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Sword of the Samurai

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Can You save Hachiman from chaos? Hachiman is in great danger. The Shogun's control is slipping. Bandits roam the land freely and barbarian invaders have begun to raid across the borders. All this because the Dai-Katana, the Shogun's great sword, has been stolen from the Shogun. YOU are the Shogun's champion, a young Samurai. Your mission is to recover this wondrous sword f Can You save Hachiman from chaos? Hachiman is in great danger. The Shogun's control is slipping. Bandits roam the land freely and barbarian invaders have begun to raid across the borders. All this because the Dai-Katana, the Shogun's great sword, has been stolen from the Shogun. YOU are the Shogun's champion, a young Samurai. Your mission is to recover this wondrous sword from Ikiru, the Master of Shadows, deep in the Pit of Demons. Two dice, a pencil and an eraser are all you need. You have a choice of warrior skills which will affect the outcome of your mission. There are Honour points to be won and lost. YOU decide which route to follow, which dangers to risk and which monsters to fight.


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Can You save Hachiman from chaos? Hachiman is in great danger. The Shogun's control is slipping. Bandits roam the land freely and barbarian invaders have begun to raid across the borders. All this because the Dai-Katana, the Shogun's great sword, has been stolen from the Shogun. YOU are the Shogun's champion, a young Samurai. Your mission is to recover this wondrous sword f Can You save Hachiman from chaos? Hachiman is in great danger. The Shogun's control is slipping. Bandits roam the land freely and barbarian invaders have begun to raid across the borders. All this because the Dai-Katana, the Shogun's great sword, has been stolen from the Shogun. YOU are the Shogun's champion, a young Samurai. Your mission is to recover this wondrous sword from Ikiru, the Master of Shadows, deep in the Pit of Demons. Two dice, a pencil and an eraser are all you need. You have a choice of warrior skills which will affect the outcome of your mission. There are Honour points to be won and lost. YOU decide which route to follow, which dangers to risk and which monsters to fight.

30 review for Sword of the Samurai

  1. 5 out of 5

    Johnny

    Imagine a combination “Choose Your Own Adventure” and solitaire Dungeons & Dragons module. That’s my impression of the Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks from Games Workshop innovators Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone. One can move through the interactive story several times and still not be certain that the entire book has been experienced. Plus, it’s brutal. Although I was very fortunate in character creation, my character was still overwhelmed the first two times through the story—only the final enc Imagine a combination “Choose Your Own Adventure” and solitaire Dungeons & Dragons module. That’s my impression of the Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks from Games Workshop innovators Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone. One can move through the interactive story several times and still not be certain that the entire book has been experienced. Plus, it’s brutal. Although I was very fortunate in character creation, my character was still overwhelmed the first two times through the story—only the final encounter being different each time. As one might expect, Sword of the Samurai is set in feudal Japan with elements of the fantastic (or maybe, “phantastic”) embroidered into the tapestry. Characters are sent on a mission by the shogun and, in the course of following their lord’s instructions, may find themselves facing traitors, undead ronin, or riddle-spewing dragons (they’re simple riddles—think food for the first and something self-referential for the second). Combat is simpler than in Dungeons & Dragons as one has to manipulate less attributes and can only have one skill. Opposed dice throws (2d) plus the skill number will decide the winner. Several of the classic fantasy tropes are found in this story. As you seek the legendary sword known as Singing Death, you will encounter a number of “door” encounters through which one enters various planes of existence, face revivified corpses of samurai, and a potentially deadly duel with the ultimate bad guy—Ikiru, Master of Shadows. If you’ve done all the right things, you can probably defeat him, but there are a few hidden matters here and there to bear in mind. First, remember that in Asian folklore, the best path to your goal is not necessarily the straightest. Second, don’t be blinded by the game mechanics. Remember that even though you are playing a game to get the story, you must consider that “Honour” (British spelling) attribute to have more significance in story terms than it appears to have in game terms. Don’t be fooled. Truthfully, although Sword of the Samurai has story elements and is an enjoyable experience, its story fails at the very point where it should be strongest—characterization. Since the reader is the protagonist, the authors don’t offer any internal motivation other than the most general ideas of giri (“duty”) and loyalty. Worse, the antagonists mostly seem like characters from an Asian shadow play. You have the demons, the undead, the mysterious female, the dragon, the supernatural tiger, and phoenix, as well as rebel samurai. Yet, we really don’t know why they do what they do. If you’re just looking for an entertaining couple of hours to adventure by yourself, the lack of motivation isn’t much of a problem. If you’d like a meaty story to go with your solitaire adventure, you’ll be disappointed. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed the experience. Yet, I think the idea of an adventure packaged as a book had me expecting a bit more story than if I’d found it in module form. These books (Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks) aren’t easy to find these days, but they are part of gaming history. As a result, both volumes that I recently found are worth far more to me than the rating I’ve given them here. As a pure solitaire adventure, Sword of the Samurai is probably closer to four stars; as a story, it wouldn’t even quite rate two stars. As a combination of adventure, story, and artifact of gaming history, it’s much more.

