Wizard Books, £4.99, ISBN 1-84046-388-0
Fantasy, 2002 (Reissue)
Deathtrap Dungeon is, for a gamebook by Ian Livingstone, surprisingly fun. Like the title suggests, this is a straightforward dungeon crawl, but still, we are talking about the Deathtrap Dungeon here.
The Deathtrap Dungeon is the biggest tourist attraction of the town of Fang, modeled after an ancient Thai setting. Adventurers come from all over to overcome the Deathtrap Dungeon, an elaborate maze constructed by Baron Sukumvit, for reward and fame. I don’t know why spectators come all the way to attend the Trial of Champions festival, since it’s not like there are TV cameras in Deathtrap Dungeon to let them watch a gory reality TV show, but I suppose people in those unhappy times are just looking for any excuse to party, drink, and carouse indiscriminately.
You, of course, play another hero who decides to take part in this year’s Trial of Champions. Since nobody has ever emerged at the exit of Deathtrap Dungeon before, you intend to be the first to overcome the odds. So there you go. Have fun tackling the traps and monsters in Deathtrap Dungeon! Do take note that you have to collect some items to survive the deadly dungeon, so keep an eye out for potentially useful special items and such.
Deathtrap Dungeon is tough. The shopping list requirement means that you automatically lose if you haven’t collected the necessary items. Needless to say, one wrong turn means eventual failure if you miss collecting an item because of this wrong turn. There are a few inevitable encounters with monsters that have very high stats, making survival unlikely for heroes with low starting stats.
However, the campaign is also surprisingly fun to play despite the level of difficulty. The ecosystem is quite suspect because most of these monsters in the maze would require a steady supply of food in order and I can only wonder who is feeding these creatures when there are no suicidal fools wandering around the place. But still, it’s easy to overlook that flaw in the setting when I am having a frustrating but fun time trying to finish the campaign. There are some memorable scenes here – an elf struggling with a boa (nice illustration too), meeting the infamous Bloodbeast late in the story, and the cute but deadly gnome Trialmaster.
Deathtrap Dungeon is definitely worth dying a few times to some ravenous monsters over.