Monday, July 6, 2020

Freeway Fighter: Final Thoughts

Both covers by Jim Burns

Freeway Fighter, written by Ian Livingstone and illustrated by Kevin Bulmer, is the thirteenth  book in the Fighting Fantasy series.  It's set in a lawless post-apocalypse, where society has completely collapsed except when it comes to cars: yep, we're in Mad Max territory here.  This is an area that gaming explored very thoroughly in the 1980s, but I feel like this is one of the earlier examples.

I've developed a theory about Ian Livingstone's later books.  It's more of a gut feeling than something I've tested, but I'll lay it out here anyway.  Basically, it goes like this: if you're on a path where you're not getting many fleshed out encounters, or adding things to your inventory, you've probably gone the wrong way.  If you're finding lots of stuff, and the encounters are interesting, you're on the right track.

The reason I'm bringing this up now is because I'm seeing the first signs of it in Freeway Fighter.  This is Ian's seventh book in the series, and his second-last as the primary writer of Fighting Fantasy.  After the next book, his entries become much sparser: two in the 20s, one in the 30s, and one in the 50s (we won't count Legend of Zagor).  I do wonder if perhaps he was starting to get a little bit of burnout at this point, after a pretty prolific writing stretch (with Games Workshop duties on top of all that).

If you map out Freeway Fighter, there are two main parallel paths, one heading east from the beginning and the other heading west.  Both of these paths are done well at the start - and either one can lead you to victory, at least initially - but after a while it becomes obvious that the western path is where all the good stuff is at.  And sure enough, that's the one you need to take to win the book.  I'm not sure that this is entirely an Ian Livingstone thing; it could be a problem with gamebooks in general.  I could maybe be talking out of my arse.  I'll try to keep an eye on it in the future to see if I have any idea what I'm talking about.

Back to more relevant topics, the main plot of Freeway Fighter sees you on a mission to get a tanker of petrol from the town of San Anglo and bring it back to your hometown of New Hope.  Along the way, you'll meet all manner of crazed individuals, most of whom will try to kill you or rip you off.  It all culminates at San Anglo, where you have to take on a gang known as the Doom Dogs, before a quick return journey to New Hope.

For the most part, Ian manages to keep things entertaining.  The encounters can get a little bit repetitive - there's only so much interest in being attacked by different types of cars - but when the encounters are good they're very good indeed.  The blitz race is the absolute high point, and might be one of my favourite encounters in all of Fighting Fantasy.

The adventure is certainly packed with incident, and that might be one of my biggest complaints about it: it feels like you can't drive a mile without being attacked, to the point where I started to feel like I was being specifically targeted.  The attacks are so frequent that it feels like there should be some sort of overarching plot, like maybe the Doom Dogs got wind of your journey and are trying to take you out.  It never eventuates though, and as such the setting feels a little too much like it's out to get you, and doesn't quite feel real because of that.

In terms of difficulty this is one of Ian's better efforts, with no super-difficult combats and little needed in the way of inventory.  There is a lengthy gauntlet of Skill checks at the end though, so you still need good stats.  Plus there's the constant need for petrol, which is going to spell the end for most players in their early attempts at the book.  It makes sense for the setting, but it's pretty anticlimactic to have your adventure end because of an empty gas tank.  I've always wondered why the mission was set up the way it was; why not have San Anglo send the petrol to New Hope, rather than have it fetched by a guy in a car that definitely doesn't have enough petrol to make the trip?

The illustrations by Kevin Bulmer are pretty good.  Aside from having the ability to draw cars (which can be a bloody nightmare), he has a lot of fun throwing in cameos by movie stars.  I could be misinterpreting some of these, but Chuck Norris, Mr. T, Bennett from Commando, and Clint Eastwood all make cameos.  The crossbow guy kinda looks like Armand Assante, and I've seen other people say that Michael J. Fox is in here as well.

On the whole, Freeway Fighter has a lot of great moments, and there's nothing particularly wrong with it, but there are a number of very minor things that stop it from becoming a classic.  Even so, it's definitely among the best of the sci-fi books in the Fighting Fantasy series.

COOL STUFF I MISSED

In my ten attempts, I covered most of the encounters to be had in Freeway Fighter.  Probably the major one that I missed was the Ratman in the motel at the end, which is an almost certain death sentence.  If you meet him you're almost bound to get bitten by a rat and contract the plague.  You can still finish your mission, but you have to go off into exile to die, while the people of New Hope build a statue in your honour.  To be honest, it's a better ending than you get from beating the book.

Other than that there are some wild dogs you can fight right at the beginning after meeting Johnson, an Outlaw who tries to kill you if you drive over his mines (I managed to avoid them every time), an encounter with a guy who tries to throw molotov cocktails at your car after disabling it with iron spikes, and a jeep full of Doom Dogs that you might meet if you're unlucky on the way to their camp.



MISTAKES AND RED HERRINGS

There are very few outright errors in this books that I could find.  The only one that jumps out is in the encounter with the barricade and the two bikers.  You can avoid getting your wheel blown off with a mine, but the end of the encounter assumes that you have to spend time changing your spare tire.

There were a bunch of items I never found a use for, though: a chain, a pair of handcuffs, a grenade, and a throwing-knife.

BEST DEATH

Freeway Fighter has 27 instant death entries.  From playing the book you'd assume that around half of these would involve running out of petrol, but that's actually just a single entry that gets used multiple times.  Most of the deaths are clustered towards the end of the book, from the Doom Dogs' camp onwards.  My favourite comes from a little bit before that point.


This is what happens if you try and fail to escape from Leonardi and his goons after losing the drag race.  It's makes me laugh, because it's such an overreaction.  Like, what are these guys even doing there?  What do they get out of forcing people to drag race them?  It's probably the most nonsensical encounter in the book.

S.T.A.M.I.N.A. Rating

Story & Setting: The plot is a decent one, but that's because it's pretty directly knocked off from Mad Max 2.  Likewise the setting (although I gather this book is set in the US rather than Australia).  That said, it's not like originality has ever been the major drawcard for Fighting Fantasy: pretty much all of the books are drawing heavily on pulp literature, TV and movies, so Freeway Fighter is in good company.  What really counts is how those settings are brought to life, and this book does a decent job.  The wasteland here feels perhaps a little too lawless, with what feels like one lunatic after another packed into a pretty small area; with a little more work tying things together it might have felt a bit more well-realised.  Even so, it holds together pretty well. Rating: 4 out of 7.

Toughness: On the Ian Livingstone scale this one rates pretty well, without a single unavoidable high-Skill encounter.  It's still difficult though, and you'll need high scores to get through: the final stage of the book is a gauntlet of Luck and Skill tests, and if you fail any of them it's game over.  The main path to victory isn't too difficult to discover, but it's a bit more linear than I'd like.  Rating: 4 out of 7.

Aesthetics: The writing is good here, and you can tell that Ian is having a good time writing something different.  He almost comes across as though he'd welcome the civilisation-ending plague, as long as it gave him the opportunity to drive really fast without fear of the police.  The cover's good, and I like Kevin Bulmer's illustrations; it's fun trying to figure out which movie stars he's based the various characters on.  Rating: 4 out of 7.

Mechanics: There's quite a bit going on in this book, with rules for melee combat, shooting combat, and vehicle combat, but it's all kept simple and fits pretty well into the FF system.  I can't think of anything in the rules that annoyed me here, so I have to give it pretty good marks.  Rating: 5 out of 7.

