Fortress Of The Firelord
by Paul Vernon, fantasy (1986)
Unwin Paperbacks, £2.99, ISBN 0-04-793081-0


Fortress Of The Firelord is pretty similar to Treachery In Drakenwood in that you have to draw a map in order to make your wandering around a maze-like setting easier. However, this one has a clear advantage over the previous gamebook in that there is a clearer direction instead of just aimless wandering, better story elements, and maps that are actually easier to piece together.

Fresh from your victory in the previous gamebook, you are recounting your tale of glory to the Count of Esgaron, the Baron of Drakensfield and other important lords and ladies when they realize that there is still one threat to the land they need to get rid off: a scumbag called the Firelord. Guess who has to go do the deed, eh? Just as you start out on your quest, however, you are ambushed by Orcs of the Firelord just outside his territory. Conveniently enough, you wake up in his Fortress. Alright, it's time to rumble!

The nature of the disguise you opt at the start of the mission allows some degree of replayability to this campaign as the nature of your disguise allows for different starting points. What is interesting here is that while obvious bad decisions will lead to the predictable consequences, there are many moments when you have to opt for pragmatic choices over moral ones. Lawful good paladins will not be happy in this campaign, that is for sure.

There are some memorable and even amusing encounters here, and the artwork featuring naked, cartoon-like cute, but anatomically incorrect villains are too hilarious. Still, you have to plow through a repetitive maze-like campaign looking for the one true route to victory, and it isn't long before the tedium sets in. Still, when taken in small doses and played slowly without any urgent need to reach the finish line ASAP, Fortress Of The Firelord can be quite entertaining.

One oogie! One oogie! One oogie!


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