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Zagor

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Oldoran Zagor is a powerful dark wizard and the most emblematic villain of the successful series of gamebooks Fighting Fantasy. He is indeed the only Fighting Fantasy villain to appear in three different books, and the villain of the first book of the series. (This is also one of the first gamebooks ever written, and sets the bases of the world of Titan, ancestor of sorts to the Warhammer universe itself.)

About Zagor

Oldoran Zagor is described as an evil, ambitious and malevolent wizard who cares little about anyone else than himself. He wants to take over Allansia, the most featured of the three continents of the world of Titan, and he would stop at nothing to fufil his goal. The only thing which interests him about other people is what they own that he could steal, or the way he could use them. Those who survive to an expedition in his labyrinth are often thrown in jail for the rest of their lives or tortured to death.

Zagor is also greedy and rapacious, given that he very likely took control of Firetop Mountain to gain his ancestor's wealth, and that he ransacked lots of riches from the populations around. Moreover, he always keeps a great deal of gold and jewels next to him and he crafted his own money coins, the "golden Zagors" with which he pays his troops.

Zagor appears as someone intelligent and patient who seems to wait for the outcome of the conflict between his two "friends" and fellow apprentices Balthus Dire and Zharradan Marr before claiming Allansia for himself. He does not really care about death, as he always casts a resurrection spell should the worst (for him) happen. Yet, in Legend of Zagor, he appears clearly irked to see that another hero has, once again, come to defeat him.

Surprisingly enough from such an evil being, Zagor displays on many occasions a real respect towards his enemies, to whom he speaks very politely, and a strict code of honour. In Return to Firetop Mountain, when you overcome his Chaotic Elementals, he acknowledges you as an equal and challenges you to a fair duel with no armour and a single dagger for weapon, when he could have destroyed you with a Thunderbolt spell. (He goes as far as giving you a dagger to fight with.)

This code of honour may be the reason why Zagor did not took part in the Trolltooth Wars, and only grudgingly helped the hero Chadda Darkmane, as he may have valued his friendly rivalry with his former fellow apprentices. He might even have helped Darkmane because of a debt of honour of some sort between the two.

Despite this, it is made clear that he is very confident in his abilities, and most importantly that should he lose, he knows that he will rise again. It is also clear that he values his own ambition more than his friendship with Balthus Dire and Zharradan Marr, whose common defeat in the Trolltooth Wars served his own interest.

Background

Very little is revealed about Oldoran Zagor's past and origins in the gamebooks that feature him (even his first name is not mentioned), but more is told in several additional sources about the Fighting Fantasy universe.

He is the great-grandson of the powerful wizard Gallan Zagor, who gained an immense fortune from his practice of magic and took over the gloomy caverns of Firetop Mountain to hide his treasure. Oldoran himself was born in the town of Zengis in Allansia. Some less reliable sources precise that his father, the merchant-wizard Gerlekus Zagor, wanted his son to be of demonic origins, so that he performed a ritual to bring into the earthly planes a female demon that would give birth to Oldoran.

It is explained in the gamebook Creature of Havoc that when Zagor was a child, he was sent to the wicked wizard Volgera Darkstorm to be taught the arts of magic. He numbered among Darkstorm's very best students, along with two fellow pupils who were his equals in terms of power and malevolence; Balthus Dire and Zharradan Marr. The three apprentices became friends and (mostly) rivals, and started calling themselves the Demonic Three.

They soon grew powerful and talented enough to frighten the aging Volgera Darkstorm, who began to fear their evil and thus limited the lessons he gave them, hoping that they wouldn't learn too much. Unfortunately for him, the Demonic Three grew tired of this and disposed of their now useless teacher with a Rain of Knives spell. They then ransacked Darkstorm's library and possessions before parting ways, likely entering a (not so) friendly competition to conquer Allansia before the others.

