Category Archives: Lone Wolf: Flight from the Dark

The rightward tilt of the Lone Wolf

When last we left our intrepid Lone Wolf, he was galloping away on the dying Prince’s magnificent horse, and we had to decide which way he’d go. Reflecting the trend of the upcoming US midterm elections, we decided to veer right:

You have ridden about a mile when you are knocked from your horse by an arrow grazing your forehead. You lose 3 ENDURANCE points.

As you pull yourself to your feet, you see a patrol of Drakkarim emerge from the woods on either side of the road. You have been ambushed and must evade them as quickly as possible by going into the forest.

Turn to 154.

Notice how I am not making any comment about the results of veering to the right. That’s on account of how mature I am.

You are dizzy from your wound and you stumble through the trees like a blind man.

Suddenly you fall forward as if the ground had been snatched from beneath your feet. You have fallen head first into a hunting pit. As you look up, you can see four Drakkarim levelling their bows at you, evil sneers spreading simultaneously across their ugly faces.

As the world darkens, the last thing you feel are the black shafts of their arrows deep in your chest. You have failed in your mission.

Holy cow! I confess, I totally did not see that coming. I feel a little cheated; simply by turning in one random direction over another, we’re dead, with no chance at all to do anything. Maybe the authors are making some kind of point about the randomness of fate, how sometimes the littlest things can bring you down, how we’re all mortal and MY LITTLE LONE WOLF CUB IS DEAD, WAAAAAAAHHH!! I HATE YOU I HATE YOU I HATE YOU!!

Ahem. So much for maturity.

So our quest to save the Realms dies a lonely death at the bottom of a pit, doing a curious impression of a hedgehog. An ignoble end to a fine young man, who will be sorely missed. Or not, since presumably everyone was used to his running off at the drop of a hat by now.

What should we do next, folks? If you like, I could go back and turn left at that intersection instead and see what happens (although that’s cheating, let’s be honest, we all did it when reading these books originally). Or, I have another “Fighting Fantasy” adventure — “Deathtrap Dungeon” — loaded on my iPhone, of all things, and we could work our way through that if you prefer. It has the exciting feature of shaking the phone to roll dice, resulting in the longest and most pointless “dice rolling” animation you have ever imagined. Sadly, I cannot share that particular aspect of the experience with you, so each time you’d have to walk into the nearest closet and stare at a blank wall while badgers gnaw at your liver so we can all have the same feeling at the same time as waiting for that stupid feature to complete.

Or we can make like Lone Wolf and run away, never to return! Let me know what you think.

Gourgazm!

The results are early, but overwhelming, so in honor of this being RPG Friday and all, I am going to take the 18-2 split as definitive and launch our Lone Wolf into the fray against the awful Gourgaz!

The creature that you now face is a Gourgaz, one of a race of cold-blooded reptilian creatures that dwell deep in the treacherous Maakenmire swamps. Their favorite food is human flesh!

The Prince’s Sword lies at your feet. You may pick up and use this weapon if you wish. The Gourgaz is about to strike at you — you must fight him to the death.

Gourgaz: COMBAT SKILL 20 ENDURANCE 30

This creature is immune to Mindblast.

One has to wonder how the Gourgaz prefers his favorite meal of human flesh. If he likes it grilled and there is no handy grill, I’d say we’re fine on that score. Plus come on, it’s in the middle of a battle, who’s going to take the time to enjoy a light snack? So ignore that wetness trickling down our pants leg, folks, it’s highly doubtful we’re going to end up as lunch even if we lose. Probably.

Gulp.

To business, we don’t need the Prince’s Sword. In the first place it clearly didn’t do the Prince much good, and in the second our preferred weapon is an Axe, which we have handy already. It sucks that Mindblast doesn’t work on these Gourgaz creatures (I wonder if that’s a backhanded dig at Gary Gygax?), as that’s two valuable combat points we’re missing out on. But such is life for the intrepid young Kai Warrior in training.

With the axe our combat skill is 21, and our Endurance is currently at 17. Only a one point advantage and only 2/3 the enemy’s stamina is going to be a tough, tough fight. See, this is why cowards thrive!

