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HDK 70 † The fortress of Kruglach


For a day and part of the night you have been making your way across the meadows and through the forest of Regnad. Despite the obvious fears of the villagers, you have met no danger so far, and have eaten well from the roots, leaves and berries of magical life-enhancing plants. But as you press deeper into the woods, making your way by the light of a rising moon, the twisting branches and tangled undergrowth begin to close in around you. You are overcome by an uneasy feeling of oppression, as if the forest is somehow aware of you, and you are not welcome. You stop for a moment and grip the handle of your sword, trying to banish the irrational fears that assault your senses. But there is no rustling of woodland animals in the undergrowth, and no owl hoots in the dark canopy of leaves above you. No gentle breeze stirs the unnatural stillness of the Regnad woods…
As you venture cautiously onwards, you begin to make out the dark shape of a turret beyond the trees – the fortress! A flicker of doubt crosses your mind. It would be easy to turn back now. You have been on many quests, and faced terrible danger, but never before has your heart fluttered as it does now. You remind yourself of your promise to the villagers: promises are not to be broken. Fear and courage struggle within you. As you approach the fortress, a foul smell of stagnant water assaults your nostrils, and you see that the black walls are surrounded by a moat. The water is covered with disgusting scum which occasionally ripples and bubbles, as though some huge creature were moving below. A rotting drawbridge crosses the moat, and leads to a large wooden door.
You find yourself in a large courtyard, paved with dark grey stones. To the South-East and South-West are two look-out towers, and cold fear grips your heart when you realise you might have been seen entering the fortress. You grip your sword tightly, listening for any sound that might indicate that the occupants of the fortress are aware of you, but there is absolute silence. You breathe a sigh of relief, and take another look around. There is a door out of the courtyard in the North wall, opposite the main door. To your left, a low, circular wall rises up from the grey paving, surrounding a dark, moss-covered well...
Set into the table are what at first appear to be two sunken bowls. Looking closer, you see that each is divided into six segments, and at the side of both is a small round stone. The segments of the first bowl are alternately white and black. The second has three blank segments, and three with the symbol of a snake inscribed. Evidently, this is some kind of game of chance, in which the outcome is determined by throwing the stone into one of the bowls. Will you try your luck at this game? You throw the stone into the bowl, and it rolls around for a long time, before finally coming to rest on a segment marked with a snake symbol. A plume of blue smoke begins to rise from the bowl, and slowly forms itself into a gigantic Serpent. Its scales glisten in the torchlight as its forked tongues flickers, sensing your location, and it draws back its head, deadly fangs gleaming. You draw your sword for battle…
Thundergrunt 04:14
You begin to investigate the sacks and other rubbish – then freeze as you hear, faintly at first, but then more steadily, a grunting, crunching sound. Slowly, the source of the noise becomes apparent, as into view stumbles a lumbering Thundergrunt. Its massive feet give it great stability, and its long arms, ending in spiked talons, whistle through the air as it strikes at you. The massive, low-domed head carries a mouthful of needle-sharp teeth, and you realise that you must get in a swift, accurate sword-thrust.
You go through the door into a huge room, which you realize was probably once the Great Hall of the Fortress. A large, long table stands before you with eight chairs drawn up along each side, and one larger, more ornate chair at its head. At the North end of the room, upon a raised platform, is a beautiful throne, carved of rich, deep golden wood. On either side of the throne stand two unusual statues. The one to the West is of an ugly humanoid, with a long pointed tail and horrifically twisted features. In contrast, the one to the East is of a prancing, white unicorn – strikingly beautiful compared to the deformed creature opposite it. Everything is covered in dust and fine cobwebs, and apparently has not been touched for many years. As you approach the throne, you see that it has two buttons embedded into the right armrest. One button is black and the other is white. Will you press: The white button? The black button? As soon as you press the black button, eight, long, wickedly sharp spikes shoot up through the seats of the eight chairs at the table! Only the throne remains free of this deadly device. You swallow hard, and try not to dwell upon the fate of anyone sitting at the table who had incurred their lord’s displeasure…
You open the door and go through into another passage. This one, however, is lighted by smoky torches, and goes South as far as you can see. The West side of the passage is made up entirely of thick iron bars, which are divided into three large cages. Two of the cages are empty, but the middle one is occupied by a sleeping figure. You move closer to investigate, and see that it is a young, dark-skinned man, dressed in tattered rags, with a mass of black, tangled hair. A bunch of keys hangs from a hook on the East wall of the passage. Will you: Quietly unlock the cage and creep up while he sleeps? As quietly as you can, you take the keys from the hook and insert one into the lock. The door swings silently open, and you advance towards the sleeping man, your sword in your hand. As you enter the cage, the man leaps to his feet and whirls around to face you, half crouching, his eyes glinting red. You prod the man gently with the tip of your sword, till he reluctantly awakes and turns to face you. When he realizes that you are not his jailer, he slowly sits up and smiles, revealing gleaming white teeth. There is a long silence. “Well, are you going to kill me or set me free?” he asks at length, glancing at your sword. You ask him who he is and how he came to be locked in this cage, and he tells you he is an adventurer called Teel, who was captured and imprisoned by Goblins, many months ago. He asks if he can accompany you out of the fortress, and it is obvious he bears little love for Kruglach. Lock him back up in his cell? You back slowly away from him, your sword point never wavering from his heart as you fumble for the keys. Realizing your intention, the man’s face twists into a lupine snarl, and his eyes glow hot and red. His muscles tense, ready to pounce, and although you are sure you have the advantage, you will have to fight! As you raise your sword to fight, the man undergoes a rapid transformation, and you realise to your horror that you are facing a Werewolf!
