Zanbar Bone, the Night Prince, is a powerful demonic lich, who serves as the primary antagonist and final enemy of the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks City of Thieves and The Port of Peril. The first one introduces Port Blacksand, the titular City of Thieves, which would become a major recurring element of the Fighting Fantasy universe.
Zanbar Bone is originally only presented as a Dark Lord exerting his influence all over the world of Titan, feared by everyone. His past is explained in Titan: The Fighting Fantasy World and Out of the Pit, two guides to the Fighting Fantasy universe, though it is stated that none but a few scholars know about it, with most people only caring to know that he exists for as long as anyone can remember. His background is summarized in The Port of Peril.
Zanbar Bone was born in the prosperous city of Fang in the continent of Allansia, from two merchants of the highest social class who secretly led a cult devoted to Myurr, one of the three superior Demon Princes of Titan to whom Bone seems linked. He was born with eerie cat-like green eyes that revealed an immense demonic power, that manifested more and more frequently in intense spates of violence.
During his teenage years, his parents, irked by his increasing influence over their sect, sent him away to the world's best Magic School in the Forest of Yore. His huge power, skill, focus, intelligence and thirst for knowledge strongly impressed his teachers, save from the great archmage Vermithrax Moonchaser, who kept an eye on him.
Zanbar Bone was only rivalled by the three Star Pupils, who joined the school a few years after him and went to become three of the greatest and most famous mages of Titan: Arakor Nicodemus, Gereth Yaztromo and Pen Ty Kora the Healer. He hated them with a passion and developed a bitter rivalry with Nicodemus, who like him was the son of rich merchants from Fang and knew gloomy rumours about Bone's parents' no-longer-so-secret cult, of which he himself was unaware.
Over time, Zanbar Bone's evil nature became increasingly blatant, frightening teachers and pupils alike. He often dwelled in darkness, where he claimed to feel safe, and developed a huge interest in Elven Magic and especially Dark Elven Magic.
One fateful night, Nicodemus witnessed Zanbar Bone murdering Ellanor, an elven student girl, likely in some dark ritual. Bone fought Nicodemus with red tentacles of demonic fire and quickly overpowered him. Nicodemus only owed his life to Vermithrax Moonchaser himself, who barged in with other students and wood elves, alerted by the ruckus, and dispelled Bone's magic. Furious, Bone unleashed a tremendous onslaught of magical energy at the archmage, who deflected it back at him, marking both the most impressive display of magic ever seen in the Forest of Yore and a turning point in the school's history.
Grievously wounded and reduced to a barely living skeleton, Zanbar Bone disappeared into the night, not to be seen for decades. It is said that he returned to Fang and murdered his parents, taking over their wealth and their cult, before willingly turning himself into a lich, becoming the Skeleton Demon he is known as. He rose into power to become the formidable Night Prince, whose awful reputation and influence spread all over the world of Titan.
At some point, he seized a wide domain in northern Allansia which he turned into a lifeless, accursed land for him to rule, before building his Dark Tower and surrounding himself with a court of monsters and demons. It is likely that Arakor Nicodemus kept opposing him without being able to fully take him down, given that the powerful mage is the only one who knows how to kill the Night Prince.
Given that Nicodemus, who first met Zanbar Bone when they were teenagers, is a retired old man in City of Thieves, and considering that powerful mages can live over two centuries, it can be guessed that the Night Prince exerted his evil for many decades.
AppearanceWhat Zanbar Bone looked like as a human was never described, aside from his creepy, green, shinning, cat-like eyes.
In City of Thieves, he is described as a skeleton with shinning green eyes, wearing a golden crown and a black robe. The official illustrations depict him with horns all over his skull, spikes around his neck, claws, and cat-like eyes, a diadem instead of a crown, and a scythe that makes him look somehow similar to the Grim Reaper. Such details would later be included in every further depiction.
In The Port of Peril, Zanbar Bone is described as even more evil looking, with a larger skull, cloven hooves, and huge, black, bat-like wings. The illustration depicts him with two much longer straight horns, and wearing a black armour.
Zanbar Bone used to be a human wizard, albeit a human with the evil eye, who could be considered half-demon. He is now both a greater undead and a Skeleton Demon, described as an embodiment of Evil, and has reached the very rank of Demon Prince after resurrecting, now sporting decidedly demonic features.
He cannot be killed for good, as he would always return from the Demonic Planes of Existence, more evil and powerful than ever. Still, contrary to the demons, whose essence regenerates over the centuries after being physically destroyed, he must be resurrected through magical means.
Powers and AbilitiesAs a young human, Zanbar Bone was already powerful enough to take on an archmage, and he likely grew mightier as a lich.