Zagor headed to Firetop Mountain, which had been occupied by a tribe of dwarves since Gallan Zagor's death. The mountain had repeatedly appeared in his dreams and he grew convinced that his destiny was bound to it. He was also was very likely driven by the desire to obtain what was left of Gallan's treasure, which he regarded as his rightful inheritance. Zagor quickly raised an army of monsters, chaotic beings and undeads - including Slytherghach, his tamed Red Dragon - with which he slaughtered the dwarves and took over the caverns of Firetop Mountain, which he turned into a cursed place.

He expanded his armies, sending them on the neighbouring towns and villages on a regular basis, to abduct the guinea pigs he needed for his experiments and to steal riches to gain more wealth. It is even said that he cursed the surroundings of Firetop Mountain to turn those who die here into his undead servants. Zagor first displayed no apparent desire for conquest, but he may simply have waited for Balthus Dire and Zharradan Marr to fight to the death before making his move.

In the novel Trolltooth Wars, which retconnects the events described in Citadel of Chaos and Creature of Havoc, it is said that the famed Salamonian hero Chadda Darkmane ventured into Firetop Mountain and came to an uneasy agreement with Zagor, who grudgingly accepted to help him reach Zharradan Marr, whom Darkmane eventually defeated.

Powers and Abilities

Oldoran Zagor is described by the great mage Gereth Yaztromo as one of the most powerful wizards ever seen on Titan. He mostly specialises in Elemental magic, as he is seen using element-based attack spells, commanding vegetal beings and crafting spells that can create fissures on the ground, but most importantly summoning Elementals (immensely powerful creatures made of a distinct element) to serve him. Zagor is also well versed in Demonology, as well as Necromancy, though to a lesser extent. He can raise living-deads and cast his signature resurrection spell, which can revive him long after his demise, as long as a part of his body remains. He can also summon many kinds of powerful demonic beings and cast curses.

Zagor has displayed the magical abilities to shape-shift, to teleport, to perform levitation and telekinesis, to hypnotise people, to cast generic illusions, to see and talk where he is not physically present through a picture which represents him, and to cause plagues and disasters. Inside the caverns of Firetop Mountain, you can find animated objects which move as if used by someone invisible to perform a distinct task, or who animate themselves to attack any passer-by; drawings that become real things or drawings that cast a spell on those who see them; writings that cast a deadly curse on those who read them and a gem that transforms into a very powerful warrior made of carved crystal. All this being caused by Zagor's powerful magic.

  • In Warlock of Firetop Mountain, Zagor's power is rumoured to reside in his treasured deck of bewitched cards. A rumour that eventually proves true, as you can destroy the cards to drastically decrease the warlock's might. This numbers among the possibilities to avoid the final battle or to make it easier, should the final enemy prove too strong for you. In the other two gamebooks, Zagor’s deck reappears, still carrying powerful magic but without further incidence on Zagor’s powers.
  • Return to Firetop Mountain focuses on Zagor's Elemental powers. Zagor's magic once gives birth to a flaming spirit and Zagor's physicians cast a spell very likely devised by the warlock himself, to open a huge fissure on the ground to trap you inside before closing it. Before the final battle, Zagor will summon four Chaotic Elementals against you.
  • In Legend of Zagor, the mighty warlock is accidently transported to another world, where he gets fused with a high-ranking demon and transforms into an incredibly powerful demon warlock. Because of this transformation, Zagor's power gradually increases, and he would have become unfathomably powerful and invincible, had you not reached him before the final stage of the metamorphosis. During the final battle, Zagor's magical might, physical strength and overall power are already far beyond the limit of any fighter, and you must decrease it to stand a chance against him. Zagor has also gained the demon's foul ability to corrupt people's spirit and has become virtually immortal, as even when you kill him he awakes after a determined length of time.

Zagor is also able to fight with a dagger, which he wields with remarkable proficiency.

Gamebooks Featurning Zagor

The Warlock of Firetop Mountain

Oldoran Zagor

Zagor, as seen in the first game

Being the first gamebook of the series, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain focuses more on the situations encountered by the player than the characters' personalities and backgrounds. Oldoran Zagor himself is almost never referred by his name, which is only mentioned when you "meet" him through a painting, and when you venture into the Maze of Zagor. Even during the battle against him, the narration refers to him as "Warlock" when his skill (level of power) and stamina (life-points) are displayed.

