War and chaos wreck the Isles of Dawn, as forces of evil threaten to wrestle control of the Isles from its child-king. The Black Vein Prophecy, decreed fifty years ago after the defeat of the tyrant Bezenvial, will seemingly be fulfilled. The ancient forces of evil have returned!
Between all the chaos happening in the once-peaceful Isles of Dawn, is you, the hero of the story! And you will… you will… uhh…
… who are you exactly?
Waking up in a sarcophagus in an ancient mausoleum, with no memory of your past and zero recollection of the prophecy, your entire life shrouded in darkness, you stumble out to discover the truth. Somehow, you are involved in this prophecy; specifically, you are destined to stop it!
Black Vein Prophecy is the 42nd entry of the Fighting Fantasy gamebook series, written by Paul Mason and Steven Williams. The FF-verse equivalent to Ming Dynasty China, the Isles of Dawn, is introduced here, and is depicted as a Warring Kingdom caught in an ancient conspiracy. The puppet ruler of the Isles is completely incapable of managing the country and the evil warlord Feior about to fulfill the dreaded Black Vein Prophecy to rule the Isles with an iron fist.
As the adventure goes on, you will uncover details surrounding the prophecy, the truth about yourself, your heritage… and your fate. In an epic revelation, you shall be the unexpected hero, destined to free the Isles of Dawn from evil, and restore peace to the kingdom. The mysterious Isles, with its Oriental-inspired, Eastern-influenced setting and background, unique magic and myths — a departure from the usual European high-fantasy FF is typically known for — offers a different flavour for once for fantasy gamebook fans.
The sequel, The Crimson Tide, would allow players to return and explore the Isles of Dawn once more, this time with even more emphasis on the ancient China and Ming Dynasty-esque elements.
Black Vein Prophecy provides examples of:
- Amnesiac Hero: Who are you? What are you doing in this mausoleum? What is your destiny?
- Art Initiates Life: You can pick up a painting of a hooded warrior which comes to life and curse you. However you suffer no penalties for it, and the hooded warrior simply disappears after saying a few words.
- Awesome Moment of Crowning: By the end of the story, after defeating your brother Feior and your father Benzieval, you are declared as the new king of the Isles of Dawn.
- Behemoth Battle: The Sturramak vs. The Sitting Prophet (actually Credas) near the end of the adventure.
- Beware the Silly Ones: The bumbling Izkhao, who sometimes acts like an unreliable coward, can actually help you in the final battle... by knocking out Feior with a single Megaton Punch.Izkhao: I've always w-w-w-wanted to do that, master!
- Big Bad Duumvirate: Feior the warlord, and the resurrected spirit of Benzieval.
- Big, Screwed-Up Family: Bezenvial's entire family line, the father being an Ancient Evil entity, the elder brother a tyrant and warlord, and the younger brother an amnesiac hero... if that doesn't qualify, what does?
- Bilingual Bonus: Your selection of magic spells is derived from the Chinese Mandarin language, which is appropriate given the setting...
- Shangsuo – Put on a Lock (Locking Spell)
- Baopo – Blow up (Blast Spell)
- Tiaohe – Keeping Balance (Harmonization Spell)
- Biantai – Changes/Perversion in Physical Being (Mutation Spell)
- Body Horror: Using the Biantai (Mutation) spell can sometimes lead to horrifying results. Using it on two bandits cause their bodies to fuse together into a fleshy Blob Monster, while activating it in a crowded bathhouse on some thugs causes everybody in the water to become a mass of writhing, indistinguishable pile of shambling limbs.
- Book Ends: You start the adventure waking up in a mausoleum, completely oblivious on where your whereabouts are; you end the adventure with your last scene being waking up in your former home's bedroom, completely oblivious on your whereabouts are...
- Cain and Abel: Feior and Maior. The latter which is you.
- Cavalry Betrayal: Do not employ mercenaries in your army; in the Final Battle, they will turn on you and cause your side to lose.
- A Child Shall Lead Them: Poo-Ta, the boy king, the puppet ruler of the Isles of Dawn. Too bad he sucks at it.
