FF14: Temple of Terror

Ken Beuden
Robert Clive
Per Jorner
James Knight/Robert La Vallie (probably just one of them)
Phil Sadler
Jason Smith (spoilers - true path, trap)
John Stock




Well, I've read it and I like this book. It's very fun to read, if a bit hard with all the things you have to collect to win through. There's much to find if you want to finish this game/novel, but it's worth it as I found in very entertaining.

Let me explain a bit, this book isn't a normal novel. It's filled will hundreds of different written passages that you jump around to in order to win the book. It's sort of halfway between a Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game and a novel. You get to choose your own path through the story and 'play' it, almost like a computer game.

This one is a mixture of wilderness and underground adventure. There's a mad wizard, his picture is on the book's cover, who is after some magical objects that'll make him an all-powerful warlord is he gets them. Your adventure is to find them before him and stop him if possible or die in the attempt!

I'll tell you a bit more. In order to do your quest, you have to find a abandoned city, lost for centuries in a desert. The city is filled with dangerous monsters and some local dictator princess to make things worse. It's really quite hard overall. Getting there isn't so tough, but once in the city it gets really quite hard and you have to find loads of objects to win through in the end.

I like it. Go and buy it as it's a good read.


[Ken Beuden]

After departing the world of Titan in the previous four books the Fighting Fantasy series returns to more familiar ground with this offering from Ian Livingstone. And where could be more familiar than the opening location of this adventure, Stonebridge, the Dwarven village on the northern side of Darkwood Forest. Combine this with the appearance of our old friend Yaztromo the wizard (who you will remember from 'The Forest of Doom') and you know that its time to reawaken the Allansian hero inside you.

Before this book came out an advertisement for forthcoming FF books was printed in the back of the first edition of Sorcery! 3, The Seven Serpents. Two of those books never actually materialised. One was 'The Lord of Shadow Keep' which appeared to be published as part of the 'Golden Dragon' gamebook series instead and the other was 'Dragon Master'. Although not confirmed this was thought to have been the working title for what became the Temple of Terror. Had it been called Dragon Master it certainly would have been a little misleading but Temple of Terror itself does not disappoint.

As an adventurer always on the look out for opportunities to seek fame and fortune you listen closely to what Yaztromo has to say on his visit to Stonebridge and what he has to say is not good. The evil sorcerer, Malbordus, is on the point of awakening five powerful dragons. Once Malbordus has done that he will be given access to the most powerful magic of the ancient Dark Elves and will amass an invincible army of evil and chaos that will sweep all before it. Thus, he will realise his dream to take over the world and subject it to his dark malign ways. All that stands between him and this terrible level of power is the fact that he does not yet have the five dragon artifacts necessary to awaken the dragons. You have got to get to the artifacts first and destroy them. Luckily Yaztromo knows where they are. Unluckily that somewhere is the ancient city of Vatos, deep in the Desert of Skulls. Not only is it in this inhospitable region but it is also populated by all manner of depraved, evil and downright vicious creatures. You are given two possible routes to get to Vatos. The first is to travel directly south across the desert, the second is to take a river barge to Port Blacksand, and then down the coast by ship. If Port Blacksand appears in a book, despite its reputation, it shouldn't be missed, although please don't take that as a hint. After all this is a review which gives nothing away! If you do go to Port Blacksand and you have visited it before in other adventures then you will know what to expect. If you haven't then prepare yourself. The journey down the coast from the City of Thieves is also an exciting one and even after that is over you still have to make your way into the desert. Despite its apparent lifelessness there is plenty to fell the unwary in this arid zone.

If you do make it to Vatos you will find that to call it deserted would also be misleading. You will make the acquaintance of a number of denizens of this city whilst you are in the process of finding the artifacts in places that weren't designed to be found. All the while your mind must be on alert to ensure that you do not fall foul of ancient traps. Like many of Ian Livingstone's books the Temple of Terror has a great mix of monsters to fight and traps to negotiate (or avoid). The style of writing will keep you enthralled and there are plenty of places within the book that may cause you to scream in frustration. This book, however, is not quite as difficult as some of his previous offerings and of some disappointment is the encounter with Malbordus himself. During the book you learn a little about the evil sorcerer and this can be augmented by the section devoted to him in the excellent 'Titan'. From these sources we know that he has awesome innate power. Despite this the battle with him fails to leave the impression that you have defeated a mighty foe and to an extent this takes something away from the book. Aside from this, however, the book has all the elements of a great adventure and it uses these elements well.

