.

End aside.

I walk around the hut. The only thing of note is an interesting blue vase on the porch. I open the hut’s door, to find it empty, both or people and of furniture. I then examine the blue vase, and find that I can’t see anything inside it, as it appears full of an unknown eerie blackness. I shake the vase, and it rattles. Intriguing.

I can drop the vase on the ground (TURN TO 250), or reach my hand inside (TURN TO 161), or ignore the whole thing and continue north (TURN TO 149).

I’m not reaching in there. Not a chance. That’s prime lose-a-hand territory. I’ll drop the vase on the ground instead.

The vase strikes the ground, and cracks appear all over it. It does not break, however. Worse still, there’s an almighty trembling, and more cracks appear on the porch, and on the hut, and the whole area begins to vibrate, and my head starts to throb. What the hell is happening?!

I lose 2 STAMINA points. This does not bode well.

I’m now asked if I possess a Potion of Stillness. I do not. When offered one by Yaztromo, I believe I said it was very niche. To be honest, looking at my current situation, I stand by that claim. I also said it’d be useful for fighting a T-rex… let’s see what happens.

I do not own a Potion of Stillness, so I must TURN TO 13. I mean, that’s ominous all by itself.

The vibrations continue to hammer my body. The hut, full of cracks, collapses into the ground. I cling to the porch for grim life, the howling wind battering my face. Through the tumult, I hear a booming laugh… “I’M FREE, I’M FREE!”

I have released an Earth Elemental from its prison. [JC: Way to fuckin go, Corky.] I lose 3 LUCK points. [Dove: This could’ve been a no-win situation. He could’ve reached in, lost a hand, dropped the vase in shock, and we’re still right here.]

Gradually, the wind dies down and the skies brighten. Eventually, I’m able to stand, and walk, red-faced and silenced, back to the path.

Whew! At least I’m not dead.

And the Earth Elemental has fucked off, it seems. So it’s Someone Else’s Problem now.

Before I continue north, I drink my Potion of Fortune. It only has ONE use in this book, and I presume the same for future books, but I’ll check them as I come to them.

Stat Update!

Equipment: Sword, Leather Armour, Lantern, Backpack, 6 Provisions, Brass Bell, Clay Hand, Gold Nugget (28GP), Medallion (9GP), Elven Bread, 3 Gold Pieces.
Yaztromo Items: Potion of Anti-Poison, Ring of Light, Boots of Leaping, Rope of Climbing, Armband of Strength, Glove of Missile Dexterity, Nose Filters.


Having 13 LUCK seems wrong, somehow. But I can’t find anything in the rules to say that a stat cannot exceed the maximum possible value, only that you can’t increase your INITIAL score unless explicitly instructed (as the Potion of Fortune instructs).

I’ve now asked the Internet, and it seems like it’s all good.

How lucky!

End aside.

Eventually, the northern path heads back under the canopy of the Darkwood Forest. In the gloom, I reach another junction. I can branch to the east (TURN TO 130), or continue north (TURN TO 306). As north is my endgoal, I’ll take a detour east.

The path sees me fighting through briar and thorn. As I progress, I hear a snarling from above me. Glancing up, I face my latest enemy, a bizarre fusion of cat and woman… called a CATWOMAN. [bat: Oh shit, it’s Catrina, Dove! She’s on witchweed potion again!] [Dove: Free the Bushwoolies!] She’s covered in fur like a panther, and looks ready to fight. I can choose to ready myself for a fight (TURN TO 153), or I can run quickly ahead for the cost of one LUCK point instead (TURN TO 355). [JC: There’s no option to distract her with a laser pointer?] [Dove: If only we still had that mouse from book one… (I’m lying, I couldn’t do that to a real mouse. Not even for a joke in an imaginary situation, apparently.)]

I think I’m going to run away at this point. Like, I’ve LUCK points to burn, and I don’t expect this Catwoman to have a secret cache of dwarven hammer parts. It seems like a pointless fight, and I expect I’ve some big fights coming.

Yeah, I’ll leg it.

Although now I expect my final Bossfight will see me facing a Catwoman and an Earth Elemental at the same time.

After yet again ignoring a southern path, I happen upon a Dwarf. He’s sat on a log at the side of the road, and he’s wearing chainmail armour and an iron helm. He doesn’t look especially pleased to see me (insert your own “he’s Grumpy” joke here, folks).

I’m offered a frankly bizarre set of options.

I can talk to him (TURN TO 141).
I can draw my sword and attack (TURN TO 347).
Or I can push him off the log and continue east (TURN TO 59). [bat: MY VOTE!]

I mean… randomly push him over and run away?! That’s soooo tempting.

But no.

I’ll try to make conversation. I’m here to help the dwarves, after all. I’ll mention Bigleg, and maybe that’ll turn him friendly. Unless Bigleg has slept with his wife. It wasn’t just his leg that was big, I can tell you.

Sure enough, when I mention Stonebridge, he’s not Happy either. He reveals himself as a dwarf from Mirewater, the enemies of the Stonebridge dwarves, and he too is here to retrieve the war-hammer. Apparently, his name is Trumble, and it was his Eagle that was lost when stealing the hammer in the first instance. I lose one LUCK point.

I can either attack this enemy of Stonebridge (TURN TO 347), or I can tell him I can’t help, and walk on east (TURN TO 59).

This is a dilemma. On the one hand, I don’t fancy a fight. The bloke has an axe. On the other hand, he’s the idiot that started all this, and he’s a legitimate threat to me finding the hammer myself. Also, if I fuck him up good, I may find some clues on his person as to the location of the hammer now.

Mind’s made up. Sword out, attack!


This one should be a close fight, based on SKILL stats.

He’s a hardy fighter, adept with his axe, and he draws first blood with a slash to my arm. [JC: No one makes me bleed my own blood!] My sword strikes back immediately, penetrating his armour and jabbing his stomach. He doesn’t give up, and through the back and forth there’s significant damage on both sides before a slice to the neck makes him a full head shorter than the average Mirewater resident.

I search his belongings and find a corked bottle of a clear liquid. I can drink it (TURN TO 68) or leave it and head east (TURN TO 59).

Why can’t I take it with me? I’ve a potion-shaped hole in my backpack, even if the rest is crammed with nugget.

I’ll drink the potion, although the Mix-Up Mushrooms are still very much on my mind. Why would this guy carry around a bottle of poison?

It’s a health potion! I gain 3 STAMINA! I also eat a Provision before heading east.

Stat Update!

Equipment: Sword, Leather Armour, Lantern, Backpack, 5 Provisions, Brass Bell, Clay Hand, Gold Nugget (28GP), Medallion (9GP), Elven Bread, 3 Gold Pieces.
Yaztromo Items: Potion of Anti-Poison, Ring of Light, Boots of Leaping, Rope of Climbing, Armband of Strength, Glove of Missile Dexterity, Nose Filters.

After ignoring yet another southern junction, the path curves north. Continuing through the trees, I hear a threatening sound approaching. It’s the pounding footfall of a large and ominous beast!

I can stand my ground and face the oncoming monster (TURN TO 265, or I can hide in the bushes (TURN TO 318).

I feel that discretion is by far the better part of valour here. Into the bushes I leap. Where, from my hidden position, I see the passing legs of a gigantic man striding south down the path. Once he’s clear, I step out and continue north.


If I’d not eaten those fucking mushrooms, I’d have stood my ground there.

Stupid bloody book.

End aside.

The path twists and turns, eventually heading west. Suddenly, from above, I hear a tumultuous squawking. From the treetops, three terrible birds make an ominous descent, baring their talons in my direction. These are Death Hawks, and they are attacking.


I fight them one at a time, or I can ESCAPE if I choose.

I’m down with fighting these insects. They’re like the Gremlins, with wings, but I suffer no penalties. I should despatch these quite easily.

I down the first two Death Hawks easily, forcing them to crash into trees with blood in their eyes. The third seems to be going the same way, until a swooping dive sends a gash across my face. [JC: Corky has a sexy scar now!] Undeterred, my next strike puts an end to the bird’s insolence.

Pretty sure these “Death Hawks” need rebranding. [Dove: I dunno, they’re pretty good at dying.] [Raven: Zing!]

One of the Death Hawks has a silver band around its leg. It reads “Death Awaits You.” For some reason, I decide to leave it and continue west. [bat: NO! Go back and take that, that’s awesome!] [Dove: What’s that the tagline to? I want to say Final Destination, but it might be Grave Encounters. Either way, it’s something to run away from fast.]

The western path soon branches, and, after referring to Bigleg’s pancake map, I decide to head north instead of continuing. Although where I may be on Bigleg’s pancake is anyone’s guess.

The northern path opens out into a clearing. It’s obviously the home of some foul creature, as the floor is littered with rags, bones, and the detritus of battle and feasting. Something glittery catches my eye in the detritus…

Should I take a closer look (TURN TO 57)? Or should I hurry north (TURN TO 360)?

I’m a sucker for a sparkly object. I’m sure Corky (the cat, not the adventurer) was too. [Dove: And he’d accept a very loose definition of “sparkly” too. He once stole my ibuprofen when I was suffering from the flu because he liked the silver blister pack. (Don’t worry, he didn’t eat any.)] Although this is clearly the lair of the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog, I’ll check it out regardless.

