Back to Port Blacksand

Midnight Rogue - Graeme Davis

I sometimes get a bit worried when I see that the author of a book that I am reviewing as a Goodreads' Author because I am always conscious that they will be notified when I write a commentary on their book, particularly when their books don't have any reviews attached to it (such as this one). This is true particularly when we come to gaming products or books that are a part of a series (such as this one) that are not one of the original books. Mind you, after the original Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone books the number of people who would still be reading them this late in the piece would be diminishing, and only those die hard Fighting Fantasy fans (such as me) would continue. In fact, I seem to be the only person still writing reviews for Fighting Fantasy gamebooks (though that has more to do with wanting to write a review for every book that I have read rather than just marking it as 'read' and moving onto the next one).



Now, in the earlier books I had criticised them for being a little morally ambiguous, such as The Citadel of Chaos where you are effectively an assassin, and Warlock of Firetop Mountain where you basically break into somebody's house, loot it of its contents, and then kill the owner. At least this particular game book is not at all ambiguous: you are thief and you behave like a thief and your goal is to break into somebody's house and steal their prized possession. Mind you, I was always baffled about how Dungeons and Dragons never tried to make the character class a little more ambiguous (particularly since the warrior is little more than a well trained murderer), though I do note when we think of a thief in Dungeons and Dragons we imagine some sort of spy, scout, special operative type of person but when we think of a thief in real life we (or at least I do) conjure up the image of a shoplifter.



Once again this book is exploring different ways of running the adventure. As mentioned, you are an apprentice thief who is going through what is essentially a final exam to see whether you should be allowed to become a fullfledged member. At the beginning you are given the option of choosing three skills to help you complete the adventure, though I have discovered that you need a certain three otherwise the game becomes really hard. Okay, I have only been through this book once, so I do not know if it is possible to complete it with other skills, but I have noticed that by not having the other skills, there are still options to allow me to complete it. Some of the skills (such as hide) never seem to be used, or if they are used, it is not for an important part of the quest.


The other aspect of this adventure is that about a third of it is set in Port Blacksand and the remainder involves you crawling through a dungeon avoiding traps. I found that while the first part of the adventure seemed to capture the essence of being a thief, the second part was just that little to long and simply became another dungeon crawl. In fact I started to lose interest as I got deeper into the dungeon, though this was not the dungeon in the traditional sense in that there is really only one way to go. So, while the first part had more opportunities to use your skills, the second part seemed to pull away from that. However, it was still a good little adventure, and did explore the system better than some of the other books had.