I'm pretty sure Jamie must have come up with this pitch, as it is similar in concept to a fifth title in the Duelmaster series that he wrote (and that was even fully illustrated) but that Armada Books then declined to publish. Which is a shame because Duelmaster was a great series, and if anyone could pull off the ultimate martial arts gamebook it would be our Mr Thomson!
MASTERS OF COMBAT
You are one of the brothers at a martial arts monastery in the land of Hachiman. One evening, the monastery funeral bells are rung and you are saddened to hear the chanting which declares the death of the old Soryo (abbot). A new Soryo must be appointed, and it is the tradition of your Order that this will be determined by a series of martial contests.
You are one of the best warriors in the monastery, but at first you have no intention of entering the contests. You are interested only in your unceasing quest for perfection in the martial arts, and you fear that the position of Soryo would require you to spend too much time on simple administrative tasks. However, as you make your way back to your cell after meditation one evening, you overhear something that changes your mind completely. Unaware that you are passing by, another monk, Nintoru, and his cronies are discussing the forthcoming contests. "When I am Soryo," snarls Nintoru, "I will end this practice of giving shelter and training to the peasant rebels in the hills. Our monastery will put its military support behind the Shogun's forces, and any rebels venturing here will be seized and handed over to him."
You are sickened to hear this. It is well known that the Shogun is an evil man whose oppressive taxes have caused thousands to starve and driven thousands of others to a life of banditry. As a powerful military force, your monastery has always sided with the peasants, as it is the teaching of your faith that the powerful fighting secrets that were imparted to the Order also carry a great responsibility to defend the weak. Nintoru has always struck you as a secretive and venal man, even though his martial skill is the equal of your own. Now it is clear that if he becomes Soryo he intends to overturn everything the monastery stands for. To curry favour with the Shogun, he is prepared to betray hundreds of downtrodden rebels and send them to torture and death. You cannot allow such a thing! You must enter the contests after all - you must confront Nintoru in a bid to become the new Soryo. And you must win.
The principal feature of this book is the combat system, which allows readers to decide from a range of martial styles which techniques they will develop for use in their battles. Observing Nintoru's progress in the initial bouts will give some idea of his strengths and weaknesses, and hence suggest techniques that might work against him.
The later contests are not simple face-to-face battles in an arena or dojo, but complete tests of initiative, strategic thinking, courage and fighting skill. The protagonist will have to descend into the ancient catacombs deep below the monastery and engage Nintoru in a prolonged running battle involving wits as well as strength.