QUEST FOR THE
In January of 2007 the Chronicles of Arborell released the first in a new series of card-based gamebook adventures entitled Quest for the Orncryst. This unique adventure has proven itself in the intervening years to be one of the most popular titles in the Chronicles' catalogue and has now been made available in a new 2011 edition. With an updated Player's Manual that includes an improved rule-set and a wide-ranging review of the game's section references this edition brings Quest for the Orncryst up to date with all other gamebook titles in this series, and in doing so takes advantage of a number of important rule enhancements.
Quest for the Orncryst is a card-based gamebook system unique to the Chronicles of Arborell that delivers a totally random gamebook experience. Based on the Torchlight adventure system this game allows a player to meet a range of quest objectives whilst experiencing a different set of encounters and dungeon setups with each attempt. This one of a kind gamebook system comes with a 100+ page manual, a set of 77 game cards and a range of additional materials and documents. If you have ever wanted to play a truly unique gamebook the Quest for the Orncryst is now available for free download both in its card format and as a purely text-based adventure.
The Well of Shadows is a solitaire gamebook adventure that documents the discovery by the Deep Guild of Das Vallendor of the location of the Orncryst. This gamebook is a companion to the Quest for the Orncryst gamebook adventure and a part of the larger Chronicles of Arborell gamebook series. Within this adventure can be found the complete rule system, all necessary section references, all player sheets, a map and travel guide to the environs of Allas'nerig and a complete copy of Hamulkuk and the Moon Dragons, a mythology of the ancient Oera'dim. To play the Well of Shadows you should read the directions and rules that follow, print the appropriate player sheets, generate a character and then begin at section 1. May Glory and Renown follow all who attempt to find the Well of Shadows.
Object of the Game
For generations the Brethren of the Deep Guild have been aware of the existence of a great talisman of the Ancient World known as the Orncryst. Many have hunted it in the dark places of the world but this powerful conduit of EarthMagic has remained an elusive legend to all who have pursued it. Over those long years most have given up the hunt, more disposed to easier and far less dangerous treasures, but not you.
It is the Year of Settlement 445, a time when the concerns of the World Above are not yours to ponder. You are a Dungeon Crawler, your vocation that of the Deep Guild, charged with the task of finding artifacts for those who seek them, but who dare not go find them for themselves.
Long has been the search and fruitless the leads you have followed, but in your endeavours you have discovered the existence of another great artefact, a Well of Shadows that may hold the key to your search. You cannot uncover exactly what the Well might be, but it is said that any Seeker standing before its waters will be given the answer to one question, no matter its nature. All that is asked by the Well for this boon is something of equal value in return.
The task before you is to ask this Well the whereabouts of the Orncryst. It is recorded in the Great Library at Das Vallendor that the Well can be found in the dark recesses of the ruins of Allas'nerig, but where it is located within those vast ruins has remained a secret known only to a chosen few. This is your mission. The location of the Orncryst will be found if you can locate the Well of Shadows. To succeed you need only survive all that will stand in your way.
Almost everything you need to play this adventure is provided within these pages, but before starting you will need to organise the following items.
For players accessing this adventure using screen readers a set of RTF files have been produced to provide character and combat record sheets with greater accessiblity for those devices. These sheets are listed below and provided also on the separate Player Sheets Page link at the top of each page of this adventure.
Please note that the Well of Shadows rule system requires the use of two six-sided die. It is a convention within this gamebook that these dice are referred to as 2d6.
Notes on Mapping Your Progress
It is important to state that mapping your progress within the ruins of Allas'nerig is not fundamental to success in this game. At the minimum all that is required is a piece of paper and a pen, although a map sheet has been provided for this purpose. How you map your progress is yours to determine though at a minimum it may be prudent to map the proving ground maze that confronts you in the course of this adventure. To have a clear path through this maze will assist the player in any further attempt they might make to find the Well of Shadows. Additional information can be included as you see fit.
For players using screen readers mapping can be facilitated with the use of a spreadsheet program. In this case each cell can represent a room or corridor within the adventure, information being included that records exits, dangers and any other information that the player deems important to their survival.
