Friday 28 August 2009

Growing up in Port Blacksand Pt.1

My cape fluttered in the mild evening wind as I stood overlooking the harbor. The pungent smell of seaweed mingled with trout hung in the air as the last of the traders shut their stalls up for the day, eager to get to the tavern for a few flagons of strong ale. I spied a shifty looking wiry old man, his greasy grey hair clumped with a day's worth of sea salt, leaning out of the shadows of an alley. He flashed a grin before shuffling over to where I was stood. I could smell the alcohol on his breath, some moonshine with the power to kill a whale, and noticed his left eye was milky white. "Do you know dice, wanderer?" The man croaked. I glanced at him with repulsion. He slipped his hand in his pocket and drew out two yellowed dice.
"I know what dice are, old man," I grunted, "What is it to you?" The old man chuckled and held out the dice in his filthy palm,
"Fancy a game?" He asked, his eyes fixed on my expression.
"What game?" I humored him. Again he laughed and pointed a long, bony finger at the dice.
"A game of luck. A game of skill. A game of adventure," he said.
"I'd hardly call a dice game adventurous," I said dismissively.
"Then you have never played my game," said he, "the game of Fighting Fantasy."

I was introduced to Fighting Fantasy when I was around 11 I guess. I'd played 'choose your own' books before, like a Sonic the Hedgehog one where you had to guide Sonic through a murderous fairground. I liked it a lot and played it multiple times. However, when I first got my mitts on Fighting Fantasy I was taken into a whole new world entirely, lost within the yellowing pages and awesome line drawings. I chugged through them, usually by cheating, and I gradually acquired more. Every chance I got I would wander the howling hills, drink ale at dodgy taverns, and encounter some annoying bugger at the infamous Port Blacksand.

The first book I completed without cheating was one of my favorites: Talisman of Death. Unlike many FF books, Talisman is set in the world of Orb, where you are inconsiderately teleported into from Earth. Not only do you have to find your way back to Earth, but you have also been given a talisman to protect on your way. You see, if some black cloaked git (that would be Death) gets his hands on it Orb is doomed. No pressure then.
Talisman is one of the thicker books and sees you travelling to all sorts of kooky locations, battling dark creatures, solving treacherous puzzles and getting wasted (maybe not).
The best thing is that you can get it cheap second hand, so if you see it do yourself a favour and part with a few quid.

Tune in next time for part 2, when I reminisce about piloting giant robots and beating the crap out of dinosaurs.

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