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[Let's Play] Virtual Reality Adventure Book: Heart of Ice
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SGamerz
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2016 2:46 pm    Post subject: [Let's Play] Virtual Reality Adventure Book: Heart of Ice Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List



It took a while, but I'm finally ready to run this! Once again, I'd like to thank Starmaker, whose generosity helped me to acquire this book (and also the rest of the VR series that I was missing) 2 years back, and made this LP possible.

For any possible new readers who are not familiar with this gamebook series, it uses a very simplistic system that doesn't require the use of dice or random number tables. The PC starts by choosing 4 special Skills from a list of 12 to create his character, and has 8 equipment slots that allows him pick up items throughout the adventure. Some of the Skills may require the possession of an item (for example, the Shooting Skill requires him to carry a gun), characters with those Skill will start the game with said item which will take up one of those 8 slots automatically.

All characters start with 10 Life Points and 30 units of money (the currency used in this book is "scads"). Besides these the only other thing the player needs to keep track of are codewords, which are used to record events that the PC goes through during the game.

Now on to this particular book. As usual, let's start with the back cover burb:

Quote:
It is the dawn of the 24th century and the Earth is dying. Gaia, a satellite array designed to repair the effects of global warming, is out of control. A new Ice Age tightens its inexorable grip on the planet. Humanity is on the edge of extinction.

Mankind's last hope is the Heart of Violent, a strange meteorite which has already brought mutation and chaos to the world. Legend says that the one who finds it shall wield the power to reshape the universe.

As the ice sheets spread and the world slides towards the brink, you and a handful of bitter rivals compete in the race for the Heart. Only one can win. Are you ruthless enough to claim the ultimate price?


So.....as you can see, a futuristic setting, and seems to be a sci-fi/action theme. Now, a bit more background:

MAP:
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THE LAST THREE CENTURIES

Quote:
In 2023, worsening conditions in the world's climate led to the first Global Economic Conference. It was agreed to implement measures intended to reverse industrial damage to the ecology and replenish the ozone layer. By 2031, an array of weather control satellites were in orbit. For added efficiency, and as a mark of worldwide co-operation, these were placed under the control of a supercomputer network called Gaia: the Global Artificial Intelligence Array. The Earth’s climate began to show steady improvement.

The first hint of disaster came early in 2037, when Gaia shut down inexplicably for a period of seventeen minutes. Normal operation was resumed but the system continued to suffer ‘glitches’. One such glitch resulted in Paris being subjected to a two-day heat wave of such intensity that the pavements cracked. After several months, the fault was identified. A computer virus had been introduced into Gaia by unknown means. The system’s designer began programming an antivirus but died before his work was complete. The crisis grew throughout that year until finally, following the death of five thousand people in a flash flood along the Bangladesh coastline, the Gaia project was officially denounced. Unfortunately it was no longer possible to shut it down.

By the mid twenty-first century, global weather conditions were in chaos owing to Gaia’s sporadic operation. Ice sheets advanced further each year. Australia was subject to virtually constant torrential rain. The centre of Asia had become an arid wasteland. The political situation reflected the ravages of the climate, with wars flaring continually around the globe. Late in 2054, computer scientists in London tried to hack into Gaia and locate the replicating viruses in the program. Gaia, detecting this, interpreted the action as an attack on its program and retaliated by taking over a range of defense networks which allowed it to launch a nuclear strike. London was completely destroyed.

By the end of the century Gaia had routed itself into all major computer networks, taking control of weather, communications and weapons systems all across the planet. Periods of lucidity and hospitable climate were interspersed with hurricanes and arctic blizzards. The US President gave an interview in which he likened Gaia to a living entity: ‘She was intended as mankind’s protective mother, but this “mother” has gone mad.’ Spiralling decline in the world’s fortunes left much of humanity on the brink of extinction. The population fell rapidly until only a few million people remained scattered around the globe – mostly in cities where food could still be artificially produced.

It is now the year 2300. The rich stand aloof, disporting themselves with forced gaiety and waiting for the end. The poor inhabit jostling slums where disease is rife and law is unknown. Between the cities, the land lies under a blanket of snow and ice. No-one expects humanity to last another century. This is truly ‘the end of history’.


And now, before we get started, we need to create our character, and that means selecting our Skills (and also come up with a name, if any of you have any suggestions). Here are the list of Skills available:

Quote:
AGILITY
The ability to perform acrobatic feats, run, climb, balance and leap. A character with this skill is nimble and dexterous.

