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Literature / Demons of the Deep

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Demons of the Deep is the 19th entry in the Fighting Fantasy series of game books. It was written by Steve Jackson (the American Steve Jackson not the British Steve Jackson.)

You were a sailor on the Sunfish, a ship departing from Port Blacksand to the south, before it ran afoul of the Troll and its wicked captain, the ruthless Bloodaxe. Despite your bravery, you were caught alive, but the pirates decided to have mock mercy on you: Bloodaxe gives you back your sword, provisons and rucksack, before tossing you to sea from the ship to die. However, in a one-in-a-lifetime strike of good luck, you sink above a magic circle inscribed in some underwater ruins, which allows you to breathe and move freely underwater for a whole day, as long as you don't emerge. With this new power at your disposal, you can explore the surroundings through remote caves, ruins, underwater civilizations and sunken ships, looking for a way to return home and avenge yourself.


While the rules are pretty much the same as usual, this book is set apart for the highly unusual underwater setting and a large variety of paths to victory, which can results in many, non-lethal endings, some less satisfactory than others, and a certain freedom when it comes to exploration compared to usual.

Demons of the Deep provides examples of:

  • Barefoot Sage: The wizard Graylock is depicted barefooted in the picture.
  • Beautiful Dreamer: Played for laughs and averted when you have to kiss the Deep One's princess to awaken her from her magical slumber. Even better, she's just as disgusted as you are from the deal, but at least apologize for her rudeness.
  • Big Bad: Captain Bloodaxe who started this whole mess by butchering your crew and trying to drown you.
  • Climax Boss: The Bone Demon encountered halfway through, though skippable, does reward you with some precious Black Pearls and the service of a Water Elemental.
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  • Cognizant Limbs: The battle against the Bone Demon has you fighting his three arms, each equipped with a different weapon.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The presence of a magical circle that not only gives you gills and the ability to move underwater but also keeps all your provisons and items safe. All of this, right in the very place where Bloodaxe decides to toss you overboard to feed the sharks. Justified Trope as otherwise the book would have been very short.
  • Cursed Item: The Bone Demon has a minor-league magic sword that's also cursed. Nothing horrible, just the loss of a Luck point while you gain a Skill point. This magic sword is such a non-factor that you should get it anyway so you can trade it to the Sea Witch.
  • Cutting the Knot: If you don't have enough Black Pearls or don't feel like using them, you can get rid of the Troll using the Gimlet-Fish or invoking the Sea Dragon.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Despite the name and implication, the Deep Ones are not that terrible, they can even be helpful and usually attacks either if you offend them or attack them first.
  • Death by Materialism: If you sink the Troll and decides to salvage as much as possible from the seabed, the spell fades and you drown.
  • Dem Bones:
    • The Bone Demon as depicted on the front cover.
    • Also, you can use the Black Pearls to summon skeleton thralls ready to fight for you (two pearls for each skeleton). The best ending has you summoning a patrol of skeletons to defeat the pirates, kill Bloodaxe and force the others to surrender.
  • Due to the Dead: You can put a ghost to rest by finding the remains of his men and giving them a proper burial. You lose half of your Stamina from the effort, but the reward is worth it.
  • Fantastic Racism: Mermen and Deep Ones are not in friendly terms with each other, though they live apart.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Captain Bloodaxe, mocking courtesy and jolly friendship as he has you thrown to your watery grave.
  • Final Boss: Depending on which course you follow and what item you obtained, you may end up fighting the Kraken, the Sea Dragon, or Bloodaxe (with or without his crew).
  • Friendly, Playful Dolphin: You can befriend a dolphin to come to your aid. But calling upon him doesn't always work. And that's sad.
  • Genie in a Bottle: You can find a bottle which hosts an irritable Genie, which forces you to test your Luck: if you're lucky, he blesses you and restores your Skill points. If you're not, he will turn you into a Human Popsicle (Stamina drops to 1).
  • Giant Equals Invincible: Inverted with the Kraken: apparently it's not used to fighting such a small opponent and this gives you a chance.
  • Golden Ending: The most difficult to reach, it requires: finding at least 8 or more Black Pearls, knowing how to use them and where's the Troll. It results in you killing Bloodaxe and most of his crew, forcing the remaining pirates to bring you back to Port Blacksand with all the treasure they're carrying.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: Subverted with the Black Pearls, it is possible to complete the game with at least 4 of them, or even none at all if you use the Toolfish or the Sea Dragon's help.
  • I Shall Taunt You: A good way to free yourself from the Sea Ogre is to insult him repeatedly: the Ogre will get mad and open the cage to fight with you, which gives you a chance to kill him in combat.
  • Kick the Dog: Bloodaxe giving you back your stuff with many honeyed compliments before tossing you overboard.
  • Kneel Before Zod: You can kneel before the Bone Demon. Not the smartest option you could have chosen...
  • Kraken and Leviathan: The final opponent you can find underwater is a massive Kraken, living in a cave surrounded by coral. There's also a Sea Dragon you can bargain with, but he's still very interested in eating you whole.
  • Living Statue: You can meet one near the beginning, guarding a jade crown it is wearing. If you steal it, the statue gives you the option to either fight — a lengthy fight as it has a lot of stamina — or run away, but will curse you for it.
  • MacGuffin Guardian: The Living Statue will animate to fight you if you take the crown, and even offers you the chance of giving him back the crown if most of your Stamina is gone.
  • Master Swordsman: Cyrano the rapier-wielding Swordfish, who can give you swordsmanship lessons that increase your Skill point even beyond 12.
  • Muck Monster: A Muck Demon is encountered in a sunken ship. It looks humanoid and can use the surrounding mud to cloud your line of sight.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: The Bone Demon has three arms, each brandishing a different weapon (a sword, an axe and a spear).
  • Non Standard Game Over: Failing to locate the pirates that caused this entire mess, eventually you simply decide to order your dolphin / water elemental companion to send you back home. You failed your quest of revenge, but at least you didn't die.
  • Ocean of Adventure: The story is set entirely underwater. Right at the start of your adventure, you're cast into the sea after your ship's destruction, only to land in a magic circle in Atlantis which allows you to walk and breathe underwater, and from there on attempt to seek revenge on the pirates responsible for your predicament.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: You can encounter and fight an aquatic one called a Sea Dragon.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: We have the traditional, half-human half-fish Mermen and the toad-like Deep Ones.
  • Our Ogres Are Hungrier: The Sea Ogre, who tries to capture you and beef you up to be his next meal.
  • Plot Coupon: The Black Pearls. Unusually, there are several you can find, you can even barter them for something else and You'll need at least 4 to survive the endgame if you know how to summon the skeletons.
  • Press X to Die: At the very beginning you're given the choice to resurface, which dispels your underwater prowess and forces you to swim home as your provisions get damp.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: A downplayed example, you get a higher boost to your Initial Skill if you lose to Cyrano than if you win.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The King of the Deep One is willing to listen to your story and help you if you ask properly and agree to show your worth in a non-lethal duel.
  • Red Herring: No, the pirate's hideout is not on Bloodaxe Island.
  • Skippable Boss: In the endgame, if you reach the Troll, there are ways to end the game alive without actually facing Bloodaxe and his thugs.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: One possible options for the endgame involves siccing the Sea Dragon on the Troll. You may have to fight him yourself, though.
  • Threatening Shark: At one point you have to help a friendly dolphin from a Shark.
  • Trial by Combat: To obtain the help of the Deep Ones, you have to defeat in a non-lethal combat their champion Sharkspear.
  • Under the Sea: Almost the entirety of the adventure takes place in the deep.
  • Underwater Ruins: A lot of these will show up constantly in this adventure. Right smack in the end of paragraph 1, have you landing in the middle of one which grants you the ability to breath underwater.
  • Violation of Common Sense: Attacking a giant Kraken in his nest with a puny sword is actually survivable: trying to swim away makes you an easy target for the behemoth.
  • World of Pun: Oh boy, where to start? from the literal Toolfish? From the Underwater Church adorned with Angelfish and a Devilfish? The list is long...