Belgaroth is a powerful Chaos Lord who serves as the main villain and final enemy in the Fighting Fantasy gamebook Knights of Doom. He is a fallen Templar defeated long ago who returns from the Underworld and threatens the kingdom once more, and it is up to you to slay him for good. Belgaroth can compete for the title of the best protected and hardest to defeat Fighting Fantasy villain ever seen.
Over one century before the events described in Knights of Doom, Belgaroth was born the younger brother of the wise and noble King Chivalras IX. He assisted him in ruling their country of Ruddlestone, located in the Old World, one of the three continents of the world of Titan, and was his second in command of the Holy Order of the Templars of Telak, devoted to the service of Telak, God of Courage and patron of Warriors. Yet, Belgaroth was ambitious, bitter and warmongering, and his jealousy of his brother's throne prompted him to openly criticize his rule, which he deemed weak and too lenient.Belgaroth isolated himself his stronghold of Caer Skaal, alone and brooding. He secretly repudiated the ways of Telak and came to worship the Dark Gods (most likely the Demon Princes of Titan).
Over the years, Belgaroth's worship of the Dark Gods corrupted him to a point never reached before, turning him into a Chaos Lord. Belgaroth then founded the evil order of the Knights of Doom and raised a chaotic army, planning to take over his brother's kingdom and instate his own tyrannical rule. Fortunately, the king was warned by his spies and was able to make his move before his fallen brother, sparking the dreadful Crusade against Chaos.
After entire months of a gruelling war, Chivalras' armies besieged Caer Skaal and managed to destroy the Knights of Doom and their entire forces. Belgaroth himself was slain by Sir Rhyaddan, the hero who wielded the magical elven spear Aelfgar.
Belgaroth was defeated but death itself was not enough to lessen the fear caused by the mention of his reviled name, and the ruins of Caer Skaal were considered as cursed, no one daring to come near it. When the gamebook takes place, no Templar of Telak ignores the gloomy tale of the Crusade and its very battlefield remains untouched.
Powers and Abilities
Belgaroth is a highly talented fighter and strategist, skilled in swordfight, knightly jousts and battle magic. He fights with a great broad sword ornated with the runes of Chaos, which he infused with chaotic energy to cause greater wounds than a regular weapon and to channel his influence through his enemies' body, corrupting further the ones he strikes with each blow. His armour is infused with chaotic energy and reduces any wound inflicted to him. All this makes Belgaroth a truly formidable foe, against whom only the most skilled and lawful warriors can stand a chance. Belgaroth can also attack by firing dangerous bolts of dark energy.
Though not as skilled in sorcery as his wife Morgwyn, Belgaroth is well versed in Dark Magic. Yet it must be noted that he is more akin to a dark priest than a sorcerer and that his vast power mostly stems from his control over Chaos. He is able to cast spells (mostly based on Spiritual Magic such as the fearsome Assassin's Dagger), to grant special powers to his followers and to enchant his and his generals' weaponry with chaotic energy. Moreover, he can spread the chaotic forces to wither the land itself, and to corrupt the heart of people by channelling his power into a rune of Chaos.
Belgaroth can also influence the weather and cause thunderstorms, open gates between the different planes of existence, and summon demonic beings, evil spirits and undeads. His foul influence alone is enough to plague the country and to awake evil beings. All the chaotic beings in the land will naturally follow him.
Belgaroth always had powerful beings by his side. All those who served him during the Crusade against Chaos were resurrected alongside him as living-deads, but there are also evil beings in the present time who aligned themselves with him.
The Chaos ChampionThe most powerful of the Knights of Doom, who serves as Belgaroth's champion and most likely as his right-hand-man. The Chaos Champion is a very powerful and dangerous warrior, with fighting skills rivalling with that of Belgaroth himself, and an accomplished rider.
Fortunately, he lacks the enchanted weaponry of the other Knights of Doom and their evil lord, which would have made him even harder to defeat than the Dread Lord. The Chaos Champion is a talented and fearless general who never looks twice before dealing with troublemakers personally, as evidenced when he attacks you when you come close to Caer Skaal.
The Knights of Doom
The other twelve Knights of Doom serve as Belgaroth's first and foremost generals. They are powerful Chaos Knights who were recruited, and possibly corrupted by the Dread Lord before the Crusade against Chaos, and returned as undeads. The Knights of Doom use armours and weapons infused with chaotic energy, which reduce their wounds and can increase the ones they inflict. They never leave Belgaroth's side and serve as his bodyguards, attacking altogether anyone who challenges their wretched master. Given their huge fighting skills, their power and sheer number, no one can defeat them all in a regular battle.
Belgaroth's own wife. Morgwyn is a powerful witch who worships the evil Goddess of Sorcery Shekka. She helped her husband to raise his armies by summoning demons and evil spirits. During the siege of Caer Skaal, she called forth spectres to torment the besiegers every night and she fought alongside her husband until the very end. She threw herself from the higest tower of the stronghold when she heard about her husband's demise, but she returned as a spectre when he and his Knights were resurrected. Morgwyn's spectre haunts Caer Skaal and attacks anyone heading towards the throne room.
BryarThe Arch-Cleric of the once Holy Order of the Clerics of Lein, worshippers of the forest, who devoted their life in helping the poor and needy. For an unknown reason the Clerics of Lein came to secretly worship Evil. While maintaining a facade of benevolence, Bryar and his clerics are leading a secret plot to destroy the forest of Lein through a vegetal demon called the Darkthorn, whom they worship as their new idol. Their goal is to create a "forest" of thorns that would drain the land's strength, furthering the spreading of Belgaroth's evil influence over Ruddlestone.
Murgrim the Cruel
One of Belgaroth's present-day vassals, Murgrim is the leader of a powerful tribe of chaotic beastmen settled in the Banarask Hills near Caer Skaal. When Belgaroth returned, he immediately pledged his allegiance to him. Murgrim is an ugly and overweight beastman with bluish grey furr, horns and hoves, who in spite of his size is a very skilled warrior who fights with a great axe. As his his nickname implies, Murgrim is cruel and highly sadistic, and spends his leisure time torturing his prisoners. He and his beastmen captured Celastrix, the divine bird that the player must rescue.
One of the lords of Ruddlestone, vassal of King Rannor, who secretly pledged allegiance to Belgaroth; the traitor was granted the ability to transform into a raven at will by Belgaroth and uses it to watch over the land and tell everything he learnt to the Dread Lord without raising suspicions. While posing as a noble ruler concerned by his people's safety, he is in fact a greedy and hateful man. He uses his raven transformation to watch the player all over the story and reports his/her progress to his master on a regular basis. Telling the traitor's name out loud before him while he is transformed breaks the spell and unveils his treachery.
Cadaver the NecromageAn ancient necromancer (referred to as a necromage) who turned the village of Myrton into a ghost town decades ago. The villagers managed to kill and to bury him, but not before his magic extinguished all life around. Cadaver rose from the grave as an undead lich because of Belgaroth's evil influence and he became one of the Dread Lord's assets. He uses his necromancy to raise countless undeads from the grave and he constantly sends his troops to attack the nearby village of Assart, empowering them with the sound of a cursed bell.
In Knights of Doom
Few months before the beginning of the story, a huge vortex of demonic energy tore open over the ruins of Caer Skaal, allowing Belgaroth and his Knights of Doom to escape the Underworld as living-deads. This phenomenon was spotted by the court mages of Ruddlestone, but no one could know about the return of the Dread Lord, who was protected from detection by demonic entities. Considering all the people who started following him mere weeks after his return, it can be guessed that Belgaroth was brought back on purpose by his present-day followers, likely by the already corrupt Clerics of Lein.
Belgaroth spread his evil influence all over Ruddlestone like a fatal disease. A disease that threaten King Rannor's life and weakens the country until Belgaroth could invade it without the same opposition as before, and granting him enough time to raise another chaotic army. He then sent black-clad warriors bearing his heraldry to ransack the nearby towns on a regular basis.
