Sunday 23 October 2011

Let's Play: House of Hell {Fighting Fantasy}

It's almost Halloween and to celebrate this most chilling of days all week I'm going to be writing about spooky stuff. So let's kick off Halloween Week on Trollish Delver with House of Hell.

Steve Jackson released House of Hell in 1984 as the first modern horror addition to the Fighting Fantasy series. Rather than starting out as a semi-proficient warrior with weapons and armour, your character is a regular schmoe with nothing. Also, you have to avoid being frightened to death by trying not to rack up a fear score as high as your fear attribute. It's sort of a sanity mechanic similar to The Call of Cthulhu but much simpler.

At the start of the book you're driving through torrential rain while pondering whether the sinister old man who gave you directions actually told you the right way to go. Suddenly a figure appears in the road and you veer the car into a ditch, Fearing you just gave someone the old Audi smackdown, you rush out to find there's no body. However, you remember the face of the figure - the face of the old man who gave you directions. What's even more of a buggeration is that your car won't start. You see a bedroom light flick on in and old house and decide to go there to get help. Good move.

So let's roll up my character:

Joshua Delaney
Skill: 8
Stamina: 19
Luck:  12
Fear: 7

Ah crap. I rolled a 1 for fear, making this guy a complete chicken. Good job he's lucky though.

Ok, so I make my way to the door. I'm pretty concerned about waking anyone up since it's 5 minutes to midnight and I have the option of rapping on the door, ringing a bell or checking out the light at the left side of the house. The bell will probably wake everyone up and I don't really want to be peeking into someone's room, so I'll go for the rapping.

Some gaunt dude in old-timey attire answers. I ask if I can go in and he obliges, saying that his master has been expecting me. Creepy. Maybe he saw me crash into the ditch. I hope they have pop-tarts in there. While Jeeves is off to get his master, I decide to check out some interesting paintings on the wall. Ah, great - their eyes move. He's looking at a door as if he wants me to open in. Um, no thanks mate - I'll just stay put for the time being.

After a while, the master, Lord Kelnor comes downstairs and introduces himself. He's rocking the High Hefner look so I hope there are some playmates around. Maybe they can warm me up, nudge nudge, wink wink. He says he'll help me and sends Franklins, the butler, to get the cook to make me some grub. He then comes back with a brandy each. I decide not to drink it because, y'know, I could be driving later, but Kelnor doesn't seem happy about how nervous I seem. He smiles at me in an eerie way and BOOM, that's 1 fear point on my tally.

FEAR COUNT: 1 - Unnerved

Funny, I thought that PAINTINGS WHOSE EYES MOVED would scare me more than a smirk, but hey - I'm a chicken. I'm taken into a luxurious dining room and offered either red or white wine. Red is always blood, so let's go for white. Brandy and wine within like 5 minutes of each other? I bet in half an hour we'll be doing jager shots. My wine arrives, I drink it...and I'm out cold. Yup, the bastard drugged my wine with asprin.

I wake up in an empty room, bound at my hands and feet. Dammit, I've seen Hostel and I know what comes next. I guess I'm not going to see any playmates after all. I decide to break a window and use the shards to cut my bonds. After a positive Luck test I manage to cut myself free.

LUCK  - 11

Fortunately the door's open and I head out onto the landing. Here's where I get annoyed, because I'm faced with a 'left or right' situation. I hate these because my choice is entirely random. I grumble and go left along the landing where there are 2 doors - one with the name Balthus. Wait - wasn't Bathus an artist who essentially painted porn? I guess it's someone's room and I don't fancy creeping into it. He might be an axe murderer, or worse: a politician. I go for the unmarked door which opens into a hall that ends in a window. There's another door here that reads Diabolus. Well, 'Diabolus in Musica' was a pretty poor Slayer album, so I'll give that door a miss. Also Balthus Dire from Citadel of Chaos wasn't exactly a nice chap. However, that window may be a way of escape! Ah crap, it's heavily barred - but what's this? A message in condensation reading "Mordana in Abaddon". That could be useful  apparently - so I must remember to turn to paragraph 88 when the time comes. of course, Abaddon means 'place of destruction', so maybe I have to find Mordana in a place of destruction. Fun.

I leave the hall and go downstairs. I get the choice of left door, right door or front door. I'm going to try front door. I open it and AH CHRIST! There's a bloody goat man with blood dripping from his mouth here.

FEAR COUNT 4 - Cacking my pants

I slam the door and decide to try another one. I choose left and enter a drawing room where I get to choose between exploring the room, leaving through another door or getting wasted on brandy. I decide to look at the ornaments and AHA! a dagger that gives me a +2 to SKILL rolls.

EQUIPMENT - a groovy dagger

I leave the room and enter a study. There's a piece of paper on the desk with writing appearing on it "Find Shekou". Scary stuff.

FEAR COUNT: 5 - laughing madly

I decide to look over the books to see if there's anything that might be able to help me. Oooh, a book aobut hypnotism - sweet. Except the cover has some weird eye on it and...oh great, I'm hearing agonising screams and seeing hideous things in my mind.

FEAR COUNT: 7 - Rip my own eyes out

Well that's it, I've been frightened to death. I didn't spend a long time in the house and didn't get to fight anything. Damn my rubbish FEAR result. Anyway, that was House of Hell - a spooky adventure that tries its best to get you drunk.


  1. Brilliant post, and I loved the pictures you chose to illustrate it with, especially Link when you found the dagger! Flat out awesome!

  2. @Fenway5 Thanks very much for your kind comments. Nice avatar ;)

  3. You just tackled the toughest FF book of them all!! You can win all combats and successfully roll all LUCK, FEAR throws and still find yourself coming up short in this adventure time and time again. To win, a very clever puzzle was devised that's nigh impossible to figure out through regular play (i.e. without cheating).

    At least you didn't lose your life to the ... guests of the house--the ones who are there for the party. Quite a gruesome way to go.

  4. @Soren And I thought Creature of Havoc was difficult!

  5. Yes, I'd agree: Creature of Havoc is the toughest of them all. In HoH you at least think you can win. You can't, you just think you can. In CoH, winning should never enter the player's mind.

    Conversely, Demons of the Deep, and The Keep of the Lich Lord are the only FFs I won on the first attempt.