Anyway, nothing for it but to get to it. I’ll chronicle the combat rounds after the jump. Here’s hoping we win!

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The meat puppet formerly known as Prince

When last we left our Lone Wolf, we were deciding whether or not to call out to some passing soldiers. We decided to go for it. We don’t have a record of the actual signal, but I bet it was some variation of “Me love you long time!” Or not. Regardless:

The officer orders his men to halt and asks you your business. You tell him who you are, and how the monastery has been destroyed. He is deeply saddened to hear your news. He offers you a horse and asks you to accompany him to Prince Pelathar, the King’s son.

If you accept, turn to 97.
If you decide to decline his offer, turn to 200.

I suppose it’s possible this guy is a brigand disguised as an officer, but that seems unlikely — if he wanted to rob or kill us, we’re outnumbered and cowardly so he’d just run us through. In the interest of keeping the story moving, therefore, I’m just going to make an executive decision and fire everyone. Wait, I mean, we’re going to follow the officer to the lovely environs of page 97, which I hear is nice this time of year.

Ahead of you, you can see a fierce battle raging across a stone bridge. The clash of steel and the cries of men and beasts echo through the forest. In the midst of the fighting, you see Prince Pelathar, the King’s son. He is in combat with a large gray Gourgaz who is wielding a black axe above his scaly head. Suddenly, the Prince falls wounded — a black arrow in his side.


You’d think the Prince would have some sort of elite bodyguard, but no — it’s up to one little Lone Wolf to either save his royal hide or bravely run away. So which will it be, cubs?

A call to arms. Or those bearing arms.

As Neon_N64 said, we’re already in the room so we opt to head to 199 and search the farmhouse further:

Most of the cupboards and drawers are empty. Whoever lived here took nearly everything they owned with them, but you do manage to scrape together enough fruit in the cellar for one Meal. You may mark this on your Action Chart.

Turn to 81.

(81): After nearly an hour, the Kraan and their cruel riders vanish towards the west. As the shocked refugees start to emerge from the woods, you can hear the sound of horses in the distance galloping nearer. You stay hidden and wait as the riders come closer. They are the cavalry of the King’s Guard wearing the white uniforms of His Majesty’s army.

I would pay the authors cash money to add another option in the next edition of the book, saying “If you wish to stagger outside, shaking your fists above your head at the sky and, while staring skyward in agony yelling ‘KRAAAAAAAAAN!’, you win this book.” But that’s not an option, so we’ll just have to pick one of those given.

Farming it out

When last we checked in on our Lone Wolf, we had handily defeated our monstrous foe and faced a decision about where to go next. By an overwhelming majority, we decided to check out the local farmhouse:

Kicking open the door, you dive into the farmhouse. A Kraan soars overhead, letting out a shriek of victory, a victim hanging in its claws. Getting to your feet, you find yourself alone. But propped against the fireplace is a Warhammer. You may take this weapon if you wish.

We don’t really need a warhammer since that’s not a skill we possess, and we’ve already got two weapons (the max) in our inventory. But if you want it, let me know. I should note that this is not a Warhammer 40K, so don’t go thinking we’re starting another RPG here.

We do have other choices to make, however:

I can’t think running out from cover into a forested area when there are enemies visibly carrying off hapless villagers is what I would call “feeling safer”, but perhaps my definitions are different than yours, I don’t know.

Anyway, in honor of RPG Friday, I am going to try and take the results in an hour or two and move ahead with wherever that takes me, hopefully we can get a fair ways ahead in the story today to make up for the lack of updates recently.

Clash of the Giaks

The response was overwhelmingly in favor of fighting the Giaks that were attacking the cartload of hellspawn children. Luckily the Kai warriors issue pea-soup-vomit resistant robes, so we’re good to go.

The ghoulish creatures thrust their spears at you and attack. Fight these creatures as a single enemy.
Giaks: COMBAT SKILL 15 ENDURANCE 13

Using our spear and the awesome power of our Mind Blast, our COMBAT SKILL is 23 and our incredible ENDURANCE is currently at 21. For some reason fighting makes us type in all caps, perhaps that’s a secret part of the Kai Discipline of Shouting, I don’t know.