As I approach the shiny trinket, a shadow befalls the clearing. Looking up, I see a dragon-like creature bearing down from the sky, with green scales and a gaping maw. It shoots a bolt of mire from its mouth, and I am told to TEST MY LUCK.

I roll… a 10! I’m LUCKY.

Jesus, that was close.

The fire bolt misses and explodes by my feet.

The creature lands before me. It’s a Wyvern, and it’s about ten metres long. It readies itself to send another bolt of fire my way.

Suddenly, I’m asked if I possess a flute.

I do not possess a flute.

Instead of playing my flute and likely calming it, I’m forced to fight the creature.


Oh my sainted aunt. I am so screwed. STUPID FUCKING MUSHROOMS.

The Wyvern takes to the skies, circling the clearing and swooping low, firing fire from its throat, sending me dashing for cover. I feel the heat scour my back again and again, with searing pain reeling me to the floor.

In desperation, I try my luck with an arcing, blind hack… which connects! I gouge the Wyvern’s right wing, grounding the beast and levelling the odds.

Or do I?

The beast is just as adept from the ground as it is from the air. It keeps me back with its fiery breath, and claws me if I manage to get close. I feel my resolve, and my fortitude, dwindling with each rebuffed attack. In desperation, I send a frantic lunge at the creature’s neck, knowing that I’d be off-balance and ripe for a killing blow should I miss. My sword meets the creature’s scales, and harmlessly slides away… before slotting neatly under another scale, and drawing blood!

With a guttural bellow of pain, the Wyvern lashes back with its mammoth tail, hitting me square in the back. MY sword is knocked free, and I fall to the floor, face-first. I spin, winded, to lie on my back, my arm outstretched and fumbling for my weapon. The Wyvern approaches, crippled by my two strong attacks, but still strong, still focused, still full of malevolence and flame.

I feel its breath on my face as it bears down with tooth and claw, as my grasping hand locates the pommel of my grounded sword. In a final act of futile defiance, eyes closed, foe close, I drag my sword to my chest and thrust it skyward, as the weight of the Wyvern presses itself against my supine form.

There’s a brief, and terrible, pause.

I open one eye.

The Wyvern is mere inches from my face, with dead eyes wide, a sword through its open mouth, protruding through the back of its head.

I’m alive.

Barely. [JC: YAY, CORKY!]

(For those wanting the specifics, The Wyvern hit me seven times, leaving me on a perilous 1 STAMINA. I hit the Wyvern three times, and TESTED MY LUCK each time, all being LUCKY, to make each hit worth 4 STAMINA and the third hit the fatal blow.)

First things first… Let’s eat some Provisions. I’ll down 3 to take me up to 13 STAMINA, before searching the Wyvern’s lair. I find an Iron Gauntlet, a Gold Ring, a Throwing Knife, and 10 Gold Pieces. I take the knife and the Gold Pieces, before facing the following options:

Try on the Gauntlet (TURN TO 374).
Try on the Ring (TURN TO 133).
Leave it all behind and continue north (TURN TO 360).

After such an epic battle, I’m not going to besmirch the Wyvern by not taking my spoils. So it’s Ring or Gauntlet. I’ll go Gauntlet first, as magical rings have a history of brimming with pure evil.

Oh, cool! The gauntlet makes my sword wielding feel more deft and skillful. It’s a Gauntlet of Weapon Skill, which adds +1 to my Attack Strength rolls. On to the ring.

Not cool. Not cool at all.

The ring is, apparently, a Ring of Slowness, which subtracts -2 to my Attack Strength rolls. So overall, I’m at -1. For fuck’s sake.

Ah well, best head on. After eating one more Provision.

Stat Update!

Equipment: Sword, Leather Armour, Lantern, Backpack, 1 Provision, Brass Bell, Clay Hand, Gold Nugget (28GP), Medallion (9GP), Elven Bread, Throwing Knife, Gauntlet of Weapon Skill (+1), Ring of Slowness (-2), 13 Gold Pieces.
Yaztromo Items: Potion of Anti-Poison, Ring of Light, Boots of Leaping, Rope of Climbing, Armband of Strength, Glove of Missile Dexterity, Nose Filters. [Dove: I really hope you get to use those nose filters soon.]

Continuing down the narrow path, I hear a twig cracking under an unknown foot, followed by whispering voices. I draw my sword and ready myself. A band of five ambushers appear from the trees-four men and a woman. They declare that I’m a trespasser in their territory, and demand five items from my backpack or I’ll face the consequences.

Should I pony up five items (TURN TO 279), or spit on the ground and declare myself ready to fight (TURN TO 104)?

I mean, the fuck? Can’t I just say “hey guys, I’ve killed that fuck-off big Wyvern for you, no biggie, you’re welcome”…? Ungrateful twats.