Zagor is surrounded in mystery and rumours (who are not always false), as very few have met him in person and lived to tell the tale. He is not presented as someone malevolent or ambitious, though his commanding monsters and having prisoners tortured without reason give enough indication of his alignment. What is known for sure is that Zagor guards an immense treasure which you want to steal, should you do it over the warlock’s dead body. Paradoxically, Zagor appears as a sort of victim who stands to protect his legitimate property and even his life.

You must explore the caverns of Firetop Mountain, and later find your way through the Maze (which sure deserves his name) within the innermost sanctum, while overcoming many obstacles, deadly traps and more or less dangerous monsters (including a strong iron golem, a dangerous wight and a powerful vampire). You must also collect many items, including the keys that can open the treasure chest at the end of the gamebook. Without the right keys, the game ends in a failure even if you succeeded in finding and killing Zagor.

  • Zagor's quarters are protected by a powerful Red Dragon with 10 in skill and 15 in stamina. (Ironically, when the Fighting Fantasy universe further developed, these statistics came to prove ridiculously weak for a dragon.) You can defeat the dragon without fighting it, by casting a special incantation.

Facing Zagor

Zagor is a powerful enemy with 11 in skill (with the maximum being 12) and 18 in stamina. You can try using some items against him before fighting, but if the item proves useless, Zagor retaliates with flames that cost 3 stamina points. If you own the magic gem Eye of Cyclops, it will reduce Zagor to dust without fight. You can also destroy his bewitched playing cards, reducing Zagor to 7 in skill and 12 in stamina and making the final battle way easier.

The ending paragraph states that you can choose to use Zagor’s book of magic to become the new lord of Firetop Mountain, but the canon later retconnected the story to fit his return, stating that you took the treasure and left.

Return to Firetop Mountain

Firetop Mountain

Zagor is waiting for you

Return to Firetop Mountain makes clear that Oldoran Zagor was an evil warlock who spread fear and misery all over the land, and that his victor is hailed as a hero. Ten years after Zagor’s demise, everyone knows that he is dead and his name no longer frightens people.

Alas, Zagor cast a resurrection spell before being slain. He rises from the grave and causes a plague in the city of Kaad, before starting a second reign of terror even worse than the previous one. Also, given that Zagor resurrected without regaining his decayed body he has his monsters abduct people everywhere, using their bodies to rebuild his own. As such, he is now covered in scars but retains his face.

You play as an adventurer looking for fame and riches, who arrives in a small village and offers to get rid of Zagor. Unfortunately, Zagor has spies in all villages and you must track down those who heard about your mission. You can either go to the city of Kaad to ask for the great mage Gereth Yaztromo's help or directly head to Firetop Mountain. But if you choose the latter, you will lack mandatory items and will surely lose the game.

Upon arriving to Kaad, you must defeat a dangerous doppelganger impersonating Yaztromo sent by the warlock, before it banishes you to another dimension. Yaztromo cannot leave the city, as he is busy curing the victims of the plague, but he provides precious indications and directs you to a shop where you can buy extremely useful (if not mandatory) items, and to a half-elf owning a giant eagle that would take you to Firetop Mountain. (The half-elf is later captured and tortured, and eventually meets his demise after helping you one last time.)

The caverns of Firetop Mountain are quite the same as in the first book. You can even find elements of the previous adventure, such as empty boxes which contained items back then, and skeletons of monsters once slain (who rise again and attack you). However, the place is now much gloomier and there are more monsters (stronger than in the previous book) and more traps. You must survive the encounters with Zagor's wizard servants and the trials they put; and also find four golden dragon teeth and learn the incantation and numbers linked to them, if you want to survive the confrontation with Zagor.

Zagor's quarters are now guarded by a Chaos Beast Man created by Zagor himself. Then you need a magic staff to escape the fissure spell of the Death Lords: Zagor's personal physicians.

