True story : I re-read all the posts on The Legacy of Vashna in order to prepare for this post, which will summarise my thoughts on that book.
I kept (again and again) bumping up against the many wonderful and thoughtful comments that my constant (and casual) readers have made (and continue to make) on this blog, and I was touched and flattered all over again.
Back to gamebooks!
The Legacy of Vashna presents itself in a number of ways as a tribute to the continuity of Lone Wolf gamebooks, and this is, unfortunately, sometimes at the cost of attempts to break new ground.
You have :
- Contacts with old friends and foes, such as the Slavemaster, Rimoah, Cadak, Gwynian and so forth.
- An encounter with foes at an inn (Books 4, 6 and so on).
- A portal into an alternate / parallel world (Book 11).
- Etc etc
Having said this, it must be agreed that there wasn’t a lot, by this stage, that was new under the sun for gamebooks, particularly by the time you get to book 17 of an ongoing series.
Since I don’t want to be sparing in my criticisms, there is a certain level of ‘sameness’ to these recent adventures, whereby Lone Wolf, secure in his seniority, is warned by Rimoah of some new threat to the world / universe, given his marching orders, shuffled along a so-called railroad of encounters, and then thrust into a final battle.
This book (admittedly with only the one attempt as a sample size) appeared to want for valid choices for alternative paths which would have provided different routes to success.
Rather, there were short-term alternatives which seemed to constantly bring Lone Wolf back to ongoing ‘choke points’ which then needed to be navigated in order to have a chance at ultimate success.
Moving on, I quite enjoyed the first 2/3 or so of the book, what with the attempts to find the informant, the chase through the winter, the night in the cave (with inevitable battles) and so forth. However, things took a slightly unwelcome turn in the home stretch, what with the passage through the mystical gateway, the weird battles, the disorientation and so on.
Weirdly, this left turn was both too different and not weird enough at the same time. For all that I ragged on Prisoners of Time (and, as my readers will recall, I REALLY thought that book had issues) it did legitimately make the reader feel as if Lone Wolf had journeyed into a parallel world with entirely different civilizations, rules of nature and so forth.
In Legacy of Vashna, the journey to this supposed alternate dimension didn’t really feel that different to any other villain’s lair. If it wasn’t for the Project Aon footnotes, it was difficult, on recollection, to confirm exactly which parts of the adventure took place on Aon, and which occurred in the ‘other place’.
And yet, the bizarre suspension of the rules of reality and perspective caused me, as a reader, to feel that I had lost my footing with the gamebook, rather than feeling that the CHARACTER had lost his footing in the context of the adventure.
The good side.
This may be a consequence of completing the adventure on the first try, but I felt that the difficulty level was about right. None of the fights were THAT difficult, and various Disciplines and plot tokens were used judiciously and appropriately.
Although I never encountered the negative consequences, there appeared to be a number of R10 checks where a failure would have meant instant death. Even with adjustments, this is something that still bugs me. I appreciate that some may consider that this is part of the ‘game’ part of a gamebook, but I still prefer the structure of (1) Do you have [Discipline]? If so, you’re good! (2) If you don’t you need to pass an R10 check to survive!
As those who remember the Horned Cyclops will know, compulsory unavoidable dice rolls to survive are not my friend (Book 13 of the Lone Wolf series also says hi).
Overall, I enjoyed the book, and the spy-esque passage of infiltrating the enemy sect were a nice fresh touch, compared with some of the stale tropes of the remainder.
Aside : Sorry this entry is a little shorter, but I’m still reeling from professional commitments….
A fantastic, yet criminally underrated movie of the last decade was about the financial crisis of 2008. It featured no sex scenes, fist fights, special effects or naked breasts.
It was called Margin Call, and had an absolute MURDERERS’ ROW of acting talent :
Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Kevin Spacey, Demi Moore, Zachary Quinto, Simon Baker and Stanley Tucci.
Taking place over roughly 24 hours at an investment bank when the bottom is falling out of the market, it shows the darker side of humanity when the chips are down. Here are both a trailer and an awesome clip where one character explains how he manages to spend his $2.5 million dollar annual salary :