Let’s consider. Five things is a lot to give up, but five fights will be awful. I’m 8 SKILL, but a practical 7 in actuality, which is rubbish. I guess I need to Pay my Toll.

So. Five Items. Let’s see.

Ring of Light. Nose Filters. Clay Hand. Elven Bread. Golden Nugget. Medallion. Brass Bell. Throwing Knife.

These are the choices, I feel. Which three do I keep?

I keep the Throwing Knife. That combos well with my Glove of Missile Dexterity, I guess.

I keep the Elven Bread. I’m running low on Provisions.

As for the third… It’s either the Clay Hand or the Brass Bell.

Fuck it, I’m keeping the Clay Hand. [JC: I really, really, REALLY want to know the importance of the clay hand!]

So I’ll ditch:

Ring of Light. Nose Filters. Golden Nugget. Medallion. Brass Bell.



All that was for nothing!

The next paragraph (279) says I can treat every item in my pack as a single item, including each Gold Piece. So that’s a 5 Gold Piece toll. Paid and paid!

The Bandits let me pass, and I continue north. Either side of the path sees the trees start to thin, and eventually I reach a ploughed field. I’m out of Darkwood Forest!


But I haven’t got the hammer.

The path leads to a stone bridge over a clear stream. A sign reads “Stonebridge”, which makes a lot of sense. I can see its promotional video now. “Come to Stonebridge. We have a Stone Bridge!” [bat: I hope they have a hastily made tourism video!] [Dove: What the fuck did I just watch?]

I cross the bridge and enter the village, where I’m met with the following choice.

Do you have the hammer head and handle with the letter G inscribed in them? If you do, TURN TO 400. If you possess neither, or only possess one, TURN TO 381.


An actual TURN TO 400 moment! But one which I can’t choose, as I have neither piece of the puzzle.

The first sentence of paragraph 381? “You have failed in your quest to help the dwarves.” [JC: The book just “ha-ha, loser!”ed you. Bummer.]

Unable to face Gillibran, I head east to find a place to rest. It’s then suggested that, if I wish to try again, I should head back around the forest to Yaztromo’s tower to purchase more items (TURN TO 98).

I mean, sure, I guess?

On my long journey around the forest, I run into a party of Wild Hill Men, likely the same band that attacked Bigleg’s party at the outset of the adventure. I’m told to TEST MY LUCK.

I roll… a 5. I’m LUCKY!

I manage to escape their rain of arrows, and make it to Yaztromo’s Tower… I can now TURN TO 1.

That’s right, folks. TURN TO 1. The very first paragraph of the book. I can turn to the very beginning, and go in again. [bat: Wow. I didn’t know this was possible. Corky III has way outlasted the other two!] [JC: Corky the Skillful has just become Corky the Rerun.] [Dove: Corky is stuck in a time loop.]

Here’s my stats:

Equipment: Sword, Leather Armour, Lantern, Backpack, 1 Provision, Brass Bell, Clay Hand, Gold Nugget (28GP), Medallion (9GP), Elven Bread, Throwing Knife, Gauntlet of Weapon Skill (+1), Ring of Slowness (-2), 8 Gold Pieces.
Yaztromo Items: Potion of Anti-Poison, Ring of Light, Boots of Leaping, Rope of Climbing, Armband of Strength, Glove of Missile Dexterity, Nose Filters.


I have a question for those readers commenting on my recap. It’s a question that makes this an interactive playthrough, which is pleasing to me.

Should I continue the recap here?
Or should I call it done?

Before you answer, here are some things to consider.

  • Venturing through the forest and emerging unscathed, without the hammer, feels like a Mission Failed. If I’m honest, I’m actually surprised I get to go again with the same character.
  • But then again, I don’t feel like Corky the Adventurer is done with this story quite yet. And who knows, with the knowledge I have, maybe I can get through it and complete the book on Playthrough #1. I feel like I’ve done a great deal in this book already.
  • My stats and provisions are very low, and I’m not likely to last long either way. To be honest, that’s both a Pro and a Con to continuing.
  • It’ll feel weird, as the whole thing will be “reset”. The guy will be stuck in the rabbit trap, the Shape Shifter will be there, the Wyvern will be alive.
  • If I continue, I do get a chance to go east for my very first decision upon leaving Yaztromo’s tower, instead of west. That would be genuinely cool. Even if I die, it’s more information for the next attempt.
  • But I could just Go East when I revisit this book in a year or so, for Playthrough #2. Because in a way, this feels like Playthrough #2 anyway.

Honestly? I’m completely torn. Should I call it a fail here, and move onto the Final Thoughts? Or should I continue with the recap, and the trials of Corky the Adventurer, as per the story’s instructions?

