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Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Castle of Lost Souls part two: "The Quest"

A little while back we ran the first installment of The Castle of Lost Souls. This was one of the books in my and Oliver Johnson's Golden Dragon Gamebook series, and was serialized in the British fantasy gaming magazine White Dwarf (the April-July 1984 issues) before appearing in book form. The original version (which is what you have here) was aimed at older readers than the gamebook and the text differed considerably, especially in the early part of the adventure.

The rules are here, and if you want to dive into this installment without playing "The Champion" first, just follow those guidelines for creating a character but start with an Honour score of 4 instead of 3.

You are the champion of the Greengosh family, chosen by its head, Hogron. He sent you on a mission to collect some magical boots from a cave, guarded by a great giant who you slew after many adventures. Now you have returned and, rested and relaxed sufficiently after your ordeal, Hogron has called you to his study. Here he intends to explain the reasoning behind your expedition, and your next task. Go to

1: 'The Castle of Lost Souls,' Hogron explains, 'is where the demon Slank imprisons the souls of those who pledge themselves to him.' He hands you a glass of brandy. '...One day my father found an ornate bronze jar among his trinkets and wares. Unable to remember where he had got it, he read the inscription on the bottom. Immediately the arch-demon Slank stepped from the shadows!

'After some haggling, my father, concluded a deal with Slank. This was that he should prosper and grow rich in order to leave wealth for his sons and a dowry for his lovely daughter. For this the demon would have his soul.

'Papa died six months ago. As you can see from this mansion and estates, the demon kept his side of the bargain. While Papa lay on his deathbed, Slank waited to take his soul to the Castle. None of us could see Slank, of course, but Papa had told me, his eldest, about the deal. He was rather upset about losing his soul there at the end, but actually I could rather see Slank's point of view - who loves a welcher? Anyhow, just as Papa breathed his last, a single tear fell from the eyes of our sister onto his face. The demon led him through low hills and swamps to where the Castle stands enshrouded by mists. Papa heard the demon chuckle as he closed the door behind them. Gathering his courage, he turned round and cast the single teardrop into Slank's face. The demon howled in pain and ran off through the Castle, clutching his eye which sizzled and smoked where the tear struck it.

'Papa was no fool ... is no fool. Seeing that goodness is the means to destroy the evil demon, he barricaded himself in the Castle library and sat down to work out the necessary weapons. The action of killing Slank can be thought of as a spell which requires a crystal ball, a four leaf clover, the ashes of a saint, the hair of a nun, a fragment of the armour of the most chivalrous knight, and a tear from my sister's eyes. Luckily, Papa also discovered a book called Biodialogos: Speaking with the Living. He got through to us in a vision and told us to find a champion - that's you - because none of us are adventurers, obviously. He told us where to find the magic boots that are the only means for a living soul to find the Castle. He also checked the company accounts, in fact - he may have popped his clogs, but he's kept his head for business.'

Hogron thinks you should start with the teardrop, since his sister, Perterra Greengosh, is just upstairs in her room. Turn to 9.

2: You buy them drinks (deduct 3 gold pieces). You recognize them from yesterday's interviews. 'Ah, you're the one who got the Greengosh contract, aren't you,' says one, accepting a cup of wine. Will you ask them if they know where you can get a crystal ball (turn to 6), or do you mention four leaf clover (turn to 88)?

3: You wake up in a gutter about midnight, wincing at your terrible hangover. You vaguely remember the gypsies getting you drunk, but after that everything is a total blank. You reach into your money pouch to find they have looted all your cash. Turn to 13.

4: Curse the luck – you slip on a patch of damp grass and he turns round and sees you. With a single bound he is upon you, sword drawn. You have no choice but to fight.

CHIVALROUS KNIGHT: Fighting Prowess: 8; Constitution: 18; 2-point armour.

If you win, turn to 77. If you decide to submit, turn to 50.

