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A Dragonfly in Amber - The Warlock of Firetop Mountain Review

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06 May 2020 00:01 #309995 by Andi Lennon
And plastic minis.
“Who goes there?” boomed a threatening timbre. “Who...

The scent of antiquity overwhelmed us as we pried open the crypt lid. It was the stench of the tomb, of dust and decrepitude, of mystery and malevolence, of memories unexpurgated and left to fester.

But mostly it was the stench of cardboard.

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06 May 2020 11:46 #309996 by Jackwraith
Excellent. I still have a copy of the original Fighting Fantasy book, along with about a dozen others of that series. It's among the many things sitting around here that should probably be sold in the near future.

The problems you list with Warlock in the modern era are the same ones that beset Talisman, which is kind of what surprised me about the popularity of the more recent editions (both the standard game and the thematic paste-ons.) It's still a roll-and-move where you might draw a dragon or a vampire in your first few turns and get killed and have to start over, ending up way behind everyone else unless THEY get subjected to the same fate. I guess that's fun for some people but I'm just not interested anymore.

But the nostalgia factor is certainly part of what drove that popularity and certainly would for Warlock if someone were able to acquire an old copy having not played it for 30 years. Great work.
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06 May 2020 13:12 #310000 by Shellhead
I used to be a big fan of Steve Jackson Games, but this game came along a couple of years after I moved on and got heavy into CCGs. So I never even heard of it until somebody mentioned it at F:AT. I scouted it out at BGG and decided I didn't need to get it but I wouldn't mind playing sometime. Based on this new review, it sounds like a weak imitation of The Gothic Game, which I already have. The Gothic Game is likely the better game because it is weirder, funnier, more colorful, and is designed for direct conflict between players.
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06 May 2020 16:00 #310010 by mezike
That’s a different Steve Jackson, they are commonly mistaken for one another. This one is the British Fighting Fantasy and Games Workshop guy, not the American Car Wars Ogre Munchkin one. Funnily enough, American Steve Jackson wrote some of the Fighting Fantasy books but the publisher didn’t distinguish between the two authors.
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06 May 2020 20:50 #310027 by Andi Lennon
Jackwraith- the last time i played Talisman was about six or seven years ago with friends on my birthday. I was super excited to re-visit a childhood icon...for about the first 2.5 hours. Still, that didn't stop me from re-acquiring a copy of my own when it popped up for cheap on a trade site. Thing is, the Fantasy Flight version doesn't have that nostalgic lure that scoring a copy of the 2nd edition childhood copy would have. Despite the superficially more refined presentation, it's been stripped of a lot of its charm , so it sits forlorn and ignored on my shelf, soon to be joined in purgatory by this Wizardly cousin most likely :/

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06 May 2020 20:52 #310028 by Andi Lennon
Shellhead- i remember reading somewhere on here about the Gothic Game and it's failed reprint KS. I was intrigued at the time and was a bit bummed out that it never got reanimated. Do you know if there's been any further developments on that front?

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06 May 2020 20:55 - 06 May 2020 20:56 #310029 by Andi Lennon
Mezike - Yeah that always confused me as a kid. I just assumed that my GURPS stuff was written by the same dude that penned my Sorcery! books. I didn't actually know until now that the American SJ wrote some of the FF books though! I'm guessing maybe Starship Traveller? That title was quite the departure.
Last edit: 06 May 2020 20:56 by Andi Lennon.

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06 May 2020 23:27 #310036 by Shellhead

Andi Lennon wrote: Shellhead- i remember reading somewhere on here about the Gothic Game and it's failed reprint KS. I was intrigued at the time and was a bit bummed out that it never got reanimated. Do you know if there's been any further developments on that front?


We were fortunate to have the guy doing the Gothic Game kickstarter participating in that discussion thread, so we got the inside scoop regarding some of the changes. Unfortunately, he failed to meet his funding goal and now it's back in limbo I guess.
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06 May 2020 23:33 #310037 by Jackwraith

Andi Lennon wrote: Jackwraith- the last time i played Talisman was about six or seven years ago with friends on my birthday. I was super excited to re-visit a childhood icon...for about the first 2.5 hours. Still, that didn't stop me from re-acquiring a copy of my own when it popped up for cheap on a trade site. Thing is, the Fantasy Flight version doesn't have that nostalgic lure that scoring a copy of the 2nd edition childhood copy would have. Despite the superficially more refined presentation, it's been stripped of a lot of its charm , so it sits forlorn and ignored on my shelf, soon to be joined in purgatory by this Wizardly cousin most likely :/


I can understand that, although the last I knew, the FFG version was pretty much the same as the GW 4th Edition... which was basically a copy of 2nd Edition. The only difference is that FFG added the Luck trait, which allowed you to reroll X number of times a game. I had an almost complete copy of 2nd Edition (everything but Dragons) that I traded years ago when Descent, 1st Edition came out. That's my point of reference because I traded it for a copy of that, Runebound, and several other games. I was in the position you are, which is having little interest in a game that's that simplistic, even for the nostalgia. As it turned out, I thought Runebound was a better game and system than Talisman ever was.
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07 May 2020 04:33 #310043 by mezike

Andi Lennon wrote: Mezike - Yeah that always confused me as a kid. I just assumed that my GURPS stuff was written by the same dude that penned my Sorcery! books. I didn't actually know until now that the American SJ wrote some of the FF books though! I'm guessing maybe Starship Traveller? That title was quite the departure.


Wiki-Fu says Scorpion Swamp, Demons of the Deep and Robot Commando. All three were favourites of ten year old me, although I recognise now that both the writing and adventure in the latter in particular was a touch ropey. I loved the ones that did something unusual with the format like building an army or having a vehicle or crew to manage alongside the regular adventure.

Starship Traveller I recall had a printing error that made it fiendishly difficult to play as it would randomly send you disoriented into the wrong part of the book and you would miss a crucial step to solving the seemingly impossible adventure. Firetop Mountain never struck me as one of the good ones though.

I know I'm going off on a tangent to the original article but maaaan, I had so many of these books. I collected them right up to the early nineties and had a whole shelf full, at least fifty or sixty books along with Sourcery!, Way of the Tiger, clash of princes, the Knightmare books and a couple other ones. There were only one or two of the original FF run that I didn't get along the way. I have no idea what happened to them, after I left home my folks were in the habit of ditching my stuff at car boot sales so they probably got sold for pennies. I picked up a couple in recent years at charity/thrift stores but neither spawn was interested, probably a good thing as I don't need nostalgia collecting in my life right now! I did read Destiny Quest by Michael Ward a few years back which does something really innovative with the genre and was significantly less pulpy than most of those 80s/90s books.

Just talking about it makes me want to get a copy of Freeway Fighter, and about fifteen others.
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08 May 2020 02:44 #310084 by Nodens
A couple of buddies and I played Talisman to death in what must have been 1987. Because it was so popular, one of us went out and bought the Wizard game. This and Chill and Warlock were published in the same Schmidt Spiele line at that time.
Even as 13 year old kids we saw it as a cash-in from the books and soon decided that the Wizard game sucked, didn't even finish that first game and played something else. I was and still am very interested in Chill and Warlock, but that experience made me wary.
Talisman is one of the great classics, if one likes it or not. Yes it is simple, but that is the point. One gets to playing the actual game faster that way, maybe. I've seen people so inebriated there was no discernible speech left, but they could do their turn.
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10 May 2020 21:05 #310158 by Andi Lennon
Jackwraith- I guess i just miss the old standees, character sheets and old school ephemera. When paired with a modern production sheen the archaic mechanics seem out of kilter. Like two cogs whose teeth don't quite interlock somehow.

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10 May 2020 21:15 #310159 by Andi Lennon
Mezike- Yes! Eight year old me struggled with Starship Traveller to the point of total exasperation and in later years i often wondred if there had been a printing error or omission, as even when cheating my bollocks off I still couldn't figure out how to proceed without travelling in loops. My childhood was absolutely drenched in these books. My mother was a librarian and couldn't afford childcare on that kind of income so every afternoon after school i would spend a few hours with her at work and fortunately this particular library had a 'young adult' section that was pretty generously stocked with Choose Your Own Adventure, Fighting Fantasy and their various offshoots and imitators. Amongst my other favourite series were Time Machine and Joe Dever's Lone Wolf series. I also remember one birthday when i was incredibly excited to receive the one (to my knowledge) Two Player Fighting Fantasy book package. I don't remember much of that particular title now other than one of the protagonists was named "Clovis' and the interaction between players was pretty minimal. I also remember stumbling upon a really arcane and creepy Gamebook called 'The Black Pyramid' that unsettled me thoroughly, can't remember which series it was from though. For me the high-point probably remains the Sorcery! series. It was really inventive and immersive from memory. Does anyone else also remember 'Proteus' magazine? It was short lived monthly periodical offering similar types of adventures. I used to put the centrefold posters on my 1987 bedroom wall. Sadly these days i don't even own a single title anymore. A turbulent adolescence and 20's saw them all scattered to the wind- hopefully into the hands of other impressionable youth.
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10 May 2020 21:47 #310163 by Andi Lennon
Nodens, hahahaha absolutely. Talisman is definitely a game that is enhanced by the repeated consumption of fermented vegetable drinks! That birthday session i mentioned spanned around 6-7 hours and by the tail end of it there was more than one crown of command swimming before my eyes. Although by that stage i believe it probably added to the customary squabbling, especially when one of the players returned from a sojourn to the garden carrying a 'gavel'.
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07 Jan 2021 05:09 #317773 by mezike
Riiiiiise!

@Andy, is this the Black Pyramid that you were reminiscing about? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legends_of_Skyfall

Also, a belated Christmas present for you: outspaced.fightingfantasy.net/Proteus.html

Also also, I recently pulled my old copies of Diceman out of storage, which was the sadly short-lived 2000AD game magazine, hence the necro. I really wished the publisher at the time had agreed to let Pat Mills take the central character into the comic proper, we all missed out on what could have been an iconic series.
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