Way of the Tiger

Way of the Tiger
First Way of the Tiger book

The Way of the Tiger is the name of a series of adventure gamebooks by Mark Smith and Jamie Thomson set on the fantasy world of Orb. The reader takes the part of a young ninja, Avenger, on his quest to avenge his foster father and recover the Scrolls of Kettsuin. Later books present fresh challenges for Avenger to overcome. Compared to other gamebooks such as those in the Fighting Fantasy series, The Way of the Tiger provided a more developed storyline and atmosphere, as well as three-dimensional characters.

The world of Orb was originally drawn up by Mark Smith for a Dungeons and Dragons game he dungeon-mastered while a psychology undergraduate at Oxford University in the late 1970s. The key characters were created as identities by long-term players in the game, which is why they have such depth. Orb was also used as the setting for the Fighting Fantasy gamebook Talisman of Death, again by Smith & Thomson.

Each book has a warning at the front against performing any of the ninja related feats in the book as "They could lead to serious injury or death to an untrained user".

The sixth book, Inferno!, ends on a cliffhanger with Avenger trapped in the web of the Black Widow, Orb's darkest blight. As no new books have been released, the fate of Avenger and Orb is unknown. It has been suggested by some gamebook fans that Smith and Thompson had written an unpublished seventh volume which would conclude the plotline, as in a column for gamebook magazine Warlock! Jamie Thompson said seven volumes were planned, and some seem to recall this book even having been advertised, but no hard evidence of this has come to light. Given the similarly downbeat conclusion of Smith and Thompson's Falcon gamebook series, and that uniquely amongst the books the words "The End" appeared after the final paragraph, it seems likely that the ending of Inferno! was intended. As the final paragraphs of the sixth volume speed Avenger through a number of layers of the Rift of Orb, it is possible that the putative seventh volume would have featured adventures through these layers leading to the same conclusion.

Contents

Books

The series comprises six books:

  1. Avenger!
  2. Assassin!
  3. Usurper!
  4. Overlord!
  5. Warbringer!
  6. Inferno!

The books could be played in sequence or as standalone adventures, although it is heavily recommended to play them in sequence in order to not interrupt the continuing storyline. If played in sequence any abilities, bonuses, penalties or special items Avenger had acquired carried over to the next book.

Features

The series featured a combat system based on various unarmed fighting moves with colourful names, for example the Cobra Strike punch, Leaping Tiger kick or Whirlpool throw. Avenger could also choose from a list of ninja skills such as Immunity to Poisons, Acrobatics or Poison Needle spitting, and hurl shuriken at enemies. Luck also played in part in the form of Fate tests to see if Fate smiled on you, or turned her back. Avenger also had the power of "Inner Force", a fictional representation of chi energy. Avenger could use Inner Force to cause greater damage to enemies or break items he would normally be unable to.

Avenger also had the use of many Ninja artifacts, like a garotte and poison needles. Furthermore, Avenger can learn new techniques that can over the series such as new attacks like the Kwon's Flail kick or "Shinren," a means of understanding people's intentions by observing subtle clues.

Furthermore as the series progresses, Avenger learns in Usurper that he is actually a prince of a major city state now under the brutal control of the Usurper. Your order's leader sends you on a mission to reclaim your throne despite considerable opposition that requires making alliances for the rebellion. In the succeeding books, Avenger must learns the ways of rule, politics, diplomacy and war in order to defend the kingdom.

Other characters

The books had a large number of other characters, some of whom had repeat appearances throughout the series. These characters are notable in that they are not faceless enemies or one dimensional caricatures, each character is rendered as a distinct personality as much as possible, given the limitations of the medium.