Innovation: It seems weird to be praising a book for ripping off Mad Max, but this is the first gamebook to do it, so it gets some kudos.  There's also a bunch of new stuff going on in the rules.  Rating: 5 out of 7.

NPCs & Monsters: Being set in post-apocalyptic America doesn't give Ian much scope for using monsters, but there are plenty of crazed humans along the way, most of whom want to kill you and/or steal your car.  There are certainly some memorable encounters - the guy in the gladiator helmet springs to mind - but a few too many of them boil down to being attacked by a different type of vehicle.  Now it's a motorbike! Now it's an armoured car! Now it's a Ford! Now it's a motorbike... with a sidecar!  The best encounters are very good, but there are a few too many of the same type.  Rating: 3 out of 7.

Amusement: I've never been one to love the books that aren't set on Titan (House of Hell excepted).  Freeway Fighter is among the better of them, but it's still not a favourite.  At it's best - the blitz race - it's extremely good, but nothing else in the book matches that level of excitement.  Rating: 3 out of 7.

The above scores total 28, which doubled give a score of 56.  I won't give it any bonus points, which gives it a S.T.A.M.I.N.A. Rating of 56.  That puts it 15th out of 21 adventures so far, sitting just below Scorpion Swamp and above Caverns of the Snow Witch.

NEXT: I'm taking a detour from the main series to tackle The Dark Usurper, a Fighting Fantasy adventure from White Dwarf magazine, from back in the days before it became a glossy advertisement for Warhammer.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Freeway Fighter: Attempt 10

I'm nearly there.  I'm nearly at the end of this book, I'm sure of it.  It's kind of embarrassing to be ten attempts into a book I've finished multiple times before with no success to be had, but that's what happens when you try to beat these books legitimately.  It's all down to the luck of the dice at this point.

For this attempt I rolled a Skill of 12, a Stamina of 36, a Luck of 11, a Firepower of 8, and an Armour of 32.  Well, the dice had been kind to me at the beginning.  That Firepower was concerning, but I felt like those other stats would be enough to see me through.

Having been through the book so many times, I had my path pretty much set.  I'll quickly run through each encounter in point form just to recap.

  • The encounter with Johnson, who is heading for New Hope after the death of his family.  There's not much to glean from this but information, so I usually skip it.
  • Joe's Garage.  This is an ambush with little benefit, so I drove right past.
  • The Red Chevvy.  With my Firepower so low, I blew it off the road with a rocket.
  • After turning right at the first junction, there's a booby-trapped ambulance.  The Highwayman who set the trap has some credits and a pair of knuckle-dusters, so I sucked up the damage and killed him for his stuff.  Luckily, he only shot me once, so I avoided incurring a Skill penalty.
  • The two Bikers at the roadblock.  The best way to get through this encounter is to shoot the roadblock with a rocket, but this time I decided to conserve my rocket and drive around.  They mined my car, which did some damage, so I jumped out and had a shootout with them on foot. With my Skill so high, it wasn't much trouble, even though I had to fight them both simultaneously.  On their bike I found some more credits and a pair of handcuffs.
  • The town of Rockville, where the biker gang has taken Sinclair, one of the leaders of New Hope.  I passed the Luck test to avoid being hit by the rocket launcher, and returned fire with a rocket of my own (the only way to defeat this encounter).  After that I was able to rescue Sinclair, and find some petrol and a pair of wire-cutters.
  • After turning east and south, there's an encounter with an Armoured Car.  An oil slick will knock it off the road unless you roll a 6 on one die.  I've yet to fail this roll.
  • After turning west, south, and west again, there's a blitz race that can be entered to win some petrol.  Winning requires a number of Skill and Luck tests, as well as a 50/50 guess right at the end.  I won, sustaining a small amount of damage.  As usual, the iron spikes I dropped to slow my opponent down never deployed.  It requires a Luck test, and so far I've failed every single time, and the consequences are that you get damaged by a grenade.  I was lucky enough to roll low for damage this time, but in other games it's really messed me up.
  • South of that is Spark Plug Pete, who will fit your car with a supercharger for 100 credits and two packs from your med-kit.  I happily paid his price.
  • Further south is an overturned Dodge on the side of the road.  Investigating this is essential to victory, even though it involves being bitten by a rattlesnake and incurring a -1 Skill penalty.  I sucked it up begrudgingly, and claimed the coil of plastic tubing in the car's glovebox.
  • After that is an encounter with a motorbike and sidecar that rides up and starts shooting at you from behind.  I'd been killed previously by the automatic 1 point of damage they inflict, so I took great pleasure in sending them skidding off the road with my last oil slick.
  • There's an abandoned police car further south, with a bullet-proof vest in the boot that can offset the Skill penalty from the rattlesnake.  It can't be opened without a crowbar, though, so I kept on driving.
  • East from the next junction there's a place that does car repairs.  I stopped in there, paid 200 credits, and had my Armour restored to its maximum of 32.
  • East of that, there's a Duellist who has blocked the road with a bus.  He demands that people pay a toll to pass, or else engage him in a pistol duel.  I chose the duel, and he shot me for 1 point of damage.
  • East and south is a group that doesn't let anyone pass unless they beat their champion Leonardi in a drag race.  I wonder what they get out of it?  The race involves each side rolling a die, with the first to reach 24 being the winner.  With the +1 bonus per die roll from my supercharger, I barely managed to squeak a victory.
  • South of that is an abandoned truck with a full tank of petrol.  I siphoned the tank with my plastic tubing, and was able to continue.
  • After that is the encounter with Amber, signalling that you're close to San Anglo, and must infiltrate the camp of the Doom Dogs, a gang that is menacing the refinery.  Amber gave me some energy pills, which restored me back to my full Stamina of 36.

From this point I'll go back to my regular format.  I had a Skill of 11, a Stamina of 36, and a Luck of 8, and my car had a Firepower of 8 and an Armour score of 32.

As we infiltrated the camp to disable the vehicles of the Doom Dogs, Amber kicked a stone.  The guard on patrol didn't hear (due to a Luck test that reduced my score to 7) and we were able to crawl up to the fence.  I cut through the fence with my wire-cutters, and together we set limpet mines on their vehicles before sneaking back out.

Unfortunately, one of the mines failed to detonate, and the Doom Dogs gave chase in their station-wagon.   I was in good shape (with a Stamina of more than 10) so we were able to make it back to the Dodge before we were caught.

A battle with the Station-Wagon (Firepower 10, Armour 19) ensued, too close for me to fire a rocket, and after three passes I had sustained some minor damage (reducing my Armour to 27).  The Station-Wagon tried to ram me with the huge spike on its front bumper, but (with a successful Skill check) I was able to avoid the worst of it.  Even so, our cars were locked together, and there was no escape.

A challenge came over the Station-Wagon's speakers: fight "The Animal" in hand-to-hand combat, or I'd have to shoot it out.  I thought about it for a while, and decided that shooting it out would be the better option.  (I really did weigh this up for quite a while.  The Animal and I would have been equal in Skill, and I didn't fancy a 50/50 battle.  On the other hand, I was worried that shooting it out would be an instant death.  I took a chance on the unknown option.)

Amber and I opened fire, and the Doom Dogs fired back at us.  There were four of them and two of us, so I had to kill two of the Doom Dogs (Skill 7, Stamina 13 and Skill 8, Stamina 14) myself.  It proved to be little trouble, and I was only injured once despite them both firing at me simultaneously (reducing my Stamina to 32).


