This post is something different to anything I’ve done before, but that doesn’t mean it will be original. It’s a write-up of my progress through Deathtrap Dungeon, a choose-your-own-adventure book. (That’s one of these.) I’ll be playing the part of a character trying to navigate his way through the dungeon to reach fame, glory, wealth and so on. For these kinds of books the reader makes the decisions about what to do.
I stole this idea from a cool blog I came across, but stole it for a reason. A friend and I are writing a choose-your-own-adventure story and I’m doing ‘research’ by playing the old Fighting Fantasy game books I have. I’m going to go through them and decide what I like and dislike about them, which will help me when writing my own, with any luck.
I roll up the stats for my character a discover that luck is in plentiful supply, though nothing else is. Ian ‘Feeling Lucky’ Punk, as my character shall be called, has a pathetic 7 skill and 15 stamina but the maximum of 12 luck. He’s going to have to rely on his wits and charm to get through this alive. Oh, and possibly the old befriend-betray trick if he meets one of the other contestants in the dungeon.
Note 1: I don’t want to use dice or stats in my adventure; it’s supposed to be about making decisions, and the luck undermines that a bit. Well, not always, as when you’re low on stamina you have to play more carefully, which informs the decisions you make, but chance can punish you even if you make the right decisions. That’s not what I want to do with my adventure.
Alright, I begin my quest as Ian. A whole world of possibilities awaits me, a wide panorama of fantasy waiting to be explored and looted without remorse. The air is bright with hope and possibility, the open sky promises riches and beckons me on…
Into a dark, damp cave. I come across six boxes, one with my name on it. I’m feeling lucky, obviously, so look inside. Two gold pieces! Woop. I’ll save them for the gift shop at the end. There’s also the advice to collect ‘several items’ if I want to get through the dungeon. Thanks for that. I then tear up the scrap of paper this was written on, though I can’t think why. To stop the next contestant reading it? Well if that’s my attitude why can’t I look in the other boxes?
Note 2: Don’t make the characters do things without the reader making the decision.
I come to a junction with an arrow on the wall pointing one way. Footprints indicate that three others have followed it while one person has gone the other way. Interesting psychological puzzle here. Follow it or not? I take the unmarked route.
I climb over a strange spongy thing in my path and then the temperature starts to increase as I continue. There’s a bamboo tube with some clear liquid in. I decide to drink it, since the dungeon has been nice to me so far. It proves to not be poison and I’m told that it is a potion that protects me from heat. How do I know that? I have no idea.
Note number 3: Second-person narration should not be omniscient. This is supposed to be told from my perspective, and I had no idea this was a magical potion. It was nice of the narrator to tell me, but also a bit unnecessary, especially since it’s not yet relevant.
I carry on walking and the book asks me if I’ve drunk the bamboo water.
Note 4: This is handy, relying on the reader’s honesty. There’s no way to prevent a reader from cheating so I may as well do the same when writing my own.
I come to a door. Is it time for discretion? Nope. Lady Luck is on my side, so I go in. She rewards me with some rope for trusting her.
I round a corner and… WILD ORCS APPEAR!
There’s no option to befriend them or run away, so my skill of 7 will have to be put to the test. Luck will get Ian through this! Except that I’m asked to roll a dice. I roll a 2, meaning that the orcs knock my sword to the floor, decreasing my skill by 4 and making about as dangerous as a low-fat yogurt. The first orc kills me.
Note 5. Chance is annoying. Avoid. Also, don’t give a character a luck characteristic and then do a luck-based test that does not require it.
This is game over, barring a miracle.
Suddenly, Ian takes out his provisions and, defying the rules of the game, eats three of the ham sandwiches his mum prepared for him that morning, mid-battle. The sandwiches, made with love and Hellman’s mayonnaise, save me from death. After eating half of my provisions I kill the orcs. I’m told Ian loots the corpses, which frankly I find shocking. Ian was always so polite.
I explore the next room and find a dead contestant and a goblet. I then get to this:
‘The passage soon leads to a junction. You notice more footprints on the floor… You decide to follow them. Turn to 37.’
What? I get no decision in this. It’s almost as if I’m not Ian at all, as if something else is pulling the strings, directing The Punk (as he shall occasionally be called from now on) to his destiny.
Note 6: Try to avoid ending a section without a choice.
I carry on and discover some jewels embedded in the eye sockets of a Buddha statue. I try to take one and I’m attacked by some birds. My skill is reduced once again, this time because I’m balancing on top of the statue. Grr. I survive by eating provisions and drinking a luck potion in the middle of the battle. I prefer to think of it as defying fate rather than cheating. I’m all out of provisions now, though. Uh-oh.
I get an emerald for my troubles, which is cool (gems are always important in fantasy adventures), and I’m given the option to take out the other eye. I do, and I die. It releases poison gas at my face. So, in order to acquire what is probably an important item, I have to correctly make a 50-50 choice (left or right eye) and then not take the other option.
Luckily for us, however, The Punk feels a surge of faith and accepts the teachings of Enlightened Buddha. The strength of his belief causes him to be reincarnated as Ian ‘Feeling Lucky’ Punk the Second, and he continues his adventure newly armed with extreme suspicion.Current status:Skill: 7Stamina: 12
Ham sandwiches: 0
Loot: 1/2 luck potion, 3 gold pieces, rope, hollow wooden tube, emerald.
Tune in tomorrow (or maybe the day after) for more of Ian’s adventure.
- The Adventures of Ian ‘Feeling Lucky’ Punk, Part 1: The Adventure Begins (and ends twice) (lemonmachine.wordpress.com)
- The Adventures of Ian ‘Feeling Lucky’ Punk, Part 2: More Death (lemonmachine.wordpress.com)