All Aboard the Weather Machine
I should just get it out there and confess right at the start. I know it’s going to make me very unpopular but *whispers* I really didn’t like Stormslayer.
It’s not Stormslayer’s fault; it’s me. I don’t like wandering around outside and I prefer to make more linear progress. The middle section with the 4 areas to explore (Witchtooth Line, Mount Pyre, The Howling Plains and Eelsea) spoiled it because there was no element of surprise. You knew right from the start that you had to cover these 4 before you could move on to the Boss fight.
I know that sometimes it’s necessary to have sections where you are exploring and you need to keep going back to a central position before deciding what to do next. That’s OK in a room for example, but when it’s the main part of the game, that’s too much for me!
There were new elements (should that be Elementals?) to the game: the day of the week monitoring and the running score of damage on The Eye of the Storm, which I can imagine for ‘proper’ players were an interesting addition, but for me, were merely ‘meh’. And let’s not overlook the “If you have the codeword Notamotua/ Enihcam/Detnuh etc” tactic. Maybe I was just in that frame of mind, but I did feel like it was a tad excessive.
So enough of the whinging – what were the highlights? Well, there was a farmer called Giles, because what else would he be called?; a nice reference to Deathtrap Dungeon with the Rockgrub and hoping that it doesn’t have a mate (Spoiler – it doesn’t. This time.) A Techno-Homunculus simply because it reminded me of Techno-Viking – go on, Google it - you know you want to. And finally, a guest appearance by a “cannibalistic Mooncalf” which attacks you, but when you think about it, if it’s cannibalistic, it should be attacking other Mooncalves.
And what do you get for your pains? The destruction of Balthazar Sturm and all his minions gives you the title of Saviour of Femphrey. Catchy or what?
#1 Tip for my own gamebooks:
I liked the short-lived contribution that Brokk made to the campaign, so I’ve ‘borrowed’ that idea and have a character that crops up in the middle. Mine can give three pieces of sage advice, if you’re so inclined, and then buggers off. It’s an interesting layer to include in but I think that it needs to be used selectively.
Best Map Notation that I Wrote:
Given that this wasn’t my style of gaming, my map was not actually a map, I just had 5 pages of flowcharts. And not very exciting ones at that! I just recorded very simple information like: ‘Salamander’, ‘Consult blueprints’ or ‘drink from pool’.
In the end, the most dramatic notation I could find was ‘butterflies release don’t’. Not sure why I went for a Yoda-esque form of sentence structure – maybe the extreme suspense of dealing with rogue insects temporarily disturbed my grammar skills.
Best illustration from the book: Hats off to Stephen Player for the illustrations – there were quite a few corkers to choose from. One potential was the ‘evil face’ in the sand. Well, if you recall, I do like a good feasting entity in the sand, so this was tempting. However, it does look more like it’s going to give the balloonist a darn good licking rather than any gorging AND it loses marks for having the loveliest teeth ever! One of these by itself would be enough but both are an insult to all ‘evil faces’ out there.
So in the end I picked this illustration, as I was really chuffed to see Queen reform, although Freddie Mercury looks unfeasibly cross about it, for some reason……
Actually, a special mention also goes out to the 387 image of the man himself, Balthazar Sturm and if anyone can explain why someone needs to wear a belt with dinky shorts, I’d be very grateful. It’s not like it’s a Batman-style utility belt and those shorts are tight – there’s no way they’re falling off!
I’m guessing if I played properly there would be more opportunities to die in battle, but otherwise, this was a Death-lite game. Your only choices were being buried in the Fathomdeep Mines or falling from a great height. So best death award goes to the bats for knocking me off a cliff and as if that wasn’t bad enough, doing it with enough precision that I land on a stalagmite. Top effort from a flying mammal!
End game rating:
5/10. But despite this, let’s raise a Trollbreath beer and toast the Stormslayer!