It’s time to make your choice. Leave a comment below, with reasoning, and I’ll do what the majority thinks.

This is fun!

End aside.

[bat: GO! GO FORTH, YOUNG CORKSTER! You’ve been given this, albeit weird, opportunity to apply the knowledge you received through the first go-round and now you need to at least attempt a MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. This is unusual and I feel worthy of continuing. Corky is still breathing, that means the adventure is not complete. Also, I really wanna see Corky use the Nose Filters. And use that Clay Hand. I vote CONTINUE!]

[JC: I vote continue, also. If the book meant for your journey to end here, it could have just said, YOU FAILED, FUCK OFF, LOSER. But it didn’t. It gave you the chance to keep going. Go forth, and find the pieces of the magic hammer!]

[Dove: Definitely keep going. And now you know better than to kill the gremlins or save the thief. Also, I really need to know the deal with the clay hands. And the nose filters. So many questions…]

Okay! So that’s a clear vote for CONTINUE. So continue I must. (Once I wrote the Pros and Cons above, it was my choice too.)

I’ll head into the adventure once more, and gloss over any previous encounters I’ve already had with pithy comments and swift resolution. No need to dawdle.

So! I make my way to Yaztromo’s tower, and for some reason he has no idea who I am (heh). [JC: The sexy scar is a great disguise!]

I’m offered the choice of attacking him or following him. As before, I feel attacking is not the play, so up the stairs I go.

I’ve 8 Gold Pieces to shop with. This time, I’ll buy the following:

Holy Water (3GP), Rod of Water Finding (2GP), and Garlic Buds (2GP). This leaves me with 1 GP, and a stat line as follows:

Equipment: Sword, Leather Armour, Lantern, Backpack, 1 Provision, Brass Bell, Clay Hand, Gold Nugget (28GP), Medallion (9GP), Elven Bread, Throwing Knife, Gauntlet of Weapon Skill (+1), Ring of Slowness (-2), 1 Gold Piece.
Yaztromo Items: Potion of Anti-Poison, Ring of Light, Boots of Leaping, Rope of Climbing, Armband of Strength, Glove of Missile Dexterity, Nose Filters, Holy Water, Rod of Water-Finding, Garlic Buds. [bat: Mmm, garlic.]

After retreading the backstory (“hammerhead, hammerhandle, goblins, check.”), I head out, and am faced with this familiar choice:

Do I head east (TURN TO 160) or west (TURN TO 289)?

It’s time to head east, to pastures new and exciting! [Dove: But we don’t have a song for that!]

The path narrows, and I hear strange creatures howl and hoot in the distance. Eventually, the path widens out, and branches to the north. At the intersection, atop a moss-covered signpost that points “north” and “east”, perches a large crow. As I ponder my next move, the crow speaks!

“Good afternoon,” it says.

Feeling foolish, I reply. “Good afternoon.”

It asks of my plans, and I spill the beans. I tell it I’m searching for two goblins and a magical hammer. To its credit, it does not seem surprised. “1 Gold Piece will buy my advice,” it offers.

Should I pay the Gold for the advice (TURN TO 343)? Or should I ignore the crow and head north (TURN TO 8) or east (TURN TO 239)?

Pretty sure I can’t just ignore this crow. My name is Raven, after all. And let’s face it, I’m sure to die soon. I just know the advice will be “never give money to a talking crow”, as my old nan used to say, but I’m gonna toss the bird a coin regardless. [JC: Your nan’s advice was oddly specific.] [Dove: I think his nan was Ian Livingstone.]

I put the gold on the signpost as directed, at which point the crow offers this advice:

“Go north.”

I ask it why it needs Gold Pieces, and it tells me it needs 30 Gold Pieces to pay Yaztromo, in order for the mage to turn it back into a human.

Seems legit.

So I can now heed the crow and head north (TURN TO 8), or ignore it and head east (TURN TO 239).

I’ve paid for the privilege, so north it is. We black birds should stick together.

I make my way northwards, but soon give pause as I hear quarrelling voices approaching ahead of me. I can meet their owners (TURN TO 317) or hide in a bush as they pass (TURN TO 392).

Even though I’m in relatively poor shape, I still think I have to engage with my environment. If I don’t I’ll just hide and hide and hide until I’m back at Stonebridge again, empty-handed. So I’ll stand my ground and face the approaching quarrelers.

I draw my sword and wait. Eventually, two spindly creatures in chainmail jackets hone into view. They are Hobgoblins, and when they see me they cease their argument and attack. [JC: What jerks. For all they know, you could be the world’s greatest couples counselor, here to solve their relationship issues.] [Raven: “Were there any… sexual problems?]


I can ESCAPE the battle any time if I TURN TO 41.

