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Literature / Seas of Blood

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You might need a bigger boat..,
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Seas of Blood is the 16th entry in the Fighting Fantasy line of Gamebooks, written by Andrew Chapman.

You are a ruthless pirate, captain of the ship the Banshee and the most infamous pirate in the infamous city state of Tak. Or at least joint most infamous pirate as your rival Abdul the Butcher matches you for greed and daring. Out of this fierce rivalry a wager is struck. Both of you have thirty days to reach the distant southern isle of Nippur, winning as much booty as you can. The winner may call themselves King of the Pirates.

Seas of Blood is notable as the first Fighting Fantasy book built around the idea that you are playing a bad guy, with the protagonist an unashamed buccaneer. It also introduced the concept of keeping time during your play through (in the form of a ship's log) and rules for fighting mass battles between ships crews, other groups of warriors or truly gigantic monsters.

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Seas of Blood provides examples of:

  • All Witches Have Cats: The one you meet has one which is also her Soul Jar. However, finding out which one is the real cat and which is an illusion is difficult.
  • "Arabian Nights" Days: The Inner Sea has a strong dose of this, mixed in with elements of Ancient Mesopotamia and Greek Mythology as interpreted by Ray Harryhausen.
  • Baleful Polymorph: You can run into a Circe-wannabe who'll transform you into a bird if you fall under her spell.
  • Blob Monster: There's a screaming, acid-spitting one masquerading as a stone on Roc island.
  • Cave Mouth: Subverted when you explore the seabed, the cave is actually the open maw of an hungry Sea Giant.
  • Cool Helmet: You can steal one from a crypt, which gives you a nice bonus and saves your life from some flesh-digging, brain-eating grubs.
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  • Cyclops: A cyclops serves as the climactic encounter in the book. You don't fight it in the traditional sense but must wrestle and punch it in order to subdue it.
  • The Dog Bites Back: There are a couple of game-overs where your crew, after you were a Mean Boss to them, will revolt and kill you.
  • The Empire: Kish is the largest and most powerful city state in the Inner Sea and implied to be an imperial power.
  • Evil vs. Evil: You versus Abdul the Butcher.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: If you meet the king of the Winds and receive a bag containing the winds, you will lose near the end if you didn't gave your men some gold to sate their curiosity, and even if you do, you may not reach the needed amount of gold to win the bet.
  • Final Boss: The Cyclops, as mentioned above, serves as the final test before confronting Abdul.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: There's an encounter with some fearsome crustaceans that kills a few members of your crew and a battle against a Giant Lobster which is promptly turned into a delicious dinner upon defeat.
  • Giant Flyer: The Roc, which you may fight one-on-one or, if you're lucky, with all your crew alongside you.
  • Graceful Loser: Abdul will take his defeat in stride if you gathered more gold than him.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: The massive spiked monster in the Pit on Enraki and the giant Sea Anemone in the sunken vessel cannot be fought against and you will die if you do.
  • Indy Ploy: You can invoke this on some Troglodytes carrying a treasure chest to get rid of them.
  • Invisible Monster: The caverns under Roc Island host an invisible monster you can fight.
  • Lizard Folk: One early encounter is against a caravan of longbow-wielding Lizard Folk and you can meet and enslave Pigmy Lizardfolk on another island.
  • Names to Run Away From: Your rival pirate is called Abdul the Butcher. Your own ship might be an example too — Banshee invokes a murderous and terrifying creature.
  • Oddball in the Series: As mentioned you are playing a villain whereas the typical Fighting Fantasy protagonist is either explicitly heroic or at least a mercenary facing definite evil. The heavy focus on you as a leader of a crew is also unusual with only Armies of Death having a similar emphasis.
  • Punched Across the Room: If you lose the wrestling match against the Ogre, the latter's uppercut will send you flying out of the ring.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: This is your daily bread, though thankfully the first article on the list isn't mentioned.
  • Religion of Evil: You can visit (and pillage) a temple dedicated to the Lords of Plague and Decay.
  • Sea Monster: Given the story, they're to be expected. Most notably, the Hydra depicted on cover (though luckily not that big).
  • Side Quest: Most of the time you're given the chance of exploring some place or to raid a local settlement in order to gain more money and/or slaves and useful items.
  • Sinister Scimitar: For once, this is played straight by the protagonist himself.
  • Villain Protagonist: You are a ruthless pirate captain looking to prove once and for all who is the greatest pirate in the Inner Sea.
  • Warrior Monk: The fearsome (but wealthy) warrior priests of the Isle of Enraki.
  • Wretched Hive: Tak joins Port Blacksand (introduced in City of Thieves) and Kharé (from the Sorcery! series) as a den of thieves and cutthroats. Unlike those two, Tak only features in the backstory — you set sail from it at the start of the book.
  • Your Head A-Splode: If you slay the Horror using Axillon's Bow.

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