Amber took care of the other two Doom Dogs, but we had forgotten that there was one more: the Animal!  He charged at me, snorting through his mask, and caught me in a bear-hug (reducing my Stamina to 30).  Amber tried to hit him with a spanner, but she missed, and the Animal continued to squeeze (further reducing my Stamina to 28).  On her second swing she hit, and knocked him out.  We tied him up (well that's what the book says, but actually I put a bullet right through his skull) and drove the Dodge into San Anglo to a hero's reception.

At San Anglo I was able to rest while the petrol tanker I had come for was being prepared (restoring my Skill to 12 and my Stamina to 32).  I woke up to the sound of gunfire: the remainder of the Doom Dogs were attacking San Anglo's oil refinery!  One of them blew open the town gates by ramming a small truck into it, and the Doom Dogs drove into San Anglo as the townsfolk panicked.  (Didn't we disable all of their vehicles?  I guess they spent the night fixing them up.)


I was able to take charge (with a successful Skill check), ordering the townsfolk to take cover in their cabins.  One of the Doom Dogs ran out from cover, and tried to jump in the tanker's cabin and drive it away.


I gave chase, and was shot in the side in the crossfire (due to an unsuccessful Luck test, which left my Luck at 6 and my Stamina at 31).   By the time I reached him, he had started the engine.  He tried to shoot me, but I was quicker (my Skill was 12 compared to his Skill of 6).  I was able to take him captive, and used that to make the Doom Dogs retreat.  They fled into the desert, and I allowed my captive to follow them.

With the threat of the Doom Dogs beaten, it was time for me to return to New Hope with the petrol tanker.  I had to abandon the Dodge, because I had to drive the tanker, and nobody from San Anglo was grateful enough to accompany me back.

After driving for an uneventful day, I pulled into a motel car-park.  I decided to sleep in the cabin, not wanting to risk leaving the tanker unattended.  In the morning I took off again.  After an hour or so I spotted two bikers coming up behind me, each armed with crossbows.  At first I scoffed at their choice of weapon, until I realised that their intention was to puncture my tyres.  I was able to take one of them out with the tanker's machine guns (with a successful Skill test), but before he died he shot my tyre, and I was forced to stop the tanker in a terrifying skid.  The remaining biker challenged me to a duel, winner takes all.  I liked my chances, so I accepted.

We faced off, revolver versus crossbow.  I was quicker on the draw, and shot him dead.  (This involved each of us rolling a die and adding it to our Skills.  He had a Skill of 7, so there was zero chance that he was going to be able to beat me.)

The rest of the journey was uneventful, and as dusk approached, I drove the tanker into New Hope.  With the petrol the town would be able to flourish, and do some small part in the process of restoring civilisation.  I had also rescued Sinclair, so my mission was a complete success.

THE POST-GAME

Finally!  I was just reaching the point where I was starting to get sick of playing through the same stuff over and over again, so victory came at about the right time.  There was one final hurdle at the end, where I was asked if I'd been bitten by a rat on the return journey.  I suspect that this would have happened at the motel, so I'm pretty happy that I decided not to go inside.

Ten attempts is not so bad, I guess.  One of those was the result of going somewhere I shouldn't, and a few more were the result of running out of petrol.  Most were down to the numbers, which is somewhat out of my control.  I'm just glad that the book has plenty of options for avoiding vehicle combat; my Firepower score was low, but between rockets, spikes and oil I got through.

NEXT: After the wrap-up post for Freeway Fighter (just one, because it's not set on Titan) I think I'm going to check out "The Dark Usurper" from White Dwarf.  It's a shame to put off my long-awaited return to Allansia in Temple of Terror, but I want to cover everything in some semblance of chronological order.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Freeway Fighter: Attempt 7

After six attempts, I've reached the point with this book where I know what do and where to go. The only thing stopping me from completing it - bar some dirty tricks towards the end - is a lack of decent stats and luck with the dice.  I'll get there eventually, but there's no telling how long it'll be before the dice fall my way.

ATTEMPT 7

I rolled pretty well this time around: Skill 11, Stamina 31, Luck 9, Firepower 8 and Armour 34.  My only real worry was that low Firepower score, but that can be offset with the use of rockets.  Other than that, I was feeling like I had half a shot at victory.

Things got off to a bad start almost immediately.  The Red Chevvy at the beginning hammered me, dropping my Armour from 34 down to 20.  I didn't want to use a rocket, as I was determined to rescue Sinclair, and using that path requires the use of two rockets early on.  With only four at my disposal, I didn't want to waste any.

It got even worse when I stopped to investigate the booby-trapped ambulance (which I did because I wanted the credits from the resultant encounter).  The Highwayman who set the trap shot me up bad, leaving me with just 13 Stamina, and a Skill penalty from being shot multiple times.  I was banged up, my car was banged up, and things were looking pretty bleak.

I rescued Sinclair from the biker gang without much trouble, and following that I turned west, going by a different road than usual.  After refilling my car with petrol I decided to spend the night at an old roadside cafe.



I had the choice of sleeping in an upstairs room or an outhouse.  I went with the outhouse, figuring that I shouldn't sleep too far away from my car.  Unfortunately (due to a failed Luck test), I had gone to sleep on a nest of redback spiders, and was bitten during the night (which reduced my Stamina).  I had to use a pack from my med-kit to stop the venom.  I spent the rest of the night sleeping in the car.

The next morning I decided to search the cafe, but found nothing of use.  As I stepped back outside, I saw a man in robes emptying a can of petrol over my car, some sort of cultist determined to cleanse the world of its decadent past.  I was able to knock the match from his hand before he could set my car alight (with a successful Skill check).  He ran off, and I drove away before he could return with more of his ilk.

After that my mission proceeded pretty smoothly for a while; see previous posts for more details on the encounters to be had.  Eventually I neared New Haven, and was met by a woman named Amber.  She told me that New Haven's refinery was under threat from a gang known as the Doom Dogs, and we'd have to sneak into their camp and disable their vehicles to have any hope of completing my mission.  We waited for nightfall, and I took the chance to heal up.  (At this point I had a Skill of 9, a Stamina of 29, a Luck of 7, Firepower of 8, and Armour of 19.)

Amber and I approached the camp of the Doom Dogs on foot after dark.  Amber noisily kicked a rock, but (with a successful Luck test that reduced my score to 6) the guard didn't hear it.  After he passed by we crawled up to the fence, and I cut it open with some wire-cutters that I'd taken from the gang that had kidnapped Sinclair.

We mined the vehicles, and fled the camp, with the Doom Dogs none the wiser, but when the mines went off one of them failed to detonate due to a faulty fuse.  We ran, as the sound of an engine starting sounded from the camp.

We were able to reach the Dodge before the Doom Dogs could catch up to us (because my Stamina was greater than 10).  I started the car just as their Station-Wagon appeared, armoured with thick plates of steel and mounted with machine guns.  The Station-Wagon (Firepower 10, Armour 19) was formidable, and too close for me to blow it away with a rocket.  I managed to survive the initial battle, taking only minimal damage.  (I had to fight the Station-Wagon for three rounds. Despite its higher Firepower, it only beat me in one round, reducing my Armour to 15.)



We broke apart and the Station-Wagon tried to ram me. I was able to avoid a head-on collision (with a successful Skill check), but was still rammed in the side, and the vehicles were locked.  Over the loudspeaker came an offer from the gang's leader, the Animal: fight him in hand-to-hand combat, or I'd have to shoot it out.  I figured I'd have a better chance of winning a fist fight, so I accepted his offer.