You peer through the tiny barred window behind the panel, and see a small dark cave beyond. There is hardly any light, but you can just make out the figure of a huge man slumped in a corner, gnawing on a bone. Could this be the Cyclops? If so, you need two of its teeth for the Spell of Soul Capture! Gripping your sword tightly, you take a deep breath and try to open the door… As you enter the small, dark cave beyond, there is an almighty roar of rage, and you realise with horror that the occupant of the cave is in fact a Cyclops! The one-eyed giant towers above you by a good two feet. Its single red eye glares down at you out of an incredibly ugly face, surrounded by a mane of tangled hair. It is dressed in a few filthy animal hides, and in its right hand it holds a massive wooden club, studded with iron spikes…
You go through the South door into another large cavern, in the center of which is a small, oval pool of black liquid. To your astonishment, you see there is a hand, clenched into a fist, lifted up out of the pool, as white and as motionless as if carved from marble. You speak the magic words. At first, there is no reaction, and then slowly, the hand opens, revealing in its palm a single, black jewel. Do you wish to attempt to take the jewel from the hand? You stretch over the edge of the pool and reach out to take the jewel from the hand. As you strain to reach the jewel, you lean too far, and tip head first into the black pool! The liquid in the pool is acid and your hands and face feel afire…
You go through into another tunnel, which heads South, then West and leads you to a large black door. There is something foreboding about its utter blackness. It reflects no light and looks more like a gateway into oblivion than any solid door of earthly material. You came here to find Kruglach, and he is surely not far beyond this door. Holding your sword before you, you reach out to open the door... The door is deathly cold to your touch, and so smooth you can hardly feel it. As your fingers explore its icy surface, your hand begins to sink slowly into the blackness and the door gradually fades away before your eyes. You step through the revealed opening and enter a small, dark cave, the walls of which are hewn from glistening black rock. It is lit by two deep red flames that flicker smokily upon slender pedestals, set at opposite ends of the cave. In contrast to the tough rock walls, the floor of the cave is as smooth and as clear as ice – but ice that is the colour of the sky at midnight, filled with a thousand twinkling, blood-red stars, reflections of the light from the smoky torches. Standing motionless between the two flames is a tall figure, dressed in robes of black silk. His dark head is slightly bowed, looking away from the doorway, and he appears to be in deep concentration. One hand is raised a little, and as you stand silently in the doorway, studying him, he slowly lowers his hand and turns to face you. This, you realize, is Kruglach. He is a striking figure, with darkly handsome features, framed by jet black hair. A small smile twists the corner of his mouth, but he gazes at you with eyes that are of the same unfathomable blackness as the door to his lair. You must act quickly.
As you raise up your blade before Kruglach, he throws back his head and laughs – a dark, liquid sound that would cause the stoutest of hearts to quail. You lick your dry lips, and grip your sword tightly with both hands. Your quest may end here, but you will not give up without a fight. “You mortal fool,” Kruglach sneers. “You cannot touch me with that earthly blade!” Then before you have a chance to strike, he raises his hands and black flame shoots forth to engulf you! Kruglach’s face betrays no emotion as he advances, his sword pointed straight at your heart. You raise your shield and begin moving carefully. Kruglach may not possess great strength, but he is fast and clever – even as you prepare to defend yourself, his black sword, almost invisible in the gloom, whistles past your head, causing a slight flesh wound to your shoulder. Kruglach’s expression has not changed in the slightest. No mercy will be given or expected in this final confrontation...
Before you in a tangle of black robes, lies Kruglach. His demon soul has fled his body and you see that the crystal bottle is filled with a swirling black mist. The silver stopper is secure, and Kruglach’s soul is imprisoned within. His evil will cease and the land will be free once more. You can return victorious to the surrounding villages and collect your reward. But what will you do with the bottle and the evil secret that it holds? Leave it here in this dimly lit cave where one of Kruglach’s servants might find it? Throw it back where you first discovered it? Carry it with you always and hope that it never falls into the wrong hands? Is there truly anywhere that you can hide it and know that it will remain safely sealed for eternity or will that be your next quest? The hunger for adventure is in your blood, and it would be a challenge indeed to find a resting place for this bottle where neither man nor magic could touch it. An enchanted fortress? A bottomless abyss? The lair of some fearful beast? You cannot know, but you can be sure that, whatever happens, with a demon in your backpack it will not be dull!


