Published on December 20th, 2012 | by PJ Montgomery0
Starship Traveller – A Fighting Fantasy Flashback part 2
Weapons Strength: 12
Less skill, more luck. Fair trade. Though if you saw the rolls for my security team, you’d question how these clowns could ever secure anything. Anyway, the Traveller is again sucked through the Selstian Void. This time, for our first destination, I choose the life-bearing world ahead, and it turns out to be the planet we visited before where people can do what they like. This time, when we’re offered a tour, we check out the main meeting hall and witness a debate. Though, it’s a very slow moving debate which seems to be going nowhere. We leave and head to the travel and maps room again. We get the same information as last time, and head back to the ship.
This time, we travel on to the purple sun, where we find evidence of an advanced civilization on a nearby planet. We beam down, and an alien in a vehicle approaches us, telling us to follow him quickly. We do so, and the alien explains that we’re hiding from the population controllers, who kill people found outside after curfew hours. Unfortunately, some controllers apparently saw us outside, and burst into the building, killing our new friend. They take us outside, where we try and take them by surprise. We fight, but they are too strong, though we do succeed in removing a helmet from one of their heads, which seems to cause it to shut down. Interesting… (the book, at this point, notes that I can now subtract 2 from a potential future skill roll. Apparently, I’ll be told when).
We’re taken to a room where there are some other aliens also awaiting extermination. I ask to see someone in authority, but am told this is not possible, and we’re led to an extermination chamber. Handily, my science officer is with me, and I’m asked to test his skill, deducting 2 from the roll for earlier on. He has noticed that the aliens are actually androids, and reckons we can jam them with our communicators. Worth a shot. We give it a go, and it works, allowing us to return to the ship. I get to keep the nifty helmet, which improves my skill. Joy!
Continuing on, we come to the Rain Lord’s planet, where we do exactly as before (though without healing the aliens this time, as my luck is currently 12, and I’m unwilling to risk my medical officer), getting the warp speed info we had before. We head onwards, once more coming to the small grey planet, and once more getting our air a bit poisoned. Again, I follow the same process as before, only this time, my engineering officer survives too. Phew.
We head on to a blue planet nearby, where we are hailed by and alien with a big head who invites me, and me alone, down to the planet. I accept his invite and beam down. The alien, whose name is I-Abail, offers me some food. Well, I am a bit peckish… Awww, it was drugged! Curse my trusting nature! I wake up, and get pushed through a weird dimensional portal, and end up in some freaky, psychedelic maze type thing.
After wandering around aimlessly for a while, I get frustrated and simply step off the path into space, appearing back in I-Abail’s lab, where he tells me I want to head to sector 159 as thanks for helping with his experiment. He also recommends we visit a mining planet called Malini.
We head on to a small yellow planet, which I opt to beam down to. It turns out to be quite volcanic and devoid of life. And frankly, quite scary. I’m out of here! We head back to the Traveller, and warp to a large grey planet, where we get contacted by K’Tait of the Malini mining planet. I-Abail recommended this place, so we agree to beam down and watch some “contests”. However, the beaming co-ordinates K’Tait gives us come through muddled, and I have to take a guess.
We beam down, and find ourselves in front of K’Tait, so I must have guessed correctly. I explain our situation, and ask if anyone on this world can help. He thinks there should be someone, but is then summoned away to the “arena”. He tells us to wait here for him, and leaves. A short time later, a robot comes into the room and asks us to follow it. We do so, and it takes us to another room, then asks if we’re taking part in the contest. I try to explain that no, we’re not, and the robot contacts K’Tait to validate my story. Luckily, K’Tait does so, and the robot offers to lead us back to him so we can watch the contest. However, I begin to get suspicious as we’re led through a lot of corridors, and wouldn’t you know it, we’re forced to take part in the games anyway.
My crew members and I are forced to fight a Manslayer robot, which has some seriously tough armour. We only have to deal it 4 points of stamina damage, but every time we hit it, if we don’t then roll a 5 or a 6, our blows just connect with its armour. It’s a tough fight, but we just about prevail. We’re given a prize, which is nice, and I also mention our mission to get home. We’re taken to the Astronautical Quarters, where we’re told there is a black hole in sector 83, they think, but that they can’t tell us when we need to approach it.
We beam back to the ship, and head towards a small, black planet, which I beam down to with my science officer and a security guard. We wander around for a bit, finding nothing, but then find ourselves unable to contact the Traveller again. The science officer has an idea (something about magnetic rocks), and suggests we shoot some rocks with our phasers. The ship picks up the heat signature from this, and is able to beam us back aboard.
We scan a greeny-grey planet ahead, and establish radio contact with the surface. I speak to an alien who identifies himself as Luff, and invites us to beam down. So we do. We find ourselves before three of the aliens, or Terryals, and two of their children. One of the kids tries to pull me away, and I follow him to a nearby building. Turns out, children are highly intelligent on this world, and this particular child is Luff, who I spoke to before. He advises that he may be able to help us, but in return, I have to take him aboard the Traveller, and give him technical details of the ships weapons and defensive systems.
I’m naturally wary of this trade, but I’m also no Captain Janeway, so agree to his terms, and am told that stardate 21 is the time to attempt to enter a black hole. I then honour my agreement, and give them access to the Traveller. They leave the ship a few hours later, and we head on our way. There are no more planets in range, so it’s once again time to try and get home. I have one stardate, and two sectors to choose from. Deciding I’d rather trust I-Abail than the gladiatorial miners, I minus 12 from 159 and head through a black hole. We all pass out… And then awake having made it home! Victory!
Starship Traveller’s an interesting book at first glance. With fewer entries and, it has to be said, a fairly simple, unappealing art style from Peter Andrew Jones, it can seem simpler than the three previous entries in the series. The shift from a fantasy world to a science-fiction setting is also one which does have the potential to put people off. And certainly, at the very beginning of my first play through, I wasn’t overly keen on Starship Traveller.
But then something odd happened. As I continued playing the book, I started to fall in love with it a bit. It certainly helped that I began thinking of it as the gamebook equivalent of Star Trek, with the environments and characters appearing in my head as if they had stepped out of the bright, technicolour world of the famous sixties TV series. Once I’d decided that I was Captain Kirk, and my crew were the Enterprise crew, the book really came to life for me, and only added to the adventure. Steve Jackson has essentially written Star Trek: The Gamebook here, but with the names changed to avoid legal issues, and when looked at in these terms, it really works.
The various different planets all have distinct characters and traits, and add to the variety of encounters you can have, and while it has some challenging moments, most players should be able to get to the end without too much trouble. The only question is, which ending? Getting the right one seems to rely on you getting lucky enough to pick the right worlds, but it’s a fun ride to get there, once you get into it. That said, if you’re not a fan of sixties era Star Trek, then this probably isn’t the Fighting Fantasy book for you.
Coming soon: City of Thieves
While I have you here, Fighting Fantasy author Jonathan Green, acclaimed author of several FF books, including Bloodbones, and Night of the Necromancer, is currently running a Kickstarter to raise money for a Fighting Fantasy coffee table book, titled You Are The Hero, which will delve into Fighting Fantasy’s thirty year history. There are some tasty rewards for backers, and it’s not really something which Fighting Fantasy fans can afford to ignore. Do head over and pledge some cash, won’t you?