Presentation of the game
As King Rannor and his advisors tell the Templars of Telak about Belgaroth's return, the meeting is interrupted by a ghostly knight sent to kill the king, who is destroyed by the playable character, Sir Evrain Peredur one of the most illustrious Templars. While the rest of the Holy Order is tasked to organize the Ruddlestonian army, you are sent to kill the Dread Lord before he can strike, in order to avoid a full-scale war.
You wield a magic sword able to harm demons and spirits but you might lose it during the course of the game. You can also choose four Special Skills between the Warrior Skills: Battle Tactics, Ride, Weapon, Target and Tracking, and the Priest Skills: Banish Spirit, Arcane Lore, Holy Strike and Commune, the first three of each being the most useful. There are also two additional rules: Time, that must by no means be wasted, and Honour, that need to be raised to the highest possible number.
The gamebook itself is very difficult, considering that it is a one-true-path, in which not getting a single element can be very damaging and even make you lose the game. You will have to talk to almost everyone (living and dead people alike); to visit many places and succeed in many sub-quests, while wasting as little time as possible. Moreover, you must gather knowledge and items, solve complicated riddles and win many very hard battles. The stronger you are the better.
The Quest in itself
You have distinct goals: to investigate on the many powerful monsters who appeared because of Belgaroth's influence; to gather clues about a traitor; to enlist the help of as many people has you can to fight Belgaroth's troops; and finally to learn the three parts of the "Tale of Sir Rhyaddan" to know where to find the magical, elven spear Aelfgar.
Very early in the game, you find yourself targeted by the Assassin's Dagger: a powerful spell cast by the Dread Lord himself, which conjures a ghostly hand wielding a dagger that tracks down its target everywhere. If you can use the Banish Spirit, you will get rid of one of the game's major threats right from the beginning. Otherwise, the Dagger will attack you several times over the game. It has a level of power of 10 skill points and cannot be destroyed in battle. You can only dispel it with a Holy Oil and you must get rid of it at any cost.
When you reach Cleeve Manor, Lord Taris Varen requests your help to slay a gigantic boar who is laying waste on his land. You will later be attacked by assassins. Also, but only if you have gathered enough clues about the mysterious activities of the Clerics of Lein, you can sneak into their temple. Bryar the corrupt Arch-Cleric summons the Darkthorn against you and only a Witherwell potion can destroy the demon. You must then track down Bryar, and might fight one of his initiates while escaping the collapsing temple.
- Without a cleric talisman, Bryar conjures vines that impede you and decrease your skill by 2 points. The Arch-Cleric is a dangerous enemy with 9 in skill (power) and 9 in stamina (life-points). When slain, he curses you to suffer a specific phobia.
Upon reaching the village of Assart, you are asked for help against the undeads of the necromage Cadaver. You must lead the villagers against the undead hordes, before venturing in the ghost-village of Myrton where the lich dwells. If you destroy the cursed bell in the village's church, it will weaken the undeads. Upon entering Cadaver's vault, you must fight against his Deathshead (undead flying skull) pet who has 9 in skill and 7 in stamina.
- Cadaver himself is a powerful enemy with 10 in skill and 12 in stamina. If you suffer from arachnophobia, the lich's spider-like aspect weakens you by 1 skill point. If Cadaver strikes you twice in a row, you get harmed further by the maggots that fester upon the lich's rotten flesh.
You can also save the town of Carras, besieged by Belgaroth's troops who use a dangerous war machine called the Juggernaut, which must be destroyed from the inside. After all this, you must look for the legendary spear Aelfgar. By doing so you find your best friend and fellow Templar Sir Connor of Achenbury, who warns you about the beastmen and the divine bird Celastrix before dying from the wounds he received. Then, you meet forest elves and must convince the Forest Spirits of your worth, before fighting a very powerful Knight of the Flame with 12 in skill (the highest total) and 12 in stamina, whose blows cost 3 stamina points instead of the regular 2. In the temple you will face several divine trials to finally obtain Aelfgar.