The Animal was an imposing figure (Skill 11, Stamina 16), wearing a facemask and gloves of studded leather.  I used my knuckle-dusters, but it did little good.  The Animal pummeled me to death, and my adventure was over.



THE POST-GAME

Well, that was my best attempt yet, but the Animal was too much for me.  I'm not entirely sure how to play that battle.  The rules for fist-fighting state that a combatant is knocked out after losing 6 Stamina points, but the entry where you fight the Animal says that it's a fight to the death.  I ended up fighting until my Stamina was reduced to 0, as in regular Fighting Fantasy, but I probably should have ended it earlier than that via knockout.  I would have lost either way.  From now on, I'll use the knockout rules for this fight.

SURPRISE ATTEMPT 8

I missed my post last week, so I decided to throw in an extra attempt this time around.  I rolled a Skill of 11, a Stamina of 28, a Luck of 8, Firepower of 7, and Armour of 28.

I followed the same path as before, which involves rescuing Sinclair from the biker gang.  I destroyed the Red Chevvy with a rocket to avoid that fight, but the battle with the Motor Cycle at the barricade did not go well at all.  My Firepower was a little higher than his (7 vs. 6), but I was damaged badly, finishing the fight with only 5 points of Armour.

That was my score when I limped into the blitz race later in the book.  I had to win it to have any hope of continuing, and I did it with just a single point of Armour remaining.  My only hope was if I could somehow make it to the car repair shop without taking any damage at all.

Unfortunately, that's impossible.  Not long after the blitz race, there's an encounter with a motorbike-and-sidecar that rides up behind you and opens fire with its guns.  It can be easily taken care of with an oil slick, but that opening salvo is unavoidable, and inflicts - you guessed it - one point of Armour damage.  This might be my most embarrassing death in this book yet.

DOUBLE SURPRISE ATTEMPT 9

Since my last try was quick, and I'm kinda getting sick of this book, I decided to give it another go.  I rolled a Skill of 9, a Stamina of 31, a Luck of 8, Firepower of 7, and an Armour score of 24.  Pretty bad scores all around, to be honest.

I decided that Sinclair could fend for himself this time, and took the easier route.  The major obstacle here is a jump over a bridge, but I was able to clear that (with a Skill check) and continue on my mission.  I reached Amber and the infiltration of the Doom Dogs' camp with a Skill of 9, a Stamina of 28, a Luck of 6, Firepower of 7, and an Armour score of 12.

When we approached the camp and Amber kicked the stone, I failed the resultant Luck test.  The guard heard and came to investigate, so I jumped up to silence him.  I didn't have any knuckle-dusters, but I was still able to knock him unconscious with a single blow (with a successful Skill check).

We scrambled up to the fence, but I didn't have any wire-cutters to get through.  I was forced to skirt around close to the Doom Dogs camp.  Unfortunately (because I failed a Luck test), I was spotted, and the Doom Dogs surrounded and captured us.  Once again, my mission was a failure.

THE POST-GAME

Done in by a failed Luck test yet again.  I'm still bitter about the couple of Luck tests Ian forces on you just before the infiltration of the Doom Dogs' camp.  Perhaps I am better off rescuing Sinclair, and thus getting the wire-cutters.  It'd leave me with fewer rockets, but I'd still have enough to get me through to this point I think, even with low scores.  The question is, what awaits me after escaping from the Doom Dogs?  Are there more difficult vehicle combats?  I can't remember, so I have no idea what to do.  I'll have to weigh up my scores to decide which path to take next time.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Freeway Fighter: Attempt 6

I'm on the right track now, but last time I was done in by some bad stats.  My Luck in particular was very low.  With better die rolls, I was pretty hopeful of making a good showing this time around, and making it back to New Hope with that tanker of sweet, sweet petrol.

I rolled a 12 for Skill, a 32 for Stamina, and an 8 for Luck.  For my vehicle, I rolled a Firepower of 11 and an Armour of 26.  Those were not bad, but I was still concerned about that Luck score.  Freeway Fighter has a habit of requiring lots of Luck tests, but not offering a lot of Luck bonuses.

I felt like changing things up a bit for this attempt, so I didn't blow through the early encounters.  Normally I'd ignore the barking dogs and the confrontation with Johnson, but this time I decided to see what would happen if I provoked a fight with him.  Rather than tell him the truth - that I was from New Hope - I lied, and told him I was a lone road warrior.  Johnson said that I reminded him of the man that had killed his family, and demanded that I draw my gun.  (The book was quick to tell me that I'd made a mistake, and my Luck was reduced to 7.)  With amazing speed I drew my pistol (with a Skill test that was impossible for me to fail), and held Johnson at gunpoint while I explained my actual story.  We parted on good terms, as he headed for New Hope and I continued on my quest.  (I really need to stop doing dumb things like this when I'm closing in on beating a book.  It's really not helping me.)

I drove past Joe's Garage, and was approached by a hostile gang in a Red Chevvy.  (In previous games I've been killing this enemy instantly with my a rocket, but this time I didn't want to waste one; I'd need them for the path through Rockville if I was going to rescue Sinclair.)  I engaged the Red Chevvy (Firepower 8, Armour 15) in vehicle combat, pretty confident that I'd be able to beat it with minimal damage to myself.  I was wrong, and the Chevvy proved more formidable than I'd expected, shooting my Dodge up before I could blow it off the road.  (My car's Armour was reduced from 26 to 14.  My Firepower was 3 points higher than theirs, but the dice really turned on me.)

Soon I came to a junction, where I turned east.  I saw an ambulance abandoned on the side of the road, and stopped to investigate.  Unfortunately, the back was booby-trapped, and I was caught in an explosion when I opened it.  I dragged myself into the long grass to wait for whoever had set the trap.  (My Stamina was reduced to 28.  I was well aware from previous games that the ambulance was trapped, but I wanted the credits you get from this encounter.)

Soon enough a Highwayman (Skill 8, Stamina 12) appeared, and fired his gun into the grass at me.  Luckily, he missed (due to a Luck test that reduced my score to 6).  I fired back, and killed him.  I was wounded a couple of times during the battle, though, which would be sure to hamper me physically from that point on.  (My Stamina was reduced to 17, and as a result of being shot more than once my Skill was reduced to 11.)  In the Highwayman's pockets I found 150 credits, and a pair of knuckle-dusters.

Further on I ignored a road to the south, and continued until I reached a barricade of upturned cars.  I fired a rocket (leaving me with 3), and the barricade disappeared in a roar of flames.

Satisfying.

Two bikers sped away from the blaze on a Motor Cycle (Firepower 6, Armour 9), and I gave chase, killing them easily with my machine guns.  I investigated the wreckage of their bike, and one of them threatened that "Fat Jack" would get me before he died.  I found 200 credits and a pair of handcuffs in a side pannier, as well as a map to their hideout.

At the next junction, I turned south to their gang's hideout, a town called Rockville.  One of their number fired a bazooka at my car, but luckily it missed (due to a Luck test that reduced my score to 5).  I drove further into town and returned the favour, blowing up the farmhouse they were hiding in with a rocket (leaving me with 2).  The gang were all killed, but there was one survivor in the wreckage: Sinclair, one of the leaders of New Hope, who this gang had recently kidnapped.  (This restored my Luck to 6.)  Sinclair took a motorbike back to New Hope, while I looted the town, finding a can of meat (which restored my Stamina to 19), a can of petrol, and a pair of wirecutters.

