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Literature / Trial of Champions

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Trial of Champions is the 21st entry in the Fighting Fantasy series of gamebooks, written by Ian Livingstone and acting as a sequel to the events of Deathtrap Dungeon.

You start as a slave, sold to the evil and cruel Lord Carnuss, brother of Baron Sukumvit from Fang, and forced to undergo an harsh gladiator training for one purpose: after the victory of a nameless adventurer over the dangers of Deathtrap Dungeon, Sukumvit has rebuilt his personal deathtrap from scratch, making it even deadlier than before, and has issued a new challenge. Carnuss is jealous of his brother's success, and wishes to humiliate his brother by having one of his own slaves compete in the Walk and triumph, winning fame and gold. And that slave could be you, if you survive the deadly training regimen and the treacherous depths of the revamped Deathtrap Dungeon. Will you be another corpse lost in the pits, or you'll triumph over the adversities and get your revenge?


As with the first book, you have to venture forth in the confusing, deadly dungeon, (if you manage to survive the first part of the game, that's it) trying to distinguish between traps and useful items that will allow you to win the trial. In short, it's even harder than the first.

Continued in the gamebook Armies of Death.

Trial Of Champions provides examples of:

  • Always Someone Better: Sukumvit to Carnuss, which is way the latter is so decided to humiliate the former.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Implied with the Chaos Champion, who are raised from birth to be merciless, cruel warriors.
  • Attack of the Monster Appendage: This time is a massive, fleshy "tongue" emerging from a hole in a stone face carving.
  • An Axe to Grind: The magical "Ropecutter" axe. Which attacks you when you remove it from the wooden block it's stuck into.
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  • Bald of Awesome: The first Trialmaster may be hairless, but he's not to be trifled with.
  • Big Bad: This time is Sukumvit's brother Carnuss, who's much more of direct threat and a gratuitous dick.
  • Butterface: The Liche Queen in the picture is rather attractive, if you ignore the claw-like hands or the hideously rotten face.
  • Cain and Abel: Carnuss and Sukumvit. Granted, Sukumvit is no saint himself, but at least he cares for Fang and keeps his word.
  • Chest Monster: If you go the wrong way, you run into a massive pile of gold which is an illusion created by a massive monster who proceeds to devour you whole.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Averted, a small group of Zombies forces you to run away.
  • Continuity Nod: Again, the five contestants include an elf who's crushed to death by a serpentine being (though in his case it's a giant tongue instead of a snake like in the first book) and a warrior from the east who attacks you.
  • Cool Sword: The dungeon contains an enchanted Broadsword which allows you to fight certain enemies, like the Living Idol.
  • Creepily Long Arms: The Strider has arms nearly as long as he's tall.
  • Dem Bones: One room hosts a Bone Devil (a skeleton animated by a dust devil) and later on you have to fight the Skeleton King.
  • Double Weapon: The Strider's weapon of choice seems to be a double-headed Sovnya which he has no trouble wielding, despite his arms and being in a underground tunnel.
  • Duel to the Death: Fittingly enough, the game ends in one which pits you against Carnuss.
  • Enthralling Siren: You encounter a singing siren in a dungeon room who tries to stun you long enough for the giant octopus-like monster living in her lake to kill you. If you get past it but are still under her spell, she has a dagger to kill you with.
  • Epic Flail: The final gladiatorial test involves a blind-folded battle with flails. Is as frustratingly hard as it implies.
  • Evil Sorcerer: The last Trialmaster is an elderly wizard, ready to kill you if you don't have all the required stuff. Even if you do, he summons a demon for you to fight and later he tries to kill you with a trap.
  • Eye Scream: Losing against the Chaos Champion results in a blow to the face that damages your eyesight.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: If you're dumb enough to eat the rotting food scraps you find on the body of the Cave Troll, you're doomed even if you somehow manage to get through the dungeon, as the scraps are infested with the parasitic Grub Worms, which will eat their way out of your stomach and painfully kill you.
  • Feel No Pain: The Chaos Champion ignores a dagger to the shoulder, which just makes him angrier.
  • Gladiator Games: The first part of the game, in order to determine who's gonna enter Deathtrap Dungeon.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Carnuss is ultimately out-witted by Sukumvit and killed by the very gladiator he kidnapped and put through hell for his own personal gain.
  • An Ice Person: The Coldclaw is a monstrous beast that chills everything around it, decreasing your Skill in combat.
  • Made of Iron: The Bonecrusher's skin is so hard and tough that swords are next-to useless against it.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: The Idol will come to life if you try to take her lamp. This is bad news if you didn't found the magical Broadsword earlier.
  • Nintendo Hard: The beginning alone requires a high amount of Skill and Luck tests, along with many battles and the dreaded, random flail combat. And all of this Before you get to the dungeon which means that if you die while trying to find out all the items you need in the convoluted maze, you have to go through the training sequence again.
  • One-Winged Angel: When you defeat the Fire Imp it will metamorphise in the bigger, Balrog-like Fire Demon.
  • Out-Gambitted: When you emerge victorious from the dungeon, Sukumvit offers to grant you any wish you like as a reward. This means you ask to duel Carnuss one-on-one, which spoils Carnuss's plans and allows Sukumvit the chance of getting rid of his brother.
  • Pig Man: The Tusker is a small, cavern-dwelling boar-thing which attacks you if you enter a tunnel hidden in the ceiling.
  • Plot Coupon: This time you have to recover a series of numbered rings and the two instructions on which combination to use. This being Livingstone, you must find all of them in order to win. There's also a set of clock hands for the final gate, but they're not technically vital, as you have a 1-in-4 chance of getting it right anyway.
  • Prongs of Poseidon: In the beginning, you're given the option between using a broadsword and shield or the trident and net combo. The latter works better against the Bonecrusher.
  • Samurai: The "Eastern Warlord" is clearly one, as a shout out to the Ninja in the previous Deathtrap Dungeon. He too is hostile, and seemingly walked a long way from Hachiman (which, again, is in a different continent).
  • Schmuck Bait: Again, Sukumvit really loves his "traps-that-looks-like-useful-stuff" routine.
  • Sequel Hook: In the end, after emerging from the Dungeon and killing Carnuss, you ponder on what to do with all the massive amount of gold you just obtained, and the option to hire some mercenaries for a personal army is mentioned. This is expanded upon in Armies of Death.
  • Simple Staff: The first Trialmaster forces you to fight him with a staff in an unusual duel where you can choose each move you can make.
  • Sole Survivor: You, among the trainee of Carnuss for the Dungeon.
  • Spikes of Villainy: The Chaos Champion is covered in spikes from head to weapon.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: The impish being trapped in a glass bell will curse you and steal one of your items if you release him.
  • Unstoppable Rage: The Chaos Champion, who works himself into a berserk frenzy before your battle.
  • Unwinnable by Design: If you eat the weird meat you find on the Hill Troll then some parasite will start burrowing through your stomach, making you lose 1 Stamina Point for each paragraph, which likely means you won't make it to the exit alive even if you have all the rings.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Despite the Bonecrushers enormous strength and nigh-invulnerable skin, it has one major weakness: its weight means that losing its balance is a death sentence, as it's almost impossible for it to get back up.


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