A Saint Beckons by Robert Douglas
Warning! Review may contain spoilers!
Robert Douglas is back this year with A Saint Beckons, a middleages gamebook in which you play an injured soldier favoured by a saint.
I’m a light infantryman named Barnabus Dinglebee, and I’m dead good with a mace and shield. Combat is a modification on the Lone Wolf system, a system I quite liked. It uses a small d6 table as opposed to d20, and with a low roll there’s a chance of instant death. Dexterity is going to be really key here, so I might ditch the shield and go for a mace/dagger combo on the battlefield like some crazy lunatic.
Despite it being a secluded place, tidings of the latest ‘Milburge Miracle’ somehow spread beyond the abbey walls and gathered apace as wildfire. Most townsfolk found some excuse to visit on ‘official’ business yet in truth only to regard you with awe.
Then, on the seventh day, the soldiers came.
The storyline is good and it is really well-written. You are nursed back to health by monks at a priory. The beckoning saint in the title refers to the withered hand of Saint Milburge. These events are not unconnected – there’s an unfortunate event and a series of adventures across the Midlands. But it is tough. Poor old Barnabus met a tragic end holed up in a church in the middle of nowhere; his meagre canine and avian companions watching apathetically at the slaughter before their eyes.
I did find this gamebook really enjoyable. Perhaps I read the rules wrong, but with a dexterity of 11 I didn’t have too much trouble winning any battles. I liked this though, and tried to get myself into much trouble because I felt a little overpowered. This is a carefully crafted gamebook however, although with lots of instant death paragraphs if you stray from the true path, you need to make a series of near-perfect chocies if you are going to see it through to the end. There are a few clues in the text that maybe I could have picked up on more, but it doesn’t seem like you will win it on one playthrough. Despite this, I found a good, well written and enjoyable gamebook. Should finish amongst the top half this year.