I headed south, east at the next junction, and south again.  Soon I had to refuel, and then I slept the night in the Interceptor (which restored my Stamina to 21).  In the morning I was attacked by an Armoured Car, but I took care of it with an oil slick.  At the next junction I turned back west, then headed south again.

I saw a dirt road with lots of recent tracks, and followed to the location of a Blitz Race, where I paid 200 credits for the opportunity to race for a can of petrol.  My opponent was in a Yellow Ford.  The race was hard-fought, and I sustained a lot of damage from the Ford's grenade launchers, but in the end I triumphed and was able to claim the can of petrol.  (I skimmed over this race, because I've covered it pretty extensively in previous posts.  By the end of the race my Luck had been reduced to 5, and I only had 4 Armour points left.  I was also down to 2 oil slicks, and 2 barrels of iron spikes.).

A bit further down the road, I saw a sign pointing to a place called "Spark Plug Pete's".  I pulled in, and Pete offered to fit my car with a supercharger.  I paid his price (100 credits and two packs from my medi-kit), and waited as Pete did his work.  As I drove off I could feel the extra acceleration, and was pleased with my choice.  (This restored my Luck to 6.)

At the next junction I kept heading south.  I came across an overturned Dodge, and pulled over to take one of its spare wheels.  I also decided to have a look in the glove compartment, and got bitten by a rattlesnake for my trouble (reducing my Stamina to 19 and my Skill to 10, and requiring me to use a pack from my med-kit).  I shot the snake in vengeance, and found a length of coiled tube in the glove box.

As I drove south a motorbike with a side car came up behind me, and opened fire (reducing my Armour to 3).  I dropped an oil slick, and the motorbike slid off the road as I sped away.  Soon I had to refill my petrol tank before continuing south.

I spotted an abandoned police car, but without a crowbar I wasn't able to pop the boot open, so I had to continue on.  Not much later I found myself under attack from a pick-up truck modified to resemble a chariot, but I blew it off the road with a rocket and kept on driving.  Further south I came to another junction, and was relieved to see a sign that promised engine and body repairs.  I turned east, hoping I'd be able to get my battered car fixed.

Luckily the sign was true, and I found a garage where the mechanic offered to fix my car for the cost of 200 credits.  I paid the money, and soon my car was ready to go (with my Armour score restored to 13).

Not much further east, I was stopped at a blockade, where a crazy masked man wouldn't let me pass without engaging him in a duel.  I accepted, and we both missed our shots.  This was still good enough for the duellist, and he let me through.

I continued east through a canyon before turning south, where I came to yet another blockade.  I was told that I wouldn't be allowed through unless I could beat a man named Leonardi in a drag race.  I accepted, and with the supercharger on my car I was able to do so with ease.  (This race involves rolling 1d6 every round for both racers.  The first to reach 24 is the winner, but if you have the supercharger you get a +1 bonus to every roll.  Leonardi still rolls first though, which seems like an unfair advantage to me.  I guess his car's just faster.)

Further south I came to a truck parked on the side of the road, and I was pleased to discover that it had a full tank of petrol.  Using the tube that I had found earlier, I siphoned the truck's tank to fill my own, and continued on (which restored my Luck to 7).  I also stopped and did some quick repairs on my car (which restored my Armour score to 15).

Soon I spotted the burning wreck of a Corvette, and pulled over to investigate.  I was confronted by a woman in overalls with a shotgun, who introduced herself as Amber.  She was from San Anglo, and had been sent out here to watch for me.  San Anglo was under attack from a gang called the Doom Dogs, and there was no way I'd get in without being killed.  Our only chance was to sneak into the Doom Dogs camp and try to disable their vehicles.

Amber seems remarkably unconcerned by
the burning car right behind her.

We safely approached the camp, before I his my Dodge behind some rocks.  While we waited, Amber handed me some glucose tablets and energy synthi-pills (which restored by Stamina to 23).  I also took the opportunity to patch myself up with a couple of packs from my med-kit (restoring my Stamina to 31.  The above paragraphs also involved two Luck tests, which reduced my score to 5).

After night fell, we approached the Doom Dogs' camp on foot.  As we neared the fence, Amber kicked a stone, which made a loud noise in the still night air.  A guard heard the noise (due to a failed Luck test, which reduced my score to 4), and came to investigate.  I stayed perfectly still, hoping I wouldn't be spotted, but the guard raised the alarm, and Amber and I were soon captured by the Doom Dogs.  My adventure was over.

THE POST-GAME

Stupid Amber.

Also, stupid Ian.  Three Luck tests in a row?  That's just mean, especially right before heading into what I assume is the final stage of the book.  Ah well, I can't put too much of the blame on Ian, as the final decision was mine.  Next time, I won't hesitate to silence that guard.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Freeway Fighter: Attempt 5

Regular commenter Unknown reminded me last week that my first attempt at Freeway Fighter ended when I was blown up while crossing a bridge, so not every attempt I've had ended by running out of petrol.  Still, three such anticlimactic endings in a row are bad enough.  I'm confident now that I've figured the petrol thing out: I've found the first two cans, and I know how to get the third.  If my sense of Fighting Fantasy pacing is correct, I shouldn't need any more, so I feel like I have a decent shot this time.

For my stats on this attempt I rolled a Skill of 10, a Stamina of 27, and a Luck of 7.  For my car I rolled a Firepower of 8 and an Armour of 26.  Skill aside, those are some very bad rolls indeed.  A lot of 1s and 2s in there (literally and figuratively, if you know what I'm saying).  I may have cracked the fuel problem, but I get the feeling that I'll struggle to win through otherwise.

I kicked off the adventure in my now customary fashion, ignoring the first few encounters and shooting the Red Chevvy with a missile.  (It bugs me that Ian spells it with two Vs, but my personal style guide dictates that I have to follow his lead.  That don't mean I gotta like it!).  I soon got a radio message about an attack on New Hope, and the kidnapping of Sinclair.  At the first junction I decided to turn right rather than left.  I knew from previous games that there was petrol to the left, but there was also a bridge I had to jump, and I didn't want to risk failing the required Skill check.  I passed an ambulance on the side of the road, and decided to ignore it (having discovered that it was booby-trapped in an earlier game).  I also ignored a road leading south, which is where I got blown up on my first attempt at the book.  I continued east, into unexplored territory.

It wasn't long before I came to a roadblock made of upturned cars and trucks.  I thought about blowing it up with a rocket, but I'd already used one, and decided to keep it in reserve.  Instead I drove around the roadblock, and as I did I was surprised by two leather-clad bikers in an armoured motorcycle.  One of them shot at my car while the other slammed a limpet mine against my rear wheel arch (reducing my Luck to 6).  I decided to keep on driving as the mine exploded, blowing my wheel off the rear axle (and reducing my Armour to 24).  

I had to fight the Motor Cycle (Skill 6, Firepower 9) while my car was stationary, so I was at a disadvantage (my Firepower was temporarily reduced to 6).  The bikers got one good hit on me before I was able to kill them (reducing my Armour to 18).  I went over to the wrecked bike with a med-kit in one hand; it might have looked like I was trying to save them, but I still had my pistol drawn and I was really going over there to finish the buggers off.  I needn't have bothered.  One was already dead, and the other only survived long enough to utter his final words: "Fat Jack and the boys will get you for this."