I recommend that you take a trip to Vatos. Although they don't much like tourists at least it's sunny.

Rating: 8 out of 10


[Robert Clive]

This is a good FF book. You have a challenging task to collect a number of statues to defeat the main villain. Also, Temple of Terror has an epic feel by giving you a strong sense of distance. You get to travel by sea, to a city, over a baked desert to an ancient, desolate desert complex of Vatos. Great cover, good internal pictures and an interesting quest make this a winner!I hope this'll be republished soon as it's worth it.



[Per Jorner]

This is sort of Caverns of the Snow Witch in reverse: first you go on a long overland trek, then you sift through a maze looking for stuff. It's not easy; more likely than not you'll die several times before you even reach the lost city of Vatos. In a way that's a pity, since if you're a fan of Ian Livingstone's you're probably looking forward to exploring the city (or the tunnels beneath the city, or whatever). Since it's quite easy to get killed in Vatos if you've a mind to, you'll have to replay the desert bits over and over again, each time struggling to get past the Giant Sandworm. (There is the nefarious trick of making a "save game" outside the city walls, but how do you know if you've got all the requisite items anyway?)

Myself, I'm fond of this book because it was the first I read in the original language (my fifth all told). Also I really like the art for some reason. It's quite rough, sort of like the art for CotSW but in a different way. I like undead and skeletal figures in particular, and I think the two armoured Skeleton Warriors make a singularly striking image ("a chill runs down your spine"... you bet!). The Night Horror is another brilliant example.

Mention must also be made of the cute Messenger of Death idea, but then again I really doubt the good ol' MoD ever got to kill anyone in the "proper" way. In the game where you find your first letter you won't live long enough to see the last, and when you find the last you'll certainly have learned to avoid the first. Thus the letters are mostly reduced to a one-off Stamina drain for those who insist on searching everything (i.e. everyone). Still, neat concept.

The spell system is not my favourite, but works well enough. Instead of having a list of "memorized" spells, you get to choose four spells that can be cast repeatedly - at the cost of a few Stamina points that it's quite possible you cannot afford to spare! Even if you can use spells to avoid traps or monsters this doesn't always work out to your advantage, for instance if a high-Skill character spends Stamina points to get out of fighting a weak enemy. Luckily, it's possible to choose low-cost spells or pretty much forget about magic if you like.

I know of one pretty minor bug in this book. If you're washed up on the beach after the sea battle, you're told to Test your Luck. If you succeed, you find some coconuts for 3 Stamina, but you also lose at least 1 portion of your Provisions, and possibly 1 Luck as well. If you're Unlucky, on the other hand, you find no nuts, but lose no Provisions!

Whether you'll like this depends on how you feel about Ian Livingstone adventures in general. Like City of Thieves and Deathtrap Dungeon, this one has character. Also for some reason I think dragon figurines make for a great choice of things for you to be collecting - you get that sense of satisfaction whenever you manage to lay your grubby hands on one, thinking "another one I found" instead of "another one I didn't miss". It may just be enough to make you keep at it until you get all five.

Rating: 7/10


[James Knight/Robert La Vallie]

Temple of Terror, despite having one of the stupidest titles in the FF series, is actually pretty enjoyable.

Things kick off with everyone’s favourite recurring wizard character, Yaztromo, journeying to Stonebridge (oh, you know, the dwarf town) to inform everyone that some evil dude named Malbordus is gathering together five dragon artifacts and plans to use them to destroy the world. See, it’s not exactly complex is it? Go find the artifacts and stop Malbordus. The dwarfs of Stonebridge though are perhaps not quite a brave as I’d been led to believe dwarves were, and therefore it’s up to YOU to save the day and overcome Malbordus.

Malbordus, as we’re informed, was born under a full moon with wolves howling around his mother’s hut. This of course make him evil.

It’s pretty much standard FF, but you do get to learn some spells at the beginning which can save you a good deal of grief. Choosing the most useful one’s is hardly difficult, but they drain your stamina which of course is the spells biggest drawback.