  • You need to bribe the monster with the sword of the Chaos Lord Darkblade Skullbiter to avoid the fight. Indeed, it is a very powerful enemy with 12 in skill and 13 in stamina, and if it strikes you twice, it turns into a formidable Mutant Beast Lord with 14 in skill and 14 in stamina. Given the monster's might, the metamorphosis is unavoidable, and there is no way you can hold your own against an enemy with 2 skill points over the regular maximum.

Facing Zagor

Oldoran Zagor (Return to Firetop Mountain)

Zagor (resurrected)

Zagor greets you and states that your left arm will complete his new body. He summons four Chaotic Elementals, one after another, and you need the four dragon teeth, and being able to activate them, in order to summon your own Elementals and be protected. Fire is countered by Water, Water by Wind, Wind by Earth and Earth by Fire. (You also need a throwing dagger to kill a rat that steals one of the golden teeth before it touches the ground.) Zagor then challenges you to a fair fight. Once again, the mighty warlock has 11 in skill and 18 in stamina but this time, fighting is the only way to kill him.

Despite your best efforts, the ending paragraph states that he will resurrect once more in the near future.

Legend of Zagor

Given that a third trip to Firetop Mountain would have proven uninteresting, Zagor’s third return takes place in another world very similar to Titan, in a kingdom called Amarillia. Five years ago, the populations of Amarillia scarcely managed to win the war against the fearsome Bone Demon and his armies of monsters, when the Bone Demon was trapped into the magical Casket of Souls and banished outside of the world. However, the monsters continue to plague the land and the kingdom is on the verge of collapsing.

Worse, it happens that the magic that expelled the Bone Demon from this world accidentally dragged Oldoran Zagor, who had just resurrected for the second time, inside it. Both demonic beings were merged into one demon warlock of unfathomable power. The newly-turned-demon Zagor came into Amarillia and took shelter in the Castle Argent, the former castle of the Amarillian kings, which the Bone Demon’s armies invaded and ransacked.

There, Zagor spread his evil influence over the castle and the entire land. Given that Zagor and the Bone Demon are now one and the same (though Zagor’s personality prevailed), he gathered the remains of the demon’s armies and started rebuilding his forces. Zagor’s power is slowly but surely increasing and he is close to becoming unstoppable. Should this happen he would launch a second assault upon Amarillia. And this time, the exhausted nation would not be able to resist.

Fortunately, the great mage Gereth Yaztromo sensed Zagor’s disappearance and was able to contact Amarillia, warning the boy-king Irian of the upcoming threat. Irian, whose entire armies are busy keeping the kingdom stable, hires the playable character to destroy Zagor before he reaches his full power. (The book's major innovation lets you chosose between four distinct characters, each with their strengths and weaknesses, to lead the adventure: Anvar the Barbarian, Braxus the Warrior, Stubble the Dwarf or Sallazar the Wizard.)

You must venture into the Castle Argent and fight your way towards the demon warlock. Needless to say, the castle is full of monsters, traps, riddles and obstacles; even worse, you catch several types of plague that would hinder you greatly. You must gather as many Talismans of Gold and Silver Daggers as possible, and find a powerful magical weapon (a distinct one for each character) to stand a chance against Zagor.

You can buy useful items from the merchant "Three-Eyes" Haag (a cameo of the author Ian Livingstone) and the elven Thief Prince Elranel, enlist the help of a young thief, and finally find two relics that will prove extremely useful: a powerful Onyx Staff guarded by a very powerful and dangerous Air Elemental with 12 in skill and 16 in stamina, and a enchanted orc-slaying sword.

