The Legacy of Vashna

The Legacy of Vashna – Conclusion

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Hi everyone.

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.

Thanks.

Truly.

Back to gamebooks!

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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 :

  1. Contacts with old friends and foes, such as the Slavemaster, Rimoah, Cadak, Gwynian and so forth.
  2. An encounter with foes at an inn (Books 4, 6 and so on).
  3. A portal into an alternate / parallel world (Book 11).
  4. 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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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….

 

Pop culture!

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 :

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6 thoughts on “The Legacy of Vashna – Conclusion

  1. Welcome back ☺ Generally fair review however I felt that there was more opportunity for varied paths than normal, yes they do quickly go back to chokepoints but thats the nature of role playing games.

    The crash? Met a guy mid 2007 who told me all about the coming crash and its causes. Was a mix of interesting and horrific to tick the boxes over the next couple of years (it didn’t all go the way he thought mind, but thats because lots of people had their oars in too).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel I should point out that the Horned Cyclops is not unavoidable, it’s just that your Avenger hadn’t learned any of the skills that would have allowed him/her to avoid it.

    In terms of other worlds feeling appropriately alien, I predict more disappointment with books 17-18, followed by increasing approbation with 19-20. Thinking of which, without wishing to offer egregious spoilers, I highly recommend taking all the Alether and healing Lone Wolf can lay his hands on for book 17. It’s a shame he lost/used three potions of Laumspur in the last two books, as those twelve Endurance Points could be important.

    By the way, are we having a sweepstake on how many attempts it will take to complete book 17? Combat rolls have been quite lucky for Lone Wolf so far and book 17 isn’t too hard to map, so it probably won’t take many attempts to find the optimal route, but Combat Skill and Endurance are quite low and Lone Wolf doesn’t have as much healing and combat drugs as I’d like, so I’m going to go for twenty-three attempts. Any advance? Higher or lower?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Welcome back!

    For what it’s worth, the only two particularly meaningful choices that can actually lead to divergent paths are 1) whether to chase after the assassin at the pub and 2) whether to go across the lake or around it. Other than that, yeah, it’s pretty linear, but hey that’s two more meaningful choices than Book 15 had or Book 17 will have 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There actually aren’t any unavoidable instadeaths in this book, unlike the last three books. All of them can be circumvented with the right choice of disciplines.

    Otherwise I agree with your review. This is a solid entry in the series overall, with an interesting story and appropriate difficulty level, but the Plane of Darkness is too abstract/trippy to be an effective world. The Grand Master series in general is more linear than the Magnakai and especially the Kai series was. It feels like, as time wore on, Joe wanted the greater control over the plot that a more linear design gives, at the expense of the freedom to explore/replayability of the more nonlinear earlier entries in the series.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “[Prisoners of Time] 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.” Yes, which is one reason I’d rank it as one of the better Magnakai books, not bottom of the barrel. The reappearance of Vonotar (a villain I cared about more than, say, Zakhan Kimah) was also satisfying if abrupt. Overlong exposition and overwhelming combats knock it down a few notches, but it wasn’t forgettable like way too much of Books 6-10…

    Liked by 1 person

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