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Sunday, 18 September 2011

The Sword of the Silver Dawn

This is another never-was gamebook proposal but, unlike the ones I've posted before (eg here and here), this dates right back to the early 1980s when the gamebook craze was just beginning. If we had gone ahead with this, it would have pre-dated Lone Wolf, Grailquest and Falcon to be the first ongoing gamebook series with a specific lead character. I'll explain the context on Friday, but first here's the original three-book proposal as written by me, Jamie Thomson, Oliver Johnson, Mark Smith and Mike Polling.
Background to the adventure

In former times, the land of Thalassa was ruled by the High King, a good and wise monarch who brought peace and prosperity to his subjects.

But the High King died, and his son, the evil wizard Prince Sussurian, came to the throne. The Council of Paladins was dissolved and its members scattered to the corners of the kingdom. While those who opposed the Prince were beheaded or cast into his dungeons, the cruel and ruthless became Sussurian's knights, and thus he closed his evil grip on the land.

Your father, Galador, was chief of the Council of Paladins. Now he lives in retirement on the only lands which were not taken from him. You have never known a life different from the simple country ways you and your family have been forced to adopt. But you have always dreamed of the glorious days when your father 'wielded the sword Whitefire.

One night you are visited by an old man, Aurelion, who persuades your father that he must once again take up arms and oppose Sussurian, whose tyrannical reign must be ended. As your father reaches for the sword, the fire dies to a flicker and all the lamps and candles go out. At once, Aurelian shouts a mystic word and the fire leaps up. In the flickering gloom, you see a dark shadow reaching out to touch your father.

Instinctively, you seize the sword. A nimbus of light shines from the blade as you swing it at the Shadow, which begins to shrivel but,even as it does so, fades into your father, who slumps to the floor. Aurelion does his best; after some time he turns to you. He explains that your father is a victim of the Prince's evil necromancy, and that there is little he can do. He tells you that the sword Whitefire has chosen you as its wielder, and that in order to save your father's life you must undertake the quest in his place.

Your first objective must be to prevent the wicked Baron Korstang, who rules this area through his band of robber-knights, from returning to the Court of Prince Sussurian with the dread Sceptre of Doom. With this artifact, the Prince's power would to such that none could stand against him. At this point, the cock crows and Aurelion hurries away.

You set off on your adventure...

General outline

Although all three books form a single adventure, each is entirely self-contained and can be read/played on its own.

The Sceptre of Doom
In this book, the hero's objective is to prevent Baron Korstang from taking a magical artifact of great power to the evil Prince Sussurian. After many adventures, the hero finally catches up with Baron Korstang and defeats him. He destroys the Sceptre of Doom, and in so doing attracts the attention of the forces of darkness.

The Black Knight
Prince Sussurian's champion, the Black Knight - who appears only peripherally in the first book - is sent with orders to slay the hero and capture his enchanted sword, Whitefire. The Black Knight has other ideas. With the power of the sword he hopes to supplant Sussurian. Early in the book, the hero loses Whitefire, upon which he has come to depend. He has to overcome the obstacles facing him without the aid of its magic. Thus he begins to learn that he can rely on his own inner strength. Eventually he retrieves the sword. In the final battle with the Black Knight it is his own courage and resolve, as much as the power of the sword Whitefire, that wins him victory.

The Court of Prince Sussurian
The final book takes the hero into the heart of Sussurian's domain, Castle Blight. The many rooms and towers of the Prince's court are inhabited by dissolute courtiers, brutal men-at-arms and creatures of the night, attracted by the citadel's aura of evil. The hero has to find his way past these, and the Castle's many traps and magical wards, to get to Sussurian. The ensuing battle pits the determination and valiant heart of the hero against the sorcery and cunning of the evil Prince. However, even with Sussurian defeated, the hero realizes that the curse laid on his father in the first book is still not lifted. So he penetrates the Castle's deepest depths where he finds a monstrous demon, the pure manifestation of evil. He hurls his sword at it, and the sword becomes a shaft of white light which pierces and destroys the demon.


  1. Was this Prince Sussurian the "ancestor" of Sussurien met in "the Demon's Claw" (BS3) ?


  2. Very interesting to hear about a proto-Golden Dragon gamebook series that was lost to the winds of fate. Although Legend must have been just a twinkle in your eye when this was written, the coincidences just keep on cropping up. Seems to me that this story would make a great little bardic folk-tale that - like the best of ancient myths - might contain a grain of Legendary truth:

    Thalassa... Lalassa... Lavasse?
    Galador... Ganelon?
    Karstang... Vergang?
    ...and Sussurian, as Oiliver mentions.

    All just a coincidence?

  3. Sounds very interesting. It's a pity the series never saw the light of day.

  4. "Thalassa" is the Greek word meaning "sea".
    On the contrary, in colloquial French, "lavasse" means "bad coffee" !

  5. A sea of coffee.. which is dark, like some types of wine... Of course, it must be set in the Fabled Lands too! 8^)

  6. That was most definitely the first use of Sussurien/Sussurian, a good 3-4 years (at least) before Demon's Claw. As for "Thalassa" - yes, literally "the sea" but also (after Xenophon) metaphorically an expression of hope and triumph, which was the context in which I think we meant it. Mike Polling and I were/are big fans of Walter Hill's movie The Warriors, which was based on Xenophon's account of the Persian expedition.

  7. Amazing story!
    BTW, That's how you plan a story with many parts?

  8. It's only the first step, Ikaros. In the case of Blood Sword, Oliver and I had a vague sense of where the story was going just based on the titles, but I don't think we originally intended for Aiken/Icon to play such a major part in the trip to Sheol in Doomwalk. So we probably started out with a couple of paragraphs about each book, but by the time we were halfway through book 2, the notes on later books had probably grown to several pages each. A bit like J K Rowling's plot sheet for Order of the Phoenix here: