One of the things I like doing with roleplaying games is looking at how morally ambiguous many of them are. In a lot of cases they treat the universe with a very black and white mentality and force people into these categories without actually looking at the bigger picture. I guess this is the product of the 80s where the political spectrum was very black and white, with the communists being bad and the capitalists being good. My position is that simply because you are a communist does not mean you are bad, or that you supported the policies of Joseph Stalin, and just because you are a capitalist does not necessarily mean that you are good.
However, this has nothing to do with this game book, well, it does but in a more indirect way. Deathtrap Dungeon was one of my favourite Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks because the concept was quite different to what I was used to with roleplaying games. Many of the games follow the standard plot of a village being tormented by some bad people and the heroes then set off to find and kill those bad people and save the day. This is not the case in Deathtrap Dungeon.
The game is based around a challenge that is held every year when a group of adventurers sign up to attempt to complete a challenge known as the Trial of Champions. Simply put, either you win or you die (much like the Game of Thrones), and to be honest, before you come along, nobody has won, which means that everybody has died (obviously). To make matters worse, only one