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Item - Treachery in Drakenwood

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Series: Fatemaster — no. 1
Translated Into: La Forêt du dragon (French)
Maou no chika yousa [魔王の地下要塞] (Japanese)
Tradimento a Drakenwood (Italian)
Author: Vernon, Paul
Illustrators: Bonner, Paul (cover)
Morton, Barrie (interior)
Date: 1986
ISBN: 0047930802 / 9780047930805
Length: 500 sections (plus prologue, epilogue and rules)
User Summary: You're an adventurer in search of fame and fortune, and you feel that the best way to achieve this is to rescue the kidnapped Lady Arowen from her evil captors.
Demian's Thoughts:

I've only made a cursory first attempt at playing this book, but for the most part, I like what I see. There's remarkable freedom of movement thanks to the game's mapping system and the multiple approaches to the object of your quest; it almost seems more like a computer-based text adventure than a traditional gamebook due to the tone of the area descriptions and the non-linearity. Still, while I found playing the game quite entertaining, it was also disheartening in a way -- because of the openness of the adventure, there's a certain feeling that you're looking for a needle in a haystack; the frequent random encounters don't help either, since repetitive combat doesn't do much to get me excited about a gamebook. The biggest obstacle for me, though, was the grid-based mapping. The hex-based outdoor mapping works perfectly and is lots of fun for a map addict like myself, but once you get into the dungeons, things don't seem as well-thought-out. The map segments shown in the text don't include a grid, so it's hard to copy them to graph paper with accuracy. Even if you do copy them exactly, they don't always connect (following one passage, for example, leads to a message about twisting and turning passageways and sticks you somewhere completely different on the map). Once my character was killed, I decided that it would be too time-consuming to make a really serious effort to finish the adventure, and I returned it to the shelf. I'll almost certainly play again someday, as this book has a lot going for it; for the moment, though, it's just a little too much for my schedule.

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Shadeheart's Thoughts:

[Rating: 1/10]
[Recommended? NO]

"Treachery in Drakenwood" kicks off the "Unicorn Fatemaster" duo with a surprisingly enormous, flexible start - and that's because the book itself is an enormous, flexible mapping adventure/exercise. While there is undoubtedly appeal in the open-ended excitement, on a personal level I found the book to be more of a tedious mess than I anticipated... undeveloped characters, an over-contrived set-up, an exhaustive mapping scheme (that feels more like a chore than a lot of fun, as well as doesn't always line up), and a fairly rough and dull feel (style and illustrations alike), the adventure feels like more work than it's worth. Unfortunately, the peculiar lack of replayability/immersiveness and high difficulty level leave me here strongly suggesting you pass on this book and the series in general. ^^

(Mysteriously disappears into the shadows.)

More reviews by Shadeheart

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Related Documents

Play Aid

Fatemaster #1 Character Sheet

Fatemaster #1 Graph Paper (enhanced)

Fatemaster #1 Graph Paper (straight scan)

Fatemaster #1 Hex Paper (enhanced)

Fatemaster #1 Hex Paper (straight scan)