5: You go over to the bar and, while the innkeeper is pouring your drink, reach up to remove the horse brass from the wall. Lose 1 point of Honour. Try to roll your Cleverness or less on two dice. If you succeed, go to 30. If not, go to 83.

6: They tell you there is an old hermit outside the town who might well have such an item, as he collects curios and odd artifacts. They will take you to his hut for 5 gold pieces. You could go with them straight away (turn to 27), or first ask if they know where you can find a four leaf clover (turn to 40). If you will not pay their price, you could walk over to the bar and either chat to the innkeeper (turn to 65) or attempt to pilfer the horse brass you noticed when you came in (turn to 55).

7: You cross her palm with a gold piece. She gazes into her crystal ball. There she sees much of your past and a little of your future. How much Honour do you have? If it is 4 or more, turn to 49. If less, turn to 22.

8: You are scratched and bruised by a rain of blows as you charge for the door. Lose 3 points of Constitution. Turn to 73.

9: Hogron tells one of his brothers to take you to Perterra. You are led up a winding staircase and along a gallery hung with old paintings. The brother guiding you is either surly or half-witted, for he won't answer when you speak to him.

You reach Perterra's room and the brother ushers you inside. You are surprised to see a little girl, no more than four years old. How will you make her cry? Will you: Twist her arm? (turn to 21) Tell her a joke? (turn to 41) Tickle her? (turn to 31) Break her teddy bear's neck? (turn to 51) Cut up an onion under her nose? (turn to 16).

10: A Luck Charm may be used three times only so you must keep track of how often you use it. Any time you need to make a two-dice roll equal to or less than one of your characteristics, you can activate the Charm instead. Using the Charm means automatic success, ie you do not need to roll the dice. You must decide in advance when you use the Charm; you cannot to change a dice roll after you have attempted and failed. Remember it will work only times only, so use it wisely, Turn to 86.

11: Perhaps you will have more luck elsewhere. You could approach the adventurers (turn to 2), the gypsies (turn to 15) or even the innkeeper (turn to 65). If you decide to have a go at stealing the horse brass instead, turn to 55.

12: The lies flow from your tongue like wine from an uncorked bottle, and you soon convince Hogron that your brawl with his brother was the best way to make Perterra cry. In fact, when the brother enters nursing his black eye, Hogron berates him for being so obstructive. Pleased with your easy dishonesty, you head off into town for a lunchtime drink at an inn called The Four Leaf Clover. Turn to 74.

13: You return to the inn the next day. If you wish to talk to the innkeeper, turn to 65. If you would rather try to steal the clover-leaf horse brass, turn to 55.

14: An elegant solution to the problem - as long as you are, in fact, chivalrous. Do you have Honour of 7 or more? If so, a fragment from your own armour will indeed serve the purpose. This is the reward of virtue: turn to 36. If your Honour is less than 7, you are not chivalrous enough, and you will have to come up with another plan. Turn to 25 and choose again.

15: You take a bottle of wine (which costs 3 gold pieces) over to their table and they start chatting to you. You could try asking them about a crystal ball (turn to 67) or clover (turn to 19). Or perhaps you should find out if they can introduce you to a fortune teller (turn to 70)

16: At your suggestion, the brother gets a servant to fetch an onion. You cut it up, and soon the tears are streaming - not only from Perterra's eyes, but also from you and the brother. You collect her tears in a vial, and gain 1 point of Honour for your painless solution to the problem. Turn to 84.

17: You have failed to obtain the armour fragment and so cannot continue with your adventure. You can roll up a new character and try again, or rejoin the adventure at the start of the next installment.

18: You pass a group of townsfolk and gypsies gathered in a ring, shouting and cheering. You stop to see what all the noise is about. There is a tall, thin man with a scarlet bandanna around his head taking coins from the people around him. He is taking bets on a cockfight. You could place a bet yourself (turn to 57). If you decide to pass by, turn to 69.

19: ‘Why don't you ask the innkeeper?’ they suggest. You go over to the innkeeper and inquire about the clover you need. Turn to 65.

20: You creep off between the brightly coloured pavilions and find a quiet place where you can chip a fragment from the helmet. You then get rid of the helmet by selling it to a trader for 20 gold pieces. Turn to 36.

21: You grab the little girl's arm and are about to twist it painfully when her enraged brother steps forward and pushes you. You stumble back against the wall. 'Don't you lay a hand on my kid sister,' he snarls. Will you lose your temper and hit him (turn to 61) or choke back your anger and think of another way to make Perterra cry (turn to 47)? Either way, lose a point of Honour for being so ungallant.

22: 'Your intentions are clear to me,' she says. 'If you want my crystal ball you must pay more than gold for it...' She pricks your finger with the point of her dagger, and a single drop of blood falls into the silver chalice which she holds out. You find you have lost 1 point of Constitution permanently. A Potion of Healing will not restore this point, and nor will anything else. In exchange for the droplet of blood, she gives you a crystal ball from a casket behind her. You take it and leave, feeling you have indeed paid dearly for this item. Turn to 43.

23: The curse takes its effect on you. Reduce your Fighting Prowess by 1 point permanently. Uttering a stream of colourful invective at this unhappy turn of events, you nonetheless make good your escape with the purloined ball. Turn to 43.

24: As you enter his study, Hogron asks you to explain the thumps and shouts he has heard from his sister's playroom. Roll two dice. If you roll your Cleverness or less, turn to 12. If not, turn to 59.

25: Now that you have the teardrop, the crystal ball and the four leaf clover, all you need is a fragment of a chivalrous knight's armour. Will you: Try taking a sliver from your own armour? (turn to 14). Go to the joust being held tomorrow? (turn to 45) Go to see Wincho the Cleric, who keeps a small private collection of arms and armour at the parsonage? (turn to 62).

26: He offers you a Luck Charm for 20 gold pieces. If you decline this and continue to wander around the fete, turn to 86. If you buy the Charm, pay him the 20 gold pieces and turn to 10.

27: They lead you into the woods outside the town, down a little-used pathway. You are beginning to get suspicious. You turn to see one of them drawing his sword as he creeps up on you. He shouts to the others and all three rush in to the attack.

FIRST ADVENTURER: Fighting Prowess: 6; Constitution: 8; 1 -point armour.
SECOND ADVENTURER: Fighting Prowess: 5; Constitution: 7; 1 -point armour.
THIRD ADVENTURER: Fighting Prowess: 4; Constitution: 9; 1 -point armour.

Every round you must roll for each of them to see if he hits you. You can only hit one of them in any given round. If you feel you must flee, turn to 32. If you fight them and kill all three, turn to 48.

28: They order more wine. They are obviously trying to get you drunk. You tell them that you must be leaving soon. You get up from their table. Will you start talking to the innkeeper? If so, turn to 65. If you'd rather try stealing the horse brass, turn to 55.

29: You seize the helmet when his back is turned and start to skulk off with it. Roll two dice: If the score is less than or equal to your Cleverness, turn to 20. If the dice score exceeds your Cleverness, turn to 4. Either way you lose 1 point of Honour.

30: You take the brass, put it into a pocket of your tunic, finish your drink and leave the inn. Turn to 25.

31: Unfortunately she's not ticklish, and carries on playing with her teddy bear. What now? It occurs to you that you could seize the bear and break its neck (turn to 51) or send down to the kitchens for an onion to cut up in front of her (turn to 16). If you are really exasperated, you could just twist her arm - in which case, turn to 21.

32: You cannot fend off all blows as you turn to run. Lose 4 points of Constitution. You make off down the track to town. You do not lose Honour, because you were badly outnumbered. Turn to 52.

33: Your blood boils and you draw your sword. The cutpurse tries to duck away between two tents, but a caravan blocks his way and he has to turn and face you:

CUTPURSE: Fighting Prowess: 4; Constitution: 6; 1 -point armour

If you win, turn to 91.

34: To your dismay, if not complete surprise, they lapse into a drunken rambling and then fall asleep. You get up from the table, annoyed at wasting your money. Turn to 11.

35: They are initially wary of you because you are from out of town, but when you buy them flagons of ale they soon become quite affable. Deduct 3 gold pieces for the drinks. You ask if they know where you could get one of the items you need - the crystal ball (turn to 64) or the four leaf clover (turn to 82).

36: By hook or by crook you have obtained the daughter's teardrop, the four leaf clover, the crystal ball and the armour fragment. Gain 1 point of Honour if you have done all this without so far losing any Honour. Only the saint's ashes and the hair of a nun remain to be found - but Hogron suggests that since the town is not a very holy sort of place, you might have more luck finding the last two items en route to the Castle of Lost Souls. You agree and, pulling on the magic boots, you make ready to depart. Turn to 93.

37: You try to divert her attention, but realize your deceitful words will not fool her. In desperation you hold your sword to her throat and grab the crystal ball. Lose 1 point of Honour. As you turn to make your escape, Gypsy Gayl calls on the spirits of the departed to curse you. Try to roll your Magical Fortitude or less on two dice. If you succeed, turn to 68. If you fail, turn to 23.

38: The innkeeper tells you that there are sometimes four leaf clovers to be found in the inn's beer garden. 'Why do you think it's called The Four Leaf Clover?’ he laughs. After spending an hour carefully searching the garden, and 2 gold pieces on drinks, you find a four leaf clover. That’s lucky. Turn to 25.

39: After a short and vicious battle, the cock you bet on wins the fight. You get back twice what you bet, less 1 gold piece which the tall man keeps back from each wager. You press on. Turn to 69.

40: ‘Maybe the hermit will have some,' suggests one of the adventurers. 'Can't say for sure - he collects just about anything.' They take you to meet him. Turn to 27.

41: You tell a joke that has you and the brother in tears of laughter, but Perterra doesn't even crack a smile. Then you try some amusing antics like juggling with gold coins, but you drop one of your coins and it falls through a chink in the floorboards where you can't get at it. (Cross it off.) The girl turns away, bored, and you rack your brains to think of something else. Do you twist her arm (turn to 21), tickle her (turn to 31), grab her teddy bear and break its neck (turn to51) or chop up an onion under her nose (turn to 16)?

42: You climb the steps of the brightly painted caravan, push aside the silk curtain over the doorway, and enter. It is dimly lit. There is a strange herbal smell - incense, perhaps? Exotically colorful fabrics hang down in drapes. You feel heady and disorientated, as though you have stepped from the noise and bustle of the fair into a different world.

You have several plans, and now you must choose which one to use. Will you ask her to tell your fortune (turn to 7) - or suggest she reads her own fortune (turn to 90)? A less honest, but possibly effective, approach would be to try and steal the crystal ball (turn to 56). You might see if she'd like to join you for a drink and spend some time looking around the fete (turn to 53).

43: Do you have the tour leaf clover as well? If not, turn to 87. If you have, turn to 25.

44: You have just filched the brass when you hear a shout: 'Hoy, Bimbo. Y've got a thief in yer bar!' Several heavyset men are closing in on you with cudgels and broken bottles. You draw your sword to fight them.

HOMP THE BLACKSMITH: Fighting Prowess: 5; Constitution: 10.
KLIMPI THE TAILOR: Fighting Prowess: 3; Constitution: 5.
TORRICK THE RUFFIAN: Fighting Prowess: 6; Constitution: 6.
BIMBO THE INNKEEPER: Fighting Prowess: 6; Constitution: 7;
No armour.

Every round you must roll for each of them to see if he hits you, but you only get the chance to hit one of them at a time. After two combat rounds you see a chance to run for it - if you take this escape route, turn to 8. If you stay and beat them all, turn to 73.

45: You walk around the field where the joust is taking place. Among the various gentlemen parading back and forth on horseback or cuffing their indolent squires, you see a very gallant looking knight accepting a maiden's favour. You can tell he must be chivalrous because he only kisses her hand. You approach him. Will you: Explain your quest and why you need a piece of his armour (turn to 72)? Point out an unsightly dent in his breast plate and offer to rush with it to the armourer so that it can be repaired before the joust begins (turn to 81)? Try and steal his helmet when he isn't looking (turn to 29)?

46: You go on for a short distance, then it strikes you that there was something suspicious about the fat man. If you bought a Luck Charm, you find you no longer have it. If you did not buy a Charm, you notice that the money pouch on your belt has been stolen, and the thief has made off with all your cash. Turn to 66.

47: Keeping a cool head but glaring at the brother with what you hope is a look of glowering menace, you try another tack. Do you assault the little girl's teddy bear (turn to 51) or cut up an onion under her nose (turn to 16)?

48: Well fought! You can attempt to increase your Fighting Prowess by 1 point, by rolling more than your current score on two dice. You check the bodies. You find 15 gold pieces and a Potion of Healing. You set off back to town, whistling cheerfully. Turn to 52.

49: ' I perceive you to be a person of good heart,' she says, smiling at what she sees in her crystal ball. 'I will not deny you what you seek.' She takes a spare crystal ball from a casket behind her and hands this to you. You thank her and leave - but not before she adds that she may have a favour to ask of you someday. Turn to 43.

50: You drop your sword and ask for quarter. 'Base varlet!' cries the knight, shaking with rage, 'I should spit thee like a pig where you stand - but nay, for thou hast requested mercy, and I would not slay an unarmed foe. Begone!'

You scurry off into the crowds – utterly disgraced, an abject failure... If you wish to try the adventure again you must roll up a new character. Perhaps your experiences in this incarnation will prove useful in your next?

51: You wrench the teddy bear from her arms and break its neck. She bursts into a flood of tears and kicks you hard in the shins. Undaunted by the pain or the loss of 1 point of Honour, you collect the precious tears in a vial. Turn to 84.

52: You return to the inn. The gypsies are still here. If you wish to join them at their table, turn to 15. If you now try talking to the innkeeper, turn to 65. If you prefer a dishonest approach, why not try to pilfer a horse brass in the shape of the clover you seek (turn to 55)?

53: She is flattered and gives you a smile. You leave the caravan together and make your way to a large tent nearby. A few drunken figures - townsfolk and gypsies alike –stand, sit or lie around it. The wine and ale flow freely here. You push your way through the crowds of merrymakers and find a small table, where you ply Gayl with drinks. You spend 5 gold pieces, and soon she relaxes and starts to laugh and joke. A few of the more rowdy customers egg her on to dance for them. Eventually - quite quickly, in fact -she is persuaded and, picking up a tamborine you hadn't noticed before, she slaps it against her thighs and begins an erotic dance. The men all cheer, crowding in a circle around her and clapping their hands. You enjoy a last sip from the wine you've bought, then make a discreet exit. Returning to her caravan, you take the crystal ball and leave the fete. Turn to 43.

54: You craftily slip the brass into your tunic, coolly finish your drink and stroll out of the inn. Turn to 85.

55: You stroll casually over to the bar. While the innkeeper is pouring your drink,
you surreptitiously reach up to take the horse brass. Lose 1 point of Honour and roll two dice. If you roll your Cleverness or less turn to 54. If not, turn to 44.

56: Roll two dice, attempting to score your Cleverness or less. If you do this, go to 79. If you roll more than your Cleverness, turn to 37.

57: You can wager up to 3 gold pieces on a proudly strutting bantam or on his opponent, who is larger but has a tattered comb. If you choose the former, turn to 39. If the latter, turn to 92.

58: He is insulted by your paltry offer! You will now have to increase your offer by 3 gold pieces to successfully bribe the armourer. If you do this, he does as you ask - turn to 36. If you cannot or will not increase your bribe, turn to 17.

59: You mumble some feeble explanation and then the other brother comes in behind you nursing a black eye. Hogron is unconvinced by your excuses and has you thrown out for disturbing his household. Dejected but determined to redeem yourself, you go in search of the clover and the crystal ball. You decide to console yourself with a lunchtime tipple at The Four Leaf Clover inn. Turn to 74.

60: It you offered the armourer 3 gold pieces or more, he pockets the bribe and shaves off a sliver of armour for you. Turn to 36. If you offered 2 gold pieces or less, turn to 58.

61: Your sudden punch catches him unawares, but despite his now-bloodied nose he swings back at you. You are in a fistfight, and the brother is obviously a skilled boxer.

BROTHER: Fighting Prowess: 7; Constitution: 13; No armour.

Resolve the combat in the usual way. You are not wearing your armour, by the way. If you lose, turn to 71. If you beat him, turn to 80.

62: Wincho invites you in and seems to believe your story - that you are a collector and connoisseur of antique armour. He shows you his small but valuable collection, including the suit of plate worn by the valiant and pure knight of legend, Sir Quedri. While the trusting Wincho fetches tea and cakes, you break a splinter from the armour's breastplate. He will never notice its loss. You enjoy his hospitality for a while longer and then take your leave of him. Turn to 36.

63: Gypsy Gayl has retreated to the back of the caravan. You wipe the gore from your sword on the velvet tablecloth and lift the crystal ball from its stand. When you bid her farewell, she spits on the floor. You leave quickly before she can think of a spell. Turn to 43.

64: 'Can't say for certain,' says one, 'but another drink could jog our memories.' They all chuckle. If you decide to buy more drinks for them, then deduct 2 gold pieces from your Character Sheet and turn to 34. If you decide to try one of the other groups, turn to 11.

65: The innkeeper says that there are sometimes four leaf clovers to be found in the beer garden at the back. 'Hence the name of the inn!' he chuckles. You spend a couple of hours searching the beer garden and eventually find a four leaf clover. You have spent 2 gold pieces on drinks by now. Turn to 85.

66: You see a young couple by the beer tent - a swarthy gypsy lad and his plump country maid. You ask where you could find someone with a crystal ball. 'You want Gypsy Gayl,' he tells you. 'She's the best fortune teller for twenty leagues and more.' He directs you to her caravan. Turn to 42.

67: As soon as you mention the item you their expressions become guarded. They exchange sly glances as they talk to you. You must roll two dice and attempt to score less than or equal to your Cleverness. If you succeed, turn to 28. If you fail, turn to 3.

68: You are able to resist her sorcery and make off with the crystal ball. Turn to 43.

69: You find yourself jostled by an excited crowd of townsfolk. A man in a long purple robe catches your eye. He has been performing conjuring tricks. As you watch, he brushes his fingers together and creates a flare of light and a puff of green smoke. If you decide to pass by, turn to 86. If you want to wait and buy one of the magical charms he has for sale, turn to26.

70: After finishing the wine they take you to the local fete, where they point out Gypsy Gayl's caravan. You approach it, hoping that here you will find a crystal ball for your quest. Turn to 42.

71: He lays you out with a knockout punch. You wake up to find yourself being carried out of the house by two servants. 'I would sooner have an imbecilic half-orc as my champion,' Hogron tells you, 'than entrust my father's fate to you!' You slink away in disgrace. If you wish to start again, you will need to roll up a new character.

72: He is only too glad to be able to assist you in your noble undertaking, and shaves a sliver from his helmet with the sharp edge of his sword. You also gain 1 point of Honour for your open approach. Turn to 36.

73: You dash out of the inn and down a side alley. You still have the horse brass in a pocket of your tunic, and you are also fairly sure that none of the people in the bar got a good enough look at you to identify you again later. Turn to 85.

74: A short walk across town brings you to the inn. As you enter the public room, the first thing you see is a horse brass in the shape of a four leaf clover hanging above the bar. You might try stealing this if you think it will serve your purposes (turn to 55), or you could ask the innkeeper if he knows where there is some clover to be found (turn to 65). If you prefer, you could strike up a conversation with some of the customers in the bar. Will you join a group of gypsies (turn to 15), several farm workers having lunch (turn to 35) or a trio of adventurers, presumably would-be champions who failed Hogron's interview (turn to 2)?

75: As you run for the door, Bondek swings the stool leg at the back of your neck. Lose 3 points of Constitution. Dazed by the blow, you nonetheless manage to stumble out into the street. Turn to 89.

76: You spot the fat man trying to cut the strings of your money pouch. Turn to 33.

77: He lies dead at your feet. You snatch up the helmet and push your way through the astonished onlookers. No one tries to stop you as you have slain this perfect if not gentle knight. You chip off the fragment you require and then throw the helmet into a ditch. Turn to 36.

78: They shrug. 'Can't help you there.' You go with them to get the clover. Turn to 27.

79: You inquire as to whether she has any lucky heather for sale. As she goes to the back of the caravan to get some, you scoop up the crystal ball and hastily make an exit. Lose 1 point of Honour if you have not lost it all already. Turn to 43.

80: Your powerful left hook floors the brother, at which his little sister bursts into tears. Taking advantage of this, you collect the tears in a vial. You have merely compounded your previous unchivalrous behaviour: lose another 2 points of Honour. You go back downstairs to Hogron's study. If your Constitution is less than its initial value, restore it to normal, as you recover much quicker from a fistfight than from sword blows. Turn to 24.

81: He gives you 2 gold pieces for your trouble. Unfortunately, the armourer's tent is very close by, so you have no chance to steal a fragment as you carry the breastplate over. Once inside the tent you try bribing the armourer to take a fragment while he's hammering the dent out. Decide how much you will spend on the bribe and then turn to 60.

82: ‘Don't grow that,’ they say. 'It gives th' old cows wind!' They all laugh uproariously. 'Maybe we'd know better if we had another drink, though.' Will you buy them more drinks - at a cost of 2 gold pieces (turn to 34) or will you take your leave of them (turn to 11)?

83: You are just putting the brass into your pocket when someone yells: 'Put that back, you light-fingered scum!' There is a crash. You whirl, drawing your sword. A huge man is advancing on you with a broken bottle in one hand and the leg of a stool in the other. As you edge away, the innkeeper comes out from behind the bar with a meat cleaver. You must fight both of them together.

BIMBO THE INNKEEPER: Fighting Prowess: 6; Constitution: 7.
BONDEK BONEBREAKER: Fighting Prowess: 7; Constitution: 13; No armour.

Each round, they both roll to hit you but you only roll to hit one of them. After one combat round you have a chance to flee (turn to 75). If you prefer to stand your ground and manage to beat them both, turn to 89.

84: You decide that the next two items to get will be the crystal ball and the four leaf clover. You have heard there is an inn called The Four Leaf Clover off the market square and this seems as good a place as any to begin the search. Turn to 74.

85: You hear there is a fete in town. Perhaps you will find someone there who knows where you can get a crystal ball. Turn to 18.

86: A short, fat man blunders carelessly into you and mutters a vague apology as he brushes past. Roll your Cleverness or less on two dice. If you succeed, turn to 76. If you fail, turn to 46.

87: You return to The Four Leaf Clover. There are a couple of labourers enjoying
a flagon or two of ale. Will you try to steal the horse brass in the shape of a four leaf clover that hangs over the bar (turn to 5), or will you adopt a more straightforward approach and ask the innkeeper (turn to 38)?

88: ‘Know where you can find some,' one of them replies. 'Pay us 5 gold pieces, say, for the info and we'll take you there right now.' Will you ask if they know where you can get a crystal ball as well (turn to 78), or go with them to get the clover (turn to 27)? You could refuse to pay what they ask, of course. If so, will you start talking to the innkeeper (turn to 65), or try to steal the clover-shaped brass over the bar (turn to 55)?

89: You hurry away from The Four Leaf Clover with the stolen horse brass in your pocket. Turn to 25.

