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Item - Rise of the Shadow King



Series: Dungeon Saga — no. 1
Author: Gilbert, Matt
Date: 2016
ISBN: 099319849X / 9780993198496
Cover Text: Rise of the Shadow King is a Dungeon Saga Adventure Gamebook in which YOU are the Hero. Set in the fantasy world of Mantica, you can immerse yourself in a quest to defeat the Shadow King, master of undeath. This is a classic adventure where you have plenty of opportunity to battle the undead denizens of Mantica, travel across plains, swamps, forests and an ancient fortress as you journey towards your ultimate goal. You might even stumble upon a Zombie Troll!
Florik's Thoughts:

Upon its release 2016, this gamebook accompanied a new dungeon crawler-type board game called Dungeon Saga. I love that board game for its fast dice-based combat and witty narrative, so buying the gamebook was only natural.

Unfortunately, the editor and/or author seem to have decided the necessary 12 dice were more than some players might have at hand, so they stripped down the combat system, basing it on just two dice, which you roll and reroll ... and still nothing happens.

In the board game, a hero will often take out a minion - a skeleton, say - with just one roll. In the gamebook, he'll need a couple of rounds. As that hero, you're still superior to minions, fighting with two attack dice against one. You'll probably win, if you don't fall asleep. I came for the fighting, but ended up skipping fights.

Add to that there is no character generation, not even customizing. You can only choose between human, elf and dwarf. Playing as human, you're Mr. 50 Percent in all skills. Elves and dwarves have a strength and a weakness, so those are certainly preferable.

With 400 sections, this looks a lot like Fighting Fantasy. However, you don't have to keep track of your money. There's one shopping section where they hand you 10 gold to spend, but you never get to know how much you have in total, so it is with surprise that you hear in the next paragraph you've just bought a horse.

Matt Gilbert's writing is certainly not as funny as the board game narrative by Greg D. Smith. Unfortunately, most of your time is spent travelling north through featureless marshlands. Junctions offer paths leading north-west, north and north-east. Which is it to be? Take your pick.

Mapping makes your next attempt easier, though it isn't obligatory. If you survive, you'll end up at the Shadow King's dungeon and a choice between corridors left and right, until you face the boss. I hope you'll defeat him. Now close this gamebook. Take another one from the shelf to have some fun. Which one? It doesn't matter.

More reviews by Florik

Special Thanks:Thanks to sireeyore for the cover and character sheet scans.
Users Who Own This Item: Florik, Malthus Dire, mir1812, mlvoss, Sheridan77, Sir Olli, sireeyore

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