I looted their bike's side pannier, where I found 200 credits and a pair of handcuffs.  I also found a map, and on it was the location of New Hope circled in red.  No doubt this was the same gang that attacked my home town, and took Sinclair.  I noted that a town named Rockville was also marked with an X, and figured that it was probably their home base.  Fat Jack better watch his back, because I was coming for him.

I changed the wheel on my car and took off.  Soon I came to a dirt road heading south, with a sign that said "Rockville".  I turned to the south, determined for a measure of vengeance.  As I neared the town, worried that the dust I was kicking up would announce my presence, I saw a flash of light from some boulders in the distance.  A bazooka shell exploded a few metres to my left (missing due to a successful Luck test that reduced my score to 5).  I pressed down on the accelerator to close the distance on my attackers, and saw them race off on a pair of motorbikes.  I gave chase, and saw them disappear into a cluster of farmhouses.

Add this one to the roster of Very Boring
FF Illustrations.

I heard gunfire coming from the houses, and once again thought about using a rocket to flush my attackers out.  I was feeling conservative though, so I kept on driving towards the houses.  I avoided the gunfire (with a successful Skill test), but was not so lucky when they fired another bazooka shell at me.  A bullet punctured my tire, and I was a sitting duck as the bazooka shell exploded, badly damaging my car (this left me with an Armour score of 12, and a Luck of 4).

With little choice remaining to me, I fired a rocket at the farmhouse, and watched in satisfaction as it was blown to pieces and engulfed in flames.  Eat that, Fat Jack.  I quickly fixed my punctured tyre, and heard someone calling for help from the wreckage.  Against my better judgement I want to investigate, and found Sinclair, miraculously alive (which restored my Luck to 5).  He gave his thanks, and drove off on a motorcycle, heading for New Hope.

I decided to stay and search the general store.  I found a can of meat, which I greedily devoured, and a can of petrol, which I chucked in my boot.  Feeling good about my finds, I decided to keep searching the town, and headed for the nearest house.  Inside, I was faced with a hallway and a choice between two doors.  I chose the door to the right, only to find that it was booby-trapped with a crossbow.  The crossbow bolt thudded into my shoulder (reducing my Stamina to 21, and my Luck to 4).  Figuring that both doors couldn't be booby-trapped, I tried the other.  Inside I found a toolkit containing a pair of wire-cutters.  They were hardly worth getting shot with a crossbow, but I took them anyway before driving out of town.

I soon came to a junction, and turned east.  After a time I came to another junction, and turned south towards San Anglo.  As night was falling I had to stop and refill my car with petrol.  I slept in my car overnight (restoring my Stamina to 23) before heading off in the morning.

As I was driving, and Armoured Car attacked me from behind, but I took care of it with an oil spray, which sent it skidding off the road.  At the next junction I turned west, and drove about 80 km before turning south again.  I soon came to a rough road leading off to my right, and decided to investigate.  I had found a Blitz Race, and I decided to stake 200 credits to enter and win a can of petrol.

My opponent was driving a yellow Ford.  We drove up to the starting line, and waited until the flags were waved.  I got the better start (with a successful Skill check) and took the lead.  The Ford rammed me from behind, but I was able to maintain control (with a Luck test that reduced my score to 3).  I decided to slow down and let the Ford overtake me for a bit, but realising that I had no forward weapons that were legal in the race, I tried to overtake again.  I rammed the Ford, but it had steel-plated crash bars, and I only succeeded in damaging my car further (reducing my Armour to 10).

My son tells me this could be a GT40, or
maybe a Ford Capri. I have no idea.

I managed to overtake the Ford (with a successful Skill check), and decided to retaliate with some iron spikes.  Unfortunately, the spikes failed to release correctly (due to a failed Luck test that reduced my score to 2).  The Ford fired a grenade at me from its launcher, and it exploded underneath my car (reducing my Armour score to 1).

We reached the halfway point of the race, and both U-turned to head back to the finish line.  I was slightly in front, and the Ford decided to start ramming me once again.  My car was in such a bad state that the first ram wrecked it.  With no car I had no chance of reaching San Angle, and my adventure was over.

THE POST-GAME

I had a real run of bad luck with the dice in the game.  I started by rolling some terrible scores, particularly that Luck of 7, and from there had a string of bad rolls that significantly damaged my car.  I was probably too conservative with my rockets, as well.  My only consolation is that it's likely I wouldn't have survived to make it through the rest of the book anyway.  Ah well, at least I didn't run out of petrol this time.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Freeway Fighter: Attempt 4

So far every single try that I've had at Freeway Fighter has ended the same way: with my Dodge Interceptor running out of petrol, and me left to find my way back to New Hope on foot.  It's not the most exciting way to end an adventure, but it's good to know exactly what my goal is at all times.  It just means that at the end of every game I'm going to be annoyed that the people of San Anglo aren't the ones making the journey.  You know, the people with a whole tanker full of petrol, not the people with enough to fill a car and one spare canister.

Anyway, for this game my dice were on fire.  I rolled a Skill of 12, a Stamina of 35, a Luck of 12, a Firepower of 8 and an Armour score of 28.  Well, they were on fire for my physical stats anyway. Those car stats could be a problem.

I began my journey by ignoring the first few encounters, and blowing the Red Chevvy off the road with a rocket.  At the first junction I turned west, because I knew from previous games I could find petrol that way.  Plus my Skill was super-high, so I was in no danger from jumping the bridge.  Continuing west, I drove right past a motorcyclist who tried to flag me down.  It's a pointless combat encounter, and I was hoping that the throwing-knife it provides wasn't vital to my mission.  Soon I came to a car pile-up, where I found a crowbar and a can of petrol before continuing south.

I came to a junction and turned east (trying to cover as many paths as possible that I hadn't been down in earlier games).  I drove a long way east, ignoring two roads from the north, before eventually turning south, where I had to refill my petrol tank.  I spent the night sleeping in my car before moving on.  (Don't ask me how sleeping in a car restores Stamina.  I've done it more than a few times, and restful it ain't.)

As I was driving, I spotted an armoured car coming up behind me in my rear-view mirror.  It fired a shell at me which exploded to my left.  I responded by spraying an oil slick onto the road, and laughed as the armoured car went skidding off the road.  (This required a roll on one die, with only a roll of 6 resulting in the car staying on the road.)

Nice dutch angle. Must be a Batman villain
in that armoured car.

At the next junction I turned west, and drove a long way before finding a road heading south again.  Soon I spotted a rough road to my right, with lots of fresh tyre tracks.  I decided to investigate, and what I found was a barbed wire gate guarded by a bare-chested man with a machine-gun.  He asked me what gang I was from, and I quickly replied "Black Rats".  He informed me that there was a blitz race going on, with some heavy bets being laid.  I played along, and drove my car through the gate to check it out.

The post-apocalypse has been kind to
Chuck Norris.

As I pulled up, a small man with a scarred face challenged me to a race.  I'd have to stake 200 credits, but the prize was a can of petrol.  I couldn't pass that up, so I accepted the challenge, and handed over all of my money.  He explained the rules of the race: we had to drive 8 km to a white house and back, and anything was legal except for bullets and rockets.  I noted with chagrin that his Ford was armed with a grenade launcher.

