In this series, I delve into one of the many bazillion Fighting Fantasy books out there in a romp that will likely claim my life.
OK, so Fangs of Fury. I have to admit, this isn't one that I'd heard of when I picked it up last year at a convention. The cover depicts a two-headed snake and an orc carrying a flaming sword and an axe, so he's probably overcompensating for something. Anyway, let's dive in and roll up my character.
While I lucked out on my SKILL, my other attributes sucked ganjee balls. Punchfist will live up to his name and try and solve all his problems through knocking ten bells out of everything. He's awesome.
The basic concept of the adventure is that the puny kingdom of Zamarra is under siege by the forces of Ostragoth the Grim. They seek to breach the walls and kill the 12 wizards within take over Souther Khul. Punchfist has volunteered to activate the six dragon sentinels to reign fire on the enemy and burn them like armour-clad marshmallows. Oh yeah, and Punchfist is fitted with a bracelet that will kill him in the 14th citadel wall is breached. And there I was thinking I could swan off to some elven forest and live the life of Riley. Damn.
Punchfist heads underground and emerges by a group of goblins with a battering ram. The leader asks for his regiment. There's no option to kill things, so he'll try and bullshit them instead. "Yeah, err, I'm with the Bonecrushers. I just thought I'd come and help you guys out because you're so short-"
"Silence!" Interrupts the leader, "The Bonecrusher Battalion hasn't landed yet. I think we have ourselves another spy. Cease him!" He thumbs through a book about Zamarra to try and figure out whether Punchfist is anyone important. He's not. "Kill him"
"Woah, woah. I'm sorry but I think you misheard me," Punchfist says, "I want to join the Bonecrushers. Yup, it's always been a dream of mine."
"No, you're going to join the Knuclers Irregulars," says the leader. He calls over Sprikk, a goblin soldier, who swiftly marches Punchfist to the trenches. He meets with some fat guy who demands cash to join the regiment. Punchfist refuses, being a miser, and so the fat guy orders two solders to attack. Excellent! Punchfist makes short work of the two thugs, throwing them in a bloody pile without receiving a scratch himself. He rests his foot on one of the bodies and laughs defiantly. "Seriously dude, a skill 5 and 6 versus a 12?" The captain agrees to let him into the ranks. We soon see why they're called 'Irregulars' as they're no more than a rag-tag band of thugs who are used as a shield for the orcs. Punchfist sees a knight, someone that he knows, fall to the ground, a goblin looming over him with a blade. Helping him could arouse suspicion, so Punchfist decides to take off with his horse instead. Everything goes downhill from here. He takes the horse but gets shot with an arrow in the process. He tries to ride out of the battle but is chased down by orcs. Apparently they want my horse, so I say "Feck off," and one whistles, sending the animal into a frenzy. He's thrown onto the ground and the orcs leave with the horse. "Bugger!"
Just then a cart draws near. A lone rider hands the cart driver a map in exchange for a chest. Weird. PF follows the cart and jumps in the back for lols. He alerts the driver, who attacks. However, his technique is sloppy so PF has no trouble caving his skull in with the side of the wagon. He finds a parchment from the King's new knight, who is apparently a traitor because he says that the 'torchbearer' has departed for the north. Alas, a goddamn Grypvulture snags the parchment and takes off with it.
PF continues to the coast where he spots a woman in peril. She's been harassed by an octopus, so he cuts off its tentacles and follows the woman. She doesn't say a whole lot, but draws a tent in the sand. Fun cryptic times had by all. Funnily enough, he later finds a tent and meets with a spy. The spy gives him some bitchin' armour and he leaves. He's soon followed by a group of soldiers who clearly think he's a captain or something. He sends most of them away and manages to outrun his apparent bodyguard. He sees that the river is running north, which is where he's supposed to be heading, so he decides to follow it. He meets with two cheery dwarves who let him hire a boat to go the rest of the way. At 1gp it's a bargain.
The boat ride is going so nicely until the vessel is smashed to bits by a giant. PF stabs the big bastard in the hand only to be held under the water and partially drowned. He's then put in a sack and taken to the giant's lair. The giant seems to be a mental case by letting PF help himself to gold, but it looks like he's re-enacting some sick murder ritual. PF takes a handful of coins and runs through a fire and out of the cave. He makes his was across the plains and ends up in a small village where he helps a girl who has spilled her rice and crying because she's late for school. The dick of a teacher starts to cane her when she turns up late, so PF, being the gallant dude he is, marches in, "Enough of this, you knob!" He cries, "Pick on someone your own size!"
"Very well," shouts the teacher, who attacks with his cane. This is all getting a bit surreal. Just an hour ago I was escaping from a giant and now I'm getting spanked in a classroom. PF cuts the cane in half and threatens the teacher. Suddenly a horn sounds and PF rushes outside to see what the commotion is about. Two drunk orcs are ransacking the village and an old man offers 20 gold coins to sort them out. PF would have done it for free, but he'll take the money, suckah! He marches up to the orcs and decapitates them both. He is made of awesome.
He leaves across the plain and heads down a well-known trade road. He's suddenly caught in a trap and a couple of rogues ask for all his money. "Not likely, mate," he spits. He hacks his way out of the trap just narrowly escaping being hit by an orc-driven chariot. He then heads into a forest where he finds a warrior being attacked by a horde of Garks. PF helps her out by slaying three of the blighters and in return the warrior guides him to the Wazzari Bastion, that has been devastated by war. PF's shown a map and told he has to traverse a maze and put some cubes in the right order. What came next was about an hour of my time wasted wandering around the maze before I realised the solution to the puzzle. Once PF leaves the maze he can smell the endgame. He fights a mage, who is pretty tough and passes through a bunch of rooms that chucks lots of fire at him, burning out all his black cubes he used for fire protection. He enters a room where the evil mage Jaxartes stands. PF takes a bit of a beating, but he shows resolve and fights until the little magic bitch runs away. He eventually comes to the core room where the so-called 'fangs of fury' are. Jaxartes is there hurling some abuse, but he grows like 15ft tall and starts hurling fireballs. No fair! But a huge cube appears with 49 keyholes in it. PF knows which one to choose because of a clue back in the maze and unlocks it. The fangs of fury ignite, Jaxartes screams and dies and the six dragon sentinels reign hell upon the evil forces.
So PF gets back, is promoted to mega-ultra general of the world and lives happily ever after.
All-in-all, Fangs of Fury wasn't a bad book but there was nothing that really stood out as memorable. The characters were fairly bland and the puzzles were so-so, especially the maze which was kind of annoying. I liked the use of new mechanics, like pursuit and jumping, and the fights seemed fairly balanced.I quite liked the fact that there was time limit, as the 12 walls were constantly falling (I finished with 5 intact). Not a great adventure, but satisfying nonetheless.
Though I never did find that orc on the cover.