The Well of Shadows gamebook requires that you spend a small amount of time considering the attributes of the character that you will be playing in this adventure. In this game you are a member of the Deep Guild, known to all of the Four Nations as a Dungeon Crawler, a delver of the dark, unknown places of the world. It is your calling that you expend your life far below ground, searching ancient ruins and confronting the ever-present dangers of the creatures that reside there.
It will suffice to say that you are a man, and that in your life you have found no place that can be called home. Your life is the Deep Guild and all else you may need to know can be found as you progress through the adventures that make up this gamebook series.
You will find a character sheet in both PDF and RTF format provided with this gamebook. It is upon this sheet that you can record your character's attributes, his strengths and weaknesses, and keep record of equipment taken and artifacts found on your journey. A separate combat record sheet in the same PDF and RTF formats are also provided so that a record can be kept of the encounters you will have within the subterranean ruins of Allas'nerig. Most important to your preparation for this quest is the consideration of your character attributes, and it is with these that we must begin.
At the top of the character sheet you will find a list of five character attributes; strength, agility, endurance, luck and intuition. Your character has fifty character points that you can distribute between these five attributes. You will notice that each attribute has a range of numbers given in brackets next to them. This is the minimum and maximum limits for points that can be ascribed to each. For example, the strength attribute allows for a minimum amount of 5 and a maximum of 11 character points. How strong you wish your character to be will be determined by the number of points you give him within this attribute. All fifty points must be used, and they must be spread within the limits given for each attribute. Distribute these points carefully for it is not only strength and endurance that will see you through to this adventure's end.
Combat Value (CV)
Your character's combat value (CV) is one of his most important attributes. This value is determined by adding together the strength and agility values you have given to your character. This is known as your Combat Value sub-total. This sub-total can then be increased by obtaining armour and other items of equipment, or as a consequence of taking certain talents as your own. The adding of this sub-total and any equipment or talent bonuses gives the total combat value for your character.
As an example, if you have given 8 characters points to your strength attribute and 5 to your agility, and have chosen to equip yourself with leather armour your combat value will be 8 + 5 + 2 = 15. Be mindful though that wearing armour comes with a loss of agility that can affect your character's ability to pass certain tests that may be asked of you in this adventure. This penalty does not reduce your combat value, only your ability to pass some agility tests.
At this point you need not determine your armour or equipment as these will be acquired later in this guide.
Once you have determined your character's attributes and combat value sub-total, you may also provide your character with specific talents. These talents enhance certain aspects of your character's ability to survive the ruins of Allas'nerig and should be chosen carefully. If you wish to do so, you may choose two of the following ten talents. Write these talents into your character sheet and include in the notes section the specific rules of their use.
1) Strong Back
A player with the talent of Strong Back may disregard all carry limitations. You may carry as many rations as you wish, and as many items of equipment or found objects as you think you need. Once you have exceeded the normal carry limits a penalty of -1 to agility and combat value applies however. An additional bonus to the Strong Back talent is the ability to automatically pass all strength tests that will save you from falling to your death. Experience has shown that this is a handy talent indeed.
2) Heroic Confidence
How many times has a supremely confident fighter entered combat only to find his opponent more than a match for him? If you choose the talent of Heroic Confidence you will obtain the advantage of +1 to your Combat Value purely due to your faith in your own abilities. This advantage lapses in each combat you begin when you lose your first combat round. At this time your CV will return to its normal level.
3) Back to the Wall
A character who possesses the Back to the Wall talent may increase their CV by +2 points during any combat where they are cornered. Such circumstances can include dead-ends, narrow mountain tracks or cliff-edges.
4) Beast Slayer
If you choose the Beast Slayer talent you will have a +1 increase to your CV when fighting all creatures that are not Dreya'dim. Note that this talent cannot be chosen if you have elected to use a dagger as your primary weapon, or intend to choose either the Dreya'dim Bane or Weaponmastery talents as well.