The race started, and I pulled ahead (with a successful Skill check).  The Ford, with its supercharged engine, accelerated to ram me, but I was able to keep my car under control (with a Luck test that reduced my score to 11).  I decided to race away rather than let him overtake me, but the other driver anticipated, and fired a grenade in front of my car.  I hit the gas, hoping I could drive past before it exploded.  Again I was lucky (reducing my Luck score to 10), and the grenade failed to explode.  I was fifty metres ahead of the Ford.

It was time for me to use my own weapons, but I decided against the oil spray, as I was pretty sure it would soak harmlessly into the dirt road.  Instead I released some iron spikes, but the canister they were contained in failed to open (because I failed a Luck test, reducing my score to 9).  The Ford fired another grenade at me, and this time it exploded underneath me, heavily damaging the Interceptor (reducing my Armour from 28 to 21).

I reached the white house and turned around, and the Ford did likewise.  It caught up to me, and we engaged in a ramming duel (it was Skill 8, Stamina 16, and I had to survive four rounds of ramming).  The Ford was no match for my Interceptor, and I managed to get through its ramming onslaught with just a little damage (reducing my Armour to 19).

With one kilometre to go, the road narrowed to a single lane over a bridge.  I accelerated to cross first, and the Ford stayed with me: we were in a game of chicken.  At the last second his nerve broke, and I crossed the bridge first.  (This was done by rolling a die, and adding to each of our Skill scores.  With my Skill of 12 and his of 8, it was not much of a contest.)

As we neared the finish line, the Ford's super-charged acceleration became obvious, and I knew that it would pull out of my slipstream and overtake me at the last second.  I took a guess and swerved left.  Luck was with me, and I blocked his pass.  I had won the race, and was grudgingly gifted with a can of petrol.  (And my Luck was restored to 10.)

(This is the best encounter in the book so far, but it kind of sucks that after everything it all comes down to a left-or-right guessing game.  Also, do I get my credits back?  If it was placed as a wager I should, but the book makes no mention of it.  I'll assume I don't have them anymore.)

After the race, the man from the gate approached me, and asked me to remind him what gang I was from.  I remembered that I had earlier told him "Black Rats", and he accepted my answer and left.  I took my petrol and headed back down the road, turning south again.

Further down the road, I passed a sign that said "Pete Makes Engines Sweet."  Soon I came to a place called Spark Plug Pete's, where Pete offered to modify my engine for 150 credits and a couple of packs from my med-kit.  I no longer had the credits he wanted, so I had to reluctantly decline.

Pete makes engines sweet!

Coming to a junction, I turned east, and drove a long way before turning south again.  Once again I had to refill my fuel-hungry car with petrol before continuing on.

After an hour of driving, I noticed two trails of dust on either side of the road.  They were two dune buggies, headed right for me and obviously hostile.  I blew one up with a rocket, and engaged the other in battle with my machine guns.  The Dune Buggy (Firepower 7, Armour 10) was no match for my Interceptor, and I shot it to pieces without taking any fire in return.  (This would have been a battle with two cars at once, and I didn't believe my Firepower was high enough to get through that without a lot of damage, so I took out the first buggy as quickly as possible.)

It's hard to feel all that threatened by a
dune buggy.

The road soon ended at a range of flat-topped hills, and I was faced with the choice of turning east or west.  I decided to head east, but I didn't get far finding that the road was blocked.  Someone had piled up a barricade of logs across the road, and there was an ominous gun barrel protruding from the pile.  I tried to negotiate with the person behind the barricade, but he told me that this was a car-free zone, and that I should go back.  I didn't like the look of his gun, so I heeded his advice and drove west.

I'm not taking this thing on.

After a while driving through the desert my engine started to misfire.  Checking it out, I discovered that there was sand in the carburettor. Just as I was finishing the job, I heard an engine overhead, and looked up to see an armed helicopter hovering above. The pilot told me to empty all of the rockets from my car.  I told him to go screw, and jumped back inside my car, which was still immobile.  Since he wanted my rockets so badly, I let him have one right in the face, and watched in satisfaction as the helicopter exploded in a ball of fire.  (My Firepower would have been reduced by 2 for this fight, because my car couldn't move.  I thought it better to use a rocket rather than risk such a disadvantage.)

I'm still wondering how this thing
snuck up on me.

I continued west until reaching a junction and turning south.  I passed an abandoned police car, and decided to stop and investigate.  The boot was locked, but I was able to pry it open with my crowbar.  Inside I found a bullet-proof vest, and happily took it with me. (This restored my Luck to 11, and gave me a +1 Skill bonus. I go back on forth on applying Skill bonuses from items that would take me over my Initial total.  In this instance, I decided not to apply it.)

As I drove on, I was confronted by an odd sight: a pick-up truck converted to look like a Roman chariot, complete with a helmed gladiator in the back.  I engaged the Chariot (Firepower 9, Armour 15) in battle, but after it hit me once (reducing my Armour to 13) I decided to end thing quickly with a rocket.  I had none left now, and would be forced in the future to rely on my machine guns.

I wish I could play as this guy.

I soon drove past a sign that said "engine and body repairs", pointing down a road to the east.  I turned that way, but was disheartened when the mechanic asked for 200 credits to fix my car.  I had no choice but to continue east.

Ahead I saw a range of hills, and the road soon passed under them through a tunnel.  Blocking the tunnel was an abandoned bus.  I got out to see if I could start the bus and move it, but a masked man jumped out of the bus and held me at gunpoint.  He said that I would either have to pay him 200 credits to pass, or engage him in a pistol duel.  I had no money, so the duel was my only way forward.

This guy is way too happy for someone who's
about to be shot at.

The man pulled out a mahogany box with two pistols inside, and we stood back to back.  We each took ten paces, turned, and fired.  The Duellist (Skill 9, Stamina 9) missed his shot, and I hit him dead center (I rolled a 6 for my damage).  He survived the wound, and graciously moved his bus out of the way.

I drove through a canyon, and the road turned gradually south.  There was a landslide, but I was able to stop my car and wait for it to finish before proceeding.  (This landslide is just described in the text, and doesn't appear to be any sort of danger. I'm not sure what the point of it is.)  I soon drove out of the canyon, only to find that the road was blocked by two cars.  Two men in uniforms approached and told me that I'd only be able to pass if I took on their champion in a drag race.  The champion was a former baseball player named Leonardi, who pulled up in an E-type Jaguar.  I'm not sure why I couldn't just drive around these chumps and keep going, but for some reason I found myself racing against Leonardi.  Without no supercharger on my engine, the Interceptor was too slow, and I lost the drag race.

Piss off Leonardi.

(This wasn't an automatic loss, I had to race Leonardi by rolling a die for each of us in turn, and adding the results until one of us got to 24.  He got the first roll, and so had an advantage.  I started well by rolling a 4 and two 6's, but after a slow start he rolled a 4, a 5, a 6, and a 5, and blitzed past me.)

I decided to honour the result of the race rather than drive past everyone, so I headed back through the canyon.  Luckily the duellist didn't accost me again this time, and I was able to drive all the way back to the main road and turn south.  The road soon ended, apparently having not been finished before the virus wiped out civilisation (a fact which reduced my Luck to 10).  There was nothing to the south but sand, so I drove east across some rocky terrain.  Along the way one of my tyres was punctured, but I was able to change it with a spare.

