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Literature / Temple of Terror

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Temple of Terror is the 14th entry in the Fighting Fantasy series of game books, written by Ian Livingstone. While it can be played as a standalone adventure, the beginning heavily implies that this game is meant to be the sequel of Livingstone's previous work, The Forest of Doom.

You start the game in the Dwarven village of Stonebridge, enjoying some rest after your latest adventure when the old wizard Yaztromo himself storms the village with dreadful news: the Dark Elves of Darkwood forest are secretly gathering an army bent on world domination, and have sent their champion, the dreaded warlock Malbordus, to the Desert of Skulls: according to an ancient legend there's a long-forgotten, evil-infested temple in the middle of this scorching wasteland, hosting five Dragon statuette: with each of these artifacts it's possible to summon a Nigh-Invulnerable dragon that will do the bidding of evil. It is clear that Malbordus must be stopped before he gets his hands on the Dragons, and thus a hero is required to stop the Dark Elves. Armed with your shiny new sword and some spells taught you by Yaztromo, you have to venture forth south in order to reach the temple, get all the Dragons before Malbordus does and stop him once and for all, all of this while surviving the deadly desert, the assassins sent by Malbordus and the infernal cult of Leesha, mistress of said temple.


The gameplay is overall similar to Jackson's The Citadel of Chaos, only with Livingstone's signature Gotta Catch Them All style which narrows the true path to victory to one and, of course, next to no clue on which path is the right one.