Enemies

  • Tyutchev, Cassandra and Thaum - A trio of chaos worshippers, who revere the chaos god Anarchil. They are recurring antagonists of Avenger throughout the series. Those three characters are also featured in Fighting Fantasy book 11, "Talisman of Death", where they oppose the player for the titular item.
    • Tyutchev - This thief wears a cloak that makes it hard to judge how far away he is and wields a bastard sword taller than he is. His hair is dyed a bright corn yellow.
    • Cassandra - A female warrior, noted for her cruelty, spiked hair and patchwork armour. Wields a magical Coldsword.
    • Thaum - a master of magic and especially illusion. "Devious looking" and wears a large gold earring.
  • Olvar the Chaos Bringer - A chaos worshipping barbarian warrior and friend of Tyutchev, Cassandra and Thaum. His death at Avenger's hands (after an unprovoked attack by Olvar) leads to the feud between Avenger and the chaos worshippers. Wears a magical headband that can fire lightning bolts, and feels no pain in combat due to his bloodlust.
  • Foxglove - Head of the Order of the Yellow Lotus and priestess of Nemesis. She is also a beautiful and deceptive courtesan who repeatedly attempts to seduce the Avenger or make him take pity on her so she can better manipulate him.
  • Aiguchi the Weaponmaster - A monk of the Scarlet Mantis and a master of weapons, he challenges Avenger to a duel in the Ring of Vasch-Ro to avenge the death of Yaemon. Expert with the bow, naginata and nunchaku.
  • Mandrake, the Guildmaster of Assassins - Worships Torremalku the Slayer, the patron god of assassins, and is the most deadly assassin on Orb. "No-one has ever survived his attention." Master of disguise and acting.
  • Yaemon, the Grand Master of Flame. Head of the Scarlet Mantis monks, at the beginning of the series he has been Grand Master for more than twenty summers. He slew Avenger's foster father Naijishi and stole the Scrolls of Kettsuin. Possibly the most deadly martial artist on Orb.
  • Manse the Deathmage - An evil sorcerer, Manse can cast many different spells, including the nearly always fatal "Finger of Death". Has been known to practice child sacrifice.
  • Honoric, Grand Marshal of the Legion of the Sword of Doom - One of the most feared military commanders and most evil men on Orb. A peerless swordsman, it is said he once slew a storm giant singlehandedly. Wields Sorcerak, a magical sword that dispels magic and causes fear in its wielders opponents. It can also fly.
  • The Ninja of the Way of the Scorpion - A group of evil ninja who worship Nemesis and follow the Way of the Scorpion, an evil counterpart to the Way of the Tiger. Unlike the disciples of the Tiger, the Scorpion Ninja specialize in the use of various weapons.
  • The Grandmaster of Shadows - The leader of the ninja who follow the Way of the Scorpion. Uses deception, trickery and his ability to create magical darkness in combat.
  • Everyman - A golem bodyguard which is stolen and sent to kill Avenger. It is said that he must be killed one hundred times before he can die. "My name is Everyman and I am legion."
  • The Fiend - Sent by the gods of evil to capture Avenger's soul.
  • Astaroth, Seventh Duke of Hell - "The Usurper", the ruler of Irsmuncast nigh Edge who seized power after Avenger's real father (the rightful ruler of Irsmuncast) was slain by Yaemon.

Allies

  • Glaivas - A Ranger Lord and excellent swordsman, Glaivas is a friend and ally of Avenger.
  • Doré le Jeune - A paladin and ally of Avenger. Wields a holy sword.
  • Gorobei - A monk and fellow worshipper of Kwon. Expert wrestler and skilled martial artist, although not as fast as Avenger.
  • Togawa - A monk of Kwon and a mystic. Has knowledge of extremely powerful martial arts attacks, and can travel to the spirit plane. If Avenger visits him, the monk will teach a powerful new kick, "Kwon's Flail," which proves a valuable attack against enemies inexperienced with the move.
  • The Spirit Tiger - Kwon's avatar who serves Kwon on the spirit plane.
  • Taflur, Thybault, Vespers and Eris - A group of adventurers who Avenger aids in their battle against an Undead warlord, who in turn heal him of the plague and come to his aid in a confrontation with the worshippers of Chaos.
  • Parsifal - The head monk of Kwon in the city of Irsmuncast nigh Edge.
  • Force Lady Gwynneth - Leader of the Shieldmaidens of Dama in the city of Irsmuncast nigh Edge.