In the elder days, beyond the ancient forest of Regnad, the evil Sorcerer Kruglach built for himself a mighty fortress of stone. He retreated into this, to experiment with dark and terrible enchantments, and a fear fell upon the land.

The people were afflicted with plague and pestilence; animals and children vanished from their homes at dead of night; and the crops in the fields were ruined by the black fungus that spread in the polluted air from Kruglach’s towers.

After many dark years, Kruglach’s evil influence abruptly ceased, and the people joyfully assumed him dead. But now, centuries later, in the village of Arn Gate on the edge of the forest, the people are dying from an unknown sickness, their crops are wilting, and their children disappearing. The surrounding villages, in fear, have banded together and offered a reward to anyone who would venture beyond the forest to seek the fortress of Kruglach and put an end to his evil.

Attracted by the reward, but also curious, you have journeyed to Arn Gate…


In the 80s there was the boom of the so-called "gamebooks", interactive books usually of the fantasy genre, in which the reader was called to make choices and solve puzzles to reach the last page.

PROTEUS, a magazine released in the UK from 1984 to 1988, published a whole interactive adventure to play in each issue: they were naive dungeon explorations, treasure searches full of sense of bizarre, weird riddles and absurd monsters.

PROTEUS's adventures weren't masterpieces, but they were fun and damn difficult: there were often dozens of objects to necessarily find to complete the quest and defeat the final monster, and most of the time the decisive one was missing; furthermore, it was essential to draw maps ogf the dungeons in order not to get lost in the paragraphs, but these maps often... did not add up.

In short: a lot of fun for us kids of the analog era!


The sordid ensemble of musicians called GNOLL is back with a new album in full dungeon-crawling style, with slightly different and surprising atmospheres than in the past, but always characterized by that arcane and sulphurous aura that fans of "Citadel of evil" or "Flight from the dark" love. Dusty synthesizers, scary theremin and old keyboards found in the trash create spooky atmospheres, full of sense of wonder and love for dungeon-exploration.

"The fortress of Kruglach" cassette includes an illustrated booklet of 28 pages that will accompany you track by track for a immersive listening!


released October 31, 2021

This is the soundtrack of the omonymous adventure published in “PROTEUS” Magazine (U.K.) in year 1986.

Thank you to Mike Keward to allowed to use the PROTEUS illustrations.

Recorded by GNOLL in November 2020 - February 2021.


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Heimat Der Katastrophe Milan, Italy

DIY label focused on ambient punk, minimal-synth, dungeon-drone, wartime music and post-nuclear wave. Managed by a creative punx collective from Milano city.

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