CLOSE COMBAT
The use of a range of martial arts incorporating elements of karate, ju-jitsu and t'ai-chi.

CUNNING
The ability to think on your feet and devise clever ploys for getting out of trouble. Useful in countless situations.

CYBERNETICS
The ability to program and operate computers, almost a forgotten science in the apocalyptic world of the 23rd century.

ESP
The ability to sense danger and read other people's minds. You must possess a psionic focus to use this skill.

LORE
A combination of history, legend and general knowledge which gives you a good basis for dealing with the unknown.

PARADOXING
The ability to mentally affect the normal laws of nature. A slower and less reliable technique than ESP, but with sometimes miraculous effects. You must possess a psionic focus to use this skill.

PILOTING
The ability to handle virtually any vehicle from an air-sled up to a space shuttle.

ROGUERY
Stealth and espionage skills: picking pockets, opening locks, and skulking unseen in the shadows.

SHOOTING
Expertise with long-range weaponry. You must possess a charged barysal gun to use this skill.

STREETWISE
With this skill you are never at a loss in cities. What others see as the squalor and menace of narrow neon-lit streets is opportunity to you.

SURVIVAL
A talent which enables you to cope in desolate and uninhabited regions: forests, deserts, swamps and mountain peaks.


So out of this list, Shooting, ESP and Paradoxing requires an item to utilize them. Note that Shooting doesn't just require a gun, but it also has to be charged. All pre-created default characters start with a gun that has the full 6 charges.

And yes, speaking of pre-created characters, there is a list available for choosing at the start of the book. Note that we do not have to use them. We are free to pick any combination of 4 Skills, the pre-created characters are just for convenience. As mentioned before, all characters start with 10 Life Points and 30 scads, and characters with the above-mentioned 3 Skills will also start with the required items.

Pre-created characters:
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Far as I can tell in these books, the brief profile/background listed with each character are entirely for flavour only. The only thing that matters is the Skill combination.

So....anyone onboard? What Skills should our character possess?
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angelfromanotherpin
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2016 3:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I saw this series when I was looking for some new-school gamebooks, but I ultimately picked up DestinyQuest instead. Nice to get a chance to see what these are about.

I move Shooting, Cunning, ESP, Paradox. Basically the Visionary but ranged instead of melee, because I want to see if wizards are OP.
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OgreBattle
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2016 3:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Looks like a cool setting. For skills I'd choose...

-Cunning
-Agility
-Piloting
-Roguery

These skills seem the most likely to 'unlock' paths for the character to take.

...

but a game about a rogue supercomputer will probably make cybernetics a useful skill. Maybe drop roguery for that


Last edited by OgreBattle on Thu Oct 13, 2016 3:33 pm; edited 2 times in total
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SlyJohnny
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2016 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Oh man, this was likely my favourite gamebook of all.

The characters start with differing amounts of HP and credits, right?
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Starmaker
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2016 9:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

SlyJohnny wrote:
The characters start with differing amounts of HP and credits, right?

IIRC pregenerated characters starts with differing amounts of HP and credits. Custom characters start with a fixed amount of both.
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The first time I played this book, I died to a blue option. Argh.
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Thaluikhain
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2016 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Why is it called a "Virtual Reality Adventure"? Are they just pushing the idea of the gamebook a little far, or does VR come up in the game/
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SlyJohnny
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2016 12:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

It was the name of the series, most of which are set in various sword and sorcery settings. They're just trying to get you hype about the idea of pretending to be an elf or whatever.
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SGamerz
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2016 12:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

SlyJohnny wrote:
The characters start with differing amounts of HP and credits, right?


That might be the case in the original edition, and is certainly the case in my old copy of "Down Among the Dead Men", which I ran 2 years ago. But it appears that in the new publications of this series (re-branded as "Critical IF") all characters start with the same LP and money. The new edition is the only copy I own for this book, so I can't compare them.
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Darth Rabbitt
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2016 2:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I'd go with Cunning, Lore, Paradoxing and Roguery.
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SGamerz
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2016 5:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

No 2 player has voted for the exact same Skill-set, so we'll have to go by individual Skill votes:

Cunning (3 votes) - top choice, more or less confirmed
Paradoxing (2)
Roguery (2)
Shooting (1)
ESP (1)
Agility (1)
Piloting (1)
Lore (1)
Cybernetics (1)

No votes but still available for choosing:

Close Combat
Streetwise
Survival

So...still need more votes (or vote change) before we can decide our as yet unnamed character.
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Omegonthesane
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2016 9:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I vote Agility, it seems least situational.
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Zak S, Zak Smith, Dndwithpornstars, Zak Sabbath. He is a terrible person and a hack at writing and art. His cultural contributions are less than Justin Bieber's, and he's a shitmuffin. Go go gadget Googlebomb!
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SlyJohnny
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2016 11:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Cybernetics.
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SGamerz
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2016 3:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Omegonthesane's vote scored the tiebreaker first, so Agility makes it to the top 4!

