FF9: Caverns of the Snow Witch

David Anderson
Ken Beuden
Matt Calkins
Nicholas Campbell
Robert Clive
Per Jorner
Demian Katz
Simon Osborne
Jeff Poteralski (spoiler - plot)
Sean R. Rook
Phil Sadler


[David Anderson]

I don't mean to knock one of the game designers without whom there would be no Fighting Fantasy, but I've always found Ian Livingstone's solo books to be on the dry side. He likes to make you look for lots of little items and most of the time not having them is quickly and severely punished. Caverns of the Snow Witch is no exception, but given where it originally appeared perhaps it's not all the author's fault.

Still, I found the experience to be on the tedious side, and the epilogue quest feels somewhat tacked on. I can't imagine a lot of thought went into it. This is a minor complaint but this also felt kind of jarring when it turned out to be chronologically previous to a book from earlier in the series. Only for the hardcore Fighting Fantasy readers among us.


[Ken Beuden]

In the best traditions of classic fantasy you, the hero, start the adventure from a relatively humble position. In the cruel icy northern wastes of Allansia a yeti is disrupting the vital trade routes and you have been hired to resolve the situation. Without a second thought you take on this task. Although a good story to tell in the Black Lobster Tavern over a mug or two of ale, and although it would certainly gain you the respect of many people, killing a yeti is hardly a quest of epic proportions. It would require a little more to establish your name alongside the Hero of Firetop Mountain or the Champion of Deathtrap Dungeon. Given that the book is not called 'The Hunt for the Yeti' you can be quietly confident that it will take an exciting turn at some point. Even if your patience is short it won't be tested because after very little time has passed you kill the yeti.

If you don't then count this as an opportunity to roll better Skill and Stamina scores at an early stage - you will need them. After dispatching the beast you are told by a dying trapper about the mysterious Snow Witch and her plans to bring on an Ice Age, which would bring devastation to the world, as you know it. This is all the prompting you need and now the adventure really begins. And what an adventure it is! The book is packed full of monsters, traps and numerous articles. But more impressive still is the depth of adventure that Ian Livingstone generates in the confines of four hundred paragraphs.

First you must locate the Crystal Caves (the Caverns) and find the Witch. If you get to her you must kill her. Surely once the key enemy is dead your work is done and paragraph 400 beckons! So soon? Now you know that can't be right. The fabric of the story has been enriched by this stage by the introduction of two companions, Redswift and Stubb, and now you three must escape the Caverns. However, your most straightforward exit (i.e. the way you came in) has been blocked and you must find another route. This route turns out to be perilous to say the least making the escape to victory narrow indeed. And a reunion with an old acquaintance augments this difficulty!Once out of the Caverns you and your companions have surely earned the right to retire if you want and live a life of fame having etched your names in the annals of the heroes, or at least to have a drink! But beware; Mr. Livingstone never likes a cozy ending. On your way out of the Caverns the three of you were afflicted by a Death Spell. The good news is that there is a man called the Healer who can cure this spell. The bad news (apart from being afflicted by a Death Spell!) is that he lives in the mountains.

Even more unfortunately, in typical Livingstone style, the path to the Healer is littered with tests and you will need to have collected a number of items on your journeys to have any hope of survival.This book has so many great elements. It has numerous enemies to defeat, some of which are awesome indeed which always adds to the satisfaction of killing them, not least of who is the Witch herself. It is dotted with traps to keep your mind on alert. But the element to this book, which makes it stand out, is the excellent use of the 'twist'. Even by the end it is hard to be confident that you have been successful having experienced so many false dawns throughout your travels.This book is difficult but not impossibly so. Its completion may come after a number of attempts but that adds value to the book and to the notion of being a hero if you succeed. If you thought they'd be impressed by the story of the Yeti, wait until you tell them about the epic of the Caverns of the Snow Witch.

Rating: 9.0/10




This is like the usual game books in the series of fighting fantasy, in which you're directed to and from hundreds of numbered passages to create your own path through the adventure, based upon your own decisions.

