For stats I rolled a Skill of 11, a Stamina of 16, a Luck of 10 and a maximum Fear of 8. In another gamebook I'd be happy with those rolls, but Skill isn't all that important in House of Hell. The vital stat here is Fear, and a Fear of 8 isn't going to last all that long. I'll just have to do my best and try to rack up as many hints and clues as I can.
Okay, starting again: I took a wrong turn down a dirt road, crashed my car during a storm, and walked to a spooky house to ask to use their phone. At the front door, I have the choice between using the doorknocker or the bell-pull. Last time I used the knocker, and was invited inside by the butler. This time I decided to use the bell-pull, and was surprised when a trap-door opened beneath my feet, and I fell down a few metres into a pile of hay. (This increased my Fear to 1. I also had to Test my Luck to avoid hurting my wrist, which I did successfully, leaving me with a Luck of 9.)
I was in a cellar underneath the house, and there were footsteps approaching. I decided that I wouldn't have time to search for a weapon, so instead I hid behind the door and waited. The man who entered was a hunchback, and as he didn't look all that threatening I stepped forward and announced my presence. He told me to follow him, and as I did he started babbling about the Master expecting a guest, and having dinner laid out already. He also mentioned his specially matured cheese, which raised my suspicions. (Seriously, never trust italics. Something's always up when they come into play.)
Eventually we reached a door, and he gave me directions to go up into the house; he wasn't allowed upstairs himself. I entered the next chamber on my own, and soon received a shock, as I was swarmed by bats. I batted them away and raced up some nearby steps, shaken by the experience. (My Fear was increased to 2.)
The stairs ended at a hallway lined with animal heads, and I decided to explore further. The heads were all of dangerous beasts: a bear, a wolf, a tiger and a "serval" (a type of African wild cat). I could hear a growling noise, which gave me a fright (increasing my Fear to 3).
|I guess the illustrator doesn't know what a serval is either.|
I could also hear footsteps approaching. I decided to stand my ground and wait to see who it was. It was a butler named Franklins, and after I explained the situation he seemed to understand, and led me into the reception hall. Then he went to fetch his master, and it wasn't long before they both returned.
(At this point, the narrative had routed me back to where I would have gone had I used the door-knocker, although it didn't give me the chance to check the paintings in the reception hall.)
I was introduced to the Earl of Drumer, and we sat and shared brandy together. (A relaxing experience that reduced my Fear to 2.) Then we had a meal where I drank white wine, had a main course of duck, and finished up with fruit, coffee and brandy. (I didn't eat any cheese, due to the hunchback's italics from earlier.)
After the meal Franklins showed me to my room (labelled with a plaque as the Fortesque Room). I noticed that the windows were barred, but rationalised it as a way of keeping out intruders. I was tired after everything that had happened, so I climbed into bed and went to sleep.
In my dreams I was chased by a swirling cloud of gas, which caught up to me and caused me to cough and choke. I woke up, and found that my pillow and bedclothes were holding me down and smothering me to death. (An experience which increased my Fear to 4.) I was able to escape (by rolling under my Skill on two dice) and decided that it was time to get out of the house.
On the landing I turned right, and was confronted by the apparition of a young bride (increasing my Fear to 5). She beckoned me into a bedroom, where she told me about the evil Lord Kelnor, and that he could only be destroyed by the Kris Knife. Before she could finish her story she was attacked by ghostly Great Danes, and I ran away.
I decided to ignore her story, and escape from the house rather than help her. But rather than dash right down the stairs I decided to proceed cautiously. At the bottom of the stairs there were three doors. I tried the door on the right, but it was locked. The door on the left led into a study with many books. In the study I saw a message appear on a piece of paper: "beware the astorbed". (Seeing the message increased my Fear to 6.)
I read a book on black magic, inside of which I found a pentacle that supposedly had powers over devil-worshippers. (A find which restored my Luck to 10.) I decided to continue looking through the books, but instead I found a button at the back of the bookcase. Pressing the button revealed a secret passage, which I was too curious to ignore.
The narrow passage led to some stairs, and at the bottom was a choice of two doors. The door on the right was a food store, filled with bread, dried meat, cheese, fruit, fish, wine and cakes. I wasn't hungry, so I left the food and opened the door opposite. The room beyond was a cell of some sort, and sleeping in there was a man in a white gown.
|This guy's man-boobs might be the most disturbing thing in this adventure.|
The man woke up as I entered, and asked if I had come for him. Startled, but wanting to know more, I answered that I had. At first he seemed cheerful enough to go with me, but then he drew a knife from his gown, and declared that he wasn't going without a fight. The battle was a desperate one, as I was unarmed, but he was no skilled fighter. He managed to wound me three times (reducing my Stamina to 10) before I could subdue him. Rather than finish him off, though, I spared his life, and he told me his story.
He explained that he used to be a part of the Master's "coven", but his conscience could not allow him to condone such evil. Rather than allowing him to leave the coven, though, his fellows had instead locked him up, and planned to sacrifice him. He explained that Kelnor could only be killed by the Kris Knife, and that he must be summoned in a red room.
Before he could finish the door burst open, and two men entered wearing masks made out of the heads of dead goats. They attacked us with knives, and we fought one each. The devil-worshipper was a better fighter than my ally, but I managed to sustain only one wound before defeating him (reducing my Stamina to 8). I was too late to save my new friend, though, as the other devil-worshipper killed him. I knocked him out, and fled. (I tried to use the pentacle in this section, but it's not meant for this encounter. I also wonder why I wasn't given the option to take a knife from any of these guys.)
I went back through the study and up the stairs, where I continued around the landing. At a junction I turned left, and entered a door marked as the 'Lucretia Room'. Inside was a bedroom, lit by a single candle and filled with many plants. Asleep in the bed was an old woman. I decided to wake her up, but when I touched her I found that she was cold. The woman was dead! (An experience which increased my Fear to 8, equalling my maximum.)
|Maybe this is the 'astor bed' I'm supposed to fear?|
And so I died, frightened by touching an old lady's dead body. Anticlimatic, no? I find it odd the things that increase your Fear score, and by how much. Touching a dead body is worth 2 points? But seeing a ghost is only worth 1? Why does being attacked by cultists wearing dead goat heads not increase your Fear at all? It doesn't make a lot of sense, nor does dying because I touched a dead body. I guess I have to assume that the hero of this book has an incredibly weak heart.
I'm still enjoying it, though. I'm not sure which bits are different from the book version. I don't remember the bell-pull trapdoor at all. I'm pretty sure that the name-plates on the doors are different in the book. Other than that, I'm flying blind here.
I don't know if I've made much progress, or found any vital clues. Learning about the Kris Knife is step one, but I remember it being very difficult to find. I was pleased to get through the meal without being drugged, as I remember that being essential to winning in the book. Here, it doesn't seem at all necessary. I'm pretty sure that the old lady has an important clue, so I'll have to come back to this room on my next attempt. Even then, I doubt I'll win next time. Rather than the linear progression of other FF gamebooks, House of Hell is like a puzzle-box, with each attempt revealing just a little more of what's inside. I know I'll crack it eventually, but it's devious, so I could be on this one for a little while.