(As always, those not familiar with the book will want to read my earlier posts on Deathtrap Dungeon. I'm skimming over a lot of details here.)
My first character for this post rolled a Skill of 10, a Stamina of 16, and a Luck of 10. In most other gamebooks, he'd be a solid adventurer. Here, he's just another doomed contestant in the Trial of Champions.
Despite my less-than-great chances of surviving the dungeon, I determined to make a proper go of it. I've finished this book before with characters of Skill 11 or 12, but never Skill 10. It would be a feather in my cap.
As I always do when making a proper attempt to finish the book, I chose the path that leads past the rope. I had all sorts of trouble with the Flying Guardians when it came time to collect the emerald, though. They brought me all the way down to 2 Stamina, and I'm confident in declaring them the most irritating combat in the book.
I had little trouble after that, to a certain point. I've learned which encounters I can skip, to speed up the process. I don't bother getting the Ring of Wishes anymore, as it's only usable in an encounter that's off the critical path. I also skip fighting the Giant Fly; the only benefit to it is finding a dagger, and you can loot two of those from the elf-woman's corpse.
So everything was fine, and I was progressing well through the early stages of the dungeon, until I met and teamed up with the barbarian Throm. We fought a pair of Cave Trolls together, and despite copious abuse of my Luck score I wasn't able to influence the result of the battle. We were evenly matched in Skill, but the Cave Troll battered me mercilessly to death.
Now this was more like it: Skill 12, Stamina 18, Luck 10. Armed with a Potion of Fortune, I entered the dungeon. Only a miracle could stop this guy from defeating Deathtrap Dungeon.
It's amazing what a difference just 1 or 2 points of Skill can make. I was absolutely trucking through this adventure, just murdering everything in sight. The vast majority of fights I got through without a scratch, and soon enough I was past Throm, and the tests of the Dwarf Trialmaster, and I was in great shape.
All that changed after the grille. You may recall that there's a grappling iron in a hole under a grille, and if you reach down to get it a tentacle wraps around your hand and causes you to lose a point of Skill. There are no Skill bonuses to be found after that, so the book basically forces you to do the toughest battles with a Skill of 11. Unless you want to risk fighting the Pit Fiend, which is not something I'd recommend.
My first battle after thus damaging my hand was with the Ninja, who very nearly killed me. Fair enough, he is a Ninja, but with a Skill of 12 I would have blocked a lot of the hits he scored on me. Still, I was able to prevail, and restore my Stamina to maximum with copious provisions.
Next up came the Bloodbeast. With a Skill of 12 you would think it was a difficult combat, but normally it's not too bad: you only have to hit him twice before you can escape (provided you've read the book about Bloodbeasts, and to be honest you can't miss it). This time the dice turned on me. My Skill was only 1 point less, but I just could not score a hit on the bastard. I tied it a few times, but otherwise it just kept on hitting me, winning ten combat rounds to my zero. I don't recall ever having had such a bad run with the dice, which was unfortunate for my character, who ended his days as a meal for the hideous Bloodbeast.
As badly as the dice had treated me in the last game, they came up aces here: Skill 12, Stamina 20, and Luck 10. I was a little more sanguine about my chances after my last failure, but I was still feeling quietly confident.
Much like Attempt 9, I was in very little danger in the opening stages of the dungeon. I copped the odd hit here and there (most notably against those bloody Flying Guardians), but at no point was my death a realistic proposition. I was feeling so good about things that, after the death of Throm, I decided to take a swing at the Dwarf Trialmaster. Much to my surprise he actually deigned to fight me hand-to-hand. He wasn't tough at all (Skill 8, Stamina 6), and as I brutally murdered him I found myself wondering what he could have been thinking. He'd just seen me take down a Minotaur and a crazed Barbarian with barely a scratch on me. More importantly, he could just as easily have shot me with his crossbow. Dwarven stupidity aside, though, killing this guy was very satisfying, and you can loot a chainmail coat from his body for a +1 Skill bonus.
The only other thing I did differently than usual was to fight Ivy, the lady Troll. It's not a difficult fight for any character with a hope of finishing the book, and you don't get anything useful from it that you don't also get by talking your way out of the situation. It's much more fun to get her talking about her brother.
After my failure in the last game, the final gauntlet of tough combats was a bit of an anticlimax. The Ninja fell easily, and I was able to kill the Bloodbeast in two straight hits. The Manticore gave me a bit of trouble, but I was never close to being killed. With the final enemy slain, it was on to the final door, and Igbut the Gnome.
As you may recall, three gems are required to open the door: an emerald, a diamond and a sapphire. The last time I reached this point (way back in Attempt 1), I only had the emerald. This time I had found all three. Igbut explained that the gems had to be inserted in a specific combination, and if I chose incorrectly I would be blasted by a bolt of energy. Igbut would give me hints about how close I was, but I didn't need them: I chose correctly on the first try. (In actuality, I have the number of the correct paragraph for this choice memorised. 177 - never forget!)
With the door open, Igbut took his chance to make a bid for freedom. He smashed a glass orb on the floor at my feet as he ran away, releasing a cloud of gas. I passed my Luck test, though, and was able to escape without inhaling the fumes. Igbut was not so lucky: he had fallen victim to Deathtrap Dungeon's final trap: a crossbow bolt. Yeah, just a crossbow bolt. Baron Sukumvit ran out of money near the end of construction.
So that was it! I walked out into the light, gave Sukumvit the shock of his life, and claimed my 10,000 gold piece reward. I must say that it was more with relief than jubilation that I completed the adventure. After all, how many weeks could I spend blogging about the same damn book?
Success has come, finally. I was almost ready to pack it in after failing in Attempt 9; that really was an unprecedented string of bad dice rolls, and I was starting to feel like I'd be in this book forever. Luckily for me I rolled a 12 Skill again in the next game, and my flagging spirits were renewed.
I have a couple of wrap-up posts to do before I'm completely done with Deathtrap Dungeon. After that, it's on to Island of the Lizard King.