In a surprise move, Phil 'Hellfire' Sadler, who has consistently maintained over the years that he would never write another gamebook, has written another gamebook.
It follows on from the events of Steve Jackson's House Of Hell. After escaping the house you found yourself locked up for the murder of its inhabitants. Unsure of your own sanity, you now return to the scene looking for answers.
I would love to give you my comments on this book but I am not sure how active or interested you are in this...?
Phil Sadler Wed May 30 18:53:44 2018
I sure would like another of your reviews because they are indepth, whereas most reviews are 'I hate it' or 'Best FF ever'. Writers don't learn anything about their books from either comment.
Anyway, I look forward to your review and hope you actually liked the book.
Phil Sadler Thu May 31 05:30:51 2018
By the way, thanks for your review of 'Riders'. I somehow missed that and it made for very good reading. People such as yourself help us writers because you tell us *why* a book was good and *why* a book was bad or average.
Phil Sadler Wed Aug 8 08:40:43 2018
'House of Pain' - Yet another mistake from me: reference 25 I have swapped with 414 with 437. Now the text will punish or reward the reader correctly.
If anybody is a fan of the more horrific side of the gamebook world, may I heartily recommend that you download a copy of this adventure. It is called HOUSE OF PAIN, by Phil Sadler, and is intended as a sequel to the Steve Jackson classic House of Hell. (I have included the direct link to download it below)
The book appears to place YOU back into the role of the protagonist of HoH, and you have just escaped from an asylum. Yes, it seems that the trials and the horrors experienced in the house of Drumer have taken a grave toll upon your mind, which has become broken and paranoid.
Despite, or perhaps because of this, the first place to which you head upon your escape is the very site of your torment. It seems that you need to see the place in ruins to know that the danger is passed, and that indeed it did really happen, and wasnít just a figment of your broken mind.
However when you arrive expecting to see a burnt out shell, you find a newly built house sitting upon a large estate of land, surrounded by high security rails.
Sneaking in at an opportune moment through the gates, you follow a group of hooded figures who have just arrived, but once you set foot on the grounds you begin to experience the horrors once more. You cannot escape through the locked gates and electrified fence, and to make matters worse you are confronted with no less than a trio of Messengers of Death, who will be playing their deadly game of hide and seek as you attempt to escape the place.
You resolve yourself to somehow find a way out of this situation by exploring the grounds and the house itself, looking for the answers to explain why you have found yourself back here once more.....
SK 10 ST 18 LK 10 FEAR 21
This is a big adventure, around the 500 mark I think, and as well as the original fear score (2d+12 instead of 1d+6) there are also 3 phobias which must be chosen from the list provided. These will obviously have an impact upon the adventure at some point, no doubt prohibiting certain actions in a relevant situation.
There are also 4 items which you carry that can be attempted to use during the adventure, which involve the Jackson style of adding/subtraction/dividing etc the particular paragraph you are on, but you are never prompted to use them. Instead you must use trial and error at any given situation that you feel could be relevant, which is a nice subtle addition to the adventure.
So time to get cracking on my first attempt....... The play-through will be found in the comments below, together with the results of subsequent attempts....
Phil Sadler Sun Nov 4 12:28:50 2018
Rob Hatton PLAY-THROUGH.... PART ONE.....
So.....standing in the grounds of this new house I am faced with a choice of locations to explore, in a very similar vein to the classic Keith Martin hub, where you explore somewhere and return to the central point and then search another location.
The first place I elect to visit is the small groundskeeper's house a little way up the path to the north, and upon approaching I get the distinct feeling of being watched from many unknown locations, but nevertheless I enter the house unchallenged and unmolested.
Inside I discover an empty shell of a downstairs area, with literally no furniture or fittings bar one black cupboard, which I decide to search. Upon opening the cupboard door, I discover a multitude of animal bones piled high within, but I only make a cursory search through them before deciding against entering the space for further exploration.
Instead I decide to search the upstairs, finding a similar situation of dereliction here, with even the glass missing from the windows. As a consequence, the floor is piled with dead leaves, which I tentatively poke around with my foot until I uncover a torch, still in good working order. But when I pick the object up, a small pool of blood is revealed underneath, which to my horror begins to form into the shape of the letter D.
In a state of shock that the Messengers have already scored their first point in this game of death, I flee the empty house and run towards a small garden area, walled off and enclosed.
The little door opens after some shoving and I duck through the archway into the garden, taking in the various features to investigate, which consist of a greenhouse, a refuse pile, a bonfire, a fountain and a small waterfall feature.