Despite being one of the very few Fighting Fantasy villains never fought directly, Out of the Pit sets his statistics at 14 in skill (power level, 2 points over the normal maximum) and 20 in stamina (life-points), similar to the Demon Princes and mightier than most villains of the series. The IOS adaptation Fighting Fantasy Legends sets the significantly lower (albeit still formidable) 12 in skill and 17 in stamina. Still, enemy statistics can differ between the gamebooks and the IOS. Yet, nothing can be truly sure.
He resides in another Plane (likely the Demonic Planes or the Astral Planes) by daytime, and can only be faced after sunset. Attacking him by normal means is useless. To destroy him, one must break his evil power before striking his weak point, but it is stated that the method to destroy him would change whenever he returns.
Zanbar Bone is a master of Dark Magic, expert in Necromancy and Demonology, who can curse objects, people or entire towns. He can create skeleton warriors by throwing his teeth to the ground, raise a large army of powerful skeleton warriors (who dissolve to ashes if he is destroyed), create unique and powerful undeads and monsters, conjure unearthly forces, and summon demons.
He can shape-shift at will, and he apparently enjoys turning into a black cat, as among the illusions he creates to trap the player is a black cat who "is not what they thought it was". He can also see and talk where he is not physically present, though whether he can do it anywhere or just inside his tower remains unknown, cast powerful illusions, create storms and cause lightning strikes, and summon hordes of flying insects, to name but a few.
The Night Prince's most prominent powers are his hypnotic gaze that can paralyze anyone, and his ability to drain life-force with a touch, quickly killing the victim and turning them into his undead slave. It is stated in The Port of Peril that he can unleash demon fire and magical energy, quite similar to the attacks spells he used against Arakor Nicodemus and Vermithrax Moonchaser in his backstory.
Zanbar Bone controls many monsters, fiends and living-deads. He created the frightful undead Spirit Stalkers, who serve as his messengers and enforcers, and the bloodthirsty Moondogs, who serve as his trackers and assassins. Moreover, he gained the fealty of Lord Varek Azzur, the loathsome governor of Port Blacksand. Everyone in Allansia (and likely in all of Titan) knows and fears him, and those who tried to destroy him all met a grisly end, likely now serving as his undeads lackeys.
Zanbar Bone rarely leaves his tower, which while still being dark and gloomy, befitting a Dark Lord of his level, is much more luxurious, decorated and overall well-kept than many other demonic hideouts; hinting that the Night Prince has very good taste and "lives" there like any wealthy human lord would.
He has no desire of conquest, but he does not need it, as he already exerts his reign of terror beyond his domain. Little to nothing is known about his goals and intentions, though he seems content with spreading terror and taking what he needs. Him demanding a young townsgirl brought to his tower in City of Thieves implies that he does this often, exposing those who refuse to dire consequences. No one knows what he plans to do with such captives but, given his past, probably sacrifices them in some dark ritual, or some foul experiment on Dark Elven Magic.
He is cruel, hateful, spiteful, and demanding. He praises his foes but scoffs at the prospect of his downfall, taunting them and laughing derisively at their failed attempts. He appears collected and regal, issuing orders through intimidating gestures, and appears to value his servants, if only as assets. Still, he loathes opposition and holds vicious grudges. While he does remain poised and imposing, he has become more wrathful and unhinged after his resurrection, laughing maniacally, and flying in vicious rages when his foes hold their own.
He displays keen intelligence, preparing ambushes, hiding relics that can thwart him under his watch, and removing his enemies as a threat before making his move. He also proves quite a skilled general who leads from the front lines, organising his armies in perfect formation and using loud noises as intimidation tactics.
Role in City of Thieves
You play as a famed adventurer wandering in the opulent city of Silverton, who finds the locals tense and wary and the doors and windows reinforced with iron bars. When you enter the inn, Mayor Owen Carralif enters in a rush to speak with you, explaining that the dreaded Zanbar Bone has cursed the town.
One day, Spirit Stalkers came and told Carralif that Zanbar Bone wanted his daughter Mirelle brought to his tower, but he vehemently refused. In retaliation, Zanbar Bone sends each night six fearsome Moondogs to Silverton, to kill as many people as possible, causing dozens of casualties. The locals hide in their homes at night, but the situation is no longer bearable, and some are now considering sending Mirelle to the Night Prince.
Carralif hires you to find the Legendary Mage Arakor Nicodemus and ask his help to destroy Zanbar Bone. The problem is that Nicodemus retired in Port Blacksand, the infamous City of Thieves, populated by scoundrel of the vilest kind. As you leave the inn, you stumble upon a black cat, who might be a shape-shifted Zanbar Bone, given that he takes this form before the final battle.