Especially since you’re really going to need those stamina points as you progress. Temple of Terror is tough. There are lots of tough battles to be fought and lots of traps for foolish adventurers to get caught out by. The biggest problem with this book is the same one all FF books have - it’s not really designed to be completed on your first attempt, which can make things frustrating. I died early on about five times before finding the best way to progress.

Then there’s your quest for the dragon artifacts. You need all five if you want to save the day, and you’ll have to do some searching for them. This is where the Messenger of Death decides to spice things up a little. As if it wasn’t difficult enough already, searching around in the wrong places will have you finding letters of the word ‘DEATH’, which is rather more damaging than it sounds. The MOD is an excellent addition though, and creates real tension whenever you explore an area.

Throughout the book there are some rather nice illustrations (The Phantom and The Messenger of Death stand out in my mind) which contributes nicely to the atmosphere. Playing this as a kid years ago those actually quite unnerved me.

Enjoyable as this book is, it’s probably a bit too difficult. I just ended up cheating (oh yeah, of course I found all the artifacts cough) and Malbordus isn’t one of the better villains (although he is annoyingly strong). Finding out which items are useful and which aren’t is a case of playing through to that point and realising that you’ve spent your valuable money on junk rather than what SOUNDED like junk but is in fact an item near essential to your survival. I wouldn’t avoid this book, but it doesn't really stand out from others in any way.

Rating: 6/10


[Phil Sadler]

This book will have your temples aching in terror!

Well, that's not true, unless you count the extream difficulty of the book. Yes, that's right, this is an Ian Livingstone adventure and, as usual, he seems to have missed the part about 'no matter how weak your initial stats are you should be able to struggle through'. As far as I'm concerned he either kept forgetting that part or read it as 'as long as your stats are ludicrously high and you have an awfull lot of luck rolling the dice during the adventure, then there's a chance in hell that you may actually get though'.

Having read the above you probably now assume that I don't like this book. You're wrong, I love it. It's just that it's probably second only to Deathtrap Dungeon and Island of the Lizard King in its unforgiving and unfair nature. Here's a few examples; you must face and defeat 2 of the toughest enemys in FF history: the Giant Sandworm (10/20) and Malborus (10/18). There's also a chance (should you fail a certain to locate a certain artifact) that you'll have to do battle with the infamous Night Horror (10/10) who there's only a 50% chance of damaging it when you hit it and, if that wasn't enough, it will take a skill point as well as the usual 2 points of stamina when it wounds you! Even the perfect warrior would struggle against this foe and, just to reiterate how tough it is, if you defeat him in my own book I award you 4 luck points! Don't even think of tryong to fight him in either case though!

So it's tough is it? Yes, it is. I started with 12/12/8 and had 10 provisons and 25 gold and ended with 11/1/5, no provisons and 3 gold! It's lucky you can choose from an interesting array of spells at the start and they're all capable of helping you at least once. This provides the book with some more interest when you fail and must restart.

This quest features an assortment of memorable happenings, from the might of the aformentioned Night Horror to the deadly games with the Messanger of Death to the collection of the 5 essential dragon artifacts. Be warned though, each time you search a new area you may come across something unpleasant left by the Messanger!

Despite its difficulty this is a well written and well paced quest, there's lots to discover many new options to try each time you restart (and you'll be restarting an awfull lot). It's not all good though, right at the beginning you have a couple of options, one of which is damn near impossible despite how good your stats may be :(

All in all, I liked this book a lot, mainly because it feels lke Deathtrap Dungeon part 2 (though not quite as insanely difficult). Well worth hunting down though, make no mistake about that.

Overall grade: 9 (out of 10)


[Jason Smith]

No 14; Temple of Terror was written by Ian Livingstone and illustrated by Bill Houston. This book follows in the vein of the classic FF books. Set in medieval Allansia, you 're a battle-hardened adventurer, seeking your fame and fortune. While relaxing in the dwarf village of Stonebridge, you see the wizard Yaztromo give a speech about a 'grave' danger threatening Allansia.

