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Literature / Slaves of the Abyss

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Slaves of the Abyss is the 32nd entry of the Fighting Fantasy series of Gamebooks, written by Paul Mason and Steve Williams. It's a semi-sequel to the tabletop module The Riddling Reaver, the setup being influenced by things that happened there.

The city of Kallamehr is under siege. Its army is away facing invading forces, but the danger is far greater than any members of the Royal Family of Kallamehr can anticipate. Defenseless and facing a new threat of possible supernatural origin, the noble Lady Carolina of Kallamehr summons a band of warriors and adventurers, including YOU.

You are a warrior wielding a sword crafted from Fangthane steel, an experienced adventurer, veteran warrior and seasoned traveler who have traveled through the seas and deserts outside Kallamehr. The world outside is your home, a sky of stars is a roof over your head, and you spend your days wandering the lands with your trust being your sword. For you, every quest, every battle, is just a way of life for you, and the battle for freedom of Kallamehr, to you, is just another adventure for you to participate in. Little do you know, it will be a literally life-changing quest...

You arrive just as Kallamehr is preparing for war with Bei-Han. The city is deserted; warriors, heroes, knights and mercenaries employed by Lady Carolina have amassed around the city gates, but will that be enough to save Kallamehr?

Will you manage to preserve this stronghold of Good against the invading hordes? Or is this task beyond even your heroic abilities? You will need your wits as well as your sword of Fangthane steel to prevent the sands of time engulfing the city ...

The Fighting Fantasy series will return to Kallamehr for one last time in Magehunter.

Slaves of the Abyss provides examples of:

