Puffin Books, £3.50, ISBN 0-14-032412-7
I like Marc Gascoigne’s various collaborative efforts on the role-playing manuals based on the world of Titan, but I confess I am not too fond of his gamebook effort Battleblade Warrior.
You are the prince of the city-kingdom of Vymorna. Your father died recently in the siege of Vymorna by the evil Lizard Warriors from the Lizard Man Empire (really) and now your mother spends her time praying. However, it is you whom the god of courage, Telak, commands to go smash the Lizard Warriors attacking Vymorna. To do this, Telak tells you to travel to the mountain called Durtelakain and locate a powerful weapon that will squash the invaders. Naturally, you decide to travel alone because heroes always do things solo.
Aside from a quaint scene involving an orc funeral where those creatures reveal that they speak like hillbilly folks from some trailer park, this campaign is quite iffy. The enemies aren’t too ridiculously tough. However, there are some instant deaths here that defy logic. For example, you can take on a mighty Lizard Man Champion, but you will certainly die to a few mere panthers. Huh? Some of the instant death scenes are no different from the usual death-defying moments when you can test your luck or roll against your skill to pull a miraculous escape, so it feels as if the author is cheating when he pulls an instant death on you.
Apart from the humorous orc funeral, the setting is bland. The descriptions are generic, the NPCs you meet are fodder, and the villain is one-dimensional. It also doesn’t help that the hero is a hypocrite, showing no remorse at sniping monsters from afar using his bow, but the moment an NPC arranges a deadly ambush on other enemies, he’d go, oh, that is not right and “turn away in disgust”. If the author hadn’t stated explicitly that this twit is human, I’d suspect that the prince is an elf.
Battleblade Warrior is a bland and merely acceptable gamebook at the end of the day.