  2. 5 out of 5

    David Sarkies

    An Asian adventure 21 June 2012 I must admit that this Fighting Fantasy game book rather surprised me. It was actually the first time that I read it (though since it is a game book that took me a couple of hours to read I am not going to include it as a part of my reading challenge in the same way that I am not including graphic novels as a part of the reading challenge) and I must admit that I quite enjoyed it. I guess it has something to do with when I was a teenager I really was only intereste An Asian adventure 21 June 2012 I must admit that this Fighting Fantasy game book rather surprised me. It was actually the first time that I read it (though since it is a game book that took me a couple of hours to read I am not going to include it as a part of my reading challenge in the same way that I am not including graphic novels as a part of the reading challenge) and I must admit that I quite enjoyed it. I guess it has something to do with when I was a teenager I really was only interested in the medieval style swords and sorcery gamebooks rather than with the ones that had different themes. This one is set in the world of Titan but in a different land on a different continent. The realm is sort of based on a mix between China and Japan and tries to capture the essence of adventuring in a medieval Asian culture. The problem that I found is that it was written by a couple of Anglos which means that we are trying to create an Asian culture from an Anglo perspective. I suspect that the book would have been much better if it had been written by an Asian (or at least had an Asian consultant in the process, however that may have been the case - though I note that there is no Asian name in the credits). Basically you are a samurai serving the Shogun and he has lost the magical sword that gives him the authority to rule. As such the empire is breaking apart as lords are ditching their alliance to the Shogun in favour of the Lord of Shadows, who happens to have stolen the sword. You, as the samurai, have the task of attempting to break into the Lord of Shadows' fortress and get the sword sword back (which will in turn restore the Shogun's legitimacy – a concept which is actually quite Chinese). This runs like a typical Fighting Fantasy novel though they have included an extra stat called honour. At first I thought that having honour as a stat was simply adding flavour to the adventure until I discovered at the end that honour plays a very important role in being able to easily complete the adventure. Basically to be able to survive your honour needs to be 5 or higher, and to be able to do so easily you need it to be 6 or higher. However, if your honour drops to 0 you die. This is not surprising because dying is very easy in this adventure. There are actually two ways to complete the adventure and these paths are chosen right at the beginning. One path makes the adventure a little easier to complete than the other, however it does not matter which path you chose because you can still complete the adventure. What you need to do is to find some 'charms' which enable to you recruit allies for the penultimate battle, and even then you need to be able to chose the correct ally to fight the correct enemy. There is one gripe that I had though: there is a part where you have to answer riddles. To answer the riddle you have to turn each of the letters into their corresponding number, add them together, and turn to the appropriate paragraph. This was dubious because you had to pretty much guess the correct word as opposed to the correct idea. Interesting, but it made it quite difficult to solve the riddle.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Among my favourites in the Fighting Fantasy series, and one of the few that I managed to complete without cheating!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Cristiana Ramos

