Problem? (A Troll Adventure) by Andy Moonowl
Warning! Review may contain spoilers!
Andy Moonowl returns to the Windhammer competition this year with a brave entry – Problem? (A Troll Adventure), a satirical fantasy with an emphasis on trolling the reader. So will this be trollolol or will things get out of controll? Let’s see.
You’re summoned before the queen, and your quest is to get back her treasures from a robbing troll. The real problem is there is no easy way to get to the isle of trolls, so we’re going to have to scramble around randomly a bit first until we stumble across the deus ex machina.
The rules are straightforward. Combat is really simple, if unbalanced. You just stand toe to toe with your opponent and take hacks at one another until bits drop off and death occurs – the character with the highest combat value not only does more damage but also takes less damage, so it’s good to get this score as high as you can. I usually like simple rules but I think the author has missed a trick here – for a trolling gamebook I’m surprised you don’t have to roll 18 dice for each limb you want to bring into a combat round.
You should really act all respectful, what with how Queen Mary Sue has more hit points than anyone in the realm…
It’s a pretty busy gamebook. Andy has managed to cram a lot of scenes into 100 sections. There is a quite a bit to see and do. The world is tongue-in-cheek fantasy with more than a few nods to the modern world – Ian the Living Stone was a joy to meet, and there is also a human centipede which is pretty disgusting. The town of Start is brilliantly named. The writing is good throughout and rather verbose. When the writing started to nudge into pretentious territory even this worked – because it’s a gamebook that trolls the reader.
And that’s probably the biggest issue with this gamebook. The urban dictionary defines trolling as “The art of deliberately, cleverly, and secretly pissing people off…” – strange subject matter for a competition in which you want people to like your entry. The humour tips wildly between really funny and really terrible. It’s also an incredibly difficult gamebook and absolutely unforgiving.
But I did really enjoy the riddles and puzzles, and there are a few! I hope you remember your simultaneous equations. Unfortunately one riddle I did not get is apparently a link to modern popular culture, so there was no way I was ever going to finish this gamebook legally.
It’s a good entry built on the foundations of traditional gamebooking and succeeds by being exactly what it wanted to be. This constant trolling may be its downfall – because of this I suspect most readers are going to find it annoying.