A Midwinter Carol


by hosted


rules2


Luck

At various times during your adventure, either in battles or when you come across other situations in which you could either be Lucky or Unlucky (details of these are given in the relevant pages themselves), you may use LUCK to make the outcome more favourable to you. However, beware! Using LUCK is a risky business and, if you are unlucky, the results could be disastrous.
The procedure for using your luck is as follows: roll two dice. If the number rolled is less than or equal to your current LUCK score, you have been Lucky and the outcome will be in your favour. If the number rolled is higher than your current LUCK score, you have been Unlucky and will be penalised.

This procedure is known as Testing your Luck. Each time you Test your Luck, you must subtract 1 point from your current LUCK score. Thus, you will soon realise that, the more you rely on your LUCK, the more risky this procedure will become.

Using Luck in Battles

On certain pages of the book, you will be told to Test your Luck, and will be told the consequences of your being Lucky or Unlucky. However, in battles you always have the option of using your LUCK either to inflict more serious damage on an opponent you have just wounded or to minimise the effects of a wound you have just received.

If you have just wounded an opponent, you may Test your Luck as described above. If you are Lucky, you have inflicted a severe wound; deduct an extra 2 points from your opponent’s STAMINA score. However, if you are Unlucky, however, your blow only scratches your opponent, and you deduct only 1 point from your opponent’s STAMINA (instead of scoring the normal 2 points of damage, you now only score 1).

Whenever you yourself are wounded in combat, you may Test your Luck to try to minimise the wound. If you are Lucky, your opponent’s blow only grazes you; deduct only 1 point from your STAMINA. If you are Unlucky, your wound is a serious one and you must deduct 1 extra STAMINA point (i.e., a total of 3 points from your own STAMINA). Remember: you must subtract 1 point from your LUCK score each time you Test your Luck.

Continue reading the Rules

Skip to Generate Character and start playing

Return to Introduction


background


Background

Tomorrow is the 14th of Snow’s Cloak, the Midwinter Festival and all Arion is preparing for the festivities. All that is except you - Ethelred Samiar, the Baron Den Snau. You have no time for the present giving and “good will to all men” that this sanctimonious holiday demands. No, you have great plans for tomorrow. The Love of Libra Orphanage has failed to pay back the money you leant them and you’re going to have the place closed down tomorrow. Let’s see them have a happy Midwinter now, you think to yourself. Of course, it won’t do much to improve your popularity in the city, but let the people moan “ it never hurts you. Last year you were cut down by an intrepid adventurer and your mansion was nearly burnt to the ground. The people cheered then despaired when you made a complete recovery. You had your mansion renovated soon afterwards (the workers were most disgruntled when you managed to trick them so you wouldn’t have to pay up). You were even implicated with the kidnap of Princess Telessa last year, but no conclusive proof could be found. Your cousins, the twin monarchs Jonthane and Elegana, grumbled and cursed your name, but without proof there was nothing they could do to you. You crawl into your plush bed, your head filled with pleasant dreams of homeless children. Maybe those gutterlags people are always banging on at you to do something about will find a few fresh snacks on the streets?

You are startled from your sleep by the rattling of heavy chains. Brow furrowed, you sit up in bed.
‘Who’s there?’ you call.

A semi-transparent figure appears in front of you. The bald-headed, bloodshot eyed figure has several heavy chains wrapped round him and gives you a look of pure agony. It is then that you recognise his face.

‘Arachnos!’ you start. ‘But you’re dead!’

‘Indeed I am,’ moans the spectre of your former accomplice in Telessa’s kidnap. ‘But I am not at rest. For my crimes in life I am being punished for all eternity.’

‘Well, um, you have my sympathies,’ you manage, wondering why this grim spectre has decided to descend upon you.

‘I am here to warn you,’ Arachnos continues. ‘A similar fate awaits you.’

‘What?’ you shout dismayed.

‘Your fate can be avoided however. Tonight you will be visited by three spirits. They will teach you the true meaning of Midwinter. Heed their lessons well or suffer eternal damnation.’

The spectre fades to nothingness before your eyes. Left alone in your shadowy room, you try to get back to sleep, hoping that this was all a bad dream.

Now turn over.


0


A Midwinter Carol

By Kieran Coghlan

Editors Note: Fully implemented, but I DO expect it to be buggy in places until some playtesting is done.

Disclaimer
A Midwinter Carol contains some spoilers for Masks of Mayhem and some mild spoilers for Deathmoor. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Thanks to Dave Holt for the Adventure Sheet and rules, The Oiseau for his excellent Advelh program and Charles Dickens for coming up with ideas for me to steal.

Introduction
In this adventure you take the role of the Baron Den Snau, a vile evil noble who lives in the city of Arion. While not bad with a sword, you are no warrior by any means and your Initial Skill and Stamina scores reflect this.

Generate Character and start playing

Read the Rules

Read Implementation notes (and cheating)


rules


Skill, Stamina and Luck

Roll one die. If you roll a 1 or 2, your Initial Skill is 7, if you roll 3 or 4 your Initial Skill is 8, roll 5 or 6 and it is 9.

Roll one die and add 12 to your score. The result is your Initial Stamina.

Roll one die and add 6 to the score. The result is your Initial Luck.

Enter these values in the relevant boxes in your adventure sheet. Although your scores may go up and down throughout the adventure, they can never exceed your Initial scores.

Continue reading the Rules

Skip to Generate Character and start playing

Return to Introduction


rules4


Poison

You begin the adventure with a vial of black dragon blood mixed with manticore sting - the most virulent poison on the face of Titan. Before combat you may put the poison onto your weapon and if you win one attack round against your opponent they will die instantly. You only have enough poison for one application however so use it wisely. Due to the magical nature of the vial you keep the poison in, you will always have the vial on you no matter what else is happening to you.