Legend of Zagor contains many references to the previous books, and once again you can "meet" Zagor through a bewitched painting or find his magic cards. Also, once again Zagor’s last line of defence is a powerful dragon, only weaker than him by a single skill point. You will also have to fight Zagor’s mighty generals:

  • Thulu the Orc King, is surrounded with a court of monsters that must be destroyed first. Weapons that can strike several targets and the orc-slaying sword will make the battle easier. Thulu himself is pretty strong, as he has 9 in skill and 17 in stamina.
  • The Dark Knight is a powerful enemy with 11 in skill and 17 in stamina. With the Onyx Staff, you can summon a red lion that will inflict constant damages and decrease his skill by 2 points, making the battle way easier.
  • Grool the mutant ogre is a clever and very dangerous enemy with 9 in skill and 22 in stamina. Using the Onyx Staff costs him 10 stamina points, but when wounded enough he uses a magic ring to teleport atop the tower, and fire with a ballista that can cost you 10 stamina points! If you reach the top of the tower while dodging the rocks he throws, Grool will try to drink a healing potion before restarting the battle.
  • The Champion of the Hellhorns (powerful demons summoned by Zagor) has 10 in skill and 16 in stamina. He uses his poisonous breath to decrease your skill and fights with poisoned horns and whip that cost from 1 to 4 stamina points and can decrease your skill further. The Onyx Staff inflicts huge damages before the battle starts.

But the most dangerous of Zagor's generals is none other than the second-to-last enemy of the game, the most powerful of the fearsome War Dragons, a mighty kind of dragon wizards.

Facing the War Dragon

Dragon de Guerre

the mighty War Dragon

Without the Onyx Staff which can decrease his skill by 3 points or a special relic that increases your skill for one fight, the War Dragon is virtually invincible, as he has 15 in skill (3 points over the maximum) and 20 in stamina. Worse, without magic weapons or enough attacks spells you are doomed. He can attack with his bites and his flaming breath, which cost respectively 3 and 4 stamina points, in addition to his claws.

Upon defeating the mighty beast, you can tap into his treasure and gain priceless items. Then the only threat left will be none other than the dreadful Oldoran Zagor himself.

Facing Zagor

Demon Zagor

Zagor as a demon warlock

Zagor is a truly formidable enemy, with no less than 16 in skill and 20 in stamina, making him one of the most powerful Fighting Fantasy villains. Each Talismans of Gold costs him 1 skill point and each Silver Dagger costs him 2 stamina points. If you do not have enough talismans, you are as good as dead. (If you own ten Silver Daggers, Zagor's stamina will fall to 0 without fight but this almost never happens.)

Before fighting, you can try to attack Zagor at distance with special items but the mighty demon warlock can only be harmed by magic weapons or spells, and if he was to gain the upper hand, his spell would cost 1 skill point and 2 stamina point. Do not attack him with magic, as he is protected by a Magic Screen counter-spell. Zagor can also summon a beast to fight the player and regain stamina during this battle.

You can fight Zagor with any weapon, as long as it is a magic one or a spell, and both his Magic Screen and yours (if you had one) are dispelled. Be very careful for Zagor uses powerful attacks. In the first turn, he casts a Thunderbolt Spell (minus 7 stamina points), in the second a Fireball spell (minus 5 stamina points), in the third a Life-Absorbing spell (minus 1 skill point and 2 stamina points), in the fourth and fifth, he attacks with a poisoned dagger (minus 3 stamina points), and in the following ones, he attacks with his claws and fists that cost the regular 2 stamina points. If you win the first three attack rounds, you will escape his most dangerous attacks.

When Zagor is defeated, you have a limited amount of time to drag his corpse to the magical Heartfire located in the caverns below Castle Argent, and throw it into the flames to destroy him once and for all. Do not waste any second, for Zagor partially awakes after a while and grabs you, drastically slowing you down. After another (shorter) amount of time, he fully awakes and seals your doom. Also, you need to have more than 4 stamina points left when Zagor is thrown into the fiery pit, or else you will fall after him and your legend will be a tragedy.

Trivia

  • Legend of Zagor was adapted in a board-game and a series of three novels, co-written by Ian Livingstone, co-creator of the Fighting Fantasy series and by Carl Sargent, best known by fans under his nom de plume Keith Martin.
  • The Warlock of Firetop Mountain is about to be released as a video game on Nintendo DS.
  • Oldoran Zagor's page on Titannica the Fighting Fantasy Wiki http://fightingfantasy.wikia.com/wiki/Oldoran_Zagor

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