the first try. That's what should happen with a gamebook. It also defeated me on outings two and three, in a healthy display of replayability. Right now, I'm hoping to bring it down within ten attempts. As always with gamebook playthroughs, Beware of The Spoilers from this point on.
This time out I rolled a pretty good crew with 11 Crew Strike and 15 Strength. My character only has 8 Skill, but a huge 21 Stamina and the maximum (12) Luck! Now that I've explored the first three options, I can make an informed choice. I decide to take my excellent crew off to Lagash.
The Banshee encounters the warships, outsails one and defeats the other with small losses (-4 Crew, down to 11). Then it's down the coast to the Rivers of the Dead. After weighing anchor and hiking inland, the crew discovers a series of stony hills. I decide to climb them and we come across a mysterious tunnel!
Exploring the tunnel leads to a sliding floor trap which dumps my character into a subterranean lake. Surprisingly, this is not an instant death situation and there's an exit: a stone door watched by a gargoyle statue. Investigation shows that the gargoyle moves and that there are signs of it moving to the left. I opt for pushing the statue to the left and trigger a poison trap - but it's survivable (-6 Stamina, down to 15).
Beyond the portal is a hall full of ovoid stones with alcoves on either side. Checking out the alcoves reveals a skeleton wearing gold rings! Trying to take the rings wakes the skeleton, which grabs my character and doesn't let go before death overtakes the protagonist. That's 0/4.
Rolling up for run #5, I get a decent crew. 11 Strike, 12 Strength. The captain is pretty average; 9 Skill, 16 Stamina, and 10 Luck. I sick of Lagash so I head to Enraki direct and attack the temple by going over the mountains. The crew makes light work of the defenders and we haul away 85gp and ten slaves.
Then it's on to the Eastern Rim. This course takes the Banshee direct to the Rivers of the Dead, so maybe Lagash is just a waste of time? Anyway, I swear off the hills and search the ravines. A hoard of... no, wait, a horde of goblins is there. Fighting them off costs a few crewmen (-2 Strength, down to 10), but pursuit leads to the subterranean lake again. I take my dose of poison (-6 Stamina, down to 10) then wonder if I should have checked swinging it the other way. Oh well. I leave everything in the hall alone and come to a "guess right" trap: push the block into the door, or pull it out? I guess it's pull and nothing bad happens. Within I find the sarcophagus of Ut-Napishtim, Keeper of the Waters of Retribution. I open it like a greedy fool and receive a helmet and 110gp (up to 215gp) for my troubles! The way out is another push/pull choice. I try pull again because the context clue is similar, and return to the Banshee without injury.
We carry on cruising down the Eastern Rim and find the phosphorescent wreck again. I pop into the stern to take up the Sea Sprite's quest again and go direct to face the Krell (no need for the Unicorn Horn this time). I win! The Sprites' reward is a blessing for the Banshee, reducing the dice used to test Crew Strength. Great!
Still hugging the coast, I sail for Marad. Because it's hostile, I'm obliged to avoid the city. :P I also avoid the strange island (sea monster) and head for the Channel of Goth. Finding the naval battle there, I try to break the Shurrupak lines to keep going south. I opt to try sheering a galley's oars, as I did last time I got to this point, and test my Luck. Made it! The Banshee takes a few arrows (-2 Crew Strength, down to 8) but breaks through. I decide to try racing past the second line, but catch a Ballista shot. This brings down the mainmast, but the Crew manages to right it thanks to the Sprites' blessing.
We sail on to Shurrupak to sell slaves. I decide to back myself as a businessman and take in an easy mark, selling my ten slaves for 15gp each! (Up to 365gp). I could hire crew. I do not, this amount of treasure is too low already.
Sailing for the Three Sisters is probably my last chance for treasure before Nippur, so I head there. We check the neatly cultivated island but the book only suggests that we could get provisions. Provisions are not gold, so I'm not interested. On to the volcanic island, where we go beach combing and get ambushed by a giant lobster (-2 Crew Strength, down to 6). Sword in hand, my character goads the crew to continue, but they abandon me! What a bunch of jerks!
So that's 0/5 and definitely feels like progress. I have a pretty good handle on the available encounters (though some of the west hasn't been mapped) and I'm starting to get a better sense of how much time I have to go raiding. The next few runs will probably be mapping as well, unless I roll a really awesome crew & captain.