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Literature / Spellbreaker

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When I said that this was gonna be one Hell of an adventure, I meant it...

Spellbreaker is the 53rd entry in the Fighting Fantasy series of gamebooks, written by Jonathan Green.

It all starts on a dark and stormy night: you're a mercenary warrior on a pilgrimage to Hallow's Well in Ruddlestone, your homeland, when you run across a mysterious stranger at a campfire. After some conversation, you decide to travel with the young man towards Rassin Abbey, where you can safely spend the night. After a shocking encounter with some demons, you and the stranger arrive safely in the Abbey, where as you prepare to spend the night, it turns out that your travel companion wasn't what he seemed. You're suddenly awakened by a ruckus in the Abbey's library, where you find some dead monks and the stranger clutching a massive black book, sarcastically thanking you for your help before unleashing a Demon. After dispatching the beast, you learn that the stranger, the sorcerous Nazek, has stolen the Black Grimoire, an eldritch tome of Black Magic which he plans to use to unleash the Kurakil, the Infernal Beast imprisoned inside the Casket of Shadows in the village of Claysburg. The ritual can only take place on the night of Shekka's Moon, four nights from now. Knowing very well that it's your fault that Nazek stole the Grimoire, you must undertake a perilous journey across the infested land of Ruddlestone, fighting the infernal spawn summoned by Nazek and stopping the demonic Kurakil once and for all.

Spellbreaker was the first work of Jonathan Green, and features an immersive, well-described world coupled with a narrow, difficult path sprinkled with mandatory items, plenty of tests, and hard combat situations you can find yourself into. Aside from the three traditional Skill, Stamina, and Luck scores, you also have a Faith score, which will help you on your quest against the demonic forces summoned by the evil Nazek.

No relation to the final game in the Enchanter series.

Spellbreaker provides examples of:

  • Achilles' Heel: As you're told by Karad the Witch Hunter, you can prevent a witch from casting her spells by binding her thumbs and toes together with special shackles.
  • Apocalypse How: The opening of the Demafrauge and the release of Kurakil will spell doom for all of Titan, since the beast is just as powerful as the Demon Princes and followed by the hordes of Hell itself.
  • Attack Animal: At one point you can buy a pet hawk, which can fight on your behalf for a single round and can kill a messanger raven belonging to a witch so that it cannot inform Nazek of your progress.
  • Bad Moon Rising: Shekka's Moon is the deep crimson crescent moon which signals the power growth of the evil goddess Shekka and her witch followers, as well as providing the setting for the final battle against Nazek and Kurakil. During this period, all Black Magic is much more powerful.
  • Bad Powers, Bad People: The Demonic Word of Command can save lives, but it's still Black Magic and nets you a loss of Faith points for using it.
  • Beast Man: A friendly and unusual example with Talpas, a kind Moleking runesmith.
  • Big Bad: Nazek, the evil sorcerer who stole the Black Grimoire in order to release Kurakil from the Casket of Shadows.
  • Big Red Devil: Kurakil is a more feral take on this trope.
  • Black Magic: Nazek showed a predilection with this type of magic since he was a child, and many of his followers employ it as well.
  • Blow You Away: The three Bedlam Hags try to kill you by summoning a tornado that threatens to send you flying to your doom.
  • Burn the Witch!: You can run into an inquisitor coaxing the locals into burning an innocent girl at the stake, unaware that the man is possessed by a Demonic creature. If you have a Crescent Moon mark or a Witch's pendant, you can be put on trial as well.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The masked bandit you fight on the way to Gwythaint's tomb runs away after taking some damage. You encounter him later, finding out that he robbed the grave of the knight and took his magic sword Deliverer.
  • Climax Boss: Kurakil the Infernal Beast provides the climactic, formidable boss battle you've been waiting for.
  • The Dead Can Dance: One of the possible encounters is against a gang of skeletons playing instruments and dancing to the music.
  • Demon Lords And Arch Devils: Kurakil the Infernal Beast is implied to be a rather powerful demonic entity, though it doesn't show much cunning or personality, being more like an extremely powerful demonic beast for Nazek to control.
  • Demonic Possession: The Inquisitor you can run into is possessed by an entity referred to as the Demonic.
  • Druid: You can meet a gathering of Druids, including the obligatory circle of standing stones, riddle, horse-skull mask and sacrifice.
  • Druidic Sickle: You can (read: must) obtain a Golden Sickle, which you use to harvest some herbs required later on. It's specified that you must use a golden sickle to cut the branch.
  • Elemental Embodiment: In a peculiar example, the Canker is, essenitally, a living embodiment of illness and plague.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Nazek, the Big Bad, is a textbook example, though with some background which implies that he's something akin to a Card-Carrying Villain.
  • Facial Horror: The Mask wears that iron-plated mask to hide his disfigured, burnt visage.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: At one point you can fight an insidious pied piper who's secretly controlling plague rats with his music, only to be confronted by the city guards. In order to make progress, you must get captured and tossed in jail. From there, if you have the right items, you can obtain useful information and items that you'll need for later.
  • Familiar: You can fight a Witch who owns several familiars you must fight, including a black cat, a toad, a raven and a Grimalkin.
  • Ghostly Advisor: The sage Ethius, who sealed Kurakil in the Casket, can appear in ghostly form if you visit his tomb and summon him. If your Faith is high enough, he can teach you how to seal the Demafrauge and stop Kurakil.
  • I Have Many Names: Kurakil, the Infernal Beast, is also called Miphreas the Soul Destroyer by Nezak just before his releasing.
  • Home Field Advantage: The very first fight is against a Brimstone Demon inside the Abbey. While the monster's noxious fumes weaken you, you can kill the monster specifically because being inside a holy place greatly weakens him.
  • I'm Melting!: The Wodehag melts into green slime when defeated.
  • Invisible to Normals: The Dread Demon sent by Nazek to kill you is invisible to the other members of the Resistance, which forces you to fight it alone.
  • It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: The opening, which includes meeting Nazek and running away from a pack of demons. According to Nazek, that specific night is auspicious for Black Magic.
  • Kill It with Fire: It's possible to damage the Canker and cut the battle shorter by setting it on fire with your lantern.
  • MacGuffin Guardian: The Barrow Guardian, which can also revive after being defeated. Subverted in that the MacGuffin you're there to find has actually been stolen before you get there and has to be found somewhere else.
  • Magical Flutist: A villainous one, at that — an evil pied piper who secretly controls plague rats to spread the blight.
  • Magic Potion: Sam Boggart, a frogman potions master, will help you create a series of magic potions to aid your quest. Among these, you will need Sam's help to create a potion that resists fire, and another that repels a magically-summoned swarm of spiders.
  • Meaningful Name: The two apothecaries named Hogweed and Hemlock. Also, Canker, the living source of blight and plague.
  • Non Standard Game Over: If you try to leave Avril but lack a Heal-All, you die of plague. Also, failing to lead the Resistance to the Coven's hideout.
  • Karma Meter: Faith is gained by visiting holy places, obtaining relics, and killing evil demons. Having enough Faith will protect you from evil and let you obtain even more powerful and vital relics.
  • Logical Weakness: The Canker is an embodiment of blight, which means that the Heal-All can instantly destroy it for good. However, it's a waste, as the Heal-All can also save your life from the infection you get before meeting the Canker.
  • Lone Wolf Boss: The Mask and his band of brigands seemingly have no business with Nazek and his Coven. You must fight them to recover Deliverer from the Mask.
  • Make My Monster Grow: The Devilworm near Mussuck used to be an ordinary waterworm before the Wodehag poured a growing potion on it. This can lead to a game over if you throw it another dose of growing potion, while you can defeat it by throwing the shrinking potion at it.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In the very beginning you're tricked by Nazek into letting him enter the Abbey, where he can steal the Black Grimoire to free Kurakil.
  • Noun Verber: Demonstrated by the title.
  • Our Demons Are Different: Starting from the massive, plume-spewing Brimstone Demon, the book has a large amount of demonic opponents, varying in size and shape, led by the fearsome demonic beast known as Kurakil.
  • Plaguemaster: The Canker is a living embodiment of plague and decay.
  • Plague Zombie: The pustular undead under the control of the Canker are implied to be this, though they still act and behave like Voodoo Zombie.
  • Post-Climax Confrontation: The Final Boss is Nazek, who tries to kill you after you dealt with Kurakil.
  • A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: Abbot Dunstan and Prior Alwyn tell you that Nazek was a foundling adopted by their order, though eventually he became interested in the dark arts and grew more evil day by day, until he finally ran away from the Abbey. They tried to raise him as a good person, but to no avail.
  • Religion of Evil: The Acolytes of Pain are a group of fanatics who worship pain and torment and constantly torture themselves. They're also rather aggressive against those who they consider "non-believers". Then there's Nazek's Cauldron of Midnight, a coven of demon worshippers.
  • La Résistance: You can meet one near Claysburg lead by Karad and must join them to have a small army with which to defeat the Coven while you deal with Kurakil and Nazek.
  • Rat Men: A variation, but the Molekins are closer to moles than rats. One of them, named Talpas the Burrower, is an ally who helps you with a ritual.
  • Right-Hand Attack Dog: The hawk you can purchase serves as one, though only once per combat.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Kurakil the Infernal Beast sealed by Ethius inside the Casket of Shadows, is Nazek's objective. When released, the now-open Demafrauge acts as Kurakil's power source which you must seal with the Spell of Locking before you can finish off the demon, because it wasn't the only sealed evil in there, and you're quickly overwhelmed if you just try to fight the Kurakil.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Witch you can encounter lives in a hut located on the top of a crow's leg, a nod to Baba Yaga.
    • An evil counterpart to the The Pied Piper of Hamelin can be met in one of the first cities.
    • One of the possible ways of defeating the Devilworm involves luring it into a river and hacking it apart while the waters dissolve it, similar to The Lambton Worm.
  • Swamps Are Evil: There's one infested with many dangerous monsters and living plants on your way to Claysburg.
  • Sword of Plot Advancement: Deliverer, the enchanted sword once owned by the holy warrior Gwythaint and stolen by the Mask, a bandit leader. You must acquire this blade to fight the most powerful enemies, including a mandatory encounter with a Spectral Rider, which you can only survive by owning the blade.
  • Tail Slap: Kurakil can unleash a devastating attack by slapping you with his humongous tail.
  • Was Once a Man: The Canker, before becoming a blob-like pile of sheer decay.
  • We Help the Helpless: During the course of your quest you're encouraged to help the local villages with their troubles in order to gain Faith and useful items.
  • Wicked Witch: Plenty of members of the Cauldron of Midnight, including the potion-brewing Wodehag, the wind-riding Bedlam Hags, and the one in the Crowfoot hut.