And now we begin:

PROLOGUE:
Quote:
The Etruscan Inn lies in the shadow of the Apennine Mountains, beside a frozen waterfall, sheltered from the wind by a high ridge of bare black rock. You stand at a long window and gaze out towards the mountains. Dusk is melting the sharp outlines of the crags, filling the valleys with blue gloom. The moon glimmers faintly under racing black clouds. Later this evening there will be more snow.

Turning from the window, you let the curtain fall back and make your way across the dingy room. Travellers sit at the sides, noisily gambling and sipping hard liquor the colour of fire. Many are hunters and traders from the plains which slope down from here to the Ligurian Sea. Others may have been here much longer: thin old men and women who found meagre employment. The Etruscan Inn is a famous stop-over for those who undertake the perilous Apennine crossing. If a few such, gazing up at the ice-capped peaks, found their spirits daunted and chose to stay, who can blame them? You sometimes wonder yourself why you bother to press on across the world in the teeth of such hardship and poverty.

The story of how the inn came to be here is a strange one, even for these bizarre times.

The building was originally an air cruiser which crashed in the mountains two hundred years ago. An ancestor of the present innkeeper turned the wreckage into a hostelry for wayfarers. The power unit had not been damaged in the crash, so the inn has electricity – a rarity in the modern world. Even better, several of the air cruiser’s careteks were salvaged. These are robots which continually clean and repair the structure, sturdily carrying out the tasks they were programmed to do centuries ago.

Pushing aside a drape, you step into another room. On the wall, a screen flickers with scenes from an old film. The innkeeper is sitting with a few others at the back, loudly commenting on the action. You step over a caretek which resembles a long metal cockroach. It extends polishing pads to clean the floor where you were standing. Propping yourself against the wall, you watch the film for a few minutes, but the innkeeper’s shouts and jeers are impossible to ignore. When you complain, he only gives a great gusting laugh and says, ‘There’s no point in getting interested in any film that appears on this screen. The video link comes from a satellite connected to Gaia, who changes channels as the whim strikes her. Sometimes I have seen newsreel footage over a century old. At other times there are films, musical shows, or documentaries. But I have yet to see the end of any programme. There – !’ He points at the screen and, turning, you see that the film has been replaced by a blizzard of grey static.

‘Turn it off, can’t you?’ growls a man from the adjacent room. ‘Some of us would like to get to sleep.’

‘Turn it off, you say?’ The innkeeper bellows with laughter at this. ‘It hasn’t been off in all the time I’ve been alive. It can’t be turned off. Not unless Gaia decides to take pity on us and give us a few hours’ peace.’

An angrily florid-faced man stamps through from the other room and glowers at the screen, which has now changed to show a weather report for the coming month. ‘Preposterous!’ he snarls in outrage. ‘It says New York will be having thunderstorms. There has been no rain in New York for years. It is buried under half a mile of ice!’

The innkeeper only chuckles and goes about his chores. ‘Don’t blame me,’ he says. ‘Everyone knows Gaia is mad.’

The man whose rest was disturbed glares after him and protests: ‘If you can’t turn it off, why not smash the screen? It only shows gibberish anyhow.’

Seeing the man step forward as if to do just that, the innkeeper wags a finger at him. ‘I’d advise you to leave it as it is. Stick wads of wool in your ears if the noise disturbs you. But if you smash the screen, the careteks will spend the whole night repairing it and none of us will get any sleep, what with their scuttling about and the clattering of spare parts.’

Hearing this, the man throws up his arms in exasperation and, gathering his blankets, stomps off to sleep at the far end of the inn.

Night falls. The drunken roistering turns to low murmurs, then snores. You huddle on your own bedding and listen to the moaning of the wind outside the fuselage. Tomorrow you have to set out again into the cold. It is not a pleasant prospect.

