Thursday, September 15, 2016

Sorcery! Attempt 10 - Book 3: The Seven Serpents

Another week, another crack at the Sorcery! epic.  Last time I fell afoul of the Serpent of Time, which I imagine was a sticking point for many a reader back in the day.  Every path provided for that encounter leads to death, so there must be a non-obvious solution somewhere earlier in the book.  The trick is to find it, otherwise I'll be right back to The Shamutanti Hills.  Please, no, and thank you, I'd rather complete The Seven Serpents and be on to something else.

For this attempt I rolled scores of Skill 7, Stamina 22 and Luck 10 (raised to 11 at the end of book 1).  Passable.  In most other books I'd be gnashing my teeth at that Skill score, but in Sorcery! it ain't so bad.

I won't dwell on The Shamutanti Hills or Khare - Cityport of Traps for too long.  I got through them without too much trouble, following my usual paths.  The only new thing I recall discovering is what happens if you keep making successful Luck tests while trying to rob the Chainmaker: eventually you're caught in a net, and the old man from the prison at the start of the book shows up to let you out at the cost of returning everything you just stole.  It's a rare case where it's better to fail a Luck test, as you get to keep the Chainmaker's stuff as well as kill him and take his magic chain.

I also traded for the Large Backpack in the Gnome's shop.  It's not particularly special: it lets you ignore the text whenever you're instructed that you can only take an item by leaving one of your own items behind.  In theory it's a handy thing to have, but I don't recall being told to do this anywhere in the Sorcery! epic.  So unless it happens in The Crown of Kings, the backpack is basically worthless.

I began The Seven Serpents with a Stamina of 12 and a Luck score of 10.  I went through the opening scenes of the book, fighting the Nighthawks and visiting Shadrack.  I discovered that you can't escape the Nighthawks by casting a WAL spell; birds can just fly around a magic wall.  It was worth a shot.  I'll try anything to get out of that initial battle, even though I suspect it's a futile effort.

Following my visit with Shadrack I encountered some Centaurs and befriended them.  This time I decided not to visit the snake-charmer, and had the centaurs take me to the Black Elf caravan, where I posed as a merchant and bought a whole raft of stuff: a Hewing Axe (useful for cutting trees, but with a -2 penalty in combat), an Orb (can be thrown to hurt enemies, but has a chance to break every time), a Pearl Ring (worth 10gp, and useful in casting the invisibility spell), some snake-bite antidote, a vial of water (labelled as holy water, but actually not blessed at all), and a spellbook.  The spellbook was from Analand, and I was forced to destroy it so that it could never fall into the wrong hands, but buying it gave me the opportunity to have a look through the spells again and refresh myself.  (I can always use a refresher on the Sorcery! spells.  There's a small selection that I know well, and a lot that I never use at all.)  All up this stuff cost me 36 gold pieces, and left me with but a single coin to my name.

After leaving the Black Elves I camped for the night, eating my last meal in conjunction with the Bomba Fruit I had obtained in book 1 (which doubled the Stamina gain from the meal).  At this point my Stamina was 16.

The next morning I headed north-west.  (This was off my usual path, but I had to do some exploring to find a way to defeat the Time Serpent.)  The plains in this direction were empty, and all I had to show for it was a day of uneventful trekking and a night of bad sleep, all done on an empty stomach.  (All I lost from this ordeal was a single point of Stamina, which seems a bit lenient.  Based on that my character could survive about 20 days without food, which initially sounds ridiculous but is actually quite accurate to real life.)

After finding nothing to the north-west I veered back north-east.  I encountered a whirlwind, but previous games had warned me against it, so this time I just left without investigating.  Again I headed north-west (exploring in a zig-zag pattern, for no particular reason), and came to a village of primitive humanoids known as Klattamen.  The Klattamen invited me into their camp to eat some roast meat, and I heartily accepted given that I hadn't eaten in over a day.  The meat restored my Strength (raising my Stamina to 17), but there was obviously more to this than good hospitality.  Sure enough, I was soon called out to face the best warrior in the tribe in single combat.

Skippin' leg day.

I could have cast a spell here, but it seemed dishonourable, and I also thought it might hurt my chances of winning favour with the Klattamen.  Instead I fought the Klattaman Champion with my sword.  He wounded me once (dropping my Stamina to 15), but after that I made short work of him.  (Though I considered magic dishonourable in this situation, I wasn't above using my magical Armband of Swordmastery.  It's hypocritical, but it's also pragmatic.)