Go to Generate Character and start playing

Return to Introduction


rules1


Battles

During your adventure, you will often come across pages in the book, which instruct you to fight a creature of some sort. An option to flee may be given, but if not - or if choose to attack the creature anyway - you must resolve the battle as described below.

First, record the opponent’s SKILL and STAMINA scores in the first empty Encounter box on your Adventure Sheet. The scores for each opponent or creature are given in the book each time you have an encounter. You should also make a note of any special abilities or instructions, which are unique to that particular opponent. The sequence of combat is then:

1. Roll two dice for your opponent. Add its SKILL score. This total is the opponents Attack Strength.

2. Roll two dice for yourself. Add the number rolled to your current STAMINA score. This total is your Attack Strength.

3. If your Attack Strength is higher than your opponent’s is, you have wounded it. Proceed to step
4. If your opponent’s Attack Strength is higher than yours is, it has wounded you. Proceed to step 5. If both Attack Strength totals are the same, you have avoided each other’s blows - start the next Attack Round from steps 1 above.

4. You have wounded your opponent; so subtract 2 points from its STAMINA score. You may use LUCK here to do additional damage (see below). Proceed to step 7.

5. Your opponent has wounded you; so subtract 2 points from your STAMINA score. You may use LUCK to reduce the loss of STAMINA (see below). Proceed to step 7.

6. Make the appropriate adjustments to either your opponents or your own STAMINA scores (and your LUCK score if you used LUCK - see over).

7. Begin the next Attack Round, starting again at step 1 with your current SKILL score. This sequence continues until the STAMINA score of either you or your opponent reaches zero (death). If your opponent dies, you are free to continue with your adventure. If you die, your adventure ends and you must start all over again by creating a new character.

Continue reading the Rules

Skip to Generate Character and start playing

Return to Introduction


Poison Vial


This is a vial of poison. You may it to your weapon for one combat only, when the combat status says 'precombat'. During the combt any hit you make will instantly slay your enemy.
You apply the poison to your weapon, and the vial is now empty and uselessYou may not apply the poison unless you are in combat and combat status is 'precombat', and in some cases may not use poison at all (see page text)



rules3


Testing Your Skill

At times you may be asked to Test your Skill. To do this, roll two dice. If the total is equal to or less than your current Skill score you have been successful, otherwise you have been unsuccessful. There is no need to subtract a Skill point after Testing your Skill.

Continue reading the Rules

Skip to Generate Character and start playing

Return to Introduction


1


You watch the shadows in your room lengthen as you toss and turn uncomfortably. Your eyes are just beginning to close when there is a flash of light and suddenly before you there is the angelic form of a young girl. Her long blonde hair hangs over delicate white garbed shoulders and her feet seem to glide above your dusty floor.

‘Greetings,’ she says in a sweet voice. ‘I am the Ghost of Midwinter Past.’

‘Midwinter Past?’ you ask unbelievingly. ‘What are you talking about girl?’

‘You don’t have any time for Midwinter, do you Ethelred?’ she replies solemnly.

‘No. It’s just a time when stupid people waste their money and pretend to like one another.’

‘Did you always feel this way?’ the girl asks, tilting her head.

Before you can answer the girl’s dress become impossibly bright and you have to close your eyes. When you open them again you find you are no longer in your bed chamber but in Arion castle. Not only that, but the floor seems a lot closer. Looking down at your body you realise with a start that you are a child once more! While you are a child subtract 2 from your Skill score. The ghost is gone, but a boy and a girl watch you amusedly.

‘What are you doing Ethelred?’ asks the boy who you suddenly recognize as your cousin King Jonthane as he was as a lad.

‘Come on Ethelred, Jonthane’s it,’ laughs the future Queen Elegana.

Jonthane covers his eyes and starts counting while Elegana runs off into the shadows over to where the barracks are. You scamper off yourself. Did you really used to play with those two losers you think to yourself. But yes, this is all coming back to you. It was Midwinter and your father had brought you and your two older brothers to see his brother, the then King of Arion. While the king talked with your father and brothers you were left to play with the twins. Something else happened that day but you just can’t remember what it was. It’s like you have some sort of mental block. Jonthane has now reached 100 in his counting so you guess you’d best find somewhere to hide. Will you:

Follow Princess Elegana to the barracks? Turn to 38.
Head down to the treasury? Turn to 7.
Try to hide in court wizard Ifor Tynin’s study? Turn to 18.


2


You open your eyes to be greeted by the early morning sun. You appear to be lying on your bedroom floor with your blankets tangled round your legs.

‘Harrumph,’ you hear above you. You look up to see Gurz your half-troll butler towering above you.
‘You appear to have fallen out of bed, sir,’ rumbles the half-troll in the affected accent you forced him to adopt.

‘Indeed I have,’ you reply perkily. ‘Help me up, will you?’

Gurz hauls you roughly to your feet.

‘We have a visitor, sir,’ he continues. ‘A messenger from the palace says you are invited to the Queen’s Midwinter party. Shall I release the dire wolves?’

Do you have the codeword ‘red’, ‘amber’ and ‘green’ recorded? If so, turn to 13. Otherwise, turn to 45.


3


The crowd look aghast as your opponent crashes heavily to the cobbles, gargling on his own blood.
‘Who else wants some?’ you yell, fired up with your victory.

The mob back away, none eager to pit themselves against your skill. Barging through the crowd comes the bearded form of the Ghost of Midwinter Present.

‘I see you’ve learnt nothing,’ he sighs, his former jollity gone. He claps his mighty hands together causing a noise like thunder. You feel yourself blacking out. Turn to 47.


