Knightmare Lexicon - A Knightmare Encyclopædia

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1. losing status
[Lexicon entry #700]

Term used by Knightmare fans to denote situations when a Knightmare team is condemned not to complete their quest, but will not perish immediately. While it's important to point out that discussion among fans of particular teams' losing status is often speculative, it should also be noted that the term arose from remarks made by Tim Child himself, creator of Knightmare:

'All teams which entered the games began with winning team status. If they failed at key points in their quest, they became losing teams. A losing team was not allowed to win - i.e. perform and succeed in the final core task, but a losing team was not necessarily killed off straight away. Some survived longer for entertainment value, and some because their lack of a particular object or spell would not be apparent until they reached the moment of when they needed to use it.'

- Tim Child, email to Steve of the Knightmare Discussion Forum, as quoted on the forum in March 2003

'Sometimes I was a bit tougher on teams whose game status was already 'losing', because we knew they didn't have the knowledge or artifacts to proceed beyond the next critical point in their mission.'

- Tim Child, Knightmare Discussion Forum, February 2003

Q. You would have known that teams were on a hiding to nothing depending on the objects they had picked up...

A. ...We'd sometimes let them do a few extra chambers, just to fatten out their adventures. We'd also curtail them as well.

- Extract from Bother Bar's interview with Tim Child, 2007

The two main causes of a team's losing status were failure to pick up a necessary clue object, or failure to earn a crucial spell (usually as a result of getting riddles or questions wrong). Here are examples of both that have been written about on the Knightmare Discussion Forum:
 [Related Image] - Team 7 of Series 3: Did not pick up a crayon in the Level 1 clue room, leaving them unable to create a wellway at the end of the level and evade Grimwold.

- Team 11 of Series 3: Got Owen's riddle wrong, and failed to earn his "dragon magic". This left them with no means of fending off Morghanna, who blasted dungeoneer Martin in a later chamber.

On some occasions, a team in losing status would perish for a reason unconnected to the losing status. To quote Tim Child, 'some teams carrying the wrong objects, sometimes died even before they got to the point when they needed the correct one.' Here is an example:
 [Related Image] - Team 4 of Series 6: Probable reason for losing status: failing to buy witch amber from Julius Scaramonger. Cause of death: failing to defend themselves against Sylvester Hands with the Ring of Power.

Often, Treguard's 'post mortem' speech to a defeated team would detail when and how the team had entered losing status. Having said that, there were times when Treguard seemed to link a team's cause of death to its losing status in a way that left some Watchers unconvinced, based on those Watchers' knowledge of other quests. Examples:
 [Related Image] - Team 5 of Series 4: Probable reason for losing status: failing to earn SPRINT from Merlin. Cause of death: Block and Tackle. Treguard then suggested that SPRINT would have allowed the team to survive the Block and Tackle. However, every other S4 team that encountered the Block and Tackle completed it (or could have completed it) without magic.

- Team 2 of Series 8: Probable reason for losing status: losing their Sight potion. Cause of death: Corridor of Blades. Treguard then suggested that the potion would have allowed the team to survive the CoB. However, several other teams, both in S8 and other series, encountered the CoB and completed it without magic.
 [Related Image] - Team 3 of Series 8: Probable reason for losing status: failing to gain magic from Maldame. Cause of death: Room of Raining Fireballs. Treguard then suggested that Maldame's magic would have allowed the team to survive the obstacle. However, the precise cause of death was dungeoneer Nathan stepping into a hole as an apparent result of simple misdirection; and the previous team had completed the same obstacle with no magic whatsoever. This implies that Team 3 might have needed Maldame's magic for a later challenge, not the Room of Raining Fireballs.

Tim Child has explained the relevance of winning/losing status where end-of-series teams are concerned:

'When approaching the end of a series with a 'losing' team in Quest, it was relatively easy. You just prolonged their adventure until it became convenient to kill them off. The problem came when the final team was still in 'winning status'. We resolved this in a variety of ways - sometimes providing short cuts; sometimes allowing them to succeed in a sub-task, rather than defeat the dungeon. None of these was really satisfying - but often it was the best I could do, in the cause of maintaining fair play.'

- Email to Steve, 2003

Losing status exists in the Knightmare gamebooks as well, helping to ensure adventures of decent length. The Labyrinths of Fear takes this to an extreme, whereby a wrong choice very early in Level 1 may not 'catch up with' the player until Level 3.

[Earlier version of this entry: 2008-01-03 15:37:36]

Provided By: David, 2020-04-13 16:29:14
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