The Klattamen regarded me with respect following my defeat of their champion, but instead of hanging around and lording over them I decided to press on.  They seemed pissed about it, but none of them tried to stop me, and I was able to move on.  (I'm wondering if I missed anything here.  There seems to be no benefit in this encounter at all.)

Soon I came to the outskirts of the Forest of Snatta, and after a night if undisturbed rest (restoring my Stamina to 18) I made my way inside.  At the first junction I chose the right path, and found my way blocked by an infestation of Strangleweed.  (Readers with a good memory will recall that I was killed by this encounter on my first run through the book.)  Undeterred, I took out my Hewing Axe and carved a path forward.  (And most satisfying it was, too.)

At the next junction, within sight of Lake Ilklala, I took the left-hand path and came to a hillock with a door in it.  I went inside, where I met the elf sorceress Fenestra.  Rather than rush straight into a conversation about the Seven Serpents (as I did last time), I decided to ask if she had any magic that might be useful to me.  She got pretty excited to be meeting another wizard, and offered to trade me any item might aid me in spellcasting.  I didn't take her up on the offer, though, because she wanted two of my items for one of hers.  I guess it makes sense, because logically she already has everything, but it didn't seem like a fair deal to me.

Now that we were getting along, I turned the conversation towards the topic of the Seven Serpents.  Fenestra revealed that the Water Serpent had killed her father some time ago, so she had no love for them.  She gave me a flask of oil, explaining that it would be useful in killing the Water Serpent.  She also revealed that she had the Sun Serpent trapped within her glass orb.  I was expecting that I would have to battle it, but it seemed that it really was imprisoned.  Instead I used my Serpent Ring, and extracted a secret from it: "beware the breath of the Mucalytics".

I asked Fenestra about crossing Lake Ilklala, and she offered to sell me a whistle with which I could summon the ferryman.  I didn't have the 2 gold pieces needed to buy it, so I had to trade her my gold-backed mirror instead.  (I chose that item because I couldn't remember the spell that required it.)

Before I left, Fenestra offered me the choice of three gifts: a medicinal potion, a lucky charm, and the whistle (which I had already purchased).  I took the charm, which can be used once to restore my Luck to its initial level.

After leaving Fenestra, I came to yet another junction and chose the right-hand path.  This might have been the worst possible decision, because I soon found myself confronted by four Snattacats!

I knew that fighting them would be suicide, and I suspected that running away might be equally foolish, so I cast a FOF spell.  The magic kept the Snattacats at bay (reducing my Stamina to 14), and I was able to escape.

Eventually, I made my way out of the forest, and reached the shore of Lake Ilklala.  It was evening, and I couldn't blow my whistle until daybreak, so I settled down to sleep (reducing my Stamina to 11 due to lack of food).

In the morning I blew my whistle and summoned the ferryman, who offered to take me across the lake for 4 gold pieces.  I didn't have the money, so I was reduced to fighting him.  I could have used a spell, but it didn't seem worth it, and although he hit me once (reducing my Stamina to 9) I was able to quickly subdue him and convince him to row me across for free.

The ferryman left, and returned with his boat, though his demeanor had become suddenly ruder than before.  (Should I be surprised?  I just beat the guy up with my sword!)  I called him on his attitude, and sure enough discovered that his body had been possessed by the Serpent of Air.  Rather than use a spell against the serpent, I searched the ferryman's body, found the Serpent's original skin, and tore it to pieces.  That destroyed the Serpent of Air - my first for the adventure.

With the ferryman dead, I was forced to row myself across the lake.  Towards the centre I noticed a disturbance in the water, and went to investigate.  As I drew closer, something tried to tip me out of my boat, but I was able to stay in with a successful Luck test.  That "something" was the Water Serpent, which coiled up to attack, but I was prepared for it: I poured the contents of Fenestra's oil flask over it, and the Water Serpent was destroyed.  Two out of seven!

Soon I had crossed the lake, and was wading through Vischlami Swamp.  I had to test my Luck at this point, which I did successfully.  Nothing happened, so I'm not sure what I just saved myself from.  Knowing Steve Jackson, and taking the terrain into account, it was probably giant leeches.

I heard something approaching from ahead, but rather than hide I decided to stand my ground.  Three Marsh Goblins crashed into the clearing, evidently being chased by something.  Figuring that I'd otherwise be unable to communicate with them, I put on my green-haired wig and cast a RAP spell.  The Goblins revealed that they were running from a great Serpent.  They had been trying to use a sacred scroll given to them by Fenestra to drive it out, but were unable to read it.  I got them to show me the scroll.

I promised to do what I could to destroy the Serpent, and the Goblins continued their flight in the opposite direction.  I marched forward to my destiny, presumably with green wig still upon my head.

Before long I was confronted by the Serpent of Time.  This encounter would have been certain death, but with the aid of the scroll I was able to defeat it.  I read the chant (by deciphering the Roman numerals and turning to paragraph 59), which caused the Serpent to float sluggishly in the air.  The resulting combat was a one-sided affair (with the Serpent having an effective Skill of 1 due to my use of the Sham's Serpent Staff), and I crushed it with gusto.

After a brief rest I continued my journey, and soon reached the foot of the Zanzunu Peaks.  I had defeated (or left trapped) four of the Archmage's Serpents: Sun, Air, Water and Time.  Three of them, however, would no doubt be streaking ahead of me to warn their master.  The third leg of my journey was over, but the final - and most dangerous - was still ahead: Mampang Fortress.

(I hadn't used my prayer to Libra at any point during this adventure, so I used it now to restore my stats to their initial levels.  Gotta be at my fighting best for The Crown of Kings!)

I did it!  As I suspected, the Time Serpent was the last obstacle in this book.  I was also correct about where I would find the means to defeat it: the Marsh Goblins by way of Fenestra.  In the end this wasn't a super difficult book, although finding and defeating all of the Serpents might add a little extra challenge.  I only found four of them in this run through.  I know roughly where to find the Moon Serpent, and the Earth Serpent, but I missed them this time.  The location of the Fire Serpent remains a mystery.  I'm hoping to beat The Crown of Kings in a single attempt, but the chances of that are slim to none.  No doubt I'll have plenty of chances to search for the Fire Serpent on my subsequent trips through this book.

That won't be for a while, though, because as I've worked out release dates (based on ads in Warlock), The Crown of Kings came out circa February 1985, about four months after The Seven Serpents.  Between those I have five main series Fighting Fantasy books, and two issues of Warlock.  For those of you looking forward to the conclusion to the Sorcery! epic that's bad news.  For me, who is looking for a break from the Sorcery! epic, it's like manna from heaven.  Next up is Scorpion Swamp, which has its detractors.  Personally, I have a lot of time for it, and I'm looking forward to re-visiting it.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Sorcery! Attempt 7, 8 & 9 - Book 3: The Seven Serpents

I'm back!  After a couple of months of personal issues (pretty much dealt with now) and a month off to watch the G-1 Climax (because Japanese pro-wrestling is the greatest), I'm making my return to blogging, and to writing about gamebooks in particular.

My busy schedule hasn't been the only thing stopping me from blogging here, though.  I'm somewhat regretting my decision to tackle the Sorcery! epic as one single, long gamebook.  Going back to the beginning from Book 1 or 2 isn't so bad, but now that I've reached Book 3 it feels like a slog.  I still enjoy it once I get started, and I'm still discovering new things when I play the first two books, but it's a daunting prospect to begin again.  I'll stick with it, because I'm stubborn like that, but I'll honestly be happier working on the blog once I have Sorcery! out of the way.

That's enough preamble, it's time to get into my ill-fated attempts at conquering The Seven Serpents.  (You know at least some of them are ill-fated, because I have multiple attempts in the post title.)


This is one I can cover pretty quickly.  I rolled a Skill score of 5, which is the first time I've had to play the series with such a weak character.  I could have tried to boost my Skill with various items (there are at least two good ones in The Shamutanti Hills), but instead I opted to focus heavily on spells, and obtaining the various items needed to cast them. 

The first domino leading to my demise was my encounter with Flanker, the assassin who tries to waylay you in Book 1.  You can't use magic during that encounter, and with such a low Skill score I had all sorts of trouble beating him.  So much trouble that my Stamina score wasn't high enough to allow me to spare his life: you need a score higher than 6, or he just keeps fighting to the death.  I did kill Flanker (barely), but now I was unable to call on his help for Book 2.

This posed a serious problem, because I have no idea how to find the first part of the spell needed to open the North Gate of Khare without Flanker's aid.  I know how to find Flanker, and have him lead me to Lortag the Elder, but I haven't a clue how to find Lortag on my own.