You must enter the heavily guarded Port Blacksand to search for Nicodemus, who tells you how to kill the Night Prince by yourself, as he is too old and weary. You first need to make a silver arrow to pierce the Night Prince's heart, then get a hag's hair, black pearls and lotus flowers to grind the compound that can kill him. You must also get tattooed with the picture of a white unicorn on a yellow sun, to be protected against your foe's hypnosis.
The city is a maze filled with cutthroat thieves, crafty crooks, violent pirates, corrupt guards and dangerous monsters. You can fight against a witch in the sewers of the city, and if you manage to overcome her spell, you will cut a lock of her hair. The black pearls are found in a pirate ship in the port, and must be taken from a sleeping pirate without waking him up. The lotus flowers are found in the city's small public garden, the silver arrow can be made by the city's goldsmith, and the tattoo is the last element gathered.
At some point, you will face Fatnose and Sourbelly, two trolls from the militia, forcing you to flee the city no matter what happens. If you get captured by the trolls or failed to collect all you need before fleeing, the game is lost.
- The trolls are powerful foes, with 9 in skill and 10 in stamina, and with 10 in skill and 11 in stamina. If you flee after killing Sourbelly, you lose 1 in skill by throwing your shield at Fatnose so beware.
Now is the time to venture into the Night Prince's domain where dwell many of his loyal monsters. There, you receive a message from Nicodemus, stating that only two of the three ingredients are needed for the magic compound. You later head to Zanbar Bone's gloomy Black Tower, full of many monsters and deadly traps.
- The tower is guarded by two powerful Moondogs, with 9 and 10 in skill and 10 and 9 in stamina respectively.
- Then, a dangerous Spirit Stalker butler is fought in the tower's hall. He can only be killed with a silver arrow to the heart and decays your flesh with a mere touch, so do not waste time and immediately shoot him.
Then, you can take one of the two shields exposed here. One of them has been cursed by Zanbar Bone and will harm you, while the other belonged to a hero killed by the Night Prince and increases your skill. You must by no means spend the night sleeping in the tower, lest you get killed by Zanbar Bone's servants, nor meeting the female vampire dwelling there without garlic, lest she turns you into her thrall.
Zanbar Bone is found in the room with a black door on the fourth floor, and his voice is heard out of nowhere, taunting you as you come near. However, you can explore further before reaching him, and set free a magic-wielding dwarf locked inside a glass orb on the tower's roof, to get healed in prevision of the upcoming battle. Finally, you must fight a mummy to obtain the Ring of the Golden Eye, mandatory to triumph.
The Final Battle
You need the Ring of the Golden Eye to detect a trap of illusions, or else Zanbar Bone ambushes you and makes you his undead slave. He then summons three skeleton warriors that you must destroy before challenging your enemy at last. Fortunately, they pose little to no threat.
Defeating the Night Prince involves winning dice rolls and guessing right. First, you must win a test of luck to shoot a silver arrow into his heart. Then you must choose one magic compound out of three to rub his eyes with. if you miss your shot or make a wrong choice, he paralyses you with his gaze and drains your life-force, turning you to his undead slave.
The vanquished Zanbar Bone disintegrates before your eyes, and you burn his tower to the ground, ridding Titan of his blight. You then return to Silverton in triumph, to gain a wondrous rewards and days of celebrations.
Role in The Port of Peril
You play as a mercenary down their luck, who gives a try to a dubious treasure hunt in the city of Chalice. The Port of Peril is a quite easy and rather linear gamebook, filled to the brim with cameos and references to other books of the series. There are many items to collect, but very few will prove useful, so you must choose wisely.
On your way to find the treasure, the magic Ring of Burning Snakes, you venture in the Moonstone Hills, towards the Skull Crag peak. After finding the treasure chest empty, you befriend the female ninja Hakasan Za, who starts travelling with you and provides priceless help throughout your adventure. Hakasan reveals that the treasure was taken by the failed treasure hunter Gurnard Jaggle. It appears that the Ring of Burning Snakes belongs to the Legendary Mage Arakor Nicodemus. She then follows Jaggle's track to the dangerous Darkwood Forest.