From the adjacent room you can hear the screen crackling with incessant babble. There is part of a game show probably taped before your great-grandfather was born, followed by clips from science fiction films of the twenty-first century. You are thirsty and you cannot sleep. Ignoring the mumbled complaints of the people stretched out around you, you get up and step over them, moving through to the room where the screen is.

You sit down. Maybe a half hour of random videos will cure your insomnia. Then the screen changes. It is a news report from the year 2095. The main item concerns the crash of an air cruiser in the Apennine mountains. You sit forward in your seat, intrigued. Pictures taken from the air reveal the broken tangle of wreckage that was later repaired to form this inn.

Suddenly the picture changes. ‘In another item today,’ says the announcer’s voice, ‘scientists studying the meteor that fell in Egypt last month say that it may be the oldest object in the universe. These pictures show the safety suits that are needed to approach the meteor, which emits radiation of a type never previously identified.’

The scene flickers to a date months later. A reporter is standing at a roadside, an armoured truck blazing in the background. ‘Terrorists of the sect known as the Volentine Watchers today seized the mysterious meteor as it was being transported to Cairo for further tests. The terrorists, who worship the meteor which they call the Heart of Volent, have yet to issue a statement.’

The screen crackles again, becoming a rich green colour with the outline of the world’s continents in red – the continents as they looked before the sea-level fell and the polar caps crept down to cover them.

A warm feminine voice speaks: ‘The Heart of Volent remained in the hands of the cultists for twenty years. They founded the city of Du-En in the Sahara and learned how to tap the Heart’s power, which they used to devastating effect in the Paradox War. Later Du-En suffered civil war and became abandoned. I have now completed analysis of the scientific tests carried out before the Heart was seized by the cultists. These are my findings. If a sentient creature were to make direct physical contact with the Heart, this would release the full energy stored within. The effect would be to activate that creature’s total psychic potential. In effect they would gain ultimate power over their surroundings. This has been a communication from Gaia. Thank you for your attention.’

The screen goes blank and silent for a moment, then starts to show a cartoon. You hardly notice it. You are too awestruck by the realization that you have just heard the voice of Gaia.

What she said begins to sink in. Ultimate power... It lies somewhere in the ruined city of Du-En, across the Saharan Ice Wastes. Suddenly wary, you look at the sleeping forms stretched out around the room. Did anyone else hear Gaia’s broadcast? You listen to the snores, the drone of slow regular breathing. No one shows any sign of being awake.

Plunged in thought, you return to your blanket and stretch out, but now sleep is even harder to come by. When you finally doze off just a few hours before dawn, your dreams are filled with images of the strange meteor from space and the power that it contains.

Will you go to Du-En and seek the Heart? Are you tempted by a power that could change the whole world? If so, turn to 1.


Obviously, we're going......

Quote:
You are packed and ready to leave the inn at dawn. Cold grey light seeps in through the row of dusty portholes at the side of the common room. Making your way to the door, you find the innkeeper polishing the antique Formica desk. Seeing you set your pack down beside the door, he comes over and kicks away one of the careteks which had its metal body pressed down across the door-sill.

‘You’re lucky having those,’ you say, pushing the door open a crack to take a breath of fresh icy air.

The innkeeper grunts as he watches the caretek reorient itself and glide away across the floor. ‘They are a mixed blessing, since they insist on trying to repair the inn to the form it had originally. This door is a feature that I added myself, more convenient than the hatchway at the back of the fuselage. But if I leave it unattended for more than a few hours at a time, those wretched careteks always try to weld it shut.’

You smile to show that you sympathise. ‘I’d be grateful for some advice. I’m now travelling on to the Sahara. What is the best route?’

The innkeeper flings the door wide, ignoring the curses that erupt from his customers at the sudden intrusion of cold air. Gazing across the expanse of dazzling white snow, he says, ‘The most obvious course would take you to Venis, where you could board the ferry for Kahira, and yet...’ He rubs his hands, blowing out a long furl of steam in the chill air.

‘Myself, I’d be tempted to go instead through the Lyonesse jungle, just to savour a bit of warmth in this frigid world. Thence across the Jib-and-Halter and the Atlas Mountains – unless you stumbled across the ruins of lost Marsay, of course, in which case you might even find a tube tunnel to take you straight to the Sahara.’

Thanking the innkeeper for his advice, you indicate that you are ready to pay your bill. He looks at you in surprise and points to a small dapper man in a grey-trimmed white snowsuit. ‘Your friend there has already paid.’

