Now, some folks might look askance at this type of gaming. I mean, is it really an RPG if you play by yourself? Can't you just cheat? And where's the flexibility of the player to do whatever he wants, instead of just choosing between option A (turn to page xx) and option B (turn to page yy)?
Well, heck. It ain't perfect, it's probably superceded by the flexibility of modern RPGs, but there's still that wonderful exercise of the imagination here. The words trigger the imagery in your mind, and some handy illustrations help bridge the gap from time to time when your vocabulary fails you.
Just like some memorable face-to-face sessions, I still have memories of the first time I encountered the following stalwart foes in the dungeon of the Warlock of Firetop Mountain.
The handsome fellow to the right was clearly a sentry. Going alone into a dungeon (with a crappily statted character no less) for the first time, you can bet I opted to sneak past the sucker.
Knowing I was going to go into the mountain fortress of a powerful warlock, what self-respecting hero would want to have everyone on alert that early on in the adventure?
The artwork is absolutely lovely -- the linework and detail, shading techniques and all really sold it to me... and became the palette that my mind followed throughout the rest of the adventure.
This frickin' thing scared the bejeezus outta me when I first saw it. And will not deny a visceral desire to kill it! Kill it dead! With quick but thorough ultraviolence -- dice don't fail me now!
"DM, I kill it with my murder knife! I stab it with my stabby thing! Wait, I'm alone here in my room..."
In retrospect, I'm actually amazed that this kind of reaction took place. But I think the art, plus the writing and the synergy between those two inputs and my imagination really made this thing an opponent to be feared!
Interestingly enough, something about the description and the picture warned me that I didn't want to be hit by this disease-ridden creature -- and I was right! I don't know if I was afraid of paralysis because it might be ghoul-ish in nature, or if I feared George Romero-style zombification, but I was so happy when I dropped this thing without so much as a scratch on me.
So, we meet again -- for the first time!
Yeah, it took me so many tries to find this guy. And I died when I first ran into him -- didn't have a chance to use the *ahem* 'secret way' to defeat the damn Warlock of Firetop Mountain. He's a tough character -- but oh, so cool looking too.
Time to warm up the pencils and the dice, it's time to venture into Firetop Mountain once more!