4


You reach the orphanage to see the men-at-arms you hired have already thrown the residents out. Most of the children are being led away bawling by Sisters of Libra who are trying hopelessly to reassure them. One of them catches your eye and gives you a glance that could curdle milk.

‘Not very cheerful are they?’ you jest to the spirit.

‘What do you expect?’ he replies matter-of-factly. ‘Most of their charges will have frozen to death by the end of the day.’

You see a few of the orphans are still hanging around the orphanage. Two girls are trying to climb in an open window, two boys are brawling in the snow, while one boy sits sorrowfully on a stone wall, looking down at the ground. You sense the Ghost of Midwinter Present expects you to do something about these children. Which will you approach?

The two girls? Turn to 35.
The fighting pair? Turn to 43.
The solitary boy? Turn to 14.


5


You try to dive aside, but you are not quick enough. You are squashed by a falling piece of your own house.


6


You open your eyes and find yourself back in your dark bedchamber, the covers of your bed wrapped tightly around you. You wonder whether you were just having a bad dream and try to get back to sleep (restore 4 Stamina points).

Just as you are drifting off , there is a clap of thunder and suddenly your room is bathed in daylight. A huge bearded man stands before you with his arms crossed.

‘Wake up lazy bones. HO HO HO!’ he booms.

You struggle out of bed. ‘Who are you?’ you ask, bewildered.

‘Why, I am the ghost of Midwinter Present. HO HO HO!’

‘Do you have to laugh like that?’ you snap, rubbing your head. ‘It’s still early.’

‘Actually I advanced time a bit. It’s now the afternoon. HO HO HO!’

‘What do you want anyway?’ you sigh.

‘To show you how your grouchiness is going to give people an unhappy Midwinter. HO HO HO!’
‘Do we have to?’

‘Yes,’ he replies in what is almost a modulated tone. ‘Now grab your coat before I start laughing again.’

Soon you are walking down the snowy streets of Arion trying to keep up with the ghost’s mighty strides.

‘Look, where are we going?’ you ask in exasperation.

‘To the orphanage. HO HO HO!’

‘Now don’t start that again,’ you threaten.

Suddenly a crowd of riff-raffs, many of them armed with knives and cudgels melt out of the alleys before you.

‘Well, well,’ snarls a long haired man with an eye patch. ‘If it ain’t the honourable Baron Den Snau here to mingle with the commoners.’

‘Cos of you I can’t afford any Midwinter presents,’ yells someone in the crowd.

‘And he still hasn’t done anything about them gutterlags,’ shrieks a woman. ‘One of them attacked our Wally the other day.’

This looks ugly. You turn to the ghost only to see he’s disappeared. Will you fight the mob (turn to 21) or try to barge through them (turn to 37)?


7


As you descend the stone steps to the treasury (a place King Jonthane doesn’t let you go near these days) you hear muttered voices from the darkness below.

‘But Dad! You said we would spend Midwinter in Jitar!’

‘Hush boy,’ replies the gruff voice of an older man. ‘No point celebrating Midwinter if we don’t have money to spend on festivities now, is there? We’ll head straight back to Jitar once we liberate some of the king’s jewels from their prison.’

Seems some people are planning to rob the king. Will you descend the stairs and attack them (turn to 26) or rush off to get help (turn to 33)? Alternatively, you can leave them to it and hide in either the barracks (turn to 38) or Ifor Tynin’s study (turn to 18).


8


You follow the main thoroughfare of the city towards the palace. You are surprised that few people are on the streets and there is no sign of any Midwinter decorations. You spot a large smear of blood against one wall and what looks like a disembodied hand lying in a pile of snow. Test your Luck. If you are Lucky, turn to 17. If you are Unlucky, turn to 36.


9


The boys grumble then shake hands and run off after the other orphans.

‘My good deed for the day,’ you declare to the spirit.

‘Yes, I’m sure it more than makes up for mass eviction of orphans into the snow,’ he replies sarcastically.

You shrug. What more does this sanctimonious ghost want of you? Will you go over to the two girls next (turn to 35) or the solitary boy (turn to 14)?


10


She stops sobbing and looks up at you again with red-rimmed eyes.

‘Is there a reason you’re just staring at me,’ she sighs. ‘I want you to GO AWAY! GUARDS! GUARDS!’
You hear the sound of armoured feet running down the corridor. The door is burst open and two grim faced guards rush in - and fail to see you.

‘Arrest that man!’ shrieks the princess.

‘Um, what man, princess?’ asks a puzzled guard.

‘That man!’ yells Telessa, pointing straight at you. ‘The Baron Den Snau.’

‘There’s no-one there, your ladyship,’ states the guard nervously.

‘The Baron’s at home dying anyway,’ contributes the other guard kindly.

You decide to get out now and slip past the guards while the irate princess keeps shrieking for them to arrest you.

As you proceed down the plushly carpeted corridor, you spot the cowled figure of the Ghost of Midwinter Yet to Come striding down the corridor toward you. Without a word, he sweeps his arm in front of your face and you crumble into unconsciousness. Turn to 2.


11


A thought springs to your mind. The poison round your neck is one of the most virulent compounds on Titan. Maybe it could slow the beast in its tracks? The dragon breathes a sheet of fire at you and you are forced to dive backwards, smacking into an ornate bow and arrow that were hanging on the wall. The sudden flicker of an idea igniting in your brain, you unhook the bow and arrow from the wall, carefully pour the poison on the arrow and ready the bow to take aim. The dragon turns and is about to unleash another burst of fiery breath as you fire. Test your Skill. If you are successful, turn to 50. Otherwise, turn to 22.


