Fighting Fantasy (1982-1995, Puffin)
Adventure Gamebox - A Thrilling Fighting Fantasy Collection (Collection)
Il covo dei pirati (Italian)
Défis sanglants sur l'océan (French)
El desafío de los piratas (Spanish)
Das Duell der Piraten (German)
Kaizokusen banshii-go [海賊船バンシー号] (Japanese)
Krvavá moře (Czech)
Mares de sangue (Portuguese)
Piratskaia Odisseia [Пиратская Одиссея] (Russian)
A Vértengerek (Hungarian)
Ashkar the Magnificent (Novel)
Seas of Blood (Video Game)
Harvey, Bob (interior)
July, 1985 (original)
July, 1986 (American edition)
0140319514 / 9780140319514
0440977088 / 9780440977087 (American edition)
At first glance, Andrew Chapman's third addition to FF looks like it is going to be great. For one thing, you play a bad guy for a change, and it immediately follows Chapman's Rings of Kether, one of the better and most entertaining FFs out there. Unfortunately, Seas of Blood doesn't live up to these high hopes.
As I said, the premise is great. You are a pirate and are competing with another pirate to see who is the best pirate in the area. To do this the two of you have fifty days to gather as much loot as possible and meet at a distant island. Whoever gathers the most loot is the better pirate. The book could have done with more encounters with your rival (the aptly named Abdul the Butcher), as you only really see him at the start and end. A few opportunities to sabotage each other would have added a much needed spark to the proceedings. As it is, you basically sail from one location to the next attacking ships and fighting strange beasts on desert islands. Nothing wrong with that, but it does get somewhat repetetive after a while. You have your own personal stats (Skill, Stamina and Luck as per usual) and your crew have 2 stats (Crew Strike and Crew Strength). Ship to ship combat is basically the same as one-on-one combat except Skill and Stamina are replaced by these 2 new stats. The two biggest weaknesses the book offers are that it is deceptively linear (although there are many routes to get to your destination, the vast majority of them will not let you get anywhere near enough loot) and that it requires your crew to have very good stats as mass battles are often difficult and the weaker your crew is the longer it will take to reach your destination. It is possible to replace lost crew members during the adventure, but doing so is often far too expensive to be worth it. Thankfully, the one-on-one battles aren't too tough, and there are plenty of opportunities to heal, so your personal stats do not need to be that great. However, there are a few tough enemies in here so a Skill of 7/8 probably won't let you get very far. By far the most memorable part of the book is an unarmed fight against a Cyclops towards the end. Rather than done by simply rolling dice, you must choose how best to strike your opponent (who takes some killing!) much like the system used in The Way of the Tiger series. It's an exciting battle and probably the only encounter likely to stick in your memory.
Andrew Chapman's writing style is the same as always; brief and with little description, but its fast pace makes it very exciting. Bob Harvey is not one of my favourite illustrators. I find his artwork a bit slapdash particularly the backgrounds, but his style does suit some of the monsters you will meet as well as the various piratical rogues in the book. The cover is pretty good though somewhat misleading, as the sea is not actually blood coloured. In short, there are a few enjoyable parts in Seas of Blood, and you do really get the feeling that you're a scurvy knave pilfering the plunder of the high seas, but after you have played it a few times and realized how much it relies on you having great crew stats and picking exactly the correct route to succeed you'll probably grow tired of it. As both this and Graeme Davis' Midnight Rogue are a bit so-so, it's not surprising that the majority of FF books kept the protaganist as a good guy.
(Based upon the Italian translation)
This one does try to break the mould quite a bit. Rather than a lone wandering adventurer, you are the captain of a pirate ship. You and your rival Abdul decide to have a contest to see who can acquire the most treasure and be declared "King of the pirates" (seems pirates should have better things to do than competitions but since it is what a pirate would normally do we can give it a pass).
So not only are you in charge of your own stats but you have crew stats as well. I found the crew stats more important overall compared to individual stats, but there are enough side adventures where you'll be tested personally. I liked the sequence at the abbey best.
It also has a kind of kung fu fight with a cyclops, where you get to choose your hand to hand moves rather than the traditional fight. So there is a lot of different stuff in here.
I have no clue how you can get enough treasure to beat Abdul.
|Special Thanks:||Thanks to Nicholas Campbell for the jagged-logo British cover scan.|
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Fighting Fantasy #16 Character Sheet