If your quest lasted more than six days, Belgaroth would have had enough time to gather his armies and will start invading Ruddlestone, overwhelming and killing you. If not, and you have gathered enough soldiers to invade the Banarask Hills, your troops will fight Belgaroth's already recruited forces.
It must be noted that the soldiers granted by Lord Taris Varen will betray you to fight alongside the enemy, and that you might face the very powerful Beastman Champion, who has 12 in skill and 14 in stamina and whose blows cost 3 stamina points. Then you will have to flee when the beastmen's reinforcements join the battle. Your next task is to sneak into the beastmen village to fight and kill their awful leader, Murgrim the Cruel.
- Murgrim is a powerful foe with 10 in skill and 11 in stamina, but fortunately, there are no special rules to complicate the fight.
With Murgrim slain, you set free the divine bird Celastrix and enlist his help, and you can finally head to Caer Skaal.
Reaching Caer Skaal
Before reaching Caer Skaal, you are attacked on the battlefield of the Crusade against Chaos by none other than the formidable Chaos Champion.
- You must fight against the Chaos Champion horseback in a knightly joust. You need the Special Skills Ride and Weapon (with a spear), as each Skill you lack hinders you by 1 point of skill. The Chaos Champion has 12 in skill and 12 in stamina. If he strikes you twice, you get unhorsed and lose 4 stamina points and 2 skill points for the battle, causing a very troublesome disadvantage. However, if you have a spear and if you are the first to strike twice, it is the Chaos Champion who gets unhorsed, granting a bonus of 2 skill points that makes the battle easier.
Upon defeating the champion, you finally reach Caer Skaal, which is being rebuilt by Belgaroth's followers. Entering the evil hideout by the front door is not the best choice. When inside Caer Skaal, there are many dangerous monsters, and many guards that must by no mean be alerted. You must discover the Five Words of Power, an incantation devised by Savant: a mage who served Belgaroth before his betrayal, to destroy Chaos, and get in contact with the ghost of Sir Connor to learn the final clue about “the raven”, the mysterious traitor. Then the last line of defence between you and the Knights of Doom is the spectre of Morgwyn.
- If you lack a magic weapon, the game is lost. Should you use the Banish Spirit, the witch counters it and retaliates with a bolt of dark energy that costs 4 stamina points. Morgwyn is a dangerous foe with 9 in skill and 9 in stamina. If she wins the first turn she hurls a dark bolt (minus 4 in stamina), if she wins the second, she conjures evil spirits (minius 6 in stamina), and after that she fights with her ghostly touch. (If she strikes you with it, she might cause a loss of 1 skill point.)
At last, you get close to Belgaroth's throne room. Be then prepared to face the HARDEST part of the game.
The final battle
- Before even entering the Dread Lord's inner sanctum, you need the tree sap from the Forest of Lein to destroy the enchanted wooden doors of the throne room, or else the noise made when trying to pry them open will alert the guards, who will kill you on sight.
- In the throne room, you finally face Belgaroth and the twelve Knights of Doom, as the Dread Lord is talking to a raven (the traitor transformed). If you know the Five Words of Power (and survive the deadly energies they unleash) you stand a chance against the Knights of Doom. Otherwise, you get quickly slaughtered.
- The Words of Power will kill six to eleven (and maybe twelve with the Holy Strike) of the Knights of Doom. Every surviving Knight must be destroyed in battle. They are all powerful and very dangerous foes with 10 in skill and 12 stamina points, who lose only 1 stamina point when struck and whose blows can cost 3! The more Knights slain by the Words of Power the better, since you need as many stamina points as possible for the incoming showdown against Belgaroth.
- Belgaroth uses the power of Chaos to corrupt you, forcing you to win a difficult test of honour to overcome it. The higher your honour score, the less dangerous it is. If you fail, you transform into one of Belgaroth's Chaos Knights and the game is lost.