- Continuity Nod: You playing an amnesiac hero who is actually an important leader and figure of authority, having being cursed by your enemies, seems reminiscent of Creature of Havoc.
- Cryo Sickness: Well, suspended animation sickness. The story begins with you waking up in a mausoleum after being put to sleep by your father 200 years ago, and as you regain your bearings, you discover that you have no memories of your name, identity, and must re-learn your purpose for most of the story's first act.
- Death from Above:
- The Sturramak, which can inflict massive casualties on your army by raining fire or dropping flesh grubs from above.
- In a vision near the end of the quest, you witness Benzieval's domain being assailed by the Triurge by hurling energy bolts from the skies.
- The Dragon: Feior's Right-Hand Attack Dog, the Sturramak. Bonus points for being a dragon-like being!
- Evil Twin: Feior is your evil twin brother. You are Maior, the good brother who was cursed to be amnesiac and must stop him at all costs.
- Expy: King Poo-Ta appears to be based on Emperor Pu-yi, the last Emperor of China at the end of the Manchurian Dynasty, right down to inheriting the throne while his age is at single digits, being a puppet ruler and his incompetency allowing invasion from outer forces into his kingdom.
- Face–Heel Turn: It is possible to be completely corrupted by Bezenvial's powers after defeating Feior in the final battle, getting yourself tainted by the powers of evil; from then on, you will rule the Isles of Dawn as a new tyrant.
- Foil: Feior and his brother, Maior, which you are the latter. Feior is the evil twin who wants to rule the Isles of Dawn, while Maior is the heroic champion of the Triurge who is peaceful in nature.
- Giant Flyer: The Shael-Beast is a flying chicken-like monster that can grab you and fly you back to its nest. Despite its size, it still goes down easily with a low SKILL stat.
- Greater-Scope Villain: Benzieval, the father of Feior and Maior, who is pulling the strings behind the invasion and prophecy.
- I Have No Son!: Benzieval disowns Maior — which is you — for siding with his enemies. The feeling is quite mutual...
- Heroic Sacrifice: Credas will do this for you in the finale, giving his life to battle the Suturramak allowing you to turn the tide of battle against Feior's army.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: More often than not, using the wrong spell can backfire on you, causing your instant death. Such as frying you instead of your enemy, forcing you off a cliff, or serving to piss off a horde of powerful enemies causing them to gang up on you.
- Hope Spot: Finally forcing Feior's army to fall back and retreat in the Final Battle, as you lead your army in a forward charge... then you have to contend with the Sturramak before facing Feior himself.
- If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: Choosing to fight Feior to the death or strike him down when he is weak will only result to you being overwhelmed by the powers of darkness, and becoming a far more tyrannical ruler of the Isles of Dawn.
- It May Help You on Your Quest: One of the essential items for this quest is — brace for it — a jar of orange syrup.
- Keystone Army: The Final Battle ends when Feior is bested in battle. His army surrenders to you instantly.
- Last of His Kind: Credas is the last surviving member of the Triurge, the wizards who overthrew Benzieval and saved the Isles of Dawn from tyranny decades ago. He will reveal the truth behind your life and identity when you find him.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: You are Maior, the son of Benzieval, and Feior is your brother.
- Meaningful Name:
- Feior = "Fear". As a warlord he definitely instills it.
- The Boy-King Poo-Ta = Poo Ta literally means "Not Big" in Chinese Mandarin.
- Mental Time Travel: Your very, very final confrontation against Benzieval, the Final Boss, where you are sent back to the time of your childhood to relive your past imprisonment.
- Miles Gloriosus: Merzei is a subversion; when you met him early on he claims himself to be a leader, the "future Grand Councilor" and "Defender of the People" of the Isles, but later on he shows his leadership skills in battle when war actually does break out.
- The Napoleon: Merzei may be scrawny in size, but he's still capable of organizing and leading his own army.
- No Canon for the Wicked: The sequel, The Crimson Tide, features the player character of Black Vein Prophecy in a supporting role, now a fair and benevolent ruler of the Isles of Dawn, confirming that the Golden Ending of Black Vein Prophecy is the Canon ending all along.
- Our Genies Are Different: Izkhao, which you can summon from a brooch, is pretty much an oriental version of a genie, who can randomly help you or refuse to and go back into the brooch.
- Permanently Missable Content: Lots and lots of important artifacts and essential items are required to complete this quest (such as the multicolored scales, Chang whistle and shriveled claw), yet many of them can be easily missed. The most blatant example, however, would be the idol of the Sitting Prophet; not long after you get this item essential for your quest, you are given a chance to sell it for 1,000 gold pieces right away!
- Post-Final Boss: You confront your father, Bezenvial, after defeating Feior. Again, it's a Puzzle Boss that requires you making the right choices instead of rolling for Attack Strength, but this time it's easier.
- Press X to Die: At the beginning of the adventure, as you wake up in a mausoleum and hear approaching footsteps, the book gives you an option to re-enter said mausoleum, wait for the footsteps, or explore your surroundings. Choose the first option and you go back to a deep slumber, at which point your adventure ends.
- Prophecy Twist: While his son Maior — YOU — does become king after defeating Feior, as the boy king Poo-Ta of the last king of the dynasty that succeeded Bezenvial died in battle, however you end up ruling as as a wise and noble king, instead of a wretched tyrant like your father.
- Puppet King: Emperor Poo-Ta is entirely incapable of ruling the Isles or leading his army in times of war, leaving the responsibilities to the chancellors and generals.
- Quest for Identity: The entire first half of the story involves uncovering whom you really are.
- The Reveal: When you discover you are Maior, son of Benzieval, and Feior is your brother.
- Screw Destiny: The book's title refers to the prophecy that a child of Bezenvial will take over him and rule over the Isles of Dawn with an iron fist, with enough tyranny to have Black Blood flowing through his veins. You are Bezenvial's other son, and you strive to prove the prophecy wrong by reclaiming the throne and becoming a wise, benevolent ruler.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: Feior vs. Maior, one which is an evil tyrant whose ambitions drives him to enslave the Isles of Dawn, while the other is a subdued down-to-earth hero who seeks fairness.
- Shock and Awe: Feior's favourite spell, which he will constantly attempt to zap you into dust in the Final Battle.
- Skippable Boss: The Sturramak serving Feior is the most powerful enemy in the entire book (SKILL 11 STAMINA 25) but it is possible to win without battling it. OK, scratch that, you are NOT supposed to fight it directly if you even want to win this book...
- Tomato Surprise: You are Maior, the long-lost son of Bezenvial, brother and good counterpart of Feior.
- Training the Peaceful Villagers: You will need to lead an army comprising mostly of peasants to fight against Feior’s troops near the end of the story.
- Ungrateful Bastard: The knight which is an officer of Feior's army shows absolutely zero gratitude if you untie him; he will instead further curse you while threatening to sic his men on you while you help him. In fact, if you did help him, he will come back to fight you in the Final Battle.
- Unintentionally Unwinnable: One of the necessary items to win this adventure is to have a layer of multicolored scales embedded on your flesh, which you can obtain at the start of this adventure... by failing your very first LUCK test. Most players will simply opt to choose the Unlucky route without Testing their Luck, which is probably for the better.
- Wacky Wayside Tribe: Sevmiroda's gang of mercenaries, Velkos and her thugs, and a few wandering bandit gangs are not affiliated with Feior, but will still hinder your journey.
- Waking Up Elsewhere: Right at the beginning of the book in paragraph 1, you woke up in the same crypt you were entombed alive in, with absolutely no memory of how you got there.
- The War Sequence: One in the end as your army consisting of peasants, rebels, La Résistance and other possible allies battle against Feior's army.
- Wizard Duel: Your final battle against your brother, Feior. Fight him in close combat and you'll fail your quest. It's a Puzzle Boss battle where you must determine the right choices of spells to use against him, or else be vanquished yourself.
- Zerg Rush: The Kreehuls, toad-like beings you encounter in the jungle which attacks in large numbers. If you get on their bad side they will utterly overwhelm you. On the other hand, if you manage to gain them on your side, they will prove to be an invaluable ally for your army in the climatic final scene.