It's been a couple of weeks since Malcolm Garcia's last Second Swordsman post, but then it's been a busy couple of weeks for Fighting Fantasy, what with the announcement that the series is coming back with Scholastic UK, the announcement the Nomad Games are making Fighting Fantasy Legends, and the funding of the YOU ARE THE HERO Part 2 Kickstarter. But now he's back, and this time Malcolm is...
The Second Swordsman – ‘All at Sea!’
By Malcolm Garcia
After my previous, and universally unsuccessful, adventures across the cities, forests, and dungeons of Titan I decided to see if choosing every second option would lead me to glory on the open ocean. In Seas of Blood (written by Andrew Chapman) YOU face off against your nemesis in a pirate-captain-showdown to see who can get the most treasure in fifty days while terrorising the Inland Sea of Khul. While in Demons of the Deep (written by the American Steve Jackson) YOU are the intended victim of a different pirate captain who casts you overboard, not knowing you would discover the underwater city of Atlantis and plot your revenge.
By dutifully following the Second Swordsman process, I made a poor start in both Seas and Demons. In the race-against-the-clock that is Seas, I eschewed the traditional pirate business model of plundering all manner of vessels and, after leaving the city of Tak (whose reputation makes it somehow sound worse than Port Blacksand), I instead went and hid in the desert for three days. After I gave up waiting for a caravan that never came, I headed to sea, only to then decide that the best way to make some serious loot and win this competition was to go… gambling. These two decisions resulted in a big waste of time for very little treasure gained.
And in Demons, while I didn’t stupidly try to immediately return to the pirates who had pushed me overboard, I did start my adventure in Atlantis by declining to help the spirit of a sea captain, swimming away from a Grouper (which bit me anyway and cost me two STAMINA), ignoring a crown and a trapdoor in a mausoleum, and then not helping a dolphin while it was being attacked by a shark (which lost me one STAMINA and one LUCK). If there was ever a time that an adventurer did not deserve the epithet ‘You Are The Hero’, this was it. I also didn’t explore a sunken ship or seek out a Sea Dragon for help against the pirates. Indeed, throughout my whole adventure in Demons I never actually found out what I should be doing; a few people mentioned that black pearls were important, but I wouldn’t have known what to do with them even if I had any.
In Seas there was only the one occasion that the Second Swordsman process earned me some serious booty. Because you have a ship’s crew, you can take on entire towns and other enemies that would usually be too much for one adventurer to fight. This meant we were able to sack a small town and steal its treasure. But I only did this once (I’m not quite sure why fighting the gambling pirates in Calah didn’t become a crew fight) and never had the opportunity for a good old-fashioned ship-to-ship fight. For most of Seas I ignored opportunities to get some gold and win the contest with the rival pirates. I left the desert after only a few days, I didn’t push onwards to the Dead City, I decided not to hunt for ships, I didn’t explore the island of Roc after killing the Roc, and I turned down the opportunity to attack the fishing town of Kirkuk (isn’t that in Iraq?).
In Demons, choosing the second option got me into some perilous fights. A Sea Ogre took half my STAMINA to beat it and fighting the Lion Fish cost me eight STAMINA. I also fought the aforementioned Grouper, but that wasn’t very exciting. However both the Grouper and the Lion Fish attacked me while I tried to initially flee from them and I lost STAMINA as a penalty, without even testing my LUCK. The only time fleeing worked without being penalised was against the much slower, and probably tastier, Giant Crabs. While exploring Atlantis I also had to take on the Kraken and, with a SKILL of 10 and STAMINA of 30, this was the beast that killed me. Other than a dragon or demon, this must be one of the highest STAMINA scores in all of Titan and I think I’d have needed a SKILL of 12 (or an enchanted weapon) to stand even the slightest chance against it.
Other than the fight against the gambling four pirates, in Seas, the only other creature I fought was the Sith Orb. While I know that Titan is a place full of mystery and monsters, I genuinely did not expect to encounter such a monster in, what appeared to be, a quiet farming town. Whatever happened to the locals using some wild dogs, or even a bear to guard their treasure? And how did those townspeople even get their hands on a Sith Orb in the first place?
In Seas, choosing the second option every time meant I had to test my LUCK six times, and it was the final (and inevitable) unlucky roll of the dice that doomed my crew faster than you can say ‘iceberg ahead’. Conversely, in Demons, I never once had to test my luck. I probably could have done it in my epic battle against the Kraken, but I doubt it would have changed the outcome.
So, once again, the Second Swordsman has met with failure, my body left to drift at the bottom of the ocean, probably being picked to pieces by those Giant Crabs. Maybe next time I’ll stick to adventuring on dry land.
Thank you once again, to Malcolm, for his blog post, and don't forget to get in touch if you have any suggestions for items for the Official Fighting Fantasy blog via firstname.lastname@example.org.