I think I’ll give it a few rounds of combat here. If it goes tits up, I’m outtie.

The first Hobgoblin is surprisingly hardy, and he gives as good as he gets, but my greater fortitude sees me outlast him. The second Hobgoblin, perhaps disquieted by the death of his companion, gets one lucky hit in with a reckless charge, but is downed in a flurry of swordplay soon after. [Dove: That’s what you get, asshole! Should’ve chatted nicely with Corky.]

Searching their bodies, I find 3 Gold Pieces, a small flute (hah!) [bat: Oh shit, it is named Freddie??], some maggoty biscuits, and a necklace made of mouse skulls. I take the lot.

Stat update!

Equipment: Sword, Leather Armour, Lantern, Backpack, 1 Provision, Brass Bell, Clay Hand, Gold Nugget (28GP), Medallion (9GP), Elven Bread, Throwing Knife, Gauntlet of Weapon Skill (+1), Ring of Slowness (-2), Tiny Brass Flute, 2 Maggoty Biscuits, Mouse-Skull Necklace, 4 Gold Pieces.
Yaztromo Items: Potion of Anti-Poison, Ring of Light, Boots of Leaping, Rope of Climbing, Armband of Strength, Glove of Missile Dexterity, Nose Filters, Holy Water, Rod of Water-Finding, Garlic Buds.

Continuing north, I soon happen upon a three-metre hole in the ground, to the left of the path. On inspection, it seems as though there’s a walkable slope leading into the pit. Should I:

Walk down the slope into the hole (TURN TO 125), or continue north (TURN TO 337)? [Dove: You’re in a genre that literally coined the phrase “they dug too deep”…]

As my sojourn into the Gremlin Well proved, if I see a hole, I’m entering it immediately. [JC: . . . ] But, as I descend, I notice the walls are lined with some sort of excreted slime, possibly discharged from a hideous creature. [JC: . . . ] Should I continue (TURN TO 15), or back out of the hole and head north (TURN TO 337)?

Are you sure? Are you really sure?

I’m headed further down. I ain’t ‘fraid of no slime.

Unfortunately, I lose my footing on the slippery surface, and tumble arse-over-tit to the hole’s core. At the bottom, my worst fears are realised, when I come face-to-barbed-tail with a terrifying Sting Worm. This five-metre pulsating hosepipe has murder on its mind, and I must fight it to the death. The death which is likely going to be mine. [Dove: Even Tolkien told you this was a bad idea.]


With my feet mired in the slimy earth, the Sting Worm has a major advantage. It strikes once, twice, three times, before I can muster a single reply. A darting jab from its tail takes me one more hit from death… but the adrenaline kicks in and I land a heavy blow. Then, as the Worm coils back for its death blow, I dive forward in a suicide lunge and cut it clean in two! My boldness pays off, and the beast is dead.

A quick search of the lair rewards me with 4 Gold Pieces, and a bottle of clear liquid. Should I drink it (TURN TO 262)? Or should I leave it be, and head out of the hole and north once more (TURN TO 377)?

I’ve drank one bottle of clear liquid in this adventure thus far. It turned out to be a healing potion. I’m inclined to give this one a swig, but I think I’ll eat my final Provision before I do, just to be safe. [JC: I’m wary of any liquid the Sting Worm has to offer.]

It’s not a healing potion.

It’s a Potion of Weapon Strength, which adds 1 to my Attack Strength rolls for the text two combats I face! Lovely.

At this point, I eat the Elven Bread.

Stat Update!

SKILL 8, STAMINA 9, LUCK 5 (+1 Attack Strength for 2 combats)
Equipment: Sword, Leather Armour, Lantern, Backpack, Brass Bell, Clay Hand, Gold Nugget (28GP), Medallion (9GP), Throwing Knife, Gauntlet of Weapon Skill (+1), Ring of Slowness (-2), Tiny Brass Flute, 2 Maggoty Biscuits, Mouse-Skull Necklace, 8 Gold Pieces.
Yaztromo Items: Potion of Anti-Poison, Ring of Light, Boots of Leaping, Rope of Climbing, Armband of Strength, Glove of Missile Dexterity, Nose Filters, Holy Water, Rod of Water-Finding, Garlic Buds.

I’m now officially out of STAMINA boosts. And my LUCK stat is through the floor.

My journey continues north, and the trees begin to thin. Before they dissipate completely, I spot a cave entrance set a few yards back, to the right. I can investigate (TURN TO 230) or continue north (TURN TO 258).

Even though I’m nearing death with ever step, I must not stray from the mission. I’ve a hammer to find. It might be in the cave. I check it out.

I peer inside the cave, and am chilled with what I see. A hulking Ogre is front and centre, heading towards a wicker cage that holds a small, jumping creature. The Ogre carries a bowl of water, and has a club slung at his side.

