Puffin Books, £3.50, ISBN 0-14-032658-8
Stealer of Souls is Keith Martin’s debut effort in the Fighting Fantasy series, and you can be forgiven if you dismiss him as yet another unoriginal hack based on this gamebook alone.
Once again, you are drawn into problems involving mages. Seriously, how many gamebooks in this series feature such drama? All good wizards are apparently incompetent idiots while all evil wizards are… well, sitting ducks waiting in their gloomy hideout for you to come slay them. This campaign is no different. You are a sword and shield kind of mercenary and when the campaign opens, you are invited to the abode of a wizard, Venestin of Pollua. He tells you that the evil wizard Mordraneth has kidnapped a wizard called Alsander, apparently because Alsander has discovered something so great that Mordraneth has to kidnap him in order to probe his discovery. So you are now asked to venture to the Isle of Despair and rescue Alsander. Why can’t the wizards go there to save Alsander? Apparently the Iron Crypts which hold Alsander prisoner have some kind of magical ward that render all spellcasters other than Mordraneth powerless in that place. It is just like these pansy wand-wavers to have an excuse for everything, eh?
Stealer of Souls is a good example of a very clichéd campaign that is well put together. While it is not a boring campaign, it is packed with familiar developments, stereotypical characters, and predictable campaign designs. This one will have you collecting things to the wazoo, just like a typical Fighting Fantasy campaign. The difficulty level is moderate – characters with moderate stats can find some items to boost their abilities while characters with high stats can practically sleepwalk through the campaign. There is also the obligatory maze, although this one is fortunately quite lenient in that there are several ways to get out of that place.
In other words, this one is a pretty generic campaign. It’s not the most memorable one around, but it has its moments now and then.