Caverns of the Snow Witch is a good book, but it's quite a peculiar game book indeed in some ways, mainly because it's seems to be two adventures that've been attached together by the author. None of the other game books I've read are like this!

Allow me to explain; in a normal game book, you're given a mission to embark upon and usually a big baddie to tackle and kill at the end, not unlike the `boss' at the end of a computer game. In CotSW, you confront the big villain in the middle of the adventure and then have another mission to complete, which involves a lot of travelling, to be successful. Weird!

Although I mean weird in a good way, for I liked this book quite a lot and enjoyed the unusual adventure setup and style. It's the only game book I've read set in an icy, frozen, snow-covered environment. The allies you can meet are a nice touch and the Snow Witch's subterranean lair is dangerous, albeit too short in my opinion.

My favourite bit is the icy caverns of the Snow Witch; they're atmospheric and fun to explore. I like the way she dominates her henchmen, although I won't spoil the surprise for you.


[Matt Calkins]

"Caverns of the Snow Witch" (henceforth CotSW) is a classic fighting fantasy book, in that it represents many of the attributes that made the FF books famous and successful. It is also not without a few flaws. Written by Mr. Livingstone himself, it employs many of his preferred techniques. In order to win, you will become an item collector, and woe betide the adventurer without a Warhammer, rune stick, and something made of silver. When pack-ratting fails there's often a heavy-combat solution, but characters without towering statistics must be uncanny in their acquisitions. The plot refers to plots of other books (Deathtrap Dungeon, Warlock of Firetop Mountain) during the overland journey segment. A brief mythological reference caps the book, identification of which is your final test.

Good atmosphere characterizes the first half of the book as you travel across the snowy mountainside and into the icy caverns. Weather will be a fearsome enemy. You'll encounter reasonably complex foes (like the enslaved Mountain Elf) and slink through creepy chambers (like the ice demon's temple). You'll also, humorously, get exposed to primitive humanity, with the opportunity to slay both a Neanderthal and a Caveman during your time in the caverns. The second half is disappointing in comparison, weaker in plot and atmosphere. There are times when you don't understand why the adventure is not over yet, so unclear are your objectives. Though you are accompanied by two companions, they do little but add dialogue and advance the plot -- no new group combat rules. CotSW feels like several concatenated adventures, and it is. The first half (roughly) of CotSW was published previously, and later incorporated into this full-length adventure. As a result, the plot segues through phases:

1) Hunting the Yeti
2) Killing the Snow Witch
3) Escaping from the Snow Witch and Defeating Her Again
4) Seeking the Healer.

In each phase are to be found the items needed in that phase. For example, to defeat the Witch for the second time (Phase 3) you'll need metal disks, all of which you will find in Phase 3. To get help from the Healer (Phase 4), you'll need objects found in Phase 4. Some of this plot extension seems unnatural. Why, for example, does the Witch return? One is reminded of horror sequels which begin with the implausible resurgence of last movie's dead villain. Just when you thought you'd driven a stake through her heart (in fact, that's exactly what you did) she's back... And back, sadly, for a silly scene: you win final victory over the Snow Witch in a ro-sham-bo deathmatch. The game tests luck too much, and as a result your luck score will drag to hopeless levels by book's end. When the Rattlesnake in the gorge attacks you, in one of the final encounters, don't expect your boot to deflect the blow! By that time my luck was 2. One is tempted to suggest, in this scenario especially, a revised luck rule: Whenever you test your luck and fail, increase luck by one. Furthermore, luck might be automatically set to 7 for all characters at game start, whereupon it would fluctuate up and down (no maximum) in order to balance luck evenly throughout the game.

Item-collecting is a key element of CotSW and many FF-style games. It provides a success/failure mechanism, and a way for the game to be determined by the character's choices more than anything else (like skill rolls, combat, or instant death). If you're writing a FF-style book, it's a legitimate question: how should characters fail? Every game which ends not in victory must end in defeat, and the possible ways to bring defeat are as follows:

1) Instant-death passages. Used sparingly, as players will feel they are too random, and penalize healthy exploration. In this game, instant deaths can generally be avoided with the right item. (Most non-game interactive fiction books, however, are peppered with 'instant fail' passages which represent the natural terminus of the story.)

2) Death by combat. Oft used, but fate in combat is deeply dependent upon rolled stats. Alternate method little employed (but should be): allow characters to start consistently weak, and only through acquisitions build their combat strength. Thus combat skill becomes a function of good exploring, not lucky rolls.

3) Death by lack of critical item. Using this mechanism, the game is no longer one of lucky choices and rolls, but of treasure-hunting and planning. (I'd like to see more games in which items cannot be acquired without foregoing other items, and each puzzle has several possible item solutions, leading to careful planning as to which items to acquire.)

4) Death by failing a riddle. A riddle is any question in the text which you should be able to answer based on previous passages, illustrations, creativity, or basic knowledge.

Ian Livingstone rightly emphasizes the best of these. I'd say he places most emphasis on (3), followed closely by (2). It's a good formula, and makes for an exciting game. The first half is excellent, and will outshine the second in any Allansian's memory, but the whole is still a solid adventure.

Rating: 8 out of 10


[Nicholas Campbell]

A merchant known as Big Jim Sun is travelling to the outposts in the far north of Allansia, and has hired you to protect his convoy from attack by bandits. When you reach an outpost at the base of the Icefinger Mountains, you discover that it has been attacked and destroyed by an enormous creature. You offer to hunt and kill the creature for 50 Gold Pieces - but other events unfold, and your quest takes you on a completely different, and ultimately more rewarding, path, into the Crystal Caves where the Snow Witch lives.

Caverns of the Snow Witch was originally published in issue 2 of Warlock magazine as a 190-reference adventure which was divided into two parts - the hunt for the creature in the Icefinger Mountains, followed by the exploration of the Crystal Caves and ultimately, the slaying of the Snow Witch. The expanded 400-reference gamebook, as well as featuring new artwork, adds a third part, in which you try to find your way out of the Crystal Caves and journey a long way south, back to civilisation - and there are at least two additional twists to the story to make things more interesting...

As with many of Ian Livingstone's books, unless you have maximum Initial SKILL, STAMINA and LUCK scores, you're wasting your time, as you will ultimately fail your quest. Once again, the statement that "any player, no matter how weak on initial dice rolls, should be able to get through fairly easily" is an outright lie! The amount of times you have to Test your Luck is ridiculous, and your LUCK can fall to extremely low levels. It's a good job that you're allowed to take a Potion of Fortune with you! There is also the usual collecting of items, although one particular item, which seems useful early on, is in fact a disadvantage. Whether this flaw is intentional is unclear.

There are also a lot of references to other parts of Allansia. Fang and its annual Trial of Champions is mentioned, as are Firetop Mountain and Darkwood Forest. In fact, the events in Caverns of the Snow Witch take place before those in Forest of Doom, despite Caverns of the Snow Witch being published after Forest of Doom - something I didn't like much. Another inconsistency is that Firetop Mountain is supposed to be nearly impossible to climb, yet in this book, it can be climbed seemingly with ease, even though you're supposed to be weak by the time you climb it!

Overall, though, I like Caverns of the Snow Witch. The final section of the book may be a little dull in comparison with the earlier excitement of exploring the Crystal Caves, and the requirement for maximum Initial scores will mean that a small amount of cheating is necessary, but the way the story develops and changes throughout the course of your quest is engrossing. There is a lot more to this gamebook than merely slaying a witch!

Rating: 7/10


[Robert Clive]

This is a good book with a different mission. I thought that the writing, pictures and cover were good too. The internal pictures have an interesting style. Part of this book was written as a small FF adventure all of its own (it says this of the back of the old version). At some later stage, it was decided to expand the idea to a full length FF book of 400 references.

As a result, you start off dealing with the Snow Witch in her lair, then you're forced into a secondary mission (you'll have to read it to find out). This gives the book a unique two mission feel.With hindsight, I assume that the Snow Witch lair bit was the original short adventure and the rest after that was an addition story to beef it up to the standard 400 references.

Anyway, it's a cool FF book. Although, I would've liked more book time dedicated to the Snow Witch in her snow base myself. Also, it was an interesting twist to have the main villain's cronies enslaved rather than willing followers :-)!

A title that's well worth a read..



[Per Jorner]

CotSW is an adventure of epic proportions (as they say), starting out in an arctic setting, dodging into a complex which is charmingly and originally located inside a glacier, and eventually moving southwards to more temperate climes. For me, the main draw is the dungeon. For some reason that I don't fully understand myself, I love this kind of maze, these kinds of options: "Do you pick up the sword or the spear? Do you drink from the fountain or not? Oh yeah? Lose 2 Luck points, stupid character! Lose 2 Luck points and die! Turn to 26." The Crystal Caves do not disappoint in this respect - or should I say, the first section of them.

As you may already know, CotSW was originally a shorter adventure published in the Warlock magazine, comprising only the first part of the Crystal Caves up to the point where you meet the eponymous witch. Ian Livingstone has done a good job of cramming this relatively small dungeon full of items to be collected and creatures to be thwacked; anyone who likes his style will not be disappointed. However, after this section ends and the villain has been slain, the book becomes a little less charming and more linear, almost strained in parts. You gain a few companions and traverse a much briefer and less interesting part of the caves, find out that the villain needs to be slain a little more thoroughly, and hopefully do so (in a way that doesn't make much sense if you think about it) only to discover (perhaps after wondering for a while why the book isn't over yet) that she's struck you a devastating blow from beyond the grave (in a slightly contrived manner). This signals the start of a new quest where your goal isn't to find a treasure or slay an evil wizard, but just to escape a personal predicament. I like that twist, even if the book tries to kill you off even as it's giving you the news.

These turns of events are accompanied by very rough, woodcut-like art which I didn't like at first, but have grown used to and can now even admire. It's got character and goes well with the arctic setting in any case. You may wonder why everyone is walking around with deep pouches under their eyes, but actually a lot of the images depict zombies and other foul things that can certainly get away with it.

Here you have a book in which you must choose carefully which potion you want to bring along. The book insists on Testing your Luck every so often, and this eventually results in your Luck score whittling away to nothing. Suffice to say this is the only book that's had me wondering if the rules allow for a negative current Luck score! (After reading Crypt of the Sorcerer this is no longer true.) In the second half of the book you'll constantly be punished with Skill or Stamina loss if you're Unlucky, so the Potion of Fortune might seem like a good idea.

However, you'll be equally pressed to retain Stamina points. As you begin the journey south you'll have to fight a Skill 12 creature, then if you're Unlucky a Skill 8 creature, then two Skill 9 creatures _at the same time_, and finally if you're Unlucky a Skill 8 creature and a Skill 9 creature _at the same time_. Oops, did I say "finally"? You still have some way to go after that. Your Stamina will begin to drain away literally every other paragraph, and there's a myriad of ways to go wrong and be punished further. While you do start out with Provisions, if you have any left after the first half they'll be eaten by your companions! The bastards!

As for the final stretch, there are two small pseudo-glitches I want to point out. Firstly, it seems unfair that there's no possibility of getting the elfin boots in paragraph 30, considering you'll be able to make good use of them (as it is you'll only have them in 1 out of every 9 games; at least 2 out of 9 would be twice as often). Secondly, when asked if you have any silver items you may well forget one thing you probably brought from the Crystal Caves, because in every paragraph but one the book refers to this item by a different attribute.

Difficulty aside, one area where I must say CotSW succeeds admirably is in creating an epic span of time and space. You may know the feeling you get when you're watching a three-hour movie like Lawrence of Arabia, and you suddenly think back on an early scene and it seems like ages ago, as if it couldn't have been in the same film. I get that sensation here when I think of the journey through the Moonstone Hills on the one hand, and the Snow Wolves and the blizzard on the other. I count that as a Good Thing, and it also contributes mightily to the feeling you get at the very end, should you get to paragraph 400. "A day which is probably going to be the most enjoyable of your life", it says, and to me that rings true. I think that leaving a gamebook on such a high note goes a long way towards making it seem worthwhile and memorable.

Two short notes: This is yet another book which handles the acquisition of Gold Pieces in a way that you may find a little odd in retrospect. Sure, there are events related to hauling the Snow Witch's treasure along with you, but why is it you can't stop to buy even _one_ portion of Provisions in Stonebridge, let alone some kind of magical thingy that might actually help you survive? What do you eat anyway when you're out of Provisions, grass? As for the fate of Stubb, which some people seem to have wondered about, if you read the book it's clear that he was never affected by the Death Spell, not having read it. However, this doesn't mean he got away, considering what we know from the introduction to Forest of Doom...

Rating: 7/10


[Demian Katz]

Plot Summary: A simple job involving the protection of a caravan eventually turns into an expedition into the icy passages of the evil Snow Witch....

After a bit of blessed relief, we're back into nasty territory again. This book is Ian Livingstone at his worst: a linear sequence of excessively difficult but not especially interesting encounters complete with a stupid, luck-based guessing game poorly disguised as a climactic battle. This sort of thing is growing extremely tiresome. A character with a Skill of less than 10 simply stands no chance (despite what the lousy lying introduction says), and since the book is a long sequence of tough fights followed by lots of random ways to die senselessly, reaching victory is not challenging, it's merely frustrating. Although the final few events of the book are fairly interesting, most of the story is so weak and dull that it does nothing to redeem the awful gameplay. We have the same orcs and dwarves we've seen before, the most original creature in sight is the Brain Slayer (a lame rip-off of D&D's Mind Flayer), and the Snow Witch herself doesn't really do anything to distinguish herself as a memorable villain.

Some of the book's problems are likely due to the fact that it is an expanded version of an adventure from Warlock magazine. In the original version, the reader kills the Snow Witch and it's all over. In the book, though, that's only the halfway point, and there are lots more irritating locations to die horribly in. Every time the book seems to be about finished, something new, unrelated and tedious seems to crop up. Even after the whole Snow Witch plot is over, you still have to suffer through lots and lots of random events and obstacles featuring mostly-gratuitous references to early entries in the series, eventually revealing this story to be a prequel to The Forest of Doom. This adventure wasn't anything special to begin with, and apart from a couple of nifty moments, this added material only makes it overstay its welcome further. I suppose it could be said that the book has more NPC interaction and a more epic scope than previous volumes, but for these features to be significant, they'd have to be well-executed. Since they don't manage to be all that interesting, only long and irritating, they barely seem worth mentioning. The only real improvement in the book over the magazine version is the new artwork, which has a quite appealing semi-woodcut-like look to it. Interesting stuff!

I've probably said it before, but it's worth saying again. A well-designed gamebook allows a reader to quickly retrace his or her steps up to the point of death upon each replay or at least try out some new things along the way. If, by the time a player has explored every possible path, he or she still ends up dying off consistently near the beginning of the story, something is obviously wrong, and the gamebook is clearly not going to be very much fun. This book suffers from this problem severely, and it's an unforgiveable flaw in my opinion. The only good that came of the whole mess was that I figured out a way of streamlining combat resolution: roll two different-colored pairs of dice at once and see which pair rolls higher; it's faster than rolling one pair twice and is easier on the memory. Not especially clever, I admit, but helpful nonetheless.... In any case, even this accelerated combat wasn't enough to help me win -- eventually I resorted to designating computer-RPG-inspired "save points" so that I wouldn't have to struggle through the early stages of the book over and over. Yeah, it's technically cheating, but my conscience is mostly clear.




This early (original number 9) Fighting Fantasy is a classic set in the FF world of Titan and very much immersed in the fantasy world, with elves, dwarves, vampires, wolves, zombies, dragons, demons, orcs, goblins and golems - as well as some weird and wonderful additions such as a squid-like Brain Slayer and some evil Bird Men. Plot-wise it's basic but has a definite story where the hero enters and escapes from the Snow Witch's lair. The setting is broadly arctic (like Caverns of Kalte) but the last part of the adventure inexplicably switches to mainland Titan.

My first criticism of this book is that its structure is extremely linear - there is basically one path from beginning to end, and the route choices nearly always involve a path continuation or a detour to a side-room from which one must return to the main course. This makes for a long (maybe over-long) adventure, a lack of challenge in terms of route choices and a reading experience resembling a novel more than an adventure.

Second, it's very, very hard to defeat. Not in the interesting sense of having to solve puzzles of which is the best route or which items are needed. In the sense of having a frustrating number of lethal luck, skill and stamina tests and unavoidable high level (skill 10 to 12) adversaries. A few pages from the start and you're already fighting a skill 10 or 11 Yeti and facing a potentially lethal avalanche. Later you'll have to beat a Skill 12 Bird Man - combat is unavoidable. And these are the routine encounters - not the "boss" monsters. It's not difficult to use up your Luck and Provisions before you even meet the Snow Queen, rendering the later battles deadly.

Third, it's the conversion of a shorter piece into a book-length adventure, and it tells - the main quest (defeating the Snow Witch) is already done a third of the way in. It's like one of those films which carries on for half an hour after it "ends". Two-thirds of the book is anticlimax. And the difficulty level seems geared to the shorter adventure.

In all, overly hard, far too linear and lacking in immersive elements to keep interest - not one of the strongest of the series.


[Simon Osborne]

Just read through Demian's review (slating!?!) of FF9, and it's one of the funniest things I've read all week! I always used to rate FF9 as one of Livingstone's better efforts, though after reading the review, I'm not so sure any more.

Demian is certainly correct that the adventure is really too linear. After checking my maps, it seems that there are relatively few choices of direction in the game. Part of this seems to come from Livingstone trying to avoid creating a maze, and settling for adding items into the game, and having lots of options for when to use them. LOTS of items. Frankly, FAR TOO MANY items. It's easy to miss an item if it is mentioned in the middle of the text, so you may die through not remembering that you DO own the magical golden pantaloons or whatever. The illustrations are good, I whole-heartedly agree. The Snow Witch (Shareela, I believe is her given name in Titan - The Fighting Fantasy World) isn't particularly memorable, I suppose, and fighting her twice does seem a little foolish. However, despite the disc game being a bit stupid, I didn't think it was unfair, and I win through that every time without thinking. It does seem a bit of a pathetic way to defeat her, though.

Actually, what I did like about the adventure was the fact that it starts off as one adventure, becomes another, then becomes another. I liked that - it was similar to a role-playing session. Find the Yeti (check) defeat the Snow Witch (check) then defeat the Death Spell (woo-hoo!). The portion of the adventure after the Crystal Caverns heading South to find the Healer is, unfortunately, too linear. Had there been more branches, it would have been more enjoyable. That said, I always looked forward to that part of the adventure because it seemed more sensible. The saving of one's soul is an interesting - and hugely under-used - plot device and more gamebooks should employ it. Without wanting to be a kiss-ass ('cos I hate those sorts of people) Paul Mason's books do explore this theme, with varying degrees of success. It seems more realistic to quest for one's salvation than to altruisticly save the world every week and not expect a gold piece in return. Had it been less linear, therefore, I think the final part of the book would stand head-and-shoulders above the rest of it.

The combats are very hard. Too hard; particularly on the way to find the Healer. The Hill Trolls and the Night Stalker (should you meet her/him/it) are very strong. As for Save Points - doesn't EVERYONE do that ANYWAY?? :p

Despite the linear nature of the adventure, and the tough combats, I really liked this gamebook. I feel there's much more to enjoy with this book than in Livingstone's previous two adventures. The second half of the dungeon should have been deleted to make way for more exploration of the Pagan Plains of NW Allansia, but it is good fun nevertheless.


[Jeff Poteralski]

In this story, you are hired to seek out and kill a Yeti who is disrupting the trade routes in northern Allansia. Yeah, I know it doesn't sound too exciting, but after you kill the Yeti (in about the fifth passage), you meet a half dead trapper who tells you about the Snow Witch and her riches. This, of course, stimulates your interest and you're off to kill the chilly pest.

What's interesting about this story is that it is actually separated into three different quests. The first part of the story involves finding the Snow Witch's domain, collecting several important articles (which are listed in the solution, and not here for those who haven't read the book), and killing the evil sorceress. But watch out...those teeth aren't for opening cans (oops, I gave it away).

The second part of the story deals with escaping the Snow Witch's lair with your two new friends, Redswift and Stubb. Since you can't go out the way you came in due to enraged guards (which is a shame since it was fairly easy), you have to go out the back door. The three of you run afoul of all sorts of goons and traps, and you even run into the spirit of the Snow Witch herself.  I hope you brought your discs.

The third part of the story is the most challenging. You discover that the three of you have been afflicted by a Death Spell that you ran across on the way out of the Snow Witch's lair. Redswift informs you of this after dropping off Stubb in Stonebridge (who I assume dies soon after you part company from him). Then Redswift himself keels over; and if you didn't drink that Dark Elf's potion, you're history too (what Dark Elf, you say? You might as well start over). After travelling a great distance in a VERY weak state of mind (make sure you have a high STAMINA in this book), you find the Healer, the mysterious mountain man who can cure the Death Spell.  Unfortunately, you have to pass a few tests and have some specific items from the Snow Witch's cavern to have a chance.  If you were lucky enough to pick up all the correct objects, you'll be healed at dawn and fit as a fiddle.

This is an excellent book, due in combination to its unique story line and its relative difficulty (for one of the earlier books in the series). Your STAMINA really will be very low by the end of this adventure, so roll a high initial SKILL and be smart in whom you choose to fight during the adventure. If you succeed, the feeling of accomplishment is well-deserved.

Rating: 9.0/10


[Sean R. Rook]


While I can't put this FF book in the same category as Deathtrap Dungeon or Moonrunner, I would definitely put it in the top 10 (out of the selection that I've read).

You start out this adventure as a mercenary working to protect a caravan but soon must scout out the terrain ahead (leading you to the Caverns of the Snow Witch). What began as a simple scouting mission turns deadly as you fight for your life to defeat the snow witch and escape her minions. After escaping her labyrinthe it turns into a race to save your own life in the rough country surrounding her mountain. You'll battle many different frozen and undead, as well as several more well known FF monsters.

What I like most about the FF series is that many of the fantasy adventures are set in the same game world. So its not uncommon to have books make short references to each other: I know there's a short reference to Firetop Mountain in this book. Other places I've seen mentioned include the city of Fang, Port Blacksand, and Fire Island. Its a minor feature that adds a lot of flavor to the overall series.


[Phil Sadler]

Anyone feel a slight chill? You do? Well don't worry; frostbite is the least of your worries on this trip...

This adventure starts with a dying trapper who tells you of some terrible which and her dire plans of conquest. You vow to take up his quest, just before the poor man dies. And so begins another Livingstone great, so wrap up warm and we'll begin...

This has all good stuff (collection of objects, interesting meetings, teaming up with friends, plot twists, original artifacts), and the bad (opponents who are too powerful and too many of them!). It also features one of the most notorious errors in FF history, which lead many people to believe they had to fight a certain skill 11 creatures over and over again.

It has many memorable events though, such as the death spell that causes you to lose stamina points each ref! Or the desperate search for a certain powerful Shaman, or the nice meeting of comrades, and the rather less nice re-meeting of them later. There's also the little matter of gold and the rather cheeky moral it may well teach you...

Ian still loves those powerful monsters though: Centaur (skill 10), Brainslayer (skill 10), Mammoth (skill 10), Yeti (skill 10)... and others! No fair!!

Cheat and roll up a powerful character and you'll have a wale of a time battling these things and besting the traps, whilst trying your best to find the objects you need. Beware though; one of the artifacts you come across will do nothing less than deduct a whole die's worth of skill!

I loved this book and probably would have given it the perfect 10 if not for some major unfairness on the combat front.

Overall Grade: 9 (out of 10)