Gamesmen of Kasar (1982)

Gamesmen of Kasar (1982) is a gamebook for Tunnels & Trolls. I swear, when I picked these, I was just picking cool covers, I wasn’t like “here, let me pick all the weirdest, most artificial T&T gamebooks I can.” Yet, here we are.

This one is perhaps the strangest T&T gamebook I have delved into. There is a mysterious compound where adventurous sorts can go in and play the Game, sans any equipment (SEE? Always with the taking away of my sweet stuff, what’s the point of having it?). Inside is a gauntlet of deadly challenges. If you survive, you get your weight in gold as a prize. Hooray!

It gets stranger. This is sort of like Fritz Leiber’s Bazaar of the Bizarre meets Phantasm. The encounters inside are primarily with automatons. By which I mean robots rather than golems. There is a vague sense of the X-men villain Arcade in the proceedings. The oddest bit is the real reason for the Game. The place is run by aliens. Their civilization runs on a material that is incredibly radioactive, which is most effectively mined by magically animated zombies. However, their moral code prevents them from killing people to make into zombies, so they devised the Game to kill people and provide a steady stream of hearty zombie-ready corpses. Hell of a loophole. Once you get out, the local Duke cuts a deal to send the local prisoner population into the Game. Very civilized.

James Talbot on the cover. I really like it, it feels suitably pulpy and dangerous. Mixed on Douglas Herring’s cartoony interiors. When they hit, they hit! When they miss, they really miss.

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