I can throw a rock at the Ogre (TURN TO 137), or I can rush in and attack (TURN TO 290). Or I can ignore the whole thing, and continue up the path (TURN TO 230).

I don’t really fancy any of these options. I think a fight will see be perish, but I think throwing a rock will mean I’ll need to TEST MY LUCK, which will not go well. The only option that makes sense is to walk on by, but that’s not going to happen.

I’ll go with the rock. Good old dependable rock.

Oh! Unforeseen bonus!

I’m asked if I possess a Glove of Missile Dexterity, which I surely do (TURN TO 55)!

I don the purple glove (the Unicorns would be proud), heft a good-sized rock, and hurl it at the Ogre. It hits home, and knocks the fucker unconscious. Result!

The commotions sends the caged creature into spasms, jumping and rattling the bars of its prison.

I can examine the creature in the cage (TURN TO 168), search the contents of the cave (TURN TO 313), or leave empty handed and head north (TURN TO 358).

I’d best check out the creature first, because if I don’t I reckon it’ll break free and attack me.

Okay. We’re cooking with gas now.

The cage contains a small, scaley, brown creature. It has a black shiny rod hanging from its neck on a leather cord. That’s right folks, it’s HAMMER TIME.

Do I open the cage (TURN TO 117) or leave the cave and head north (TURN TO WHO THE FUCK CARES?)

I unlock the cage.

Naturally, even though I incapacitated his captor and released him, the Goblin wants a fight. He picks up a stool, and charges. [JC: That’s gratitude for ya. Little shithead.]


I’ve fought many foes in my career. This Goblin, it seems, is the first foe armed with furniture.

I’m discombobulated by the dervishing Goblin, and the stool does far more damage than it should. Just as I’m feeling the force of the stout wooden weapon, I pull myself together and hack the Goblin down. But the damage, I fear, has been done.

On examination, the Goblin’s rod is made of ebony, with a screw thread at one end. It is inscribed with the letter G, which makes it the handle of the fabled Hammer of Gillibrand. I gain 1 LUCK point, and secure the handle safely in my pack. Now I can either search the cave (TURN TO 263) or leave (TURN TO 358).

I search the cave.

Other than miscellaneous furniture, the only thing of real interest is a small silver box, on a shelf above the Ogre’s bed.

I can open the silver box (TURN TO 126) or head north without it (TURN TO 358).

I doubt this box will contain the rest of the hammer, or indeed anything of real Plot Significance. My hope is that it contains a STAMINA boost of some sort. I’ll crack it open.

Opening the box is not a boon. Instead of some fried chicken or a lovely cake, the box secretes a noxious yellow gas!

I’m asked if I have any Nose Filters (TURN TO 365).

I do! I do have Nose Filters! [JC: Yay! Now give us a reason for the clay hand!] [bat: FINALLY THE FILTERS PAY OFF!!] [Dove: *joins in the general celebration* And like JC said, we need to know about the clay hands now. Because they’re giving me Silent Hill vibes.]

As my eyes start to water, I grab my Nose Filters from my pack. Once placed firmly in my nostrils, they do their job admirably, and I suffer no ill effects. The cloud dissipates. I pocket the silver box, leave the cave, and head north.

Stat Update!

SKILL 8, STAMINA 3, LUCK 6 (+1 Attack Strength for 1 combat)
Equipment: Sword, Leather Armour, Lantern, Backpack, Brass Bell, Clay Hand, Gold Nugget (28GP), Medallion (9GP), Throwing Knife, Gauntlet of Weapon Skill (+1), Ring of Slowness (-2), Tiny Brass Flute, 2 Maggoty Biscuits, Mouse-Skull Necklace, Silver Box, Inscribed Hammer Handle, 8 Gold Pieces.
Yaztromo Items: Potion of Anti-Poison, Ring of Light, Boots of Leaping, Rope of Climbing, Armband of Strength, Holy Water, Rod of Water-Finding, Garlic Buds.

Giddy from my exciting encounter with the Ogre, and my acquisition of the hammer handle, I’m a little shoddy with my observation as I wander northwards. I unwittingly set my foot into a noose trap, and the next thing I know I’m dangling by my ankle from a tree!

I’m told to TEST MY LUCK. If I’m LUCKY, I manage to cut myself down using my sword (TURN TO 40). If I’m UNLUCKY, my sword slips from my scabbard as I’m hoisted skywards, and I’m left dangling (TURN TO 218).

My LUCK is about to run out. I need to roll 6 or less on two dice.

I roll… a 7. So close! I’m UNLUCKY.