12


You step over the carcasses of the gutterlags and hurry on to your mansion before more of the beasts sniff you out. The front door falls from its rotten hinges as you turn the handle. Wondering how you let your mansion enter such a state of disrepair, you cross the threshold. Suddenly there is a rumble from above your head and chunks of masonry come flying down towards your head. Test your Skill. If you are successful, turn to 24. Otherwise, turn to 5.


13


‘No don’t do that,’ you respond. ‘I’ll go talk to him.’

Gurz raises the crusty ridges that pass for his eyebrows but says nothing. You walk downstairs to find a gaudily dressed messenger shivering in the doorway.

‘Come in,’ you say, ‘it’s warmer in here.’

The messenger looks around uncertainly, clearly suspecting some sort of trap, but he crosses the threshold.

‘Her Majesty Elegana requests your presence at her Midwinter party at the palace. Six o’ clock tonight,’ he begins. Then he gulps before continuing: ‘Although Her Majesty wishes it made clear that she will not be offended if you refuse.’

‘Tell Her Majesty I would be delighted to attend,’ you reply with a smile.

The messenger looks surprised at this response, but he bows politely before hurriedly leaving.
You’re not sure whether it’s the dreams you had last night (if dreams they were) or maybe just something you ate, but you feel extremely jolly today. You wander into the city and stop the men-at-arms from evicting any orphans. They grumble until you tell them they will be paid ten times the agreed amount if they sort out the gutterlag infestation as soon as possible. You then head to the shops in the city centre and spend ridiculous amounts of gold on presents: a gold watch for King Jonthane; a precious locket for Queen Elegana; a beautiful silver tiara for young Telessa; a new scythe for your gardener; a book of ribald limericks for your goblin gatekeeper; and some of that hard candy Gurz is always munching on for the half-troll. The shopkeepers stare agape at this spending spree and nearly faint when you wish them all Merry Midwinter. You return home in high spirits - you’d forgotten how much fun this time of year could be! It is now half past five, so you pull on your plush coat and then head down the snow-covered streets to the palace, your arms laden with presents.

As you are announced to the party, everyone falls into a shocked silence. As you enter with presents, Telessa begins to weep and Jonthane stands up from his throne angrily.

‘Who said you could attend?’ he barks.

‘I never thought he’d actually turn up,’ says Elegana quietly to herself.

Jonthane turns on her angrily, but before he can say anything there is an almighty crash as a huge beast smashes through the large stained glass windows of the great hall! Your stomach goes into convulsions at the sight of the monstrous red dragon. The guests scream and flee for the exits.
‘I know this is your doing, Den Snau!’ yells Jonthane as he joins the fleeing crowd.

The dragon lets out a blast of fiery breath, scorching the rich tapestries. Will you face the creature (turn to 46) or flee from it (turn to 32)?


14


Something draws you to the solitary boy. You sit next to him and ask him why he isn’t going with the others.

‘They wouldn’t want me,’ he sighs. ‘I’m better off on my own.’

You try to say something comforting, but no words will come. Instead you remove your heavy coat and drape it over the boy. You then walk over to the spirit who is smiling broadly.

‘What so funny?’ you snap.

‘It’s just that was almost a compassionate action there. HO HO HO!’

‘Yeah, well I was a pretty lonely child too. It’s not easy,’ you respond.

‘Ah, but the difference is you could take comfort in your money and power while this poor boy will most likely freeze to death or get eaten by a gutterlag before the night is out.’

You look up at the spirit, but can think of no suitable response.

‘Well have a happy Midwinter anyway,’ continues the spirit. ‘HO HO HO!’

With that, he claps his mighty hands together causing a noise like thunder. You feel yourself blacking out. Record the codeword ‘amber’ then turn to 47.


15


The demon disappears before your startled eyes with the wizard and his workshop following, leaving you in total darkness. The Ghost of Midwinter Past appears before you, a slight smile to her pretty face.

‘A terrifying thing for a child to witness,’ she remarks.

‘I remember it all now,’ you mutter half to yourself. ‘I ran and hid from the demon. When my father found me I found I couldn’t describe what was wrong with me. I withdrew into myself and I never felt the same way about Midwinter again. I think I must have made myself forget about the demon but the hatred of Midwinter lived on and I grew to hate Jonthane and Elegana too.’

‘And now you’ve faced your suppressed fear at last perhaps you can finally move on,’ intones the ghost. ‘Or perhaps not,’ she adds flippantly.

Suddenly her dress begins to glow and you are forced to cover your eyes once more. Record the codeword ‘red’ on your adventure sheet before turning to 6.


16


You run back towards Jonthane, your head and heart both pounding. Suddenly the castle seems to disappear and you find yourself running through utter blackness until you find yourself confronted by the Ghost of Midwinter Past.

‘And so history repeats itself,’ she intones sorrowfully.

‘I had forgotten all about that demon,’ you pant.

‘A horrible thing for a child to see. No wonder you hate Midwinter and no wonder you tried to make yourself forget. A pity things could not go differently this time.’

Her dress shimmers brightly once more and again you are forced to close your eyes. Turn to 6.


17


You reach the palace and manage to slip past the guards with ease. Taking advantage of your invisibility, you pass depressed looking guards and fops until you reach the throne room. There your cousins Jonthane and Elegana stand muttering to one another. You cannot resist the urge to eavesdrop and stalk nearer.

‘It’s all that blackheart’s fault of course,’ grumbles Jonthane to his sister. ‘Thank the gods he’s finally dying.’

‘Now, now Jonthane,’ says Elegana. ‘We don’t know how involved he was. For all we know Arachnos was controlling him.’

You are distracted by heavy sobbing coming from somewhere in the palace. The king and queen seem to take no notice. Will you investigate it (turn to 34) or will you keep listening to what the king and queen are saying about you (turn to 27)?