  • Airborne Mooks: Bythosí minions, the Ectovults, which serves as his spies and guards.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Even though you're stuck in the abyss in the good ending, you find yourself with a talking snake for a sidekick, but he teaches you all his secrets raising you unto a demigod, and eventually you set off another quest with cosmic stakes.
  • Anti-Villain: The Riddling Reaver, despite being the one who killed Kallamehr's previous ruler, actually shows up to help out the hero when another villain's threatening the city, admonishing them to focus on the big picture, and giving them an item that lets them insta-kill the main villain's avatar.
  • "Arabian Nights" Days: Most of the setting in Kallamehr is Middle-Eastern inspired, from the clothing, architecture, to many of the customs and traditions.
  • Attack of the Monster Appendage: A Type 2 example with the Anemorus, you fight its tentacles first and must defeat it within 4 attack rounds, then you get to fight the rest of the Anemorus itself.
  • Badass Teacher: You can reunite with your former mentor, Barolo, which will offer you new equipment to aid your quest and even teach you a new, powerful killing move (see Throwing Your Sword Always Works).
  • Big Bad: Bythos is far and away the mightiest and most pressing threat, and fittingly the Final Boss, but see below.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Bythos, the Master of the Abyss controls his dimension and covets Titan, but the treacherous noble Lady Sige the Silent works with and against him to take over Allansia.
  • Can't Refuse the Call Anymore: In the beginning you are given the opportunity to leave Kallamehr for your adventure, or stay in the city behind the safety of its walls. If you chose the latter, the book will throw several hints and chances at you to leave the city as soon as possible. And if you still stubbornly insists on staying behind, you are then treated to a Time Skip where Kallamehr gets destroyed, and you are among the casualties.
  • Carved Mark: After you defeat Sige, her true form, a ghost-like being made of smoke, will swoop into you and leave behind a glowing injury which changes colour periodically. You actually need this mark to succeed in your quest, since it's a continuity marker that you uncovered her plot and killed her.
  • Consummate Liar: Tasbadh, who claims he was a hero and the fabled Keeper of the Fabled Fortune of Foraznak. Everything he said was just a ruse for him to cheat travelers of their money and provisions.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • You can visit the temple of Fourga, the God of Pride, whose identity was a necessary clue in Sorcery!.
    • The Crystal Warriors created by Bythos resembles the same Crystal Warrior serving Sharella the Snow Witch.
    • One of the warriors participating in this quest is named Sophia of Blacksand.
    • Where did the Riddling Reaver buy his Escape Rope? The same shop where Naas the Dark Elf bought his, apparently.
  • Cool Sword: Your blade is made of Fangthane steel, and grants you a One-Hit Kill if you roll a Double Six.
  • Cover Drop: This will happen - with you as a prisoner - if you get stung by Bythos's hornets.
  • Covered in Gunge: You find a little girl named Mema who is covered in green slime, which is applied on her deliberately by her guardian to keep the forces of evil away from her.
  • No Ending: One of the Non Standard Game Over scenes ends literally in mid-sentence. (It is implied that you are assassinated by an unseen killer, but nothing else is revealed.)
  • Deity of Human Origin: By succeeding in your quest and restoring peace to Kallamehr, you are rewarded with the infinite powers and wisdom of the Abyss, where you achieve immortality, invincibility, and continues your adventures beyond the cosmos into the realms of the gods...
  • The Dragon:
    • The Gatherer seems to be this to Bythos, leading his servants.
    • Also, Luthaur the adventurer for Lady Sige the Silent, being mightier than her in battle as per the earliest example of the trope.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Halfway through your quest, your benefactor, Lady Carolina, dies unexpectedly.
  • Escape Rope: The Riddling Reaver produces one of these, which helps you instantly climb away from an angry mob of villagers.
  • Evil Is Bigger: When you meet Bythos for the last time in his realm, you will see he has become a giant. You will need to get a bit closer to his level...
  • Fate Worse than Death:
    • Getting imprisoned in the prison of the Abyss, as shown on the front cover. More than one bad decision in the book can lead to this horrifying Non Standard Game Over.
    • Trapped in the crystal wastes, with no way to get out. FOREVER.
    • Confronting Bythos, and getting crystallized alive by his magic. And you are still aware of your surroundings despite being turned into a crystal bust...
  • Floating Head Syndrome: The front cover of the book shows Bythos' giant, disembodied head floating outside his Interdimensional Prison. If you're unlucky, you probably had a cameo as one of the prisoners on the cover as well...
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: If you take up too much time on your quest and only a few "squares" are left, some odd insect man will attack you and you will have to fight, being preemptively injured. It is implied to be an Elite Mook of Bythos, though.
  • I Know Your True Name: You earn Altheia's trust by revealing that you know her name.
  • Improvised Weapon: If you have a staff and a Golden Fist, you can create a makeshift cudgel to be used against Crystal Warriors. Although by that point of the story your quest is pretty much unwinnable...
  • Javelin Thrower: You fight the Gatherer, which attacks you by flinging javelins made of crystals at you.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: Bythos shatters into tiny fragments when you finally defeat him, once and for all.
  • Meaningful Name: Bythos, Lord of the Abyss — his name literally means deep in Greek.
  • Mirror Scare: One occurs early in the adventure if you chose to stay behind in Kallamehr instead of venturing out for adventure, in the form of a gruesome old hag suddenly appearing before you. Turns out that was actually an omen, a foreshadowing of sorts warning you NOT to stay behind in Kallamehr; if you insist on staying, you die with the rest of the city when Kallamehr falls...
  • One-Hit Kill: Your Fangthane Steel sword lets you do this if you roll double-6's for yourself in a fight (only if you can still use it, of course).
  • Only the Leads Get a Happy Ending: Even if you made it to the final paragraph and successfully saved Kallamehr, in the end Lady Carolina is dead, and so are ALL the heroes and adventurers participating in this quest. This was originally supposed to be subverted; the original conclusion is to have the player character sacrificing himself in the final paragraph, but it got changed in the end.
  • Pyrrhic Victory:
    • If you took too long to complete your quest, even if you defeat Bythos eventually, you realize that you are unable to stop the forces of evil from destroying Kallamehr and wiping out almost its entire population. With thousands of innocent lives lost your quest is a failure...
    • If you defeat Bythos in time, but fail to defeat Sige the Silent, she will take over as Lord of Kallamehr... and you will be unable to stop her. The citizens of Kallamehr can only enjoy their freedom a short time before her tyranny plunges the city into chaos once more...
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Lady Carolina of Kallamehr wastes no time preparing her army for invasion and summoning adventurers and warriors for the quest to save Kallamehr as soon as possible.
  • Scary Stinging Swarm: Running into a hornet swarm (summoned by Bythos himself!) gets you overwhelmed instantly, and leads to 2/3 instant death decisions.
  • Self-Immolation: Happens to an unfortunate page-boy early on, as you're exiting a feast hall into a courtyard you come across this servant who was overwhelmed by the powers of darkness and hurled himself into a burning kitchen fire. A subtle warning of even worse things to come.
  • Shout-Out: The cover art depicting a barred prison window floating in space is possibly a reference to Supertramp's album cover Crime of the Century.
  • Significant Anagram: Majiem-Nosoth, the tentacled monster, is an anagram for Jamie Thomson, another author of various Gamebooks, notably the The Fabled Lands series.
  • The Sleepless: If you can obtain Sige's Pomander, you gain the ability to stay awake permanently. Useful for saving time travelling without the need for pesky sleep!
  • Snakes Are Sinister: Thoroughly averted with Caduceus, Aletheia's familiar, a wise serpentine being which becomes your companion and can provide you with advice and hints throughout. He even became your permanent companion in the end if you complete your quest...
  • The Starscream: Sige the Silent will betray anyone she serves — may it be Lady Carolina or Bythos — to rule over Kallamehr.
  • Taken for Granite: You discover soon enough that the Crystal Warriors serving Bythos are — or were — his former enemies, crystalized alive and animated by his magic. And if you fall under his power, this can happen to you too...
  • Tentacled Terror:
    • The Majiem-Nosoth is a blob of a monster covered in tentacles and boils, with a single pincer which it uses to attack you.
    • And then there's the Anemorus, a black, jelly-like monster covered in pink tentacles.
  • This Was Her True Form: When you defeat Sige the Silent, her real form, a ghost-like entity made entirely of smoke, escapes from her body and dissolves into you.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: You can learn the special move, Spitting Fly from your mentor Barolo, which allows you to throw your sword with deadly precision. Most of the time it's an effective One-Hit Kill move. But if you meet Bythos in person, DON'T try this move on him. Just... don't. Unless you got him laughing mad first.
  • Unexpectedly Abandoned: You will find entire villages whose populations have been erased from existence and reduced to ghost towns, the inhabitants being sealed in Bythos's prison dimension.
  • Wake Up Fighting: When three Black Elf robbers tries sneaking upon you as you snooze near a campfire, you instinctively wake up and lashes out at them, and if you're lucky, you can instant-kill one leaving only the other two to fight.
  • Wise Serpent: Althea the sorceress's familiar is a serpent named Caduceus who serves as her advisor, and a wise ally to the forces of good. In the book's best ending, Caduceus even helps you obtain the power of the gods so you may rule over the abyss.
  • The Worm That Walks: The Ant Symbiote is a variation of this, a mutant animated by a colony of ants living inside its body.