Temple of Terror provides examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Leesha. Even after you killed her minions and broke into her sanctum, she looks amused or slightly surprised, and if you lack a way to hurt her she'll paralyze you with her magic, allowing Malbordus to take your Artefacts at his leasure.
  • All Deserts Have Cacti: Naturally, you slice the top off one to drink the water in it.
  • Annoying Arrows: Despite its magical nature, the Magic Arrow spell is sometimes ineffective. Then again it seems to be a lawyer-safe version of Magic Missile anyway.
  • Attack of the Monster Appendage:
    • While crossing a pool taking up an entire portion of a room, you get attacked by the tentacles of an unseen underwater monster (creatively named a Tentacled Thing) which attempts to drown you.
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    • A type-2 example, while attempting to cross the Desert of Skulls without entering Port Blacksand, you end up getting ensnares by a Sand Snapper's tentacles. The rest of the monster is visible though, but you can only fight and kill the tentacles.
    • A really, really odd case, midway in the adventure; one corridor have the arms of statues holding swords, which slashes at you when you approach, and that's it. There's nothing those statue arms are attached to, strangely enough.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Malbordus the evil Dark Elf and Leesha, the High Priestess of the temple. While they're not in league with each other, you'll have to face them both. If you don't have the Sand Worm tooth, you find out that they ARE allies, with Malbordus taking your Artefacts after Leesha paralyzes you.
  • Black Swords Are Better: Malbordus's weapon of choice, the blade can paralyze you if it strikes you three times, kinda like a Ghoul.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: The Messenger of Death chooses to play a sadistic game with you which may as well completely fail if you can avoid all the places where the letters for "Death" are hidden.
  • Boring, but Practical: One of the spells you can choose to learn at the beginning allows you to gather water in your hands. It allows you to save a lot of stamina when crossing the desert.
  • Brought Down to Normal: The unavoidable golden shower (fitting) you walk under partway through the book that nullifies all your spells, but still makes you lose Stamina if you try casting them.
  • Call-Back: It's highly implied that you're the very same hero from The Forest of Doom, though Yaztromo doesn't recognize you but does think you look familiar. You also have to take a ship in Port Blacksand, seen again after City of Thieves.
  • Creepy Centipedes: A secret room in the temple which hides a Dragon Artifact hosts a massive centipede with hostile intentions.
  • Curse: Upon entering the Temple, the Messenger of Death will place in several, hidden spots the letters of the word "Death". If you stumble across all of them, you die instantly where you stand.
  • Dem Bones: This game has both traditional skeletons and "Man Skeletons" (which are skull-headed humanoids serving as Leesha's bodyguards).
  • Drop-In Nemesis: Malbordus will emerge from a random elevator in the ground after you have destroyed one of the Five Dragon Artifacts for the last boss fight of the book.
  • Drop the Hammer: Remember the Maul of Stonebridge from The Forest of Doom? The one you put back together? You get to use it in the climax to destroy the Dragon artifacts.
  • Dungeon Bypass: In the very beginning, Yaztromo plows through Darkwood Forest unharmed to deliver news to Stonebridge, and then returns to his tower with you. As he explains, even the forest's foulest creatures know that he must be left alone.
  • Easter Egg: At one point you come across two doors, one bearing the symbol of the sun and another with the moon. Choosing the sun door will lead to a fiery death, as it spells DOOM. Although not mentioned in the text, the moon door, which is the correct path actually spells DESTINY. Compare the symbols with the DO NOT DRINK symbols on the fountain.
  • Elemental Crafting: The five Dragon Artifacts are made of Bone, Crystal, Ebony, Silver and finally Gold, in that order.
  • Evil Counterpart: Arguably, Malbordus to the player character: both are fighting for the same goal and are armed with sword and sorcery, though their motivations are different.
  • Face-Revealing Turn: The Phantom does this to you, revealing his hideous undead face.
  • Final Boss: Malbordus, ready for a deadly swordfight over the Dragon Artefacts.
  • Gotta Catch Them All:
    • The Five Dragon Artifacts.
    • Inverted with the Five Letters of Death, which kills you if you find them all and should avoid at all costs.
  • I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin: In a rather unusual twist... Near the very end you can stumble into a delirious Dwarf who went all the way from Stonebridge to deliver you the Stonebridge Maul you can use to smash the Artifacts.
  • In a Single Bound: Thanks to Yaztromo's Jump spell you can perform these.
  • Karma Houdini: High Priestess Leesha sensibly decides to run away from the hero as soon as she finds out he holds the only weapon capable of killing her and is not seen again.
  • Magic Knight: This time around, Yaztromo can teach you up to four spells you can employ, kinda like in The Citadel of Chaos. Also, Malbordus is a sorcerer who's no slouch when in comes to swordfighting.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Leesha the High Priestess, appearing lounged on several cushions, wearing a low-cut, cleavage-exposing dress and a smile.
  • Non Standard Game Over: If you miss even one Dragon, you get to see Malbordus riding said Dragon towards Darkwood, which means that you failed your quest.
  • Oh, Crap!: Leesha has one that breaks her confident façade if you draw the Sandworm Tooth, the only thing which can hurt her, forcing her to lift her skirt and run away from you.
  • Orcus on His Throne: Leesha is content with enjoying being pampered in her inner sanctum, taking action against you only when you reach her. Subverted with Malbordus, who's on the move just like you.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: There are Five, can be summoned by an artifact and, apparently, just one of them is strong enough to ensure victory to a whole army of evil (which, considering that in other books you can fight dragons in hard but doable battles, is kinda odd).
  • Playing with Fire:
    • The Fire Spell you can learn from Yaztromo.
    • Also, a fire-breathing Fiend hiding in a pot.
  • Plot Coupon: The five Dragon Artifacts scattered through all the Temple of Vatros, which you must recover at all costs. Inverted with the five letters of Death, which you're encouraged to avoid.
  • Religion of Evil: Highly implied with the cult of Leesha and her servants.
  • Sand Worm: A massive one is a mandatory (and hard) boss battle midway through before you reach the Temple. If you win you can pry one of his teeth, which conveniently enough is the only thing capable of killing Leesha.
  • Serpent Staff: In one encounter against a gnome, choosing to attack him will cause him to tap his walking stick on the floor, transforming it into a deadly Serpent which can inflict a One-Hit Kill on you.
  • Shmuck Bait:
    • As expected, this time more suspense is obtained with the presence of the five letters scattered in the dungeon which will kill you if you gather all of them.
    • A good one is near the end, where the Skeleton Men asks you to give in the Sand Worm Tooth. If you do, your only weapon against Leesha is gone and you're left powerless against her.
  • Snake People: The Serpent guards of the temple. One is illustrated on the book's cover.
  • Spelling Bonus: Inverted by the Messenger of Death.
  • Stealth Sequel: To The Forest of Doom, you're implied to be the same Hero who recovered the Hammer of Stonebridge, and near the end you get to use said hammer to destroy the Dragon Artifacts.
  • Sweet Tooth: In the introduction, we find out that Yaztromo has a fondness for cakes.
  • Temple of Doom: The main setting of the story. Well, half the story. Complete with evil cultists, sultry priestesses, traps, monsters and whatnot.
  • Thirsty Desert: You have to cross one with all the dangers coming from dehydration, cold nights and gigantic Sand Worm lying around.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Even more so than usual, the Artefacts are hidden in random places, just as the Death letters are, and you have no clue about their location, which means that you'll have to guess a lot and hope you're heading towards an Artefact.
  • Vain Sorceress: Leesha is the Ancient Egypt-flavored one, complete with revealing dress and big, dumb servant fanning her with a massive ostrich-feather fan.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Leesha is protected by spells that make her Nigh-Invulnerable. Except to a Sand Worm Tooth, which can pierce her barrier and kill her.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: While you can slay monsters and male cultists like there's no tomorrow, the worse thing you can do to Leesha is to scare her away and force her to run from you if you possess the Sand Worm Tooth.
  • Wretched Hive: Port Blacksand, as usual. Even if your visit is brief, you still get mugged and have to defend yourself.