    Conhecem os tradicionais livros? Pega-se nele, folheia-se, mergulha-se nas páginas... Esqueçam esse tipo de livros e venham conhecer os livros de "Aventuras Fantásticas". Aqui quem manda é o próprio leitor e é ele que escolhe o seu destino! Necessitas de dois dados, um lápis e uma borracha para embarcar nesta aventura. Neste tipo de livro, além da histórias, precisas de ter perícia, força e sorte para chegar ao fim do livro. Enquanto que num livro normal, vai-se lendo de forma contínua, aqui não! Conhecem os tradicionais livros? Pega-se nele, folheia-se, mergulha-se nas páginas... Esqueçam esse tipo de livros e venham conhecer os livros de "Aventuras Fantásticas". Aqui quem manda é o próprio leitor e é ele que escolhe o seu destino! Necessitas de dois dados, um lápis e uma borracha para embarcar nesta aventura. Neste tipo de livro, além da histórias, precisas de ter perícia, força e sorte para chegar ao fim do livro. Enquanto que num livro normal, vai-se lendo de forma contínua, aqui não! Vais saltando de página em página, criando uma dinâmica que nos prende ao livro. Na minha opinião, este tipo de livros é ideal para quem não gosta muito de ler mas que adora, por exemplo, um bom jogo de aventura, porque é o que isto acaba por ser: um jogo. O leitor acaba por ser um jovem samurai em que é atribuído uma missão, mas para chegar ao desafio final tem que ultrapassar pequenos obstáculos, tais como defrontar monstros e conseguir derrotá-los. Já não bastava esta ideia inovadora, o livro ainda contém várias ilustrações. Quem disse que um livro não pode divertido? Quem disse que para termos uma grande aventura sem sair de casa é necessário um computador ou uma consola? Aqui só necessitam deste livro e mergulhar nesta aventura em que o leitor é o herói.

  5. 4 out of 5

    RJ

    SWORD OF THE SAMURAI (Fighting Fantasy Gamebook, No 20) by Steve Jackson (1987)

  6. 4 out of 5

    Graham

    SWORD OF THE SAMURAI is a Fighting Fantasy gamebook that I never encountered as a kid, probably because I didn't have enough pocket money at the time to buy it (and maybe because I didn't know what a "samurai" was). Thankfully I've now played the book properly as an adult, and I can report it's one of the most vividly-described and enthralling of all Fighting Fantasy adventures. The adventure is set in a remote, Far Eastern land, cut off from the rest of the realm. We're basically in a medieval J SWORD OF THE SAMURAI is a Fighting Fantasy gamebook that I never encountered as a kid, probably because I didn't have enough pocket money at the time to buy it (and maybe because I didn't know what a "samurai" was). Thankfully I've now played the book properly as an adult, and I can report it's one of the most vividly-described and enthralling of all Fighting Fantasy adventures. The adventure is set in a remote, Far Eastern land, cut off from the rest of the realm. We're basically in a medieval Japan here, one full of supernatural evil and the usual devils and demons popular from Japanese folklore: kappa, forest spirits, the angry dead, and more besides. The quest is of your garden variety (kill the evil warlord, etc.), but it's the journey that makes this adventure so special. The encounters that the player has seem particularly horrific; at one point I unwisely ventured into a village and discovered to my disturbance that the villagers were actually evil spirits whose heads separated from their shoulders to attack me! Sinister stuff indeed. The opponents are also pretty difficult to fight, and the inclusion of an 'honour' system is a remarkably clever addition to the usual rules. I only got a small way into this adventure before making an unwise choice and dying, so I'll be sure to come back to it shortly for a second (and probably third and forth) attempt.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Scribe

    Picked this up randomly as a book crossing book some years ago but only just played it. 4 stars to cover the pure nostalgia - used to love FF books and this took me right back, although I don't think I actually played this one in my youth. Surprised at how well it reads, and also just how tense it is as an experience. Finger-bookmarks definitely spread through the book as I got closer and closer to the end. Picked this up randomly as a book crossing book some years ago but only just played it. 4 stars to cover the pure nostalgia - used to love FF books and this took me right back, although I don't think I actually played this one in my youth. Surprised at how well it reads, and also just how tense it is as an experience. Finger-bookmarks definitely spread through the book as I got closer and closer to the end.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Icedlake

    Let me just preface this with telling that I'm not a great fan of oriental culture. Nevertheless I got really hooked by this FF. It's highly intriguing and full of bizarre encounters, that prove themselves worth reading. A bit to hard to solve but one could see this as a challenge. A hard one, that is. Let me just preface this with telling that I'm not a great fan of oriental culture. Nevertheless I got really hooked by this FF. It's highly intriguing and full of bizarre encounters, that prove themselves worth reading. A bit to hard to solve but one could see this as a challenge. A hard one, that is.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lady Entropy

    I liked how they went and tried several different concepts and settings with each book. This one was for samurai in a fantasy japan, and I lapped it up as even as a child, I was totally into anime and japanese culture. Also, "Singing Death", the most awesome name for a Sword ever. I liked how they went and tried several different concepts and settings with each book. This one was for samurai in a fantasy japan, and I lapped it up as even as a child, I was totally into anime and japanese culture. Also, "Singing Death", the most awesome name for a Sword ever.