On your way, you witness a stone carver named Horace Wolf fall to his doom as he tried to escape the grasp of a giant War Hawk. In his dying breath, Wolff reveals that the recently vanquished Zanbar Bone will soon rise again. Indeed, Lord Azzur is conspiring with the Spirit Stalkers to bring him back. They captured Wolff's wife Luannah and hold her hostage, to force him to carve a cursed Keystone of black granite that could resurrect the Night Prince. At Wolff's urging, you and Hakasan resolve to find the Great Mage Gereth Yaztromo and Nicodemus. Should the Night Prince return, he would become a Demon Prince, seize a new, much larger domain, and resume his reign of terror even worse than before, threatening the entire Allansia.In Darkwood Forest, you can find Gurnard Jaggle at last. Do not try to attack him or he kills you with poisoned gas, and give him gold instead. He reveals that the Ring of Burning Snakes was stolen by a Chaos Warrior named Klash, servant of Lord Azzur and Zanbar Bone. You can also gain valuable items from the friendly dwarf Bignose, and reach Yaztromo's tower at last, but Hakasan falls into a trap and gets wounded.
The Spirit Stalkers are channelling Zanbar Bone's arcane magic to slowly turn Yaztromo's tower black, for the Night Prince wants to turn it into his new Dark Tower. He will resurrect if the Keystone is placed atop the tower when it turns fully black. Yaztromo grants you a power boost and a stallion named Stormheart to track down Klash to Port Blacksand, while he is busy healing Hakasan and keeping Zanbar Bone’s magic at bay.
In a call back to City of Thieves, you must enter the loathsome wretched hive to find Nicodemus. Do not enter the city by the main gates, or the guards will seize all your belongings before jailing you to be executed. You must pay people from the village of Flax to ferry you there stealthily by boat, and buy a Merchant Pass lest you get captured by pirates and made a slave. Once again, you must reach Nicodemus' house, but Klash has drugged his drinking water to capture him. You must fight the Chaos Warrior to take the Ring of Burning Snakes from his corpse.
- Klash is a powerful foe with 10 in skill and 11 in stamina, who fights with a huge zweihander sword, so beware.
After Lord Azzur's coach exits the palace, you must steal a guard's armour to sneak in while avoiding the trolls Twoteeth and Stinkfoot, who will only demand bribes and steal your belongings. When in the jail, you must fight a powerful troll guard with 11 in skill and 11 in stamina, and free Luannah Wolff and Nicodemus, before their execution. You escape with all the convicts to face the guards, whom Nicodemus halts with a Time Freezing spell.
You must steal a boat to flee back to Flax, where you leave Luannah to start anew, return the Ring of Burning Snakes (in fact a potent power amplifier) to Nicodemus, and depart on your steed. Yaztromo's talkative pet raven Vermithrax tells you that the Spirit Stalkers placed the Keystone and resurrected Zanbar Bone. The new Demon Prince is besieging Yaztromo's tower with a thousand of skeleton warriors, and the Lesser Demon Quag-Shugguth. You must move past the skeletons lest they overwhelm and kill you, and reach the tower for the final showdown.
The Final BattleYou confront the Demon Prince, carried on a throne by skeletons, while Hakasan Za clears a path through the horde and Yaztromo and Nicodemus back you up with spells. Zanbar Bone summons millions of flying insects; if you wear a Dragonfly Pendant you are protected, otherwise their stings cost you 4 stamina points and 1 skill point, and you only owe your life to Yaztromo's powerful Volcano Spell.
- You will then fight Quag-Shugguth. The Lesser Demon is a very powerful foe with 12 in skill and 13 in stamina who attacks with its tentacles and fangs. If you own the Venom Sword you gain 3 skill points, but without it, its tentacles make it hard to reach, costing you 4 skill points for the fight.
Nicodemus must wield his Ring, otherwise there is nothing you can do and the Demon Prince's army slaughter you all without him needing to move. Zanbar Bone shrugs off his old rivals' spells, until Nicodemus traps him in a Ring of White Fire, breaking his power and making him vulnerable for a short while.
If you own a charged flintlock, you must win a test of skill to shoot and shatter his skull. If you miss, you can try a last, harder test. If you own a Demon Dagger, you must win a difficult dice roll to throw it and shatter his skull, but you get wounded by a skeleton, costing you 2 stamina points and 1 skill point. Any other attempt leads to failure and death. If you lack the right weapons or miss your shots, the skeletons slaughter you and your allies.
Zanbar Bone falls at your feet, vanquished for the second time. He dissolves to dust along with his skeletons, when Hakasan cuts the hand that his corpse was rising before he could cast a deadly spell in a last-ditch attempt, and you restore Yaztromo’s tower. While he might return once more, you have more than enough time to prepare for it. For now, such awesome victory must be celebrated. And celebrate you will.
- Zanbar Bone must be confronted with an anti-illusion ring, drains life-force with his touch, and summons swarms of insects, like Razaak, another villain created by Ian Livingstone, co-creator of the Fighting Fantasy series.
- Zanbar Bone's page on Titannica the Fighting Fantasy Wiki: http://fightingfantasy.wikia.com/wiki/Zanbar_Bone