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Item - Gates of Death

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Series: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Gamebooks — no. 13
Translated Into: I cancelli della morte (Italian)
Dødens port (Danish)
Las montañas sombrías (Spanish)
Author: Phillips, Terry
Illustrators: Lundgren, Carl (cover)
Duursema, Jan (interior)
Date: May, 1987
ISBN: 0880384336 / 9780880384339
Length: 191 pages (213 sections)
Number of Endings: 19
User Summary: You are Wyn the Younger, an aspiring paladin. As penance for starting a bar fight you are sent on a dangerous quest to recover the Breath of Life from the Gates of Death in order to save a princess.
Demian's Thoughts:

This book is reminiscent of many early role-playing adventures; it's a fairly illogical assortment of traps and monsters that seem to have very little to do with one another. It also contains some very bad poetry. Fortunately, these flaws are far outweighed by the entertaining gameplay of the book and its high replayability.

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Guillermo's Thoughts:

Unfortunately, this is not a good follow-up to the author's excellent The Soulforge. Although this book is entertainingly written, it fails on several levels. One drawback is that all the segments of the adventure – the political intrigue at the beginning, the journey to the dungeon and the dungeon itself – feel very short and unsatisfying, and fall far short of their potential. The challenge level is almost despairingly low: skill checks are almost always very easy, the way to the final goal is very straightforward and scattered with plainly obvious clues, and there are very few choices that really require thought. When the book is completed successfully – which shouldn't take more than two or three tries at most – the reader only feels compelled to ask "is that it?" (just the same feeling one gets after leaving a Disneyland attraction).

As if the above weren't enough, encounter and room descriptions are written in an unbearably grandiloquent style; great fantasy writers such as Jorge Luis Borges, Italo Calvino and Michael Moorcock have already proven there is more a fantasy story needs in order to create an effect on the reader than a crude description of how large a cavern is or how beautiful a witch is, for example.

The last nail in this adventure's coffin is that, since the player character is a paladin, the book never stops overdoing itself in preaching the reader on bravery and honorable behavior, which is something the earlier paladin-based book in this series, Master of Ravenloft, wisely avoided. The honour points mechanic used in the twentieth Fighting Fantasy book, Sword of the Samurai (which came out a year earlier) is unashamedly copied here, and most of the choices which make you gain or lose points are fairly obvious, so it's not really a mechanic that adds interest to this weak book. Overall, I believe this is a book to be left untouched in the used bookstore.

More reviews by Guillermo

Kveto's Thoughts:

Gates of Death is an okay adventure involving you playing a Paladin. For one thing, it feels too soon after Master of Ravenloft to feature another paladin. And the setup is poor, with your character being forced to go on a penance mission for being involved in a bar fight. But the mission you are given, saving a dying princess, feels like the kind of mission you'd be given anyway, not as a punishment. The adventure itself is okay, if a bit standard and feels full of turn left, turn right or go straight on types of choices. It does include a kind of "restart" option if you reach the ending without enough "honour" points, so you don't have to go all the way back to the beginning. The artwork is average but to remind you it came out in the late 80s, they give your character one of the most egregious mullet hairstyles ever.

More reviews by Kveto

Errata:One of the paths from section 110 leads to section 195. This is wrong; it should lead to section 2 instead.
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