5) Dreya'dim Bane
A player who possesses the Dreya'dim Bane talent will enjoy a +2 increase to CV during all combats with these spectral creatures. The cost of this advantage is the physical fatigue that will follow such a combat. A -1 to your strength attribute applies once combat is ended until you have the opportunity to eat. This reduction will apply every time you complete a combat with a Dreya'dim. The Dreya'dim Bane cannot be chosen if you intend to choose either the Beast Slayer or Weaponmastery talents as well.
6) Leap of Fate
The Leap of Fate talent allows a player to re-roll three unsuccessful jumping attempts. This talent only applies to attribute tests that require agility rolls.
7) Skin of the Teeth
Choosing the Skin of the Teeth talent provides a character with the ability to survive a reduction of Endurance Points to zero or less. This talent allows a player to survive one extra combat round after being reduced to 0 endurance points during a fight. If an opponent can be defeated within that last desperate round the player will survive, and be given 1 endurance point to continue their quest.
8) Shadar in the Making
A Shadar in the Making exhibits unusual affinity to the magic of all Talismans. This ability allows a player to re-roll 2 failed intuition tests in the course of any single mission played.
A player who chooses weaponmastery will have a +1 increase to Combat Value for the length of their quest, but are limited in that until finding the Well of Shadows they can only use the weapon they start their adventure with. If at any time a weapon is lost or changed, their combat value must be reduced to normal levels. Note: This talent cannot be chosen if you are intending to choose either the Beast Slayer talent or Dreya'dim Bane.
10) Blessed by Providence
If the talent Blessed by Providence is chosen, a player may re-roll any two failed luck tests in any single quest mission. This talent cannot be chosen if you intend to choose the Leap of Fate talent as well. Only one of these may be chosen in any single quest mission.
When you have chosen your character talents, and recorded their details on your character sheet, you must next consider the equipment you wish to take with you.
A further fifty character points can also be used to equip your character with the items you believe will be needed on your quest. It is important to note that the ruins of Arborell are the domain of many creatures, all who will not suffer your presence quietly. For reasons that are well known to the Deep Guild there are also many traps and devices that have been laid within these ruins that have proven just as deadly. Choose your equipment carefully.
The equipment items available are:
Weapons: (at least one must be selected)
||Can only cause one point of damage
||Cost: 5 points
||All round weapon without special bonuses
||Cost: 10 points
||All round weapon, adds +1 to combat value
||Cost: 12 points
||Has advantages against some adversaries
||Cost: 12 points
||Has advantages against most adversaries
||Cost: 15 points
||Excellent weapon, adds +1 to combat value
||Cost: 25 points
Armour: (not essential but only one may be chosen)
||adds +1 to combat value
||Cost: 10 points
||adds +2 to combat value, -1 to agility tests
||Cost: 15 points
||adds +3 to combat value, -2 to agility tests
||Cost: 20 points
Note: Minus penalties on armour items only apply to agility tests, not combat rolls.
Miscellaneous items: (as many can be acquired as can be paid for)
||When used will blind adversary for 2 combat rounds.
-8 to foe's CV
|Cost: 8 points
|Rope and Grapple
||Cost: 5 points
||Cost: 5 points
||(First 3 torches are free) Purchase extra here
||Cost: 4 points
||+4 to endurance when eaten
||Cost: 3 points
||+2 to endurance when eaten
||Cost: 2 points
Note: Many of these items have specific rules that apply to them. These rules are given in the text at the time that they are being used.
Apart from players who choose the Strong Back character talent there are limitations to how much can be carried during a quest. You may equip yourself with as much weaponry, armour or equipment as you can afford with your 50 point allocation, but you can only hold up to six additional items that might be found within the ruins themselves. It will be up to yourself to hold or drop items if you reach this carry limit.
There are a few exceptions to this general rule. All talismans found are counted as a single item no matter how many you hold, and any Nahla bread found can be disregarded altogether. All carry limits do not apply to players who have chosen the Strong Back talent. Such a choice allows you to hold as many items as you find.
