Armada Books, $3.99, ISBN 0-440-91873-1
The Den of Dragons, the second gamebook in every munchkin’s favorite series Grailquest, offers more of the same wacky fun that was present in The Castle of Darkness.
The campaign plot is pretty simple. A Brass Dragon from the Ghastly Kingdom of the Dead is terrorizing Camelot, eating Presbyterian priests, and making life miserable for everyone. Merlin, still smarting over the docking of his pension by King Arthur, pulls you over into the body of Pip, Camelot’s greatest and most unlikely hero, and sends you off with a badly drawn map, a shopping list, and instructions to slay a dragon.
The campaign is somewhat better designed this time around in the sense that you don’t have to make an unlucky roll to actually move on to the next stage of the campaign, but the design is still horrible enough to encourage plenty of cheating. The combat encounters aren’t too terrible. They may look terrible on paper, but you shouldn’t forget that you start out with pretty much a whole crapload of special powers and items of mass destruction. The real difficulty here is the whole random maze-like nature of the campaign, with you not given any clue as to where to go. After wandering around in a daze for a while, you may just be tempted to start cheating. Don’t worry, nobody will blame you if you do!
It’s a pity that the campaign isn’t better designed, because it has plenty of potential. You will be introduced to a greater degree of spellcasting, as you will be given a list of spells and the option of using these spells up to three times per spell. The humor is still aplenty and often side-splitting in nature. Unfortunately, The Den of Dragons is still a gamebook that you will enjoy more if you shamelessly cheat without remorse.