I’m left swinging for ten full minutes, until a boy dressed in green (clothing not dissimilar to the Bandits at the end of my first pass) rocks up with a smile. He mocks me for falling into the Ogre’s Tree Trap, and demands I give him 5 Gold Pieces or a Magical Item, at which point he’ll toss me my sword. I’ve little choice but to comply.

I toss him 5 Gold Pieces, he tosses me my sword and runs away. I cut myself down, and continue on my way.

Not long after my Tree Trap encounter, with extra observational vigilance, I spot a knotted vine hanging down from a tree to the left of the path. Further inspection reveals a rough treehouse nestling in the canopy.

I can climb the vine (TURN TO 195) or continue north (TURN TO 109).

I climb the vine.

Reaching the top, I scramble onto a wooden platform. A sheet of leaves masks the entrance to a small dwelling. As I approach, a hairy Ape Man creature, wearing a loincloth and brandishing a large bone, emerges from behind the curtain. My choices here are pretty bleak:

I can draw my sword and attack (TURN TO 352), or I can jump off the platform to the ground, some five metres below (TURN TO 156). [JC: I’m guessing you take fall damage in this game. Or, considering how low your Stamina and Luck stats are right now, you’ll somehow land on your sword and decapitate yourself.]

Great… I’m about to get my head caved in by a fucking pound-shop Tarzan [Dove: AND TARZAN BOY IS BACK IN MY HEAD NOW.]. I can’t even jump from the platform, as the fall would probably kill me. Maybe the dice will be kind. I draw my sword, and attack.


I must also subtract 2 from my Attack Strength during each round of combat, due to my opponent’s adeptness (and my clunkiness) at treetop combat. I can also choose to ESCAPE if I wish, by jumping to the ground five metres below.

Yeah, this is going to be a short fight. If I ESCAPE, that leaves me on 1 STAMINA before I factor in the fall. I’m screwed either way.


Wearied from my previous exertions, I stand my ground and brace for the Ape Man’s clubbing blow. Bone versus Sword should be no real contest, but it’s clear from the first mighty swing that I’m outmatched in skill and strength. I feel the majority of my dwindling reserves sap clean from my aching frame as the bone-head hammers my shoulder.

I look to the ground below, eager for some chance of escape. But I’m just too high, too damn high, and this desperate drop would shatter me. I grit my teeth and drive forward, knowing that my only chance of success is through hot luck and force of will.

For a time, it works. I land a solid blow, and another. I can do this, I think, as the Ape Man’s eyes fill with confusion and pain. But this is a fleeting feeling, as the Ape Man’s next swing overmatches my tired parry. The bone connects, striking my temple with a dizzying thud. I’m blinded by stars, stumbling now, blood in the eyes, over the edge, falling, falling, crash through canopy towards an unforgiving forest floor.

Fate rushes to greet me, a slab of growing green, and my senses fade with the Ape Man’s primal scream caught high in the air.

All hail Corky the Adventurer, bested by an Ape Man in the Forest of Doom. [JC: RIP Corky the Skillful. Bested by an Ape Man in a loincloth.] [bat: I HATE EVERY APE I SEE, FROM CHIMPAN-A TO CHIMPANZEE!] [Dove: *sheds a tear for Corky, third of his name*]

Final Thoughts

I had a lot of fun with this one. I hope you did too.

  • I liked the way this book threw me in at the deep end, with some high-level combats with cover stars almost immediately. It really amped the danger factor.
  • That said, there were a lot of paragraphs which were mere “east-or-west” choices, or “you ignore the south path so continue west” and so on. It felt a touch flabby, but I suppose it’s a godsend for those physically mapping their route. It’s likely also a necessary aspect of the mechanic.
  • This felt like a decent balance of fighty fighty and thinky thinky.
  • I liked the Magic Items, in the same way I liked Citadel’s Spells.
  • While I’ll never choose it legitimately, I’m looking forward to completing the adventure and then finding out exactly what happens when you choose to attack Yaztromo. In fact, once I complete any adventure, I’ll do a washup section where I check out any interesting issues and choices I’ve left unexplored (such as what the hell is up with the Clay Hands?!). [Dove: JC and I really need to know.]
  • The whole “second verse, same as the first” restart after working my way through the forest? I’m still unsure on that, although I do appreciate the chance to explore a little further. I’m well set up for Playthrough #2 in a year or so’s time.

Join me next week, where Corky will head for the stars in the space epic Book #4: Starship Traveller. The usefulness of Leather Armour in the merciless vacuum of space remains to be seen. [JC: Corky goes to space in the fourth installment in the series? That’s a tie with Pinhead, the Leprechaun, and Critters (although it beats Jason)!] [bat: I hope there’s ruffled chips and tiny ants where space cowboy Corky IV is going!]

Until next time, do not eat the fucking mushrooms.

(TURN TO 400)