Way of the Tiger

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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 monk-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.

The world of Orb was originally drawn up by Mark Smith for a Dungeons and Dragons game he dungeon-mastered while a pupil at Brighton College in the mid-1970s. Orb was also used as the setting for the Fighting Fantasy gamebook Talisman of Death, again by Smith & Thomson.

Each book has a disclaimer 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 were released, the fate of Avenger and Orb was unknown. Mark Smith has confirmed that the cliffhanger ending was deliberate.[1]

As of August 2013, the original creators of the series were working with Megara Entertainment to develop re-edited hardcover collector editions of the gamebooks (including a new prequel (Book 0) and sequel (book 7)),[2] and potentially a role-playing game based on series.[3] The two new books plus the six re-edited original books are being reprinted in paperback format.

In December 2013, it was announced that Tin Man Games would be releasing the original six books of the series on digital platforms in 2014 and 2015.[4]

Books[edit]

The original 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 playing them in sequence preserves the continuity of the storyline. If played in sequence, any abilities, bonuses, penalties or special items Avenger had acquired carried over to the next book.

The new expanded eight-book series will consist of the following titles:

  1. Ninja! by David Walters
  2. Avenger! by Mark Smith & Jamie Thomson
  3. Assassin! by Mark Smith & Jamie Thomson
  4. Usurper! by Mark Smith & Jamie Thomson
  5. Overlord! by Mark Smith & Jamie Thomson
  6. Warbringer! by Mark Smith & Jamie Thomson
  7. Inferno! by Mark Smith & Jamie Thomson
  8. Redeemer! by David Walters, Mark Smith & Jamie Thomson

Features[edit]

The series featured a combat system based on 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", similar to qi 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. Avenger can learn new techniques 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.

Other characters[edit]

The books had a large number of other characters, some of whom had repeat appearances throughout the series.

Enemies[edit]

  • 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.
    • Cassandra - A warrior noted for her beauty, speed and swordsmanship. Wields a magical coldsword.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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[edit]

  • 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 servantess, who is aiding Avenger from 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[edit]

  • Foxglove - The beautiful leaderess of the Order of the Yellow Lotus and priestess of Nemesis. Cunning and manipulative, she at times attempts to seduce the Avenger, but is not to be trusted.
  • 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.

Gods[edit]

Aside from certain ancient titans called "Elder Gods", Orb is ruled by various deities worshipped by humans and other beings.