90: She glances into her crystal ball and instantly sees your intention to acquire it. She clicks her fingers and two burly gypsies with wide-bladed knives enter the caravan. You cannot get to the door. This is a fight to the death.

FIRST GYPSY: Fighting Prowess: 5; Constitution: 9; no armour
SECOND GYPSY: Fighting Prowess: 6: Constitution: 7; no armour

You can only fight them one at a time. In the cramped caravan, they do not have space to attack you together. If you beat them, turn to 63.

91: You check the man's pockets and find several pilfered money pouches containing a total of 17 gold pieces. He also wears a carnelian ring in the shape of a skull. Remember to note anything you take on your Character Sheet. You find some grass to clean the blood from your sword, then step out from between the tents as if nothing had happened. Turn to 66.

92: The cock you backed utters its last squawk. You lose your money. The tall man is taking bets on another fight, but you decide to press on. Turn to 69.

93: You gaze out of the windows of the Greengosh mansion towards the setting sun. In that direction lies the Castle of Lost Souls - but in this world, or the next? What hideous perils await you over the Mungo Hills and the Swamps of Bosh? Can the items you have gathered together really allow you to prevail against the awesome necromancy of the demon Slank? Find out in the next installment: “The Demon Road”.


  1. Second gamebook ever bought (the first was Island of the Lizard King). I'll get around to reading this earlier grittier version of it soon (along with part 1)

    I never knew he was called Slank. In french it was Capon. Put your Capon. Also reminiscent of Al. I suppose slank as in moves in a quiet furtive manner. Although Urban dictionary offers a different meaning, it's a combination of....erm..well...two words it isn't nice to call a woman by. This demon is such a dirty slank.

    I just had a quick look and that part where you have to make the little girl cry to get her tear and can try to do so by twisting her arm... Haha, yeah THAT didn't make it in the more kid-friendly version, you just started with it as I recall. And YET in the FF book Beneath Nightmare Castle, you get to KILL a bunch of street urchins (they attack you but still). It's a lot less kid friendly than twisting a little girl's arm.

  2. This was the very first gamebook I bought, during my primary school days and still one of my favorites. Still remember Mum actually hid it in a closet when she found I was pretty obsessed with it (rolling dice and going through all possible paths). Took me 4 tries I think to finish the original version.

    Brings back fond memories of the magical 80s. Huge thanks to Dave and Jamie for providing such immersive reads and thrilling adventures. I spent many, many happy hours adventuring in Golden Dragon gamebooks, Blood Sword and Way of the Tiger. :)

  3. My favorite Golden Dragon was actually Crypt of the Vampire, very entertaining and with one of the best gamebook cover art to boot. You should post that one on the blog as well... nah just kidding

    Hey here's an idea for the dead tree verion of FL books: just reprint a few like Mongoose is actually doing for the Lone Wolf series, this will make them sort of a collector's edition which will go like hot cakes and for a higher price.... you could do the same for the WotT books at the end of the year.... think about it its a bet you can't lose

  4. I think Castle of lost souls AND Crypt of the vampire are the two best covers in the Golden Dragon series (if you ignore the not so great GD logos OR, like me, just look at the french versions covers), and in the top 10 of my favorite gambeooks covers EVER. I remember asking Dave last year on this blog if he knew what became of Bruno Elletori (the artist) but for all he knew he had went into probably more commercial art. Unfortunate that there isn't more fantasy book covers by him, or at least just some of his fantasy art prints somewhere on the net to buy. I know I know, we should also give credit to Leo Hartas for the inside illustrations, well of course, but it's not like he's disappeared, we can still find and appreciate his art. Whereas the other guy's just vanished.

  5. Milk, one of the Dragon Warriors books had a character called Myrkin. Them's the pitfalls of fantasy. (Nobody mention "Servants of the Wankh".)

    I don't know what happened to Bruno Elletori. Probably, like Kevin Jenkins, he's gone off and got a job in the movies paying a hundred times as much as he'd get for a book cover!