Regardless, using the Dungeons & Dragon Dice Roller, combined with the Lone Wolf Combat Results Table at a ratio of +8 (we may be weak stomached but we can FIGHT!), here are our rolls:

Roll 1 = 2: Enemy -5 (8), Lone Wolf -3 (ouch, 18).
Roll 1 = 6: Enemy -12 (dead), Lone Wolf -1 (17).

And so, with two swipes of our deadly spear we dispatch the foul beasts, spilling a not inconsiderable amount of our own blood. We rule!

Apparently the little bastards we were defending ran off while we were getting shish-kabobed. What do you expect, they’re refugees, fleeing is what they do. Still, a little gratitude or a simple “Thanks!” would have been nice. Jerks. Instead we have the following two choices:

I don’t even remember there being a farmhouse, but sure, whatever. I hope it’s made of gingerbread, then we can use our Kai Discipline of Mind Blast to chuck the mean old witch in an oven and finally get a meal. Then again, forests are nice, and rarely get burned down on general principle by marauding Giaks.

Giakacious!

By a runaway margin, we are apparently a lot more heroic than one might have though after heaving up one’s guts AFTER the last fight was over. We’ve gathered our wits together and decide to charge in and help the ugly, endangered little children.

You sprint towards the wagon. People are running everywhere in panic as the Kraan make their attack, carrying their poor victims off into the darkening sky. A large Kraan is hovering above the wagon and three snarling Giaks drop from its back onto the startled horses. You must fight them or leave the wagon and run to the safety of a nearby farmhouse.

I like what Worf said at the last decision point, that even if we die we will go out yelling KRRRAAAAAAAN! But don’t let that say you.

Lone Wolf. Or Rabbit. You decide.

Our feelings of human camaraderie have prevailed — or possibly we just wish to be surrounded by more human shields in the event of an attack — and we have decided to seek out the company of the refugees fleeing along the road.

The people look tired and hungry. They have come many miles from their burning city. Suddenly, you hear the beat of huge wings coming from the north.

‘Kraan, Kraan! Hide yourselves!’ the cry goes up all along the road.

Just in front of you, a wagon carrying small children breaks down, its right wheel jammed in a furrow. The children scream in panic.

Now this is where the rubber meets the road! Or the wagon wheel gets in a rut. Or the foot falls in a puddle. Whatever, look, we’ve got a clear choice here — run like a rabbit or stand like a lion? I’ll just note that Hercules wore the skin of a lion, but not a rabbit. However, they never made a movie called “The Rabbit King” either. They did make “Watership Down”, though, which was pretty awesome. Am I rambling? Focus, Jeff, FOCUS!

In any event, look at this kids before you make your decision:

First of all, those children are clearly possessed by Satan. What they need is not a Kai Warrior but a good exorcist. Can there be any doubt the one on the right is eating her mother right now? I think not. And the baby is at least half caterpillar, which is just disgusting.

So really, the choice is whether to run away and hope to fight again, or stand up to an invading group of flying badasses in order to save the spawn of the devil. At least partly human hell children, admittedly, but hell spawn nonetheless.

So what’ll it be, and why?

Burrowcrawler!

Having left our Lone Wolf standing indecisively in front of a tunnel when last we checked in (sorry for the long delay!), we eventually direct him to proceed forthwith into the Freudian landscape:

The tunnel is dark and the air is much cooler than outside. You carefully advance with one hand on the tunnel wall to aid your sense of direction. You have been in total darkness for three minutes when you detect the foul smell of decay ahead, similar to rotting meat. If you have a Torch and Tinderbox in your Pack, you may light the Torch to see your way ahead.

Rifling through our Pack, we do not, sadly, have a Torch or a Tinderbox. We do, however, have a “Tablet of perfumed soap”. I bet we try to set that on fire, but no luck.

Suddenly, something heavy drops from the tunnel ceiling onto your back and you fall to your knees. It is a Burrowcrawler and you must fight it, for it is trying to strangle you with its long slimy tentacles:

Burrowcrawler: COMBAT SKILL 17 ENDURANCE 7

If you do not have a torch, deduct 3 points from your COMBAT SKILL during this fight. The Burrowcrawler is immune to Mindblast and Animal Kinship.

That is unfortunate, as our favorite tactic is to use Animal Kinship to lure a critter close, only to blast it with the awesome power of our minds. Pity. Our regular Combat Skill is 19, +2 when using a Spear (which we are), -3 for being in the dark, for a total of … um … (carry the three … curse that English and Art degree …) 18. Or so. Ahem.

Closing my eyes and pointing to the Random Number Table, I get a 6. Turning to the Combat Table, I see we are at a +1 relative to the Burrowcrawler, meaning our foul, slimy foe takes 9 points of damage while we take 2. Since he has a paltry 7 Endurance, we not only kill him with one mighty thrust of our spear, we also get to dance on his corpse and hurl insults at him.

As an aside, how awesome is the caption of that image? “It is a Burrowcrawler and it is trying to strangle you” sums up the whole RPG experience so perfectly, I just love it.

The slimy creature lets out a long, ghastly death cry and collapses. You are near to panic and scramble to your feet, grabbing what you think to be your belt from the jaws of the dead beast. You can see light in the far distance, and you sprint for it as fast as you can. When you finally emerge into the daylight, you fall onto the leafy ground and fight for breath in painful gasps.

Slowly sitting upright, you notice that you are still wearing your belt — you had not lost it after all. What you grabbed from the jaw of the Burrowcrawler was a leather strap with a small pouch and a sheathed Dagger half way along it. You break open the clasp to find it contains 20 Gold Crowns. You may take both the Dagger and the Crowns if you are able to.

Feeling a little better now, you gather your Equipment together and push on eastwards into the forest.

Turn to 157.

We can only carry two weapons, and we already have an Axe and a Spear. We aren’t giving up our Very Special Spear, especially now that it’s covered in Burrowcrawler guts (surely the next tavern wench will be impressed with that!), and I’d rather have an Axe than a Dagger since it can be used for chopping up firewood. So we’re pocketing our hard-earned Crowns and turning to 157 like a good Lone Wolf.

The forest begins to thin out until finally you can make out a road through the trees ahead. The highway is full of people heading south. Many are wheeling their possessions along on handcarts.

This is a tough one. I mean, on the one hand we’re the Lone Wolf, but on the other hand it would be nice to see some people who aren’t either dead or trying to make us dead. I’m curious to see how you choose to go on this one.

Packing it in

In my defense, the abandoned backpack we’ve been staring at witlessly for the past two weeks despite early and overwhelming desire to take it is very pretty, with lots of embroidery and a two-level effect like a little path running down the middle (NI!). So we were hypnotized, basically. Ahem.

Anyway, we decided to examine the contents of the bundle, which leads us to:

Wrapped in a bundle of women’s clothing is a small velvet purse containing 6 Gold Crowns and a Tablet of Perfumed Soap. You may take these Items and continue your journey. Turn to 213.

See, women’s clothing! And soap! Given our history I think we can be forgiven for lingering over these reminders of a softer, gentler time, when no one was trying to kill us. Dropping the soap, yes, getting stabbed by Giaks, no. Suitably attired and smelling lily-fresh, we resume our journey.

You have been trudging through the forest for nearly two hours. The nagging fear that you are lost begins to seem a reality. Apart from the occasional cry of a Kraan in the far distance, you have seen or heard no evidence that the enemy is in this part of the forest. As you descend a rocky hillock, you see something unusual in the tangled woods ahead. Turn to 331.

Uh oh. My dad was almost killed by a 331 once, this might be bad.

Surrounded by thorny briars and closely packed roots, you see the entrance of a tunnel disappearing into the hillside beyond. It is approximately seven feet in height and just over ten feet wide. As you get closer, you can feel a slight breeze coming from the inky blackness. If the other end of this tunnel emerges on the far side of the hill, it could save you many hours of difficult climbing. But it could also harbour unknown danger.


So what’ll it be, gentlefolk? A brave but possibly foolhardy plunge into Freudian symbology, or attempting to scale a hill because it is there? Either way we’re looking smart and smelling great, so I am sure we’ll have no problems with whatever we might face.