Other Information on your character sheet
Once you have determined your character attributes and equipment this information should be recorded on your character sheet. The remainder of your character sheet records a range of additional information important to the progress of your quest. The following notes outline how each remaining section should be used.
Endurance points are the measure of how healthy your character remains as you progress through this adventure. When you have determined how many character points you wish to ascribe to this attribute it must be recorded on your character sheet. Because endurance points vary greatly as you play, a section has been provided specifically to record the ebb and flow of your character's health. It is important to note that although your endurance points will go up and down over time they must never exceed their initial value. They will however, decrease as you are injured in combat, or fall victim to the many traps and devices that litter the ancient ruins you will be travelling through. If your endurance points fall to zero you will have died and you must then look to another attempt to finish your quest.
The Well of Shadows gamebook incorporates a single quest adventure that has specific objectives, directions and outcomes. A section of the character sheet has been provided to keep an accurate note of what your quest entails and what you must do to achieve its end. You will find when you read the section references that you will also discover other information of value to your quest. Such information can be recorded here.
The ruins of Arborell provide fertile ground within which can be found many artifacts and talismans created by the Ancients. Any of these items found should be recorded here. If you are lucky enough to find one of these powerful talismans there is information provided for each that should be read before continuing play. It is important to note that any talismans found can be kept by the player and used in any subsequent quest in the Torchlight game series. It has been the experience of the Brethren that they are worth keeping.
Apart from the talismans mentioned above there are many other items that can be found within the dim corridors you will explore. Discarded equipment, stale food, old weapons and armour, all can be found and made use of if you so wish. When an item is found you will also find information relating to how it can be used, and the advantages it may provide. At any time however, you can choose not to take an item, or if you wish discard an item of your own. When this happens you need only record the change on your character sheet.
It is important to restate that a limit has been set on how many additional items a character may carry. After using your 50 points to purchase equipment you may only carry 6 further items that might be found on your quest. As mentioned before, this limitation does not apply if you have chosen the Strong Back talent.
Rations form the staple diet of a Dungeon Crawler on a quest. Each ration that you have in your possession can be eaten at any time except during combat. To eat a ration will return four points to your endurance level. It is wise to take as many rations as you can afford into a quest, but only up to a maximum of six.
Nahla Bread is the essential backup food for any traveller journeying within the wilds of Arborell. Light and nutritious, it provides a quick and effective meal for anybody who finds themselves far from habitation and fresh foods. Most Dungeon Crawlers always take a supply of Nahla Bread with them whenever they are at work. Each piece will restore two endurance points when eaten, and because of its light weight has no limit to how much can be carried.
The one essential tool for any Dungeon Crawler is their torch. Without light a man deep within the earth falls victim very quickly to the predators that can be found there. A good supply of torches is mandatory for a player who finds all his torches extinguished will die. It is the policy of the Deep Guild, and a rule of this game that a minimum of 3 torches must be taken on any quest. Three torches can be added to your equipment without cost to your 50 equipment points but if you wish to purchase any more they will require the use of points to acquire.
It has been the result of long years scavenging below ground that all Brethren of the Deep Guild accumulate artefacts that become important aids in their work. The Sharyah of the Ancient World are rare talismans that can be found in only the oldest of ruins, and in your long career you have found many of them. Three of these items you have kept, the rest you have delivered to the Guild for either sale or research. For this adventure you have decided to take one of your personal Sharyah with you. The full potential of these talismans is a mystery to most men, but it is known that they provide advantages over many of the creatures that reside below ground and because of this have proved of great value.
You may choose one of the following three Sharyah types to take with you:
The Sharyah'ka is the most common of the Sharyah talismans left by the ancient Trell'sara. Used in past millennia to light the way for their slaves, Lightstones are invaluable tools for the Brethren of the Deep Guild. Inexhaustible under all conditions they provide light to those who know how to use them, but unlike other Sharyah do not require an intuition test to activate, and will provide light upon utterance of their name alone.