Once inside Khare, I decided to head north at the first junction, which is a path I had never explored before.  This led me into a shabby part of town, with a body lying on the ground.  I investigated, and was soon attacked by a Living Corpse.  This is a monster I've seen in Out of the Pit, but have never encountered in any of the gamebooks.  It's deal is that at first it seems like a normal Zombie, but when you hit it it splits into six body parts and attacks from all directions.  The body parts are weak (we're talking Skill 2 or 3, and Stamina scores of 1 each), but the part you attack is randomly determined.  The real killer is that the body parts you've already destroyed remain as valid targets, so for the last body part you'll have a 1-in-6 chance of hitting it.  If I'd had a decent Skill I would probably have lasted, but with a Skill of 5 I was gradually whittled down and killed.

(This raises the question of when you can call on the goddess Libra to restore your stats.  I had it in my head that you can't do it in the middle of a fight, but that's not supported by the text, which says "you may call on her if and when you wish".  So now I know, by the rules I can restore myself in the middle of battle.  That's handy.)


This was another ignominious failure.  Again I rolled low for Skill (this time scoring 6), but I decided to go for the Skill-boosting items and had no trouble subduing Flanker this time.  My real trouble came in Khare, where I took a wrong turn somewhere after meeting Lortag and gaining the first line of the spell.  Not long after that, I was supposed to meet a fellow calling himself Slangg, who would have given me directions to the Temple of the God of Malice.  Instead I found myself in the home of Vangorn the Murderer, who was quite insistent about trying to get me to drink some poisoned ale.  I was able to escape from him, but eventually I realised that I had missed the second spell line.  After that I powered through the rest of the adventure, skipping as many encounters as possible, and made it to the North Gate with just a single line of the spell.  Once again, my adventure was over (the text said I could start again, but I'm not sure how literally I'm supposed to take that, and I was happy enough to let this character die.)


Finally, I rolled a strong character: Skill 10, Stamina 23, Luck 8.  That's something to work with.  I blew through The Shamutanti Hills, gathering all the combat bonuses and spell items I could.  I passed through Khare - Cityport of Traps with similar ease, and this time I was able to locate the entirety of the spell.  I even found a new section with lots of magical goodies: after fleeing from the Red-Eyes, I stumbled into a shop that was stacked with items.

The shop was run by a Gnome, who would not accept gold; I could only take his items by offering my own items for trade.  The items he had on offer were a Bamboo Flute, a Bag of Goblin Teeth, a Lucky Talisman, an Enchanted Compass, a Large Backpack, and some Beeswax.  I already had a Flute and some Beeswax, so I tried to trade for the Talisman and the Compass (you can only take two of his items).  In return you have to offer him four items: I offered a mirror, a parchment scroll, a Bomba Fruit and another mirror.  The items he chooses is determined randomly.  There's also a chance he won't want anything you're offering, or that he'll demand two items for one of his, but I was lucky.  He took a mirror, and the parchment scroll, and gave me his Talisman and Compass.

The Compass was enchanted to lead me instantly to the final person in Khare who knows a line of the spell to open the North Gate.  At any point I could use it, and be led to that person.  This seems handy, but I feel like it's impossible to miss that encounter, except through willful stupidity.

The Lucky Talisman was better: when wearing it, you don't lose Luck on an unsuccessful Luck test.  At first I had interpreted this as not losing Luck on any Luck test, but that's not the case: you still lose a point if you are Lucky.  Still, it's pretty good.

The rest of the book went as planned, and I was soon out of Khare and into the Baklands, with the following stats:

SKILL: 10 (+3 to Attack Strength)
STAMINA: 23 (currently 15)

GOLD: 46, and 1 gem worth 10gp
PROVISIONS: 2 meals, Bomba Fruit (doubles Stamina gain from meal)

EQUIPMENT: Sword, Backpack, Broadsword (+1 Attack Strength), Bamboo Pipe, Beeswax, Silver Key '111', Armband of Swordmastery (+2 AS w/ sword), Skullcap, Magic Chain (autokills enemy with less than 3 Stamina, two Luck tests to retrieve), Green Wig, Mirror, Lucky Talisman (no Luck lost when Unlucky), Enchanted Compass, Silver Ring '130'

The Seven Serpents opens with a battle against four Nighthawks.  I defended against them for three rounds, until a Goldcrest Eagle from my homeland of Analand showed up to aid me and drop a message explaining the plot: seven magical serpents are speeding to warn the Archmage that I'm coming, and I have to stop them.  Good, let's get on with it.  (I'm still annoyed that this isn't dealt with in the Background section.)

From there I went to meet Shadrack, who gave some more exposition about the Serpents, and provided me with a Galehorn.  I ate a meal and slept (which restored me to 20 Stamina), and left in the morning by following the main trail.

