Schmuck Bait: Gamebooks

  • Pick-a-path books are veritable minefields of Schmuck Bait. Choose the wrong options, and you're hosed.
  • Choose Your Own Adventure as well... the trouble with those though is that often times they subvert this and trick you with options that seem like obvious Schmuck Bait which turn out fine and options that appear harmless leave you to a horrid fate. In one book, for example, you need to choose between whether you should run back into a burning building after a friend or escape. If you return then you live and get a relatively happy ending (complete with rescuing the friend's ancestor from slavery; it's a long story). If you escape from the building then you wind up being mistaken for a thief while trying to put out the fire, are publicly humiliated by being forced to wear a sign that says you're a thief, and then get shot and killed for inadvertently sitting and resting on the steps of a bank (which the police think you're looting).
  • Some of the later books in the Fighting Fantasy series elevate Schmuck Bait to an art form. For example, in Return to Firetop Mountain you might be able to catch two of the Big Bad's spies (which requires dodging a couple of baits first, BTW). You kill them, and one has a bit of paper hidden in his boot. Woot! Secret info as your reward for being clever enough to reach that point, right? WROOOOOOONG! It's a cursed scroll.
  • In the interactive Zork novels there's usually a trap that asks if you found a certain item that doesn't exist. If you say "yes" the book calls you out for cheating and doesn't give you the option of going back and trying again that it usually does.
  • Same thing in the first book of La Saga du PrÍtre Jean with the nonexistent key to a door that can't be opened.
  • The interactive 1st Edition (A)D&D game book Survival of the Fittest has a beautiful schmuck-bait trap. The entry at the bottom of each page is a ruse; no other entry led to them from any accessible part of the game. Some are straightforward, like "If you have gotten here you have gone to the wrong number, because there is no 14J. Subtract 1 from your Intelligence, and go to 1A." However, one of these inaccessible entries is particularly cruel: "You have stumbled across a Ring of Three Wishes! To use it in your campaign, just show your Dungeon Master this and the steps you took through this book to get here, then abide by his/her restrictions for the wishes." Given the prerequisites for being a DM, it may actually be doing you a favor.
  • In the Lone Wolf book The Chasm of Doom, you have the option to check the cellar of a seemingly empty house. The general rule in any Lone Wolf book is to check everywhere for loot, so most will go down to see what there is. When you do, you get locked in and are unable to stop the ritual that will rise Vashna and his undead army from the grave.

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