Thursday, 26 January 2017

Gamebook playthrough: "Seas of Blood" by Andrew Chapman, attempt 1

"Seas of Blood", Fighting Fantasy gamebook
My flatmate has a fantastic collection of gamebooks, many of which I remember owning and playing as a child.  I thought it would be fun to play through a few of them to see if I was actually any good at these as a kid, or whether I just cheated my way to the end!  Today I'm having a crack at Andrew Chapman's swashbuckling, throat-cutting Seas of Blood, a part of the "Fighting Fantasy" line published in 1985.  I think I last played this book in the mid-90s.  Note that this playthrough contains significant spoilers for the gamebook.

Before I get into it, a few words on the starting situation.  My character is the captain of the Banshee and starts the book as one of the top two pirates of the Inner Sea.  Great!  However, my character has just accepted a wager to settle who is numero uno, and will race from crime-riddled Tak down to the isle of Nippur.  The goal is to make it to Nippur in less than fifty days with more treasure than rival pirate Abdul the Butcher.

The dice are fairly kind to me in character creation.  My Crew has an average Strike (9), but a great Strength (16).  My character has the much-prized Skill 12, 19 Stamina, and 9 Luck.  We'll see how far that takes me as I set sail into the realm of spoilers.

I start off by sailing south to patrol the waters around the Isle of Enraki.  At the isle, there's the option to make a play for the riches of the warrior-priests of Asswr sel Dablo.  I decided to try ambushing the priests by creeping over the top of the mountain.  Achieving surprise, I still lost a third of the crew (down to 10 strength) all for 85gp and ten slaves.

Short on men, I headed for Assur to recruit - and ran into a Kishian warship that I just can't handle.  Thankfully the option to escape is there and I take it (losing 2 crew strength, down to 8), but that rules out getting to Assur and replacement crew.  Thankfully, the next event is finding flotsam from a wrecked ship, including booze that cheers up the crew (+2 strength, back to 10).  I'm then off to the Shoals of Trysta, but rather than finding a fat merchantman the Banshee comes across a storm.  I decide to run before it, luckily avoiding the Shoals, and land on Trysta itself.

On the island are some beautiful cattle that the crew want to eat.  No, Mr. Chapman, I am not interested in having my crew killed by a Cyclops.  Showing restraint leads to a meeting with the King of Four Winds.  Opting for honesty, my character admits that he's a pirate and is racing Abdul the Butcher to Nippur.  The King has already met Abdul and given him the East and West Winds, so he hands over the North and South Winds to my character, making himself the King of Exactly No Winds.  Well, that's his problem.  My problem is that the crew are very suspicious of the treasure obtained and want 100gp of hush money.  As the crew opening up the bags containing the winds would be Very Bad Indeed, I pay up.  This is not looking like a winner, but perhaps I can at least survive!

We then set a course for the Channel of Goth and foolishly check out a strange island.  It's a sea monster and kills most of the crew (-6, down to 4).  Finally arriving at the channel, I run into a naval battle.  My attempt to cut through the lines fails and the Banshee's crew are slain.  Maybe I was a rotten cheat as a kid?

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