Thus finding myself in another mini-hub, I elect to investigate the greenhouse and open its door to reveal a scene of total horror, confronted by a wall of heat, putrid stench and screams.
Steeling myself against this assault upon my senses, I resolve to enter the structure and discover two rows of human faces set into the soil, realisation dawning fast upon me that these poor souls have been buried alive. What is more, there appears to be plants growing through and out of them, leaving them in a state which is beyond rescue.
Curiously, the text gives me no option of attempting to rescue them or even putting them out of their misery, instead I numbly search the greenhouse for useful items. (This I will put down to the unbalanced mental state of your character, and perhaps this is all in his head? Who knows....)
At one end of the gruesome bed of misery, I discover a mirror which has been stuck into the earth in such a way that upon a certain angle of the sunlight, the concentrated beam reflects onto the face of the nearest unfortunate soul. Part of her face is already burned and blistered, and so by removing the mirror I grant this small mercy, but again I fall short of actually taking any further action to end the suffering of these people.
Leaving the greenhouse and itís screaming stench, I walk over to the waterfall to investigate this, and once more am met with the pathetic sounds of human suffering. Tethered under the cascading fall are a trio of what once must have been human beings, except they are mutilated beyond all recognition, even of their gender.
At this point a splash of the ďwaterĒ lands on my arm, causing it to sting and then burn, which is when I realise that this liquid is actually acid. These poor wretches are being slowly melted alive...... if anyone was in any doubt that this adventure is for adults only, I think this now settles the matter. Mr Sadler, this is some f***ed up s**t.....
CONTINUED IN PART TWO....
Condutas Fri Jan 11 21:23:28 2019
Ok let me see here...
Sorry for the time waiting for this, only now I had time to aftually put all my thoughts into a nice text (real life and being a IT person takes a lot of my time)
First, I didnt really saw any bugs at all.
It took me over 30 tries (dont recall the number but between 30 and 40 tries)
Since there isnt any online version, I could see my opinions in each step, which can be considered as "metagaming".
Much like my review to your "Riders of the storm" I will start with the ribbons (the most equivalent thing to the "Trinitour" calls on your other book.)
ribbons which help with the final boss figth
were well hidden. One of them was kind of instantly found by me
the one given to you by the two men nicely dress
as soon as I entered the room and notice the way they talked.
The other were only founded out by me spamming the hell out of the items uses 😆
instant deaths if you havent done exactly this in the past, like for example the way you have to retrack your steps after been blind
are in my opinion a good touch to the game.
Of couse, I have to put on here the
3 secret defenders
For exactly the same reason.
Either you can enter their, lets say, "rooms/interesection zones" with the rigth items or you are dead, much like the elementals in "Riders of tne storm". The adventure only gets better with thoses kind of "checkpoints" where you either stop and die or you keep going. Thats a very good thing.
The ammount of items needed to win the game is on the line of your "Hellfire" adventure. Personally, I consider it a little too much.
there is a lot of items that may not be 100% needed but they are very helpfull to have, like the unlimited pouch
Now, about the fourth wall breaking
from what I understand, we are supposed to use past knowledge in our adventure.
The game even aknowldge that there are others "me" that have tried this i the past
I remember the couple sayjng I have ancestral memory, the room with the body copies like us, the npc telling I have a chance this time
More of this:
I didnt understand the references of the presence, of the good guys like the npcs that go out of their way to help you...
It makes me more confused than anything. Do the good npcs know they are a pawn in a
good vs evil kind of game?
just like you, the author, being inside the game as a neutral entity?
The last par about this "breaking the fourth wall" (and this one part I hated a lot) is
the questioner. no matter how I try to see and observe the entire map, I dont think ONE LIFE char can know the answers without breaking the fourth wall and assuming multiple runs
knowing all the weapons on the house looks possible with one life, if my maps arent failing me, same for the keys, but NOT the total of rooms
WhatI mean is, its possible to do the entire run, get to the
questioner and not knowing the house TOTAL number of rooms
doesnt seem plausible.
The fights, now:
Fair, fair fair. Definately good, funny, the fact that we keep getting better weapons and harder oponnents is lovely.
the female vampire
Makes for my favorite enemy on the entire book, how we can either kill her easily, "adjust and improve" to kill her or just downgrade failing hard on her. Kudos for that.
Also love the
3 vs 3
Arena kind of thing, near the end.
The last boss is easy, as long as
you actually have 2 ribbons (the first time I get to him I already had 3 of them)
All in all...
Its the best horror adventure on this site, I consider one of the best adventures on this site.