A player who possesses a Lightstone will find that many creatures of the deep ruins will retreat from its illumination. This is especially so for the spectres of the Dreya'dim Swarm. Rules regarding how the Sharyah'ka can be used during these encounters can be found from the information given as a part of each creature's encounter information. Please note that a Lightstone is generally too hot to hold whilst activated. It is general practice amongst the Brethren to lash the talisman to an exhausted torch. In the course of your game you will find that even if you are using one of these stones the text may refer to your illumination as a torch because of this.
The Shieldstones of the Trell'sara were created to protect slaves whilst working under hazardous conditions. It is recorded in the mythology of the Hordim that the Trell cared nothing for their creations, but could not abide the delays that came from having to retrain skilled miners and engineers. To protect their most valued assets the Ancients devised the magic of the Sharyah'durien, its purpose to provide an impenetrable barrier between their workers and the hazardous conditions they were forced to endure.
In these modern times a full knowledge of the workings of the Shieldstone is unknown, however a measure of protection can be found in uttering the stone's name and testing your intuition attribute. If you are successful the Sharyah will activate and provide protection from any threat that confronts you. If you are unsuccessful then the talisman cannot be used in that particular setting. Please note that a Shieldstone can only be activated twice in the course of any quest. It is best that it is used sparingly.
Like all the Sharyah there are many creatures that have an aversion to the power of the Shieldstone. If you encounter such a creature the information given with the creature's encounter information will show how you can use the talisman to your advantage. The use of the stone to dispel the aggression of some creatures is not counted as an activation, and in this context can be used as many times as the circumstances warrant.
It is recorded within the writings of the Trell that the Sharyah'ahrel were created for the Jotun, their enslaved miners and engineers. Used within the ancient delvings of the world before the arrival of Men, they were designed as tools to clear fallen stone, and gouge the deep trenches required for foundations and mining operations. It is not known as to the full power of these talismans for no living man has ever seen one being used, but long experience has shown that a Forcestone will use whatever power is necessary to move whatever may be placed before it. In this a Dungeon Crawler must exercise care. A Sharyah'ahrel can cause great damage if used improperly.
A player who has possession of a Forcestone may use it to clear passageways of debris and rockfalls, and sweep away some forms of gas that can be encountered in many of the ruins of Arborell. Follow the instructions given carefully if you wish to make use of this Sharyah.
A Note on the use of Sharyah
Some special rules do apply to the use of these items that should be remembered. The most important is that you can only hold one of each type at any one time. For reasons known only to the Ancients themselves Sharyah become highly unstable when held too close to another of the same kind and this rule cannot be disregarded. If you find a Sharyah of the same type as one you already have in your possession you must leave that chamber immediately. To tarry too long will lead to a quick and unfortunate end. It should be noted that a high intuition attribute can be very useful if you wish to harness the power of these devices.
These devices are the most sophisticated tools used by the Deep Guild. Each is an apple-sized explosive canister designed to blind or stun a larger adversary. When used a flash charge will blind or stun an adversary for two combat rounds, and reduce your opponent's combat value by 8 points over that period. Such devices have saved many Dungeon Crawlers from a grisly end, and to have a few in your possession is a prudent move indeed.
Any codewords uncovered in the course of this adventure should be recorded in the Codewords section of your character sheet. These codewords are important to the successful completion of your quest and should be noted for future reference.
Within this gamebook adventure there are a number of circumstances where you will be required to defend yourself against a range of creatures and wraiths. There are two ways in which these Encounters are presented. The first is set encounters that have been written into the game sections, the second are Encounter Rolls where the creature you confront must be determined by a random Encounter Roll.
Many of the sections within this adventure will direct the player to make an Encounter Roll. This requires rolling 2d6 and matching the number rolled to an Encounter List that has been provided with this gamebook. When required make the roll and determine the creature that you will be confronting. Creature information is provided within the Encounter List as well as a series of section numbers that describe all combat outcomes.
There will be times in the course of this adventure when a player will be given the choice of searching a room or passage. If you choose to do so you will be instructed to conduct a Search Roll. Roll 2d6 and match the number thrown against the Search list provided as a part of this adventure. Any item you find can be recorded on your character sheet but be wary of searching these dark places. It is possible that you may uncover far more than you expect.
