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.
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.