18


As you approach Ifor Tynin’s chambers you get a sudden feeling of déjà vu.

‘Is this what I did all those years ago?’ you wonder.

You reach the heavy wooden doors to the wizard’s study and hear him muttering to himself.
‘So we’re up to nine now, then? . . . No, the fool doesn’t suspect a thing . . . Too early yet. I’ll send him once you are up to eleven.’

Your head begins to pound. Your senses seem to be screaming at you to remember something but you can’t think what. Will you open the door (turn to 30)? Or will you retreat and hide in either the barracks (turn to 38) or the treasury (turn to 7)?


19


‘Telessa,’ you start after a deep breath. ‘I planned your kidnap. And for what it’s worth - I’m sorry.’

You throw open the door and stride out of the chamber leaving the princess open mouthed behind you. You are halfway down the corridor when you hear a command to stop. You turn to face the princess.
‘Why did you do it?’ she demands.

‘You shrug. ‘Money, power, spite - y’know the usual. Still, if it makes it easier to have someone to blame, you can blame me.’

You leave Telessa dumbfounded as you walk away. It feels good to actually get the secret off your chest and part of you even feels good that you might have helped console the princess. It’s been a long time since you’ve felt like this.

You round a corner and come face to face with the cowled form of the Ghost of Midwinter Yet to Come. He nods silently at you and as he does so your head swims and you collapse unconscious to the carpeted floor. Record the codeword ‘green’ before turning to 2.


20


‘Unhand her, sirrah!’ you declare, trying to sound as intimidating as you can when you’re only 4’2’’.
The kidnapper laughs and with one hand still wrapped round the princess’ neck, he advances on you with a short sword drawn.

KIDNAPPER Skill: 6 Stamina: 6



If you win, turn to 40.


21


‘Come on then,’ you challenge curtly, pulling forth your sword. It’s been a while since you’ve run anyone through and it would do you good to get some exercise.

The crowd backs away, apparently not so eager to fight as they made out. The one-eyed man and two heavyset yobs step forward to meet you while the rest of the crowd disperses. Fight them one at a time:

ONE-EYED MAN Skill: 7 Stamina: 5
FIRST YOB Skill: 6 Stamina: 6
SECOND YOB Skill: 5 Stamina: 6



If you defeat these vagabonds, turn to 31.


22


The arrow clatters harmlessly of the dragon’s hard scales. You have no time to even curse before the dragon envelops you in flame, burning you to a crisp.


23


You flee the room, running down the corridor before bumping heavily into a robed figure, sending you flying backwards onto the carpeted floor. You look up to see the Ghost of Midwinter Yet to Come gazing down upon you. The spectre waves its arm and you slip into unconsciousness. Turn to 2.


24


You dive forward and just miss being squashed as the masonry crashes to the ground. Breathing a sigh of relief, you climb the threadbare carpeted stairs. You are surprised that you see no servants and the only sound seems to be a shallow gasping coming from your bedroom. You enter to find a gaunt figure wheezing in your bed. The figure looks up at you, having no problem seeing you apparently. With a start you recognize yourself, or at least how you will be in five years time. Your skin is sallow and wrinkled, with great bags under your eyes. Your frame is horribly thin and your breathing seems incredibly pained.

‘Was it worth it?’ gasps your older self.

You can offer no reply.

‘Was it worth it?’ he repeats. ‘Was it worth it? Was … it worth … it? Was … it …’

He breathes his last. You feel a presence behind you and turn to see the Ghost of Midwinter Yet to Come.

‘Was it?’ he intones. He waves his arm and you collapse to the ground.

Turn to 2.


25


You stride purposefully after the rapidly retreating eye patched man.

‘I’ll give him what for, eh?’ you remark to the Ghost of Midwinter Present only to find he’s disappeared again. You shrug and round a corner . . . and find a sack smelling of fish pulled over your head! You try to struggle free, but expert hands bind your arms and you are shoved roughly down the street.

After a few minutes of being frogmarched, the sack is taken off your head and you find yourself facing a huge barrel-chested man with a thick black beard down to his stomach. Several of the louts who accosted you earlier are crowded round him in the narrow street.

‘So the Baron Den Snau thinks he can walk down the streets of fair Arion with impunity eh?’ snarls the man. ‘Why our good King Jonthane didn’t have you strung up for having his daughter kidnapped is beyond me.’

‘Now, now, there’s no proof that I was involved in that unfortunate affair,’ you attempt.

‘Shaddap!’ snaps the burly man. ‘I’m going to show the world what a cowardly wastrel you truly are.’

He pulls forth a scimitar as one of the louts cuts through your bonds.

‘Draw steel!’ he bellows. You guess you had better oblige.

BIG GUY Skill: 9 Stamina: 10



You will not have a chance to apply poison. If you win, turn to 3.


26


‘You’ll steal that treasure over my dead body!’ you cry racing down the stairs and waving your trusty wooden sword. The would-be robbers gape in alarm. The father is fat and sweaty with a long black moustache dangling from his face. His son is about your age or perhaps a tad younger, but while his father is fat, he is lean and wiry.

‘You take care of this guy, son. I’ll cover our escape.’

With that the father races down the corridor. His son tuts and draws a flint knife, his eyes murderous.

FANG-ZEN Skill: 5 Stamina: 5



After two rounds, turn to 42.


27


‘Don’t be so foolish Elegana,’ snaps Jonthane irritably. ‘Of course he was in on it. That man has been a plague on us since his father died. Thank the gods he’ll be following him soon.’

‘It’s just a shame it all had to end this way,’ sighs Elegana.

‘Indeed,’ replies her brother solemnly. ‘But come. We’ve wasted enough breath on that man. Let’s go see if we can persuade Telessa to come out.’