Others

  • Runeweaver - A warrior who can fire magical bolts from his sword
  • Grizell - A young slave girl whom the player might meet when travelling through the Vale of the Lich Lords. While she does not survive for long after the encounter, she may give the hero an item which can prove essential for the course of the adventure.
  • Antocidas the One-Eyed - Leader of the mercenaries in the city of Irmsuncast nigh Edge.
  • Golspiel - Corrupt but silver-tongued head of the merchants guild in Irsmuncast. He is a scheming opportunist who sides with whatever party promises him the most bountiful spoils.
  • The Demagogue - Another faction leader in Irsmuncast Nigh Edge. A popular rabble rouser with the ear of the little people and rather strange ideas about how to run a city (socialist style ideas do seem strange in the context of a feudal city-state). His illustration bears more than a passing resemblance to British trade union leader Arthur Scargill.

Gods

The Gods of Orb are many.

  • Kwon - "The Redeemer". This is the god Avenger worships, as well as all of the monks from the Island of Tranquil Dreams.
  • Vile - "the Insuperable Master of Unarmed Combat and Speaker of Unholy Words." Kwon's twisted brother, worshipped by the Monks of the Scarlet Mantis order.
  • Avatar the One - the Supreme Principal of Good.
  • Illustra - "Goddess of Life, consort to Avatar".
  • All-Mother - "The Preserver of Life". A nature goddess.
  • Eo - "Prince of Peace and Weal".
  • Dama - "Shieldmaiden to the Gods. Worshipped by Force Lady Gywnneth and the other Shieldmaidens of Dama.
  • Beatan the Free - Chaotic deity whose followers tend towards Good as represented by a symbol showing five spokes of the ten on the Wheel of Myriad Possibilities that tend towards good rather than evil. Eris worshipped Anarchil originally, and his conversion is referenced by Tyutchev during a confrontation.
  • Rocheval - Paladin god. Formerly a mortal, elevated by Eo for his campaigning in the Abyss "Prince of Knights Errand. Keeper of the Holy of Holies"
  • Fate - Keeper of the Balance "without which, all things would perish". Elite disciples form the Tools of Fate, an elite band of heroes destined to do great deeds in the service of Fate
  • Nemesis - Supreme Principle of Evil, also known as "Lord of the Cleansing Flame." Deity is depicted as a hawk-headed man; his religious symbol is a whirlpool.
  • Vasch-Ro - Evil war god, "He Who Sows for the Reaper".
  • Nil - "Mouth of the Void". A malevolent deity dwelling in the Void outside of existence. Is known for creating monstrous creatures which are known as "Sons of Nil".
  • Nullaq - Evil spider deity worshipped by Dark Elves, also called "The Supreme Queen of Malice". Possibly based on the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons deity Lolth.
  • Fell-Kyrinla, also known as "The Man-Hater". A malevolent war goddess worshipped by women warriors of Horngroth and Greyguilds on the Moor.
  • Anarchil - Insane chaos god and "Corrupter of the Family Bond". Also known as "Destroyer of Edifices".
  • Torremalku the Slayer - God of murder worshipped by assassins. Also known as "Swift-sure Bringer Of Death to Beggars and Kings".
  • Moraine - Also known as "God of Empire". A god worshipped for conquest and political prosperity.
  • Hermetis the Delinquent - God of thieves, cut-throats, and vagabonds.
  • Death - God of Death. Considered one of the most malevolent entities of Orb.
  • Gauss - Warrior-Sage deity, "Enchanter of Arms, Patron of Sages".
  • Ilexkuneion - God of animals and plants
  • Innoka - "Innocent friend to all"
  • Tanajla - Elf goddess
  • Zarahrayal - "The Temptress". Worshipped by the more lowly denizens of the Rift
  • Time, also known as "The Snowfather". Considered the perhaps most poerful entity of Orb. However, his priests are strictly neutral in any conflict; coupled with their control over time, this makes them serious hazards rather than allies or enemies

Other media

Two computer games were released. The first, The Way of the Tiger, is a beat em up on the Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 16 and Commodore 64 by Gremlin Graphics. This game confusingly has Avenger fighting with staves and swords as well as unarmed combat (Avenger rarely used weapons apart from shuriken in the books).[1][2] The second game, Avenger!, is a top down arcade adventure.[3][4]

External links


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