- Belgaroth attacks with a bolt of dark energy that cannot be avoided and costs 5 stamina points. If you use the Holy Strike you only lose 2 in stamina, but if you use a Black Crystal Orb, it will magnify the Dread Lord's evil energy and his attack will reduce you to ashes.
- Finally, you can fight the Dread Lord, who true to his title is a formidable foe. Belgaroth has 12 in skill and 17 in stamina; he loses only 1 stamina point when wounded and his blows cost 3 stamina point and 1 honour point, no less! Losing all your honour turns you into a Chaos Knight and seals your fate. You need very high skill, stamina and honour totals to stand a chance, but given the previous ordeals this is easier said than done. Fortunately, the battle stops when Belgaroth's stamina drops to 7 or less. Unfortunately, this is FAR from over yet!
- If the Assassin's Dagger was not destroyed, it will strike you from behind during the battle and put a gruesome end to your quest.
- Seeing that you are gaining the upper-hand, the raven will fly away to warn Belgaroth's guards. If you have not heard of the traitor or have not guessed his name, you will be overwhelmed by the soldiers and Belgaroth himself will land the finishing blow.
- Saying the traitor's name out loud breaks his transformation and reveals his identity. The traitor is none other than Lord Taris Varen. (Varen=Raven, he sent assassins after the player and his soldiers joined the enemy's side during the battle.) Now reduced to a awfully deformed half-raven half-human mutant, Taris Varen attacks you out of rage. He is greatly weakened by his current state and has only 7 in skill and 8 in stamina, but fighting him allows Belgaroth to flee.
- After killing the traitor, you run after Belgaroth who is found on the battlements of Caer Skaal. The Dread Lord summons his Night-Mare (a demonic, winged steed) and sends it after you. The powerful monster has 10 in skill and 11 in stamina, but fortunately there is no additional rule and the battle stops when its stamina drops to 6 or less.
- Belgaroth calls back the Night-Mare and flies away towards his armies, leaving you to deal with his guards. If you cannot summon the Celastrix, you get killed and the chaotic army will invade Ruddlestone.
- Upon summoning the Celastrix, you must ride the divine bird to catch up with the Dread Lord and settle your score once and for all. Because of the storm that Belgaroth caused, you must win a test of skill or fall from your mount to your death.
- You engage an aerial duel against Belgaroth who attacks with a bolt of dark energy. If you lack the spear Aelfgar, you get struck and fall to your death.
- If you wield Aelfgar, you must test your skill to successfully throw it at Belgaroth. Otherwise, the Dread Lord's dark bolt strikes you and sends you plummeting to your death.
FINALLY, you destroy Belgaroth once and for all, sending him back to The Realms of the Damned with his entire forces, cleansing Ruddlestone of his chaotic blight. The heroic Templar of Telak then receives the blessing of the ghost of Chivalras IX, marking the gratifying end of one of the hardest quests of the Fighting Fantasy series.
- Belgaroth is mistakenly referred to as a wizard in the backcover of the gamebook, despite being a Chaos Lord.
- Belgaroth and Razaak are very similar Fighting Fantasy final enemies: both are undoubtedly the hardest ever seen, both need an insane amount of knowledge and special items or spells to be faced safely, (with an item that can spell your doom) and both are formidable foes with special rules that makes them close to invincible. Belgaroth is less hard in one-on-one battle though. But in turn, you must win many very, very tough battles and needs the aforementioned knowledge and items before and after fighting him.
- Belgaroth is also similar to two other Fighting Fantasy villains: Voivod the Waster and Mortis of Balthor, who are also powerful Dark Knights and Evils from the past, who need a magical spear to be defeated. The similarities with Voivod are stronger, as both are demonic Chaos Lords who control a formidable team of Dark Knights, and whose return triggers the appearance of many monsters.
- Oddly enough, Belgaroth shares his name with a planet of the Star Wars extended universe.
- Belgaroth's page on Titannica, the Fighting Fantasy Wiki: http://fightingfantasy.wikia.com/wiki/Belgaroth