It seems that a evil sorcerer called Malbordus is on the loose, threatening to take over the world/destroy it (you'd think that the government would lock 'unstable' people like this up, wouldn't you!). Before you know it, you've volunteered for mission 'certain death'. Yaztromo takes you back to his tower and explains that this Malbordus' power has almost reached it's zenith! All he needs are five dragon artifacts to make him all powerful.

There is one problem! The dragon artifacts are believed to be secreted in a ancient desert city called Vatos, lost in the wastes of the Desert of Skulls. The city is also controlled by a bird, who's populated it with loads of vicious creatures and is a real tyrant to boot! Your mission is to find Vatos, retrieve and destroy the dragon artifacts, before Malbordus gets his hands on them, thereby saving Allansia from certain doom and destruction (all in a day's work for a hard-nut like you!).

So, off you set on your hazardous mission south, guided to the Catfish river by Yaztromo's pet crow. When you arrive at the river, you're given two ways of proceeding: on foot, south across the desert or a river barge to Port Blacksand, then down the coast by ship. Across the desert is the more hazardous of the two (plus Blacksand contains an object vital to you completing your mission).

After you arrive in Port Blacksand and run the usual gauntlet of muggers and cut-throats, it's off to a tavern to get drunk, beaten up and a bed for the night. Next day you journey south on a Pirate ship and get dropped of on the coast of the Desert of Skulls (after an exciting gun battle with a warship full of Dwarves, where you're given a chance to get killed!!).

So, off you set (again) into the baking desert. After some deserty encounters (including a poisoned oasis), you find the city of Vatos. Now the adventure becomes interesting. You get to explore a deserted city, avoiding traps and finding the fairly well hidden dragon artifacts along the way. There is also a chance for you to collect some gold before you come face-to-face with your enemy Malbordus, in a desperate, hand-to-hand battle to the death (Malbordus obviously doesn't feel that it's THAT desperate, or why didn't he just fry you with some swanky spell!??) Once Malbordus is stiff and stinking, it's time to use the Dwarven Warhammer (kindly provided by a dying dwarf) to destroy the dragon artifacts and save the Allansia (why don't You use them to take over Allansia for yourself!??).

I liked this book quite a lot. It's well written, well planned, stocked with first class traps and creatures. I especially like the 'Messenger of Death'. This creature likes to torment it's prey. It creeps up behind you and whispers the word 'DEATH' an a very slow, melodramatic fashion. It then places the individual letters of the word in different locations around the city, if you accidentally see them all, it appears and sucks all the life out of you with some sort of magic (it would of been much more interesting if you'd been given the option to slice it's head off at the start!!)

The only thing that I didn't like that much was the main bad guy: Malbordus. I felt his character could of been developed more. He could of been stronger in the end battle, maybe using some sorcery like the end of Citadel of Chaos. A good book, no major weaknesses.

Rating: 7.5/10


[John Stock]

The first of the FF Books to feature the ubiquitous Caarth, Temple of Terror is a sort-of-sequel to #3, Forest of Doom. By Ian Livingstone, it is positively glowing.

The premise is that Yaztromo (whom "robsterman" allegedly craps turds tougher than) has sent you on a daring and deadly quest to recover the Five Lost Dragon Artefacts of Vatos and prevent the evil sorcerer Malbordus from taking over Titan. Problem is, Vatos just happens to be run over with Malbordus's agents, and the Caarth (evil humans with the heads of snakes) and Justrali (sort of like the Yuan-Ti from Icewind Dale - and it's pronounced YHAN-TEE not EWAN T, Alex Betteridge!).

I especially like some of the devices - i.e. the Messenger of Death. This being taps you on the shoulder and whispers melodramatically, "Death!", and walks off. From then on, if you see any of the letters in the word, you take STAMINA damage, and if you see all of them, the Messenger suddenly reappears and watches as you slowly and agonizingly have the lifeforce sucked out you... Whoever thought that up deserves a pat on the back!

However, one gripe I have with the book is that it's, well, a bit of a let-down. Malbordus is a highly powerful and utterlyl evil-minded sorceror, so why does he resort to hand-to-hand combat rather than slapping you with a Disintegrate Spell? And why doesn't he have any fun lines like Balthus Dire's "Impudent Peasant"?!

But overall, not too shoddy.

MY RATING - 8.25/10