Further along, I was accosted by a trio of Centaurs.  In a previous game I'd acted with hostility towards them and ended up in a fight, so this time I decided to be friendly.  Even when one of them threatened to rob me I kept my cool, and wonder of wonders it all worked out.  After I cast a fake Luck spell on them, they offered to take me to Manata the Snake-Charmer, or to a caravan heading towards Khare.  I was looking for snakes, so I figured that a snake-charmer was the man to visit.

When I found Manata, he was sitting in a pit playing a pipe for a half-dozen snakes.  I shouted down to him, and he asked me to join his friends in the pit.  I climbed down, and he asked me to show him the various artifacts I'd collected.  I was getting suspicious, but I decided to play along to see if he had any clues regarding the Serpents.  He wasn't interested in anything I had (I would have gotten a reaction if I'd had any Borrinskin Boots, but I've got no idea where those are found).

I pressed him for more information on the Seven Serpents, and he didn't like that at all.  I had to fight all six of his snakes in sequence, followed by the Snake Charmer himself.  The fight was more of an annoyance than a challenge; I wasn't wounded at all, I just got irritated with the amount of book-keeping involved.  Something bad might have happened had I not defeated the Snake Charmer within five Attack Rounds, but I did that easily enough.  Looting his pit, I found another Bamboo Pipe, and a Bottle of Holy Water.  Luckily I hadn't been bitten, so I didn't have to worry about poison and I was able to continue on to the north-west.  (I feel like I missed something important with this encounter.  I was convinced I'd find one of the Serpents here; it's a snake-charmer, right?  But no, nothing.  Perhaps it's just a red herring.)

I didn't stop to eat when I had the chance, and later on when I made camp it didn't give me the option of eating.  So while I regained Stamina for sleeping, I lost more due to starvation even though I had some food right there.  I probably should have just ignored the letter of the text here, but instead I dutifully lowered by Stamina to 19.  Like an idiot.

The next day I veered to the north-east, but my progress was slowed by strong winds.  I took shelter near a large boulder, but again I opted not to eat.  While I sheltered, I was approached by a small whirlwind.

I cast a HOW spell to determine the best course of action (reducing my Stamina to 17), and it warned me that the whirlwind was dangerous and had nothing to offer me.  I kept my distance, and continued on my way without investigating further.

I continued to the north-east, and was soon approached by a rapidly-moving figure: a gnome.  I offered him a gift - my spare Bamboo Pipe - and the die roll to determine his reaction came up with the most favourable result.  The gnome was revealed as the female sorceress Dintainta.  She warned me about the Sleepless Ram in the Archmage's fortress, and gave me a vial of gas that could overcome it.  She also warned me about the Earth Serpent, telling me that I would have to separate it from the ground to weaken it.  Finally, she gave me her staff, a special Serpent's Staff that would deduct 2 Skill points from any of the Seven Serpents I fought.  I thanked Dintainta before moving on.

I headed due north, and soon stopped to rest on a large rock.  As I stood to leave, a rock hit my ankle painfully (dropping my Stamina to 16).  Rocks were showering down on me from above.  I tried to blow them away with my Galehorn (which reduced my Stamina to 15), but it was ineffective, and I lost a further 3 points of Stamina from falling rocks (leaving me with 12).

A fall landed me in a pit, where the rocks started to grow red-hot.  Something but my hand when I tried to climb out, but I persisted in escaping from the pit and suffering another bite (leaving me with 10 Stamina).

At the top of the pit I was menaced by cracks in the ground, a teetering boulder, and a snake coiling around my leg.  I grabbed the snake and threw it to the ground, where it was revealed as the Earth Serpent.

(At this point I used my Serpent Ring - obtained in Book 2 - and got  a clue from the Earth Serpent: "Offer no gold to Valignya".  I should be writing these down.)

I cast a HUF spell using my Galehorn (reducing my Stamina to 9), and this time I was rewarded.  The Earth Serpent was blown into the air where it lost its powers, and I was able to kill it easily.  One down, six to go.

I had reached the Forest of Snatta, but I decided to rest and eat before entering (leaving me with no meals, but restoring my Stamina to 14).

Inside the forest, I chose the middle path at the first junction.  I could hear a strange noise, but there was nothing around.  I investigated further, and was attacked by an invisible beast (reducing my Stamina to 12).  It gradually materialised, and I saw that it was a Snattacat, but it disappeared and left before I could do anything.  I was relieved, but that was short-lived, as I was soon surrounded by a dozen of the buggers!

II wasn't about to fight twelve Snattacats, so I cast a FOF spell (reducing my Stamina to 8) and fled while they were blocked by my force field.

At the next junction I turned left, and soon found a hillock with a door in the side.  I was feeling cautious, so cast a TEL spell (reducing my Stamina to 7), but I received no psychic messages.  So I forgot caution and opened the door, following the sound of voices.  At the end of the passage I saw a spindly figure hunched over a glass orb.

I announced my presence, and the figure - possibly an elfwoman - invited me in.  Her name was Fenestra, and she asked about my business in the forest.  I tried to steer the conversation in the direction of the Seven Serpents, and despite her nervousness about the subject she revealed some of their weaknesses: the Fire Serpent is extinguished by sand, the Sun Serpent hates water and the Water Serpent hates oil.  Before I left, Fenestra offered me a choice of three items: a medicinal potion, a lucky charm, or a calling-whistle.  I already had a charm, so I picked the whistle, which she told me I could use to summon the ferryman of Lake Ilklala.  (I knew this was an important find, because it restored 3 of my Luck points.)

At the next junction I chose the centre path, and was soon on the shore of the lake, where I camped overnight.  I had a sense that I was approaching dangerous territory here, so I prayed to Libra to restore my scores to their initial levels.  Then I blew the whistle to summon the ferryman.

The ferryman was a surprisingly jovial sort, though not so friendly that he didn't demand 4 gold pieces for the crossing.  He disappeared to get his boat, and when he returned he was suddenly very rude.  I decided to confront him about it, and to my surprise his body shriveled up, and from inside emerged the Air Serpent!

(I used my Serpent Ring again here, and the Serpent gave me a clue: "In the dark chamber of night, do not light your way with the blood candle.  Good advice.  Personally, I don't advocate the use of blood candles in any situation.)

Rather than cast a spell, I investigated the ferryman's body, and found an old snakeskin.  The Air Serpent recoiled when I found it, so I tore it apart (remembering the advice of Shadrack from the beginning of the book).  Another Serpent dead!

I rowed the ferry-man's boat out onto the lake, and soon encountered a patch of bubbling water.  I investigated the bubbling, only for it to move under my boat and try to unseat me.  I succeeded in a Luck test, and remained in the boat, but soon after that I was attacked by the Water Serpent.

(The ring's clue: "Pay respect to Naggamanteh the torture master.")

I opted not to use a spell, and had no items that would be effective against it (like oil), so I fought it with my sword.  The Water Serpent had its Skill reduced to 8 by my Serpent Staff, so I was able to knock it off without sustaining a hit.  Three dead serpents, huzzah!

Soon enough I had reached the opposite side, and entered the Vischlami Swamp.  I passed a mysterious Luck test (not really sure what I avoided here), and stopped to rest.  I heard a crashing sound followed by cries.  Something was approaching, and I decided to hide.  A few minutes later, a group of Marsh Goblins appeared.  I waited until they left before coming out of hiding and moving on.

As I was leaving, I heard a hiss, and a giant snake appeared.  The Time Serpent!

(Serpent Ring Clue: "The Archmage may be disguised.")

The swaying of the Serpent stopped me from casting spells, so I had to draw my sword.  Then things got weird.  Time became distorted somehow, and the snake bit me to death in a series of disjointed scenes.  My character was dead, but the real-life me was impressed (and a little bewildered) with the way it was written.  So I guess it's not a total loss.

Every path in that last encounter led to instant death, so obviously I've missed something.  Perhaps I was meant to talk to the Marsh Goblins, or maybe I should have done something different with Fenestra; I have an inkling or a memory that she has more important information than what I got out of her.  It could be something else entirely.  The one thing I'll rule out is that I need something from Book 1 or 2; each book in the Sorcery! series stands alone, and should be beatable without the others, so the key to beating the Time Serpent should be in Book 3.

In this game I defeated the following serpents: Air, Earth, and Water.  I met the Time Serpent, but didn't win.  In a previous game I beat the Moon Serpent, which means that I've found five in total.  I need to find the Fire Serpent and the Sun Serpent, and maybe I can knock off all seven.  Fenestra gave me clues about how to defeat Fire and Sun, so it stands to reason that I'll find them after encountering her.  Or maybe not.  Steve Jackson does love to mislead the reader.

Ah well, back to the beginning.  Time to slog it out all over again.