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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 begin the adventure in the Dwarven village of Stonebridge, enjoying some rest after your latest adventure, when the wizard Yaztromo arrives 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 statuettes. 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 must venture south in order to reach the temple, get all the Dragons before Malbordus does, and stop him once and for all — not to mention surviving the deadly desert, the assassins sent by Malbordus, and the infernal cult of Leesha, mistress of said temple.

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

Temple of Terror provides examples of:

  • Achilles' Heel: Leesha is protected by spells that make her Nigh-Invulnerable, except for one thing: A Sand Worm Tooth can pierce her barrier and kill her.
  • Affably Evil: Leesha. Even after you kill her minions and break 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 leisure. When she realizes you can hurt her, though, she drops the act and runs for her life.
  • 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're attacked by the tentacles of an unseen underwater monster (creatively named a Tentacled Thing) which attempts to drown you.
    • A type-2 example, while attempting to cross the Desert of Skulls without entering Port Blacksand, you end up getting ensnared by a Sand Snapper's tentacles. The rest of the monster is visible, but you can only fight and kill the tentacles.
    • A really, really odd case, midway in the adventure: one corridor is lined with the arms of statues holding swords, which slash 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, and Malbordus takes your Artefacts after Leesha paralyzes you.
  • Black Swords Are Better: Malbordus's weapon of choice. Its blade can paralyze you if it strikes you three times.
  • 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.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: There's an unavoidable obstacle that makes the hero lose their magic spells, but they don't know this in-universe. Instead, the book directly tells the reader what happened if they try to cast a spell at any point in the future.
  • Brought Down to Normal: The unavoidable golden shower (fitting) you walk under partway through the book 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.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Yaztromo gives you a crash course in magic that lets you cast a few basic spells, and doing so drains your health. It still does even after your spells don't work anymore.
  • Creepy Centipedes: A secret room in the temple which hides a Dragon Artifact hosts a massive centipede with hostile intentions.
  • Crossing the Desert: You're require to cross the Desert of Skulls to locate the Lost City of Vatos, braving hazards like sand worms and desert storms along the way.
  • Curse: Upon entering the Temple, the Messenger of Death confronts you, warning you that it has hidden the letters "D-E-A-T-H" throughout the temple. 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 artefacts.
  • Dual Wielding: The Mutant Orc assassin (an insanely tough enemy, but luckily a Skippable Boss you can just detour around) wields two long knives in combat. If you don't have a short dagger to do this yourself, you'll fight him with your skill reduced because of his advantage, in addition to the assassin's already high Skill of 11.
  • 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.
  • Ghostly Gape: The accompanying illustration of the Phantom shows him with this expression.
  • Gotta Catch Them All:
    • The Five Dragon Artefacts.
    • Inverted with the Five Letters of Death, which kill you if you find them all.
  • High Priestess: Leesha, the priestess of Vatos who leads the cultists and is working alongside Malbordus in his mission.
  • I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin: In a rather unusual twist... Near the very end you can stumble into a delirious Dwarf who came 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: You're a capable swordfighter, and Yaztromo can teach you up to four spells you can employ, kinda like in The Citadel of Chaos. At least for a while. Also, Malbordus is a sorcerer who's no slouch when it comes to swordfighting.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Leesha the High Priestess, who is first seen lounging on several cushions and wearing a low-cut, cleavage-exposing dress.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: If you miss even one Dragon Artefact, you get to see Malbordus riding said Dragon towards Darkwood, which means that you failed your quest.
  • Oculothorax: You encounter one in the corridors of Vatos called an Eye Stinger, which resembles a floating flesh-bag of spikes with a single eye. It can be killed instantly by piercing its central eye, but if it touches you, the spikes contains a venom that petrifies you in seconds.
