The Tomb of Aziris by Sam Beaven
Warning! Review may contain spoilers!
The Tomb of Aziris is a tough, old school adventure involving a dangerous desert trek and lots of luck on the dice. It’s Sam Beaven’s first gamebook. Welcome to Windhammer, Sam!
The rules are very similar to the traditional Fighting Fantasy rule set, with the only difference being skill renamed as dex. There’s also no luck stat – we have a rarely used wit stat instead. I decided that this adventure would chronicle the rise of the distinctly average Harold BaconBacon, who woke up face first in the gutter and would reach utter fame and glory, die of dry mouth in the desert or be munched to death by a vicious antlion (SPOILER ALERT: Not the first).
You will probably have to punch someone at some point in your adventure. You may even have
to stab them.
The gamebook suffers by being a little railroaded – I could tell I wasn’t on the author’s preferred path through the desert because no choices were to be made for ages and nothing much was happening other than removing water and testing for sandstorms. Although, nothing much happening is pretty accurate desert walking simulation so I perhaps should not be too harsh. The gamebook also suffers from being insanely difficult.
My first battle was with the antlion, a brutal affair with a creature much tougher than me. This was also my final battle. With Harold bit cleanly in half and a bit dead, I spirited onward and noticed a lot of the further battles were also incredibly tough. Combined with take damage rolls and a lack of heal points, I’m not convinced rocking the most direct route through the desert is a winnable path in this gamebook.
The writing is nice, and the starting town is well populated with a bit of an Ankh-Morpork vibe. Once you head out into the desert the writing becomes a little less interesting, and the book a bit barren and void – but you are heading out into a desert after all! You will also need to bring a lot of luck, as you’ll find the combat brutal even with a maxed out character. All in all a steady entry but a promising start to Sam’s gamebook authoring career.