Friday, February 21, 2014

In Retrospect: Captive Planet, ENDLESS QUEST Book #17, by Morris Simon


Charles Akins over at Dyvers is showcasing old school fantasy art this month. One of his first this piece of art by Clyde Caldwell. I looked at it and was like: "Hey, I've still got Captive Planet laying around somewhere. Maybe I should do a review." Well, here it is.  

I remember buying this book in the late 1980s, before I was even playing D&D. They had a bunch of these Endless Quest books at 2 for $1 at KB Toys at Lindale Mall in Cedar Rapids. They're like Choose Your Own Adventure books, but based on D&D. A lot of them, I remember, are quite good--I've taken ideas from them to use in my own games over the years.

This one, however, is for Star Frontiers, TSR's contribution to the Space Opera genre (which I've never played). When I picked it up, I remembered not thinking it was a good as the other Endless Quest books. And when I read it, I was right. 

The dragon with the lasers on his head does appear in the book. In fact, there's more than one. But I never got that far after three tries. I only saw the dragons in the interior illustrations. 

In the story you are Andru, a robotics/computer whiz, who's lost contact with his parents on the Planet New Pale. You join forces with Brim Darkstar, galactic adventurer and sole survivor of a planet swallowed by a black hole, to discover what has happened, and why all communications with New Pale have been cut off. 

The problem with the book is that it takes awhile to even meet Brim Darkstar, and then it takes awhile to get to New Pale. And once on New Pale you spend a lot of time avoiding interesting things--though you do take control of a nuclear-powered plow. Any choice that leads to potential action gets you killed, while those that don't makes the story just snooze a long. 

At one point, the action picked up when the "garbot" came a long--a giant industrial sized vacuum cleaner. One of your companions, a hairy Yazarian, already has two grenades in his hand.

"Come on you big vacuum cleaner!" the warrior snarls. "Open your mouth for real nice treat!" 

He the garbot sucks up the grenades and blows up. 

After that you're given the choice to split the group or to keep the group together. I just to keep the group together and then everybody died. 

Yes, I'm taking into account that his book is meant for 10-year-olds, but I think even a 10-year-old would find it boring, because I do remember being bored with it when I was 10. 

The other Endless Quest books are better, like Mountain of Mirrors or The Dragon's Ransom. 

All of these books have cool artwork on their covers to lure you in. Inside each are ideas you can use for your games. But Captive Planet was a mediocre read. 

Maybe I'll review more of these books in the future, but right now I've got enough on my plate. 

My review for WGR1 Greyhawk Ruins will be up later today, along with my post for the D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge



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