The Forest of Doom is the third entry in the Fighting Fantasy series of gamebooks, written by Ian Lvingstone.
You are a sword for hire, owning nothing but your weapon, a leather armor and a rucksack for your possessions. You're travelling north, looking for a job, when you stumbled into a wounded Dwarf, delirious for the poisonous arrows in his body. In his ramblings, the Dwarf mentions a precious Hammer he must find in the dreaded Forest of Doom and deliver to someone named Gillibran in Stonebridge, as well as a sorcerer, Yaztromo, living in a tower south of the Forest. After burying the Dwarf and taking his money pouch, you head south towards Yaztromo's tower to begin a dangerous task: recover the Hammer of Stonebridge, split in half and lost in the depths of the Forest of Doom, and take it to Stonebridge, currently besieged by Trolls, in order to save the Dwarves from destruction.
The Forest of Doom is the standard Livingstonian adventure: a Dungeon Crawling where the dungeon's walls and ceiling are made of trunks and branches. While there are multiple paths across the Forest, only a specific one will allow you to find both parts of the Hammer and bring them to Stonebridge. Should you fail to find one of the two Plot Coupon pieces (or any at all) you're given the chance to restart from the beginning... if you can survive a certain life-or-death roll.
It also contains the first appearence of Yaztromo the Wizard, important background character of the series, as well as the locations of Darkwood and Stonebridge. Has a sequel in Temple of Terror and the battle for Stonebridge is mentioned and seen in Caverns of the Snow Witch.
The Forest of Doom provides examples of:
- Baleful Polymorph: Yaztromo's favourite method of dealing with hostile adventurers. The Raven you encounter early on in the forest was cursed by Yaztromo, who has promised to turn him back if he can bring him 30 gold coins.
- Chased by Angry Natives: What happens if you have to return to Yaztromo's tower passing through the hills. There's a discrete chance you won't be able to outrun them and end up killed.
- Cow Tools: Most of the items Yaztromo has to sell which aren't potions. While they do have a purpose inside the forest against specific obstacles, the presence of a single path to victory makes the majority of them redundant, since you won't met the obstacles they were meant for. There's even one (the Rod of Water-Finding) that is never actually used no matter what route you take, and apparently is only there as a red herring.
- Dungeon Crawling: As said above, this adventure is essentially an open-air Dungeon Crawling, with trees acting as walls and paths acting as corridors.
- Everything Is Trying to Kill You: Darkwood forest really deserve its reputation as the Forest of Doom, given the sheer amount of hostile animals and humanoids dwelling in it.
- Evil Sorcerer: Subverted with Arragon, who's dressed and acts like the stereotypical evil wizard, but in reality he's a harmless charlatan who loves to scare people into giving him their belongings.
- Expy: The Fire Demon looks nearly identical to the Balrog.
- Gonk: The strongman who owns the gauntlet of power needed for the second hammer piece doesn't wear a shirt and the way his muscles and body are depicted makes him look hideous.
- I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin: Bigleg tells your character to take a hammer to Gillibrand before dying from arrow wounds.
- Inescapable Net: One of the purchasable items Yaztromo can sell you, which you use to trap a sleeping ogre.
- Lizard Folk: The book introduces the reptilian-like Shapechanger, as seen on the cover, this time disguised as a friendly Dwarf.
- Luck-Based Mission: Getting back alive in one piece from Stonebridge through the hills is a matter of a dice roll.
- Our Dragons Are Different: A small, green and fire-breathing wyvern is encountered near the end of the forest.
- Our Giants Are Bigger:
- In the first half of the forest lies the cavern of a Giant who has captured one of the two Goblins who split and stole the hammer.
- There's also a humanoid Behemoth you can encounter in the forest.
- Our Ghouls Are Creepier: A Ghoul sealed in a casket inside a crypt in the middle of the forest holds the other half of the Hammer of Stonebridge. Like the one from previous books, it can paralyze you with three strikes but can be killed with Holy Water.
- Plot Coupon: The two halves of the Hammer of Stonebridge, which was dropped in the forest, split in half by two passing Goblins who then went separate ways. You have to recover both the handle and the head and bring them back to Stonebridge.
- Press X to Die: One of the first options given by the book, is to either attack Yaztromo, or follow him into his tower. If you choose the first option, Yaztromo will turn you into a frog and end your adventure rightaway.
- Riddle for the Ages: It's implied that the Ghoul in the crypt killed and ate the Goblin thief and then took the hammer head... but it's not made clear how he could have left the stone casket, whose lid is so heavy you'll need a magical glove just to open it, in the first place.
- Schmuck Bait: Your quest aims to help the Dwarves of Stonebridge. The only two Dwarves you can meet in the Forest, however, are hostile: one is from a rival city and is looking for the Hammer for his own plans, the other is a disguised Shapeshifter.
- Sociopathic Hero: Maybe it is a slight case of Early Installment Weirdness, but in this book you're given a chance to start a fight with literally everyone you meet, regardless if they're hostile or not, such as the man with hunting dogs, the centaur at the riverside, and a random dwarf. In fact, one of the first choices offered by this book is whether you'd like to attack Yaztromo or not!
- Take Your Time: Despite the impelling Troll invasion, the fact that you're free to return to Yaztromo's tower to search the forest again if you fail on your first try shows that you can travel days and days up and down Darkwood forest and Stonebridge won't fall.
- Too Dumb to Live: Attacking Yaztromo, even after he kindly warned you, is the fastest and dumbest way to end the game.
- Truth Serums: The Amber Eye talisman, when worn around your neck, can force people to tell you the truth. It's used to unmask Arragon the Magician.
- Ungrateful Bastard: When you release the Goblin from the Giant's cage, the little bastard will still attack you.
- You Kill It, You Bought It: If you destroy the Fire Demon and decide to wear his crown, you will become the next Fire Demon, in a Non Standard Game Over.