He and his sister stalk off in the direction of the sobbing. You feel a presence behind you and turn to see the Ghost of Midwinter Past hovering.

‘They don’t seem to like me much, do they?’ you say with a half-hearted smile.

‘Always about you, isn’t it?’ intones the spirit in response. He waves his arm and you collapse to the ground.

Turn to 2.


28


‘Hey get off creep!’ yells one of the boys.

‘That’s that slimy baron,’ yells the other. ‘It’s his fault we’re out here!’

The two boys have put their differences aside to turn on you. Fight them both as one enemy.

BOYS Skill: 5 Stamina: 6



If you win, turn to 41.


29


You race away as fast as your little legs can carry you. As you run, the castle seems to fade until you are left in complete darkness. You stop running and look around bewilderedly. There is a sudden flash of light and then floating before you is the Ghost of Midwinter Past.

‘So you ran like a coward,’ she says without any malice. ‘You should not confuse who you are now with who you once were.’

Her dress shimmers brightly once more and again you are forced to close your eyes. Turn to 6.


30


As you throw the door open, the straggly haired wizard looks up from a crystal ball. The image of a woman in the ball fades away to swirling mist.

‘How dare you barge in here!’ Tynin yells. ‘I don’t know who you are child, but I’ll show you what happens to nosy pests!’

He chants and waves his arms mystically and suddenly the room is plunged into smoke. When the smoke clears a hideous creature with goat legs, a man’s torso and a bat-like face is before you. Your head is pounding and the feeling of déjà vu is staggering. If you wish to flee from this awesome beast, turn to 16. If you are prepared to face it, turn to 49.


31


The rest of the crowd retreats after witnessing your masterful skills of swordplay.

‘Come back cowards!’ you laugh. ‘I thought you wanted to teach me a lesson.’

‘Are you quite done?’ rumbles a disapproving voice behind you. You turn to face the Ghost of Midwinter Present.

‘Oh, it’s you,’ you say. ‘You scarpered pretty fast I must say.’

‘Well I thought you could handle things and I guess I was right. Shall we continue?’

Somewhat taken aback by the jolly spirit’s sudden brusqueness, you nod and follow him on to the orphanage. Turn to 4.


32


You follow the screaming crowds out into the streets as the royal guards try to muster a defence behind you. You shout out that all can take shelter from the beast at your mansion, but the people rile at the suggestion and even spit at you. You return home alone.

The next day the city is filled with hubbub as people talk of how the palace guards finally managed to subdue the red dragon that the Baron Den Snau summoned. You get a plethora of dirty looks and curses following you for several weeks.

‘That’s the last time I try to be nice,’ you say to yourself at the end of a long day. ‘Now has anyone evicted that orphanage yet?’


33


You head towards the barracks and bump into two unshaven guards.

‘Who in Telak’s name are you?’ slurs one.

‘It’s alright. He’s the king’s nephew I think,’ replies his companion. ‘What can we do for you?’ he asks turning to you

You are about to launch into an explanation when you recognize the guard. You had him hanged for trying to rob your property five years ago.

‘Um, never mind,’ you reply, taken aback.

The guard is about to say something else when he suddenly freezes. You turn to his companion and see he is also still. The scene fades before your eyes to be replaced by complete darkness and then the Ghost of Midwinter Past is before you again.

‘Not how it went back then of course,’ she says simply. ‘But perhaps this has been food for thought if nothing else.’

Her dress shimmers brightly once more and again you are forced to close your eyes. Turn to 6.


34


Following the sound of sobbing, you reach a door in the north-eastern tower of the castle. As you approach the door swings open mysteriously. A bleary-eyed blonde lady spins round alarmed as you enter.

‘You?’ she gasps. ‘I’d locked the door. How did you get in here? Get out! Get out now!’

How can she see you? Will you flee from Princess Telessa’s room (turn to 23) or will you stay (turn to 48)?


35


‘It’ll do you no good,’ you call out as you approach the two girls. One is trying to boost the other up to the window on her shoulders. ‘If you get in the soldiers will just throw you out again,’ you continue.

‘I know you,’ says one as she gets off her friend’s shoulder. ‘You’re the Baron Den Snau, ain’t ya? It’s you’re fault we’re out ‘ere!’

Before you can protest her hefty companion gives you a good kick in the shin (lose 1 Stamina point). Knowing when to cut your losses, you hobble back over to the spirit.

‘Are you happy now?’ you snap, rubbing your sore leg.

‘Very,’ replies the spirit. ‘Do you feel you’ve learned anything?’

‘Only that the streets of Arion are too good for these brats.’

The ghost sighs. ‘I thought you might say something like that.’

He claps his mighty hands together causing a noise like thunder. You feel yourself blacking out. Turn to 47.


36


Your hear a strange yelping growl behind you and turn to see a pack of the hyena-like gutterlags stalking down the snowy street towards you. The gutterlag situation must have gotten bad indeed if the creatures are venturing this deep into the city. You may be invisible, but the scavengers have no problem sniffing you out. As one they stalk towards you.

Fight the gutterlags as one enemy, but you cannot defend yourself against all of them at once. Every even numbered attack round you must therefore reduce your Stamina by 1 point. If you use poison you can do double damage to the gutterlags.

GUttERLAGS Skill: 7 Stamina: 12



If you win, turn to 17.


37


‘Out of my way scum!’ you cry authoritatively. Unfortunately the already irate crowd don’t really like being called "scum." Two of them seize you by the shoulders as you brush past and you are hauled roughly along the snow-covered cobbled streets to a set of stocks. You struggle futilely as you are thrown into the stocks and locked in.