Eventually I reached a north-south road (presumably the same one that Leonardi and his fellow chuckleheads were blocking).  I turned south, and came to an overturned truck.  I decided to stop and examine the truck, and was delighted to find that its tank was full of petrol.  Unfortunately, the tank was made from reinforced steel, and I would need a length of tube to siphon it out.  I didn't have one, so I had no choice but to leave, with the feeling that my mission was now doomed.  Sure enough, a bit further down the road my car ran out of petrol, and I had to get out and try my best to walk back to New Hope.  (At this point, wouldn't I be closer to San Anglo?  Why don't I try going there to complete the mission? I'd appreciate the option, even if it was an instant failure.)

THE POST-GAME
Predictably, I once again failed due to lack of petrol.  I know where to find that length of tube though, so I should be good for my next attempt.  I suspect that this might be the last petrol can I need, but I'm not certain about that.  Still, I'm confident that I can get past that petrol barrier next time around.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Freeway Fighter: Attempts 2 & 3

Well, I'm back for another couple of cracks at Freeway Fighter.  Last time I stupidly drive over a bridge that was obviously dangerous.  I tend to get a lot of instant deaths in my early play-throughs, because I am not at all cautious.  What can I say, I like to explore my options and try everything.  Hopefully I'll do better this time.  Obviously the post title gives away the result of Attempt 2, but hey, there's always Attempt 3 to keep you in suspense!

ATTEMPT 2

For this attempt I rolled a Skill of 9, a Stamina of 29, a Luck of 11, a Firepower of 11, and an Armour score of 30.  I can't really remember how tough the vehicle combats in this book are, but I figure those stats are all good enough to get through.  Time will tell.

Starting off on my drive from New Hope to San Anglo, I decided to ignore the initial encounter with the guy who is heading for New Hope.  All he does is give you information, so there's no point now.  I did stop at Joe's Garage, and fought the Thug.  He hit me once (dropping my Stamina to 27).  His girlfriend/accomplice drove off, and this time I decided to give chase.  Unfortunately, she had placed a small mine under my front wheel during the battle, and when I tried to take off it blew up one of my front tyres.  I was forced to replace it with a spare (and also to reduce my Luck to 10).  (I have to call bullshit on this a little bit.  So if I chase here she placed a mine, but if I don't chase her she didn't?  How does that work?  The placement happened before my decision, either the mine is there or it isn't.  It's a bit annoying, but I can fudge it in my head like this: she used a weak adhesive to place the bomb, and if I choose to explore the garage it falls off before I get back to the car.  You're welcome Ian.)

Further up the road I fought a Red Chevvy, which caused me some trouble before I blew it off the road (dropping my Armour from 30 to 21).  After that - and a radio warning from New Hope about the kidnapping of the leader Sinclair - I came to a T-junction.  I'd gone east last time, so I decided to head west.

After a bit the road ended at a bridge over a river.  The bridge was slightly raised, so I'd have to fire my Interceptor up to 180 kp/h to jump it.  I decided to give it a go, and made the jump (with dice roll under my Skill).  Unfortunately, there was an overturned truck on the road on the far side, and I plowed right into it (after rolling over my Skill).  My car was badly damaged (reducing my Armour to 14), but I survived, and was able to keep driving.

I soon came to another junction, and decided to turn south in the direction of San Anglo.  Soon I came to another junction, and turned left.  This was followed by yet another exciting junction, where I turned south again (with no option from the book).  Then my car ran out of petrol, and my adventure was over in one of the most banal fashions ever.

ATTEMPT 3

This time I rolled a Skill of 12, a Stamina of 33, a Luck of 11, a Firepower of 12 and an Armour score of 29.  Those were some cracking stats; as long as I could find petrol I'd be in business.

I blew through the early stages, ignoring the first couple of encounters and blowing the Red Chevvy to bits with one of my rockets.  At the first junction I turned west again, and with my high Skill I had no trouble jumping the bridge and avoiding the overturned truck.  At the next junction I continued west instead of turning south as I had last time.

As I drove on, a man in jeans, jacket and a motorbike helmet ran onto the road and tried to flag me down.  I pulled over, and spotted that his motorbike was lying down beside the road.  I warned him over my loudspeaker not to try anything, and got out of the car.  As soon as I took a few steps, he jumped into a ditch just a grenade came flying out of nowhere to land at my feet.  I avoided the worst of the explosion (with a successful Luck test that reduced my score to 10; the explosion dropped my Stamina to 31), and drew my pistol.  I was in a shoot-out with two Bikers (Skill 7, Stamina 13 and Skill 5, Stamina 14).

Despite being caught in a crossfire (because I was shooting it out with both of them at the same time) I was able to kill them both and come out unscathed.  Searching their bodies I found a throwing-knife, which I slid into my boot.

Continuing west, I came to another junction.  The way further west was blocked by a huge pile-up of cars, but I decided to have a look around before turning south.  I found a crowbar, and started using it to jimmy open the boots of several cars.  At one point I got worried about leaving the Interceptor unattended, but I decided to keep exploring, and was rewarded for my diligence with a can of petrol (which restored my Luck to 11).

Heading south, I came to an east turn but decided to ignore it.  Further south my petrol gauge started running low, but I was able to refill it with my petrol can.  The sun was setting, so I decided to drive off the side of the road behind a wall and sleep in my car (which restored my Stamina to 33).

Further south I drove through some mines completely unawares (avoiding them with a 50/50 roll).  At another junction I turned east, but after 80 km the road ended at a junction and I had to turn south.

While I driving under a bridge, a crazy laughing man pushed a stone pillar off the top, trying to crush my car.  With supreme skill I swerved around it, and got out to deal with this miscreant.  Before I could get to the top of the bridge, he escaped on a motorbike.  There was caravan there, though, and I decided to search it.  Inside I found a tin of corned beef, which I ate, and a grenade, which I pocketed.

Soon I came to a four-way junction.  The way east was blocked with abandoned cars, so I decided to turn west.  Driving 80 km back west, I soon came to the end of the road and had to turn south again, into the desert.

On the side of the road I saw an overturned Dodge Interceptor.  I pulled over, and took one of its tyres as a spare.

On no, it's the Stig!

I decided to open the car and have a look inside, but to my horror I disturbed the nest of a rattlesnake.  The snake bit me.  I was able to stop the poison from killing me, but I was weakened by the ordeal (my Skill was reduced to 11, and my Stamina to 31).  I shot the snake dead (with vengeful glee, the book says) and found a coil of plastic tubing in the glovebox.

As I drove south, I spotted a motorbike with a sidecar coming up behind me.  It had a sidecar-mounted machine gun, and the passenger opened fire on me (reducing my Armour to 28).  I thought about taking them out with iron spikes or an oil spray, but I figured I could handle them with my machine guns.

The Motorbike and Sidecar (Firepower 9, Armour 8) proved more resilient than I expected, and inflicted some damage on my car before I killed them (reducing my Armour to 22).  Fearing they might be part of a gang, I continued south.

At that point my petrol gauge ran low, and I had no spare canister to do a refill.  Once again, with a great sense of anticlimax, my adventure was over.

THE POST-GAME

Attempt 2 was a complete bust, but I did find a petrol canister on the third go, which I consider a win.  The question is, do I have to go that way every time, or is there another canister on an alternate path?  Jumping the bridge requires a roll under Skill, and I suspect that failure will be an instant death.  It's fine to go that way if my Skill is good, but if it isn't I think I'll try the other path and see how it goes.  Knowing Ian, it won't go well, but you never know.

I've also started keeping a map, which I make in Trizbort.  It's designed for mapping text adventures like Zork, but it work's well for gamebooks too.

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