In terms kf difficulty, I would say your riders of the storm is much to my liking..
Combat wise, house of pain is the best book from you.
In terms of fun, I am very pleased, but I am biased to horror books, sok there is that...
Very nicely written, with a powerfull atmosfhere.
And, for my final comment, nice use of the phobias system.
Phil Sadler Sat Jan 12 09:05:59 2019
Thanks for your review!
'The amount of items needed to win the game is on the line of your "Hellfire" adventure. Personally, I consider it a little too much.'
I honestly thought that there were less essential items in this book, although quite a few were useful.
'Now, about the fourth wall breaking
SPOILER from what I understand, we are supposed to use past knowledge in our adventure.'
I'm not sure I'd call that 'fourth wall breaking' because that was mean I was speaking to the reader and not the character. It was just me trying to explain why sometimes people would recognise you, and why you would sometimes remember things even though 'you' had never been there. It's just my way of making gamebooks a bit more realistic.
As for the presence. I don't know really, t's just an entity to add spice to the story. As for the good people you come across, well all FF books had good people, but I think that most/some of the good people in this book realise that there's no way out for them, apart from you.
'The last par about this "breaking the fourth wall" (and this one part I hated a lot) is
SPOILER the questioner. no matter how I try to see and observe the entire map, I dont think ONE LIFE char can know the answers without breaking the fourth wall and assuming multiple runs'
This is exactly why I used the 'ancestral memory thing, so as to be more realistic as to why one character could 'remember' things that hadn't actually happened to him personally. In addition I'm sorry that you hated that segment but I got the idea from the awful Crypt of the Sorcerer and I wanted to take what was a good idea and had awful execution and turn it into a good idea with good execution.
'Makes for my favorite enemy on the entire book, how we can either kill her easily, "adjust and improve" to kill her or just downgrade failing hard on her. Kudos for that.'
Well there was one of 'that' type of enemy in House of Hell! As usual, I wanted to take the idea and make it much better. You may be interested to hear that I originally intended to put one of 'those' types of enemies in Riders of the Storm but left it out in the end: do you remember the graveyard and the line 'laughter rings out suggesting you are not yet finished here?' Well that was going to be the first hint of one of 'them'.
'Also love the
SPOILER 3 vs 3 END SPOILER
Arena kind of thing, near the end.'
Yeah, that took me ages to figure out. it was inspired by Sword of the Samurai's 'fight pit' section.
Thanks so much for your comments!
Phil Sadler Tue Apr 23 20:56:53 2019
Rob Hatton PLAY-THROUGH.... PART TWO....
I decide that I have seen enough of this garden of delights, and so make my way back to the main hub, satisfied with my singular find in the greenhouse.
Next I decide to take a walk through some woods on route to a nearby lake, but soon get the feeling of being watched again, with the trees close and suffocating.
I eventually find myself standing by the lake, looking across the dark and eerily still waters, with the distinct feeling that they have not been disturbed in a long time. In the exact centre of the lake is a small island, with what looks to be a gravestone standing solitary upon the grass, which piques my interest sufficiently enough to begin searching for a boat. (The prospect of swimming across is not appealing in the slightest)
Itís not long before I discover a small boat, complete with a pair of oars, moored upon the bank. Suddenly the sound of running feet forces me to spin around and confront a robed and hooded figure, rushing at me with a blistering speed, and which I only just manage to dodge aside. The figure rounds upon me for another charge, reaching for my throat with horribly rotted and taloned hands, which I am barely able to hold at bay.
The undead thing before me is a Wight, a creature whoís touch chills to the bone, and I am forced to fight it with my bare hands no less (I still donít possess a weapon). However I do eventually triumph over the creature, and kick itís body into the black and foreboding waters, instantly regretting the disturbance it causes to the surface.
I summon up the courage to climb into the little craft, the sense of dread and foreboding growing ever stronger about the nature of the lake, particularly itís unknown depth..... and possible inhabitants....
Phil Sadler Tue Apr 23 20:58:14 2019
Rob Hatton PLAY-THROUGH.... PART THREE....
However, after a few moments of tentative rowing I begin to build some confidence, and am soon making impressive headway across the lake. It seems like no time at all before I make landfall upon the shore of the little island, and drag the boat up onto the bank to make sure I have a safe method of return to the mainland.
Making straight for the grave, I am surprised when I behold the incomprehensible scrawl which covers the whole headstone, which appears to be in no language known to man. However, I am given the option of spending a point of luck in my attempt to decipher the strange script, which I eagerly do.