‘A Midwinter present for all!’ yells the one-eyed man. ‘The Baron den Snau as helpless as a newborn lamb.’

He gives you a hearty kick up the backside then steps back to allow the mob to pelt you with rotten tomatoes, eggs, snowballs and the odd chuck of ice for good measure. You are soon pretty battered from this onslaught (lose 5 Stamina points). Eventually the crowd tire of their sport and disperse, leaving you trapped.

You are just wondering how you are going to get out of this one, when the stocks are opened and the Ghost of Midwinter Present helps you to your feet.

‘You look a state. HO HO HO!’ he chortles.

‘You were a fat lot of help I must say,’ you snap, wiping tomato remnant from your coat.

‘I like to choose my battles,’ replies the spirit. ‘Speaking of which you could follow them and teach them a lesson if you want.’ He points towards the back of the one-eyed man disappearing round a corner.

If you are eager for revenge and want to follow the man, turn to 25. If you would rather continue on to the orphanage, turn to 4.


38


There is raucous singing and laughter coming from the barracks. It seems the soldiers are having their own Midwinter celebrations. You spot Elegana squatting behind a pillar. You are just mulling over whether to go over and talk to her, when a shadowy figure sidles up behind her and grabs the startled princess, clamping a hairy hand over her mouth.

‘I knew the guards would be too far gone in their cups to be watchful. I wonder how much your father will pay for you, girl?’ he chuckles.

The kidnapper hasn’t spotted you yet. You finger the wooden sword hanging from your belt. Will you rush forth to save your cousin (turn to 20), run to get help (turn to 44) or run away (turn to 29)?


39


You reach the grounds of your mansion to find the wrought iron gates are rusted and warped and the gardens are even more overgrown and unruly than normal. What’s worse is they are swarming with hyena-like gutterlags. The creatures seem to have no trouble finding you, clearly you still smell even if no-one can see or hear you. Fight the gutterlags as one enemy, but you cannot defend yourself against all of them at once. Every even numbered attack round you must therefore reduce your Stamina by 1 point. If you use poison you can do double damage to the gutterlags.

GUttERLAGS Skill: 7 Stamina: 12



If you prevail, turn to 12.


40


The kidnapper drops Elegana and falls to the ground. Elegana gives him a hearty kick in the ribs then races over to hug you.

‘You were so brave,’ she says.

Soon the whole castle has been told of your heroism and the king and your father and brother are all keen to congratulate you. Even the grumpy old wizard Ifor Tynin says a few kind words.

You are buzzing with elation when suddenly the scene around you fades to be replaced by darkness. There is a flash of light and suddenly the Ghost of Midwinter Past is before you.

‘A happy occasion,’ she remarks. ‘A pity this is not how things went back then or perhaps your life could have been different.’

Before you can say anything, her dress shimmers brightly once more and again you are forced to close your eyes. Turn to 6.


41


You stand over the bloodied forms of the two orphans. You are aware of slow applause behind you.
‘Oh, well done,’ says the Ghost of Midwinter Past. ‘Not content with sending orphans out onto the street you’re now running them through with your sword.’

‘They started it,’ you reply with a shrug, but even you feel pretty bad for your actions (lose 1 Luck point). ‘What next then?’

‘Oh, I think I’m just about done with you,’ snaps the spirit irritably. He claps his mighty hands together causing a noise like thunder. You feel yourself blacking out. Turn to 47.


42


You hear cries coming from up the stairs.

‘Nuts to this,’ says your opponent with a shrug before dashing off after his father.

Two guards come down the stairs.

‘What are you doing down here boy?‘ snaps one of them. ‘The treasury is no place for kids.’
You try to explain about the robbing father and son, but the guards think you are just telling tall tales.

‘Run back to your father boy,’ one of them laughs.

Before you can retort the guards disappear in front of your very eyes to be replaced by the serene face of the Ghost of Midwinter Past.

‘It seems no-one understood you back then,’ she says sorrowfully.

‘And still don’t,’ you snap back.

‘Perhaps that explains a lot. But this is not why you hate Midwinter. I have done all I can. I hope it is enough.’

Her dress shimmers brightly once more and again you are forced to close your eyes. Turn to 6.


43


‘Now, now, boys don’t fight,’ you say, trying to sound like you give a rat’s behind. You grab them by the collars of their coats and pull them apart. Test your Luck. If you are Lucky, turn to 9. If you are Unlucky, turn to 28.


44


You race into the guards’ mess and they turn to stare at you drunkenly.

‘The princess is being kidnapped!’ you yell.

‘This another one of your pranks Ethelred?’ responds a sweaty corporal.

Pranks? Did you play pranks back then? Eventually you convince a couple of the more sober guards to follow you but when you round a corner you find the kidnapper is lying dead on the stone floor, your elder brother Andar standing over him triumphantly. Princess Elegana is in the arms of her father.
Everyone is quick to praise Andar to the skies while you slink off. So much for trying to do the right thing (lose 1 Luck point). There is a glow before you and the castle fades as the Ghost of Midwinter Past forms before you.

‘Not a happy Midwinter,’ she says. ‘But this is not how things happened back then. I have done all I can. I hope for your sake it is not enough.’

Her dress shimmers brightly once more and again you are forced to close your eyes. Turn to 6.


45


‘Yes, do that,’ you say.

‘Very good, sir,’ grates Gurz before stalking off.

A few minutes later you hear barking followed by a frightened yelp and you gaze out your window to see the terrified messenger dashing across your snowy lawn chased by three vicious dire wolves. The messenger manages to vault over your garden wall, but not before one of the beasts takes a healthy chunk from the seat of his pantaloons. You allow yourself a smirk. What is Elegana thinking,
inviting you to a horrible saccharine Midwinter party? You have orphanages to close after all. For a second you think you see three figures gazing disappointedly at you with a figure in chains next to them shaking his head. You blink and the figures have gone. You give a throaty laugh. No dreams will hold sway over the Baron Den Snau!


