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Item - The Fortress of Kruglach

Series: Proteus — no. 6
Contained In: The Havarine Madness (Gamebook)
Author: Caldwell, Elizabeth
Illustrators: Smith, Kenneth (cover)
De Leuw, Dave (interior)
Dunn, Mark (interior)
Harrod, Gary (interior)
Hunter, Alan (interior)
Pickering, John (interior)
Craddock, Alan (poster)
Date: 1986
Ed's Thoughts: A recent outbreak of plagues, blights and abductions has led the people of Arn Gate to the conclusion that the evil Sorcerer Kruglach, believed dead a few centuries ago, is back. They want help in getting rid of him again, which is where you come in. Once again, you're an adventurer, more interested in the challenge than the reward, and almost certainly doomed but for a not-so-chance encounter on the way to the fortress. It turns out that when Kruglach's previous reign of nastiness ended, it was because Raaka Dihar, a being from another dimension, had imprisoned the Sorcerer's soul. More recently some cretin has released it, and under a sort of cosmic 'you break it, you pay for it' principle, someone of the same species must recapture the soul. At least Raaka Dihar is able to give you a few hints as to how that might be done. The spell, though hazardous, is quite simple, and merely requires the use of a few items that you should be able to find in Kruglach's fortress. A couple of protective talismans to prevent the spell from backfiring on you should also be available.

Frankly, it beats me why so many evil Sorcerers casually leave the means of their destruction lying around where anyone could find and use them. Now, if I were to become such a villain, I'd make sure nothing that could cause my undoing was to be found on the premises. Then I'd write the names of the items that could be used against me on labels and attach the labels to lethally booby-trapped boxes, jars and the like. I might also hire a few beggars to camp in the area surrounding my stronghold and give misleading advice to any passing adventurers. But I digress.

Yes, TFoK is another self-confessed item hunt, and rather an insubstantial one. There doesn't seem to be all that much to the fortress, really, at least partly due to unnecessary duplication of paragraphs. Every section detailing the exploration of the south-east look-out tower appears twice, one set being used if you go into it before investigating the well, the other if you check the well first. That wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the fact that certain events in the Tower can turn out differently depending whether or not you've been down the well, but the text doesn't take that into account. It's like an elaborate anti-cheat mechanism that forgets to make cheating impossible. Another contributory factor to the thinness of TFoK may be the fact that it's possible to complete the adventure successfully with just two fights.

In the early stages of the adventure you have a lot of freedom to move. One area can only be visited if you go to it before anywhere else, but a reason is provided for that. Later on you start having decisions made for you, which can be annoying in the library. Where it gets really frustrating is just after the confrontation with the Cyclops. My character's thoughts during my first attempt must have gone something like, "Kruglach is obviously on the other side of this door, and I'm missing one of the spell components. Well, I'd better confront him anyway." Sadly, that particular adventurer got toasted before he could apply to join Mensa.

The setting of TFoK is slightly out of the ordinary. The adventure has the usual cod-Medieval feel until you reach Kruglach's laboratory, at which point the mention of electrodes drags you forward a few centuries.

As usual, there are a couple of puzzles within the text. A logic puzzle of the type that crops up so regularly in Proteus protects one of the protective talismans, and items that can turn an Instant Death into a shot at a less terminal failure are protected by a simplistic anagram and a mathematical calculation that doesn't even merit being called a puzzle.

I wouldn't really call it a mistake, but the consequences of killing a guard in cold blood seem rather inappropriate. The additional rule in the combat at section 91 is a bit unclear, but that's a minor annoyance. Not a mistake, but worthy of note, is the fact that Goblins are a lot tougher in Proteus than in Fighting Fantasy.

The artwork is nothing special. Gary Harrod's assorted monsters are good, and there's nothing outstandingly bad, but none of the illustrations are as striking or memorable as some of those in previous issues have been.

Much the same could be said for the whole adventure, really. It's not actively bad, but it's thinner than it looks, and there's nothing particularly impressive about it.

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Users Who Own This Item: dave2002a, Ed, kinderstef, Malthus Dire, nelsondesign, outspaced, Robert Mammone, Sir Olli
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