At this, the small man comes over and extends his hand, smiling broadly. ‘Hello. My name is Kyle Boche. I believe we’re travelling in the same direction.’

If you accept Kyle Boche as your companion on the road, turn to 23. If you tell him that you prefer to travel alone, turn to 45.


Do we want a travelling companion on this quest?

Adventure Sheet:
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angelfromanotherpin
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2016 4:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

We have no combat skills, so we'll need a meat shield.
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Judging__Eagle
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2016 4:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The buddy system isn't terrible. Also, hopefully we're more cunning than they are, if they try to betray us.
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Darth Rabbitt
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2016 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Begin bromance with Kyle Boche.
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SlyJohnny
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2016 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

How did he know which direction we were headed in? Did he pay our bill regardless? Did he settle our bill only five seconds after we told the landlord which direction we were headed in?

But sure, company's nice. Keep friends close, etc etc.
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Omegonthesane
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2016 6:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Collect meat shield.
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FrankTrollman wrote:
And if there are any weeds that grow better in barren soil than laziness and ignorance, I don't know what they are (and don't care enough to find out).
Kaelik wrote:
Because powerful men get away with terrible shit, and even the public domain ones get ignored, and then, when the floodgates open, it turns out there was a goddam flood behind it.
FrankTrollman wrote:
As far as death and human misery goes, Tobacco is basically World War II grinding on forever with no real sign of stopping in our life times. Death camps and nuclear bombs and stuff are certainly dramatic, but public health crises are always and forever bigger than wars on the global scale.


Zak S, Zak Smith, Dndwithpornstars, Zak Sabbath. He is a terrible person and a hack at writing and art. His cultural contributions are less than Justin Bieber's, and he's a shitmuffin. Go go gadget Googlebomb!
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SGamerz
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2016 11:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
‘I overheard you say you were bound for the Saharan Ice Wastes,’ says Boche. ‘My own journey takes me in that direction.’

As you set off together through the deep drifts of snow, Boche takes your arm and points to a row of black wooden posts. ‘That is the road to Venis. We can catch the ferry from there to Kahira.’

If you agree to go east to Venis, turn to 200. If you’d rather go west through the Lyonesse jungle, as the innkeeper recommended, turn to 177.


Whose advice do we follow? The innkeeper, or our new companion?
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Omegonthesane
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2016 8:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

East to Venis, he might have an actual reason in his schedule to take that course.
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FrankTrollman wrote:
And if there are any weeds that grow better in barren soil than laziness and ignorance, I don't know what they are (and don't care enough to find out).
Kaelik wrote:
Because powerful men get away with terrible shit, and even the public domain ones get ignored, and then, when the floodgates open, it turns out there was a goddam flood behind it.
FrankTrollman wrote:
As far as death and human misery goes, Tobacco is basically World War II grinding on forever with no real sign of stopping in our life times. Death camps and nuclear bombs and stuff are certainly dramatic, but public health crises are always and forever bigger than wars on the global scale.


Zak S, Zak Smith, Dndwithpornstars, Zak Sabbath. He is a terrible person and a hack at writing and art. His cultural contributions are less than Justin Bieber's, and he's a shitmuffin. Go go gadget Googlebomb!
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angelfromanotherpin
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2016 10:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I don't trust directions from local merchants, they're usually just sending business to friends. Venis.
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Silent Wayfarer
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2016 12:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I have a question: Heart of Violent?
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SlyJohnny
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2016 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

"volent: Exercising volition
Latin volent-, volens, present participle of velle to will, wish"

Don't ask me about the Paradoxing Wars, though.
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Darth Rabbitt
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2016 12:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Go to Venis.
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SGamerz
Duke


Joined: 16 Jun 2014
Posts: 2241

PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2016 3:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
Record the codeword Diamond on your Character Sheet.

Your journey takes you up into the mountains, where the days are dull under a leaden sky and the nights are filled with swirling snow. You subsist on a few rations brought with you from the inn, but these are quickly used up. Too quickly. You must reach an inhabited area soon or else starve.

Forcing your way bent-backed against a glacial wind, you are traversing a narrow pass when you catch sight of a human figure on a ledge up ahead. Your cries of greeting are ignored, and the figure is hidden for a moment behind a veil of snow. Hurrying forward, you discover several other figures, but none are glad to see you. They are beyond any emotion, in fact, being long dead and frozen into rigid statues by the cold.

If you go closer to investigate, turn to 264. If you ignore the frozen corpses and continue along the pass, turn to 285.


Investigate?
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