Using the Windhammer Enhanced Combat System
The WECS combat system can be used with this adventure, its advanced combat system compatible with the Well of Shadows. As is the case with all encounters the standard combat system described below takes precedence over the WECS if the combat has been given any special rules or objectives.
There will be many times in the progress of your game where you will be required to roll dice to determine an Encounter, and confront creatures who wish to do you harm. In the ancient ruins of Arborell these creatures are your main nemesis, and you will be forced to defend yourself against them. Combat is resolved in the following two stage process:
Stage one: Determine if you need to fight.
Determine if the creature has any creature aversions. You will notice that much of the Encounter information given during play will list a creature's aversion to certain talismans. If a creature has an aversion to a particular Sharyah, and you have one in your possession, test your intuition attribute before combat. If you are successful the creature cannot stand the proximity of the talisman and will retreat from its potency. If this is the case you may continue on and disregard the Encounter. If you fail the test you must fight the creature and the following rules regarding combat resolution apply. Go to stage two of combat resolution if this occurs.
Please note that it is not mandatory to use a talisman if you have one in your possession. You have the choice to attack an opposing combatant if you so wish. If you do not have one of the talismans listed, then you have no choice but to fight.
Stage two: Kill it.
If you must fight the following rules apply;
It must be stated that combats may be fought that require special rules, or additional bonuses or detractions from your combat value. Any combats that are modified in this way will have full instructions given at the appropriate section reference within the text.
- Record the combat value and endurance points of your opponent in one of the boxes provided on the combat resolution sheet. Take note of any special rules listed on the creature's encounter information. Adjust either your combat value, or the combat value of your opponent, according to that information.
- Roll 2d6 and add your combat value to what you have thrown. This is your combat strength for the round.
- Throw 2d6 and add the number rolled to your opponent's combat value. This is your adversary's combat strength for the round.
- Compare both combat strengths. The higher combat strength wins the round and an amount of endurance points must then be taken from the loser's total endurance points. If the winner of the round has a combat strength four or more points higher than his opponent then he has struck a heavy blow and four endurance points must be taken. If the winner of the round wins by three points or less, he has struck a minor blow and only one endurance point need be deducted from the loser's endurance points.
- Repeat this combat process until either yourself or your opponent's endurance points fall to zero. At that time the combat has been resolved and one of you will be dead.
The Critical Hit Rule
A Critical Hit rule applies for a player who throws a double-six during any combat round. This throw immediately kills your opponent regardless of their remaining endurance level. This rule is limited only to foes with a combat value of 19 or less and does not apply to opponent combat rolls.
Testing Your Character's Attributes
There will be times during your quest that you will be asked to test one of your character attributes. Whether it be your strength, agility, intuition or just pure luck you will be required to roll dice against them to determine success or failure in a particular activity. It is a straightforward test. If you are required to test against your strength for example, you will be required to roll two dice and then compare the number against your strength attribute. If the number you have rolled is the same or less than your strength points then you have passed the test and can proceed according to the directions given. If you roll higher than your strength points you will have failed the test and another set of directions will be given.
All other attributes except endurance can be tested and apart from your strength attribute all other attributes are tested with a single die.
Playing Well of Shadows
Section 1 of this adventure is where you begin, and everything you will encounter from that point on will be determined by the choices you make, and the dice rolls that will generate other aspects of the game outside of your control. Playing Well of Shadows is straightforward, all the information you need provided within the text as you progress. Good Luck.
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For some time the first core gamebook in the Chronicles of Arborell has been available both as an online title and as a html-based download file. As a part of an ongoing commitment to provide all titles in this series in the PDF format Arborell.com is pleased to announce the release of a new PDF edition of this popular gamebook title; complete with updated graphics, 600 sections, more than 400 A4-sized pages and a further 200 pages of supplementary documents and information. At over 600 pages this is one of the largest gamebook titles available in the genre and as with all the books in this series is free to download. For a copy just click on the link below.