Happily, after spending some considerable time studying it, I begin to make sense of the writing. It basically tells the story (in the first person) of the man buried here, and how he fell in love with a Mirror Demon, who tried to take him through her portal into another dimension. He survived this encounter (though perhaps his sanity did not) and took from the demon a gold ring, which he promptly buried himself alive with! (Presumably after scrawling his own epitaph on his gravestone)
Its at this point that I spot the very same ring (Presumably) half buried in the surface soil, which I decide to take with me, and stand up to return to the boat. Itís then that I finally spot the ragged corpse of an old hag which was propped against the other side of the stone, though itís a wonder I didnít smell it, and I walk around to better see the thing. Around itís neck is a strange green key on a chain, which I pluck up the courage to take and examine, and I see the word ďAngelicasĒ inscribed on it.
Whilst I ponder the significance of this, I see a movement in my periphery and to my horror I regard the corpse turn itís ghastly head to look directly at me, before uttering a soul-rending scream. The creature before me is a Banshee, an undead nightmare which has come to herald my doom, but I donít intent to stick around.
Dodging the creatureís initial lunge I run full pelt for the boat, but unfortunately not quickly enough, and I feel her filthy claws rake my back. I donít stop for a moment however, and I dive into the boat, using my momentum to propel the craft into the water.
The Banshee halts at the waterís edge and lets forth another terrible howl, but I ignore this whilst concentrating on rowing away from the island at top speed. I pause for breath when I am half way to the shore, counting myself lucky to have escaped that situation with my life, but little do I realise that the danger is far from over.
All around my boat the water suddenly begins to boil and surge, and from beneath itís surface emerges a vision from a nightmare, an huge alien head with spider-like eyes and a mass of writhing tentacles.
Whether this is an octopus, a kraken or something akin to a Lovecraftian horror, itís intent is the same regardless..... my demise.
The tentacles curl around my pathetic little tub, ready to break it to pieces at a moments notice, leaving me with few prospects of escape. But from somewhere within my terrified mind I formulate a plan of action, and reaching into my coat I pull out the flash light I found earlier, directing itís beam directly into those predatory eyes.
The effect is instant, though only temporary, as the creature flinches away from the artificial light and consequently releases the boat.
With this one chance to escape I row for my life, but the recent exertions have taken a toll on my stamina, and the tentacles once more wrap themselves around the boat.
This time there is no escape as the boat, with me trapped inside it, is pulled beneath the surface of the cold, black water.........
THIS ADVENTURE ENDS HERE.....
Etienne Wed Jan 1 02:02:47 2020
I read this while I was on the plane (downloaded the pdf beforehand) and... I loved it. Loved it, loved it, loved it.
I tried from a Saint Beckons all the way to 'The garden of bones' then decided to look the download section to find your book. I was skeptical at first but the more I got into it, the more I was struck by the sheer quality of it.
This is coming from a person who is very, very, very picky. I hope this will be adapted online at some point or another.
And 499 references no less!
Good stuff, really. I repeat, I loved it.
Phil Sadler Wed Jan 1 06:57:42 2020
Wow! Thanks so much for your comments!
Etienne Wed Jan 1 13:52:42 2020
I wrote you to the email mentioned in your pdf but I got an error, saying the email wasn't valid. This is what I wrote:
Have you ever considered designing video games? I like your ideas. (Loved the plague demon made of rats)!
The pdf had a few typos and I think an instance or two of formatting issues. I should've written them down on the plane but I was honestly burned out and was too lazy. If I recall correctly, it was often repeated prepositions.
If you have fixed the original version, could you update the link of ffproject?
Also, it would be nice to have an idea as to what the special items *could* be used for. I never use them as I have no clue what they could remotely be used for. It's say that's the only "shortcoming" for lack of a better word. Even a very, vary vague sentence would really help.
I wish I could offer to adapt 'House of Pain' as an interactive video game. While I have the artistic background to do so, I lack any programming knowledge.
This book of yours deserves to be experienced by more people, seriously.
Would really be happy to hear from you!
Phil Sadler Wed Jan 1 14:05:39 2020
I love video games and I'm currently playing the latest Tomb Raider. I actually did try to get into game design a couple of decades ago, I didn't try very hard mind you and so I got discouraged because they all seemed to want programmers and not designers. I guess that's why I got into writing these gamebooks instead.
I have no updated version of HOP but I can certainly say that I did edit it as best I could, but it's actually a very long and boring process and so I can understand that I missed a few things.
Don't forget to give 'Deathtrap' a try, if you haven't already...