  10. 4 out of 5

    David

    This is quite an interesting read despite it being a gamebook. The way the finale fight is handled makes it rather unique. Although it is for a younger audience, its theme and good depictions/illustrations/descriptions might have been slightly more mature than its intended readers.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Analuabc

    O meu livro preferido sem ser passado no espaço. Puro RPG no seu melhor!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mjhancock

    Reviewing a gamebook is interesting, because I tend towards reviewing it more as a game than a book. I'm less interested in issues like character or dialogue, and much more interested in innovative mechanics, or playing "fair" with the player. There are some common elements; setting tends to remain the same, and, in the case of the Fighting Fantasy series, monsters are still as important, if not more so. On the subject of setting, Smith and Thompson deserve a lot of credit just in deviating from Reviewing a gamebook is interesting, because I tend towards reviewing it more as a game than a book. I'm less interested in issues like character or dialogue, and much more interested in innovative mechanics, or playing "fair" with the player. There are some common elements; setting tends to remain the same, and, in the case of the Fighting Fantasy series, monsters are still as important, if not more so. On the subject of setting, Smith and Thompson deserve a lot of credit just in deviating from the traditional D&D pastiche that fits with most Fighting Fantasy books up to this point (book 20 in the original series; most FF books that deal with fantasy setting, anyway). Relocating into Japanese myth is, if somewhat appropriating, at least also a breath of fresh air. Mechanics-wise, there's an ability system that gives some superhuman extra options as well as some combat options (they have quasi-Japanese names, but they're roughly fast arrow, fast draw, and superjump and so forth). Some appear to be more useful than others--quick draw is more combat-related, and super jump is less used than arrow, but arrow is also finite. The other mechanics change is an honour measurement. It's based on Smith and Thompson's notion of Japanese feudal honor though, and thus has some peculiarities--for example, not attacking villagers who insult you lowers your honor, rather than as you might assume, attacking unarmed villagers. The reason given is that failure to save face is dishonorable. It's interesting as a Western take on samurai, but a bit frustrating in practice. "Interesting but a bit frustrating in practice" describes the book fairly well. It does an interesting thing where the more fantastic elements are trickled in slowly; at the start, you have a choice of either the confrontation with villagers or interfering with a raid on a village. In both cases, a failure to dig deeper can bypass whole sections of the book and put off the engagement with mythic beings. Besides missing story flavor, you would not want to do that, as the collection of items is absolutely necessary. The penultimate encounter of the book has the player character facing off against larger than life beings and you can only reasonably survive by calling on your own such beings. It has a wonderfully epic feel to it, but also feels a bit unfair, in that it's not clear which superbeings need to be brought against which other. Likewise, there's an extended bit with a pagoda garden where again you have to choose an encounter order with fantastic beings, only there's a lot more instant death options. The former serves as an item check and the latter as choices you don't have enough feedback on; neither feels particularly good to play through. But the setting here is really excellent. The slow escalation really works, and some of the encounters--the kappa in the swamp, the secret behind the village--dip really well into the horror of Japanese myth. It's one worth playing, but maybe with a bit more cheating than usual.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ian

    Unusual entry to the series as you have honour and special powers but I found this added little to the game!! took me 5 attempts though so certainly not the most easiest book! Enjoyable adventure not a favourite of mine though.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sonny

    Probably one of my favourite FF novels of all time, excellent setting and RPG system (in particular the intriguing Honor system), but like any FF novel, it takes several read-throughs before you reach a satisfactory ending.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alexander Curran

    Review in progress... :D

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jacob

    A decent Fighting Fantasy adventure - nothing outrageously radical about this one, but it's certainly still enjoyable. If you like old samurai movies, you'll probably like this. A decent Fighting Fantasy adventure - nothing outrageously radical about this one, but it's certainly still enjoyable. If you like old samurai movies, you'll probably like this.

  17. 5 out of 5

    StephStrider

  18. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Weedon

  19. 5 out of 5

    Scott Moore

  20. 5 out of 5

    Wereslug

  21. 4 out of 5

    Carlo

  22. 4 out of 5

    Martin Marshall

  23. 4 out of 5

    Richard Paulik

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andy

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alan

  27. 5 out of 5

    Craig

  28. 4 out of 5

    Serret

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sean Talbot

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mark

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