Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Gamebooks
El bosque de las brumas (Spanish)
La stirpe di Dragonspear (Italian)
Ball, Douglas (interior)
0880385707 / 9780880385701
190 pages (203 sections) |
|Number of Endings:||
|User Summary:||As the half-elf ranger Kelson Darktreader, you must defend the town of Daggerford against devils, orcs and goblins.|
While there are some entertaining parts to this book, which is set in the Forgotten Realms, it's a little bit below average for the series. It doesn't offer anything particularly new in terms of gameplay, and while it has many endings, most of them are roughly the same. The book also suffers from some major continuity problems; during one game, I somehow managed to kill the orc leader twice!
(review based on the Spanish translation)
This is the first-ever Forgotten Realms gamebook (the second one being Knight of the Living Dead in the Catacombs Solo Quest series), and veteran game designer Steve Perrin does a pretty good job with it. During the first one or two games, you'll probably think this is an average book for the series; reaching a successful ending isn't very difficult, and every path through the book feels rather short. However, the book's main strengths lie in other areas. The first one is related to gameplay: the book allows the player lots of flexibility in deciding how to undertake the mission, and the endings are meaningfully different from each other depending on what the player chooses to do and what s/he succeeds at.
Another positive aspect is that the player character has a well-developed and complex background, and the paths through the adventure offer diverse opportunities for coming to grips with different aspects of the player character's life. The player character is a half-elf outcast from both human and elven society, and the adventure puts him in difficult situations where the player is asked to make tough choices (leaving human society behind and joining an elf band in the forest, even if that means letting the orcs win, or sacrificing yourself to stop the invasion?). The characters the player meets and his relationship with them will differ depending on the choices made, and because of this the book has a variety of possibilities and endings unusual for the gamebooks of the time (it reminds me of Gavin Mitchell's Outsider in this respect). The Forgotten Realms setting and characters seem well captured, so fans probably won't be disappointed.
I only have a couple of minor complaints. The first is that one of the paths through the book can only be reached if a particular skill check is failed early on. This makes access to that path unnecessarily random, but is not too bad a problem. The second complaint is that since reaching a successful ending is rather easy, people are likely to put down the book in frustration after one or two tries and not become aware of the many possibilities the book offers. As I said in the case of Andrew Wright's Lair of the Troglodytes, some clearer hint to make the reader realize there is more to be gained from replaying the book over and over would have been welcome (the standard structure popularized by Fighting Fantasy books, where the goal of the adventure is explicitly stated from the beginning, has made us readers lazy, so writers of this 'other' type of interactive book have to cope with this). Overall, this is a good book if you feel the need for something different than the standard Fighting Fantasy model.
The second-to-last entry in this series follows the tradition of being based off of an AD&D module, in this case N5, Under Ilfarren, which was also written by the same author, Steve Perrin. It features many of the characters featured in that module and is focused on the town of Daggerford and the militia. However, knowledge of the module won't really help with this adventure as they have different storylines.
It features a relatively high number of paths as you play the half-elf ranger, Kelson Darktreader, trying to stave off an attack on your town with the local militia. The interior artwork is primitive but cutely quaint and adds to the experience.
It contains my usual pet peeves, such as random page flipping (you flip to 4 different sections before being offered your first choice. Extra annoying when reading online.)
Also, when you meet up with the barbarian tribes, the barbarians' dialogue is written as some Appalachian/pirate hybrid, such as "I be willin' ta take one of yar horses..." which gets really annoying really quickly. I understand the attempt to add local colour, but it really distracts from the story.
Complaints aside, the choices in general feel meaningful, and it's a competent gamebook with enough separate paths to keep things interesting.
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AD&D Adventure Gamebook #17: Spawn of Dragonspear
from Dragon #135, page 46