46


You hack at the beast with your sword but the blade just bounces off its hard scales and causes the dragon to give a deep rumbling laugh. If you still have your poison, turn to 11. If you have already used it, you continue to bash at the dragon’s scaly face with your blade, hoping to find an opening. The monster stifles a yawn and then bites you in half with its razor sharp teeth.


47


You find yourself back in bed with a bit of a sore head but otherwise feeling well rested (restore up to 4 Stamina points). Bizarrely it still seems to be night-time outside and you are back in your pyjamas.

‘None of that must have really happened,’ you say to yourself unconvincingly. You roll back over, wondering if the third spirit will turn up. Sure enough, just as you are drifting off to sleep, you feel a presence standing over you. You sleepily turn over . . . and then sit bolt upright in shock as you behold a hooded figure standing at your bedside. But where the creature’s face should be there is only utter darkness.

‘Um, I guess you’d be the Ghost of Midwinter Yet to Come, then?’ you endeavour.

The creature just waves its arm in response and a grey mist settles over you.

When the mist clears you find yourself sitting in your favourite eating establishment, The Bushel. It seems to be in a state of disrepair though. The leather couches are torn and fading and the tables are chipped and filthy.

Two men wearing heavy winter coats are sitting at one table talking loudly.

‘D’you here about Princess Telessa?’ inquires one. ‘Apparently she’s locked herself in a tower and won’t come out. Her father seems to think she’s planning on starving herself to death.’

‘Poor mite,’ responds the other. ‘Never really got over that whole kidnap business six years ago.’
‘Speaking of which,’ says the first, chomping on his food as he talks. ‘I hear the Baron Den Snau is at death’s door.’

You ear’s prick up at this and you race over to the two men.

‘I’m not dying. Here I am!’ you shout, but the two men don’t seem to see or hear you.

‘Good riddance if yer ask me,’ the second one says and both laugh.

You repeatedly try to get their attention but they continue to take no notice. It seems you are invisible. Frustrated, you take your leave of The Bushel. Will you rush over to your mansion to investigate if your older self truly is dying (turn to 39) or will you head over to the palace to see if Princess Telessa is really starving herself (turn to 8)?



48


You stay where you are, but close the door behind you.

‘Why are you still here?’ whines Telessa in a more moderate tone. ‘I thought I heard you were dying anyway, but you look the healthiest I’ve seen you in years. Done some deal with a demon, have you? Looking to kidnap me again to use a sacrifice in some black rite, is that it?’

‘Nothing like that,’ you respond with a shrug of your shoulders.

‘You know nothing’s been the same since Arachnos took me captive,’ she laments, more to herself than to you. ‘His ogres cut my friends to pieces and made me watch. And every day Arachnos would tell me of the horrible fates he had imagined for me and what he planned to do to the kingdom. And then my rescuer gets himself killed by Pelagines a few days after we return to Arion. It’s all so horrible.’
She turns to you, eyes aflame with righteous fury. ‘And it was all YOUR fault! And you won’t even admit it!’

She starts to sob hysterically. Will you admit to planning her kidnap (turn to 19) or say nothing (turn to 10)?


49


Your wrinkle your nose at the smell of brimstone from the beast’s breath as you stride to meet it. Despite your fear of the foul creature, the pounding in your head lessens and you feel an odd sense of relief as you draw closer.

LESSER DEMON Skill: 10 Stamina: 14



After two attack rounds, turn to 15.


50


Your arrow flies true straight into the dragon’s eye. The beast throws its head back in pain, giving a monstrous bellow. It turns to focus on you once more, powering up its fiery breath - but nothing emerges from its maw. The creature begins to choke, barking out clouds of smoke. Then it gives a great shake of its head before collapsing to the floor dead.

Party guests begin to file back into the room, mouths wide in astonishment.

‘You killed it,’ mutters an aged knight, his fighting days long behind him.

‘Three cheers for the Baron Den Snau!’ yells one noble.

The crowd, reluctantly at first but gradually growing in enthusiasm begin to chant your name.
The king and queen return to the great hall looking bewildered. When the guests inform them of your mighty deed they stare at you in abject shock.

‘You - did this?’ stammers Jonthane.

‘It appears we owe you our thanks Baron,’ adds Elegana more diplomatically.

‘I am ever your humble servant, your Majesties,’ you reply with a bow. ‘Now let’s get that carcass out of here so we can get back to celebrating Midwinter!’

And celebrate you do. You spend the night swapping gifts, dancing and telling jokes. The rest of the guests can barely believe you are the same man who once delighted in sadism and cruelty. You even convince the Queen to allow the common people into the palace to enjoy the festivities and you round off the night with a heartfelt toast to the gallant hero who rescued Princess Telessa from the grip of Arachnos and was so cruelly robbed of his life soon afterwards.

The next day you don’t let the spirit of Midwinter desert you. You sell off much of your possessions and give the proceeds to the poor and you raise the wage of all your staff. A week of do-gooding later, you go before the twin monarchs and Princess Telessa and admit your guilt in her kidnapping. Jonthane is furious but Elegana convinces him to be merciful in the light of your recent actions. You are stripped of your titles, banished from Arion and your land is to be handed over to the crown. You humbly accept these conditions and take your leave of the city, pleased that you’ve got another chance at life. You decide to head towards the city of Ashkyos - you’ve heard that lawless city could do with learning the spirit of Midwinter. Whistling merrily, you leave the city and head westwards intent on your mission to spend peace and goodwill wherever you go.