Name Epithet Order axis Moral axis Description
Kwon
  • The Redeemer
  • He Who Speaks the Holy Words of Power
  • Supreme Master of Unarmed Combat
Lawful Good This is the god worshipped by the main character (Avenger) and his father. Places with strong representation of Kwon worship include the Island of Tranquil Dreams and Irsmuncast. A key focus of monks of Kwon is protecting the weak. The character Doré le Jeune laments that Kwon worshippers tolerate chaotics such as the followers of Béatan the Free. His martial monks, which include ninjas and mystics, do not cast spells but can call upon Inner Force to deal awesome blows and can travel the spirit plane during meditation. Kwon's servant is the Spirit Tiger. Kwon stands opposite Vile in the Garden of the Gods.
The Allmother Preserver of Life Neutral Good? A nature goddess. Her main follower in the series is Glaivas, a Ranger Lord. She is looked upon favourably by the priests of Béatan the Free.
Anarchil
  • Corrupter of the Family Bond
  • Destroyer of Edifices
Chaotic Evil Insane chaos god with various murderous followers including Olvar the barbarian and Tyutchev the thief. No temples are mentioned.
Avatar
  • The One
  • Supreme Principle of Good
Neutral Good The white-robed priests of Avatar can use various spells, including healing. His symbol is the cross. Stands opposite Nemesis, Supreme Principle of Evil.
Béatan The Free Chaotic Good Deity whose followers (who include priests and mages) believe that Good comes from freedom. Their symbol is a five-spoked half-wheel, the Wheel of Myriad Possibility, representing the many ways to do good. The character Eris worshipped Anarchil originally, and his conversion is referenced by Tyutchev during a confrontation.
Dama Shieldmaiden of the Gods Lawful Neutral The order following this goddess are the Shieldmaidens of Dama, armed and armoured female defenders of law and order. In Irsmuncast, Led by Force Lady Gywnneth. Her symbol is the lozenge-shaped shield. Although they care nothing for Good or Evil per se, the Shieldmaidens ally with followers of Good to fight back when worshippers of Evil and Chaos run amok. They proudly police cities such as Irsmuncast, and patrol the lands of the Rift to keep them free of the Spawn that boil forth to trouble humanity.
Death The Reaper Neutral Evil Followers practise child-sacrifice. Centres of his cult include the city of Mortavalon.
Eo Prince of Peace and Weal Good Worshipped by the Samurai of the Island of Plenty.
Fate Keeper of the Balance, without which all things would perish Neutral Neutral One of the two deities that introduce the world of Orb in Talisman of Death. She is "above other gods". In appearance she is hairless and eyeless, wearing a robe of shifting colours. Her symbol is the ten-spoked wheel. Her priests can see the future, and random events on Orb depend on whether Fate smiles or turns her back on an individual. Her disciples include the Tools of Fate, an élite band of heroes destined to do great deeds in her service. Centres of her worship include Fiendil and the Spires of Foreshadowing, where she has great cathedrals. Avenger remarks that the worship of her is "pointless".
Fell-Kyrinla The Man-Hater Evil A malevolent war-goddess worshipped by misandric women warriors of Horngroth and Greyguilds-on-the-Moor.
Gauss
  • Enchanter of Arms
  • Patron of Sages
Lawful? Good? Warrior-sage deity, whose symbol is an unfurled scroll. A centre of his worship is the city of Greyguilds-on-the-Moor.
Hermetis The Delinquent God of thieves, cut-throats, and vagabonds.
Ilexkuneion Neutral Neutral God of animals and plants. His druidic followers are men who dress in greens and browns, with sprigs of oak in their hair. A centre of his worship is the city of Serakub.
Illustra Goddess of Life Good Consort to Avatar. The green-robed priests and priestesses of Illustra have healing spells, and may wear armour. Her symbol is the white cross of Avatar on a green background.
Innoka Innocent friend to all A deity that Avenger once considers pretending to be a worshipper of.
Moraine God of Empire A martial god worshipped for conquest and political prosperity. The wolfen of the city of Greydawn worship him.
Nemesis
  • Supreme Principle of Evil
  • Lord of the Cleansing Flame
  • He Who Would Return All to the Darkness
Neutral Evil A god depicted as a hawk-headed man; his religious symbol is a black whirlpool. His priesthood are able to cast various spells, and practise child-sacrifice. His followers also include mages and the weapon-wielding ninjas of the order of the Scorpion. The most powerful of the Evil gods. His main reverencer in the series is Manse the Deathmage. His cult takes over Irsmuncast under the Usurper.
Nil Mouth of the Void Chaotic? Evil A malevolent deity dwelling in the Void outside of existence. Is known for creating monstrous creatures which are known as Sons of Nil, which are the source of the most virulent poison on Orb (the Blood of Nil).
Nullaq
  • The Supreme Queen of Malice
  • The Supreme Queen who rules in Malicious Envy
  • The Supreme Queen whose Touch is Poison
Evil Evil arachnid goddess worshipped by Dark Elves and humans who practise blood sacrifice. Her symbol is the green and purple spider. Similar to the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons deity Lolth.
Rocheval
  • Prince of Knights Errant
  • Keeper of the Holy of Holies
Lawful Good God of paladins. Formerly a mortal fighter, elevated by Eo for his campaigning in the Abyss. Prioritises Law at least as much as Good, frowning upon chaotics such as the followers of Béatan. His main follower in the series is Doré le Jeune. A centre of his worship is the isle of Dragonhold.
Tanajla Elf goddess.
Time
  • Snowfather
  • The Youngest Son
Neutral Neutral One of the two deities that introduce the world of Orb in Talisman of Death. Described as the most powerful of the gods. In appearance, he shifts between infantile and ancient. His priests, who adopt guises representing youth or age, can stop time it from passing or make it repeat.
Torremalku
  • The Slayer
  • Swift-sure Bringer Of Death to Beggar and King
Evil God of murder worshipped by assassins. His statues are four-armed, holding an envenomed dagger, cup of poison, magical crossbow and box of curses. His main reverencer in the series is Mandrake, master of disguise.
Vasch-Ro
  • The Wargod
  • He Who Sows for the Reaper
  • God of Mortal Combat
Lawful Evil No priesthood is mentioned. Instead, Vasch-Ro enjoys the obedience of armies of men with swords that have the ability to spread fear around them in battle. Centres of his worship include the city of Doomover, with its cathedral and legion. His symbol is the Sword of Doom, a longsword suspended by a silver thread on a black background. His main reverencer in the series is Honoric, Marshall of the Legion of the Sword of Doom. Vasch-Ro stands opposite Dama, Shieldmaiden of the Gods.
Vile
  • Insuperable Master of Unarmed Combat
  • Speaker of Unholy Words
Lawful Evil Kwon's twisted brother, worshipped by the monks of the Scarlet Mantis order. Helps the powerful to subdue the weak, and wicked men to rule fools. A symbol of Vile is the cross of Avatar, but inverted and with a serpent entwined around it. His monks have the Scarlet Mantis tattooed on their foreheads. His main reverencer in the series is Yaemon, Grandmaster of Flame.
Zarahrayal The Temptress
? In Serakub there are priestesses of a deity whose symbol is a crescent moon.

Other media[edit]

Two video games based on the books 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 has Avenger fighting with staves and swords as well as utilizing unarmed combat (Avenger rarely used weapons apart from shuriken in the books).[5][6] The second game, Avenger!, is a top down arcade adventure.[7][8]

Way of the Tiger II: Avenger is a computer game made by Gremlin Graphics in 1986, for the computers Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum and MSX. In the game's story, Yaemon the Grand Master of Flame has killed the player's foster-father Naijish and stolen the Scrolls of Kettsuin. To recover the scrolls, the player has to find enough keys to penetrate the Quench Heart Keep, and then kill each of the 3 guards. The game is viewed from above and superficially resembles Gauntlet.

References[edit]

External links[edit]