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Literature / Midnight Rogue

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Midnight Rogue is the 29th entry in the Fighting Fantasy series of gamebooks, written by Greame Davis.

Port Blacksand is infamous for, among various things, the abnormal number of crafty rogues living in it. Well, you're one of them, or, at least, close to join their ranks. As an apprentice of the Guild of Thieves, you're ready to undertake the final test which will allow you to become a proper guild member: the Guild's leader Rannik orders you to find the Eye of the Basilisk, a priceless gemstone bought by the merchant Brass and hidden somewhere in the city. In the timespan of a single night, you alone must find out the location of this treasure and get your hands on it. However, Port Blacksand is a treacherous and dangerous place, even for a skilled rogue such as you. There's no guarantee that you will survive the mundane and magical perils on your quest for the Eye.

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Midnight Rogue features the return of Port Blacksand after City of Thieves, and this time, rather than a heroic swordsman or mage, you play the role of a thief who can count on a sharp sword, items and a list of skills, including Lockpicking, Climbing and other roguish skills. Also, the adventure takes entirely place in an urban environment, having you exploring buildings, rooftops and dungeons across Blacksand, solving riddles and finding both items and clues in order to proceed on your quest. Also unusual in the fact that it's one of the few books lacking a Big Bad figure of sorts.


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Midnight Rogue provides examples of:

  • All for Nothing: Subverted, the Eye of the Basilisk is a fake, but by finding the clues and reaching the end of the dungeon alive you've proven your worth and thus have passed the exam.
  • Anti-Hero: Not to the levels of Seas of Blood, but you're still a rogue who steals, bribes and break into houses. Then again, in order to actually live comfortably in Port Blacksand you must be one.
  • An Axe to Grind: A secondary weapon you may find is an enchanted stone axe.
  • Bait-and-Switch: In the very end, you find out that the Eye of the Basilisk is fake and you've seemingly failed... except that Rannik reveals that everything was a test and you've just passed it.
  • Chekhov's Gun: You can only pick a limited number of skills when you create your character, but you can also find items that allow you to duplicate skills you didn't initially choose. Finding a set of lockpicks allows you to use the Lock Picking skill, while finding a set of special rags to tie around your feet will let you use the Move Silently skill.
  • Chest Monster: One of the monsters is a Mimic-like creature which resembles a large, fanged chest with legs growing under it.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: The only time you can fight multiple opponents is a fight against some thugs. At one point, trying to take on a massive number of guards results in you being subdued and defeated.
  • Continuity Nod: You will meet a lot of familiar places from City of Thieves, though mostly just for a cameo.
  • Cool Sword: You start the game with one, but isn't incredibly special at that.
  • Covers Always Lie: The Eye of the Basilisk is described as yellow in the text, but is colored red on the cover.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Nicodemus will turn you into a newt and throw you into the river if you try to burst inside his home to steal from him. And no, you will NOT get better.
  • Dungeon Crawling: The second half of the game involves venturing the vault where the Eye of the Basilisk is kept.
  • Jerkass: Bald Morri, the Innkeeper of the Noose. If you pay him to get information about Brass (the merchant) he will tell you that "brass is a yellow metal, an alloy of copper and zinc" and refuses to help you any further.
  • Giant Spider: One of the obstacles in the dungeon section: first it tries to pounce on you from the ceiling, then you have to fight it, possibly avoiding its venomous bite.
  • Golem:
    • Taking a page from Phantoms of Fear, a door in the dungeon is actually a Wood Golem disguised as one.
    • The game also has Crystal Warriors that can only be harmed by blunt weapons, such as the Stone Axe.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: The clues on where to find the hideout of the Eye of the Basilisk, which you must obtain from the working place and house of Brass.
  • Kill It with Fire: One hit from a torch is enough to dispatch the Wood Golem.
  • MacGuffin: The Eye of the Basilisk, a priceless gemstone bought by a wealthy merchant that you must obtain to become a member of the Guild.
  • MacGuffin Guardian: A good portion of the enemies you can encounter guard something you may need. A good example are the Crystal Warriors guarding a chest: one of them attacks you, the other one stays still and kills you if you fail to unlock the chest in the right way.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: Enemies inside the dungeon include living skeletons along with a Skeleton Lord, and a Possessor Spirit that infest an Animated Corpse.
  • No Fair Cheating: When you fight the Gargoyle, if you say that you're using a magic weapon, the corresponding paragraph states that this is not possible, that you're a cheater and brings you to a Non-Standard Game Over, telling you to start anew "honestly this time". Also, paragraph 260, which says that you've found the Eye of the Basilisk... only to redirect you to paragraph 275, which states that it's impossible to reach paragraph 260 without cheating and again boots you to paragraph 1. All of this is quite cheap/ironic, considering that you are playing as a thief. For Hypocritical Humor bonus, it tells you that you will "never become a honest thief" this way.
  • No-Sell: Gargoyles are immune to non-magical weapons. The Wood Golem is immune to magical weapons, which deny you any advantage they may give.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: Failing to find out the hidden location of the Eye of the Basilisk in time and thus failing the test.
  • Optional Stealth: You can choose Sneak as one of your skills, which usually allows you to successfully move unnoticed when required.
  • Our Gargoyles Rock: A magically-empowered Gargoyle can be met if you try to climb the rooftop of a certain building. Also count as a Puzzle Boss if you try to fight it, as it can only be killed by magical weapons and you have none, being forced to rely on your wits and items to win.
  • Schmuck Bait: Weaponized by the Scitalis, a serpent-like monster who can cast an illusory hoard of gold to attract preys to his maws.
  • Violence Is the Only Option: Subverted in this book. Unless you're fighting mindless or hungry beasts, you can often find alternatives to fighting, usually through stealth or quick thinking.
  • Wretched Hive: It's Port Blacksand again, though this time you play as a native, so you're already accustomed to the city's most reviled aspects.

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