  • 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 being pampered in her inner sanctum, taking action against you only when you reach her. This is in contrast with Malbordus, who's actively hunting down the Dragon Artefacts just like you.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: There are five, each can be summoned by an artifact, and apparently, even one of them is strong enough to ensure victory (which, considering in other books you could fight and slay dragons, is a significant power difference).
  • Playing with Fire:
    • The Fire Spell you can learn from Yaztromo.
    • A fire-breathing Fiend can be found hiding in a pot.
  • Plot Coupon: The five Dragon Artifacts scattered through all the Temple of Vatros, which you must recover at all costs.
  • Race Against the Clock: Implemented in an unusual way in the latter half of the adventure. When you enter the city of Vatos, the Messenger of Death curses you, warning that should you ever come across all five of the letters "D-E-A-T-H" on your adventure, this will spell your doom — literally! — and the curse will kill you on the spot. The letters are not out in the open, but hidden in places where you're likely going to look for the dragon statues — which, of course, you need to find to stop Malbordus. This adds pressure and deters you from needless searching, as you'll quickly run out of time finding letter after letter before you can locate all of the dragon statues.
  • Red Herring: Quite a few, but then again this is an Ian Livingstone book.
    • Yaztromo offers you the choice of four spells to learn out of a selection of ten. A few of them sound quite useful, but in practice are rather unhelpful, and of course you have no way of knowing this apart from trial and error. The Magic Arrow spell is never useful; two of the three times you're given the option to use it are on an unwinnable path, and the one time you can use it on the correct path is against some weak Needle Flies whose Skill is either 5 or 6. The Jump spell drains 3 Stamina points and is used in several areas where you can usually find an alternate, enemy-free path. The Language spell isn't even usable at any point!
    • The merchant caravan sells you an assortment of items; of course, you can't buy everything, and you won't know in advance what you actually need. More than half of these, including the sealing-wax, beetle charm, black mask, and flute, are either never mentioned again or don't help you when you get the opportunity to use them.
  • Religion of Evil: Highly implied with the cult of Leesha and her servants.
  • Sand Worm: There's a mandatory (and hard) boss battle against a massive sand worm midway through your journey to reach the Temple. If you win, you can take one of its teeth, which 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:
    • Searching exhaustively or needlessly is likely to turn up one of the letters of "D-E-A-T-H". Collect all five for a eternal reward...
    • Near the end, the Skeleton Men ask you to give them 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 — finding the letters "D-E-A-T-H" will kill you.
  • 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: The desert around Vatos is extremely dangerous; you must deal with dehydration, cold nights, and a gigantic Sand Worm lying around.
  • Torture Cellar: It turns out Vatos has a torture chamber, where you find a slave about to be flayed by a sadistic masked torturer. You're given an option to rescue the slave (by attacking and killing the torturer), at which point you find out he's being punished by the high priestess, Leesha, for attempting to escape.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Even more so than usual. Like in most any Livingstone book, the Artefacts are hidden in random places, just as the Death letters are, and you have no clues about their location. You'll have to blindly stick your head in every nook and cranny hoping to find an Artefact, while also hoping not to find a letter.
  • Trust Password: At one point, you can be rescued by a crew of Dwarven sailors. However, when you try to explain that you're on an important mission from Stonebridge, the captain doesn't trust you and thinks you're a pirate who made up the story in order to escape punishment. You need to prove that you really do know the dwarves of Stonebridge by telling the captain the name of the king.
  • Vain Sorceress: Leesha is the Ancient Egypt-flavored one, complete with a revealing dress and a servant fanning her with a massive ostrich-feather fan.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment:
    • If you chose to attack an adventurer who's near his death, you'll be overwhelmed by guilt and lose 3 LUCK points instantly. Choose to talk to him, though, and he'll give you a valuable clue before he passes out.
    • Try to raise your sword against an unarmed artist and you'll be killed instantly by a force field. Turns out the artist was given an enchanted ring by the High Priestess, and if you chat with him he'll give you a valuable clue afterwards.
  • Wretched Hive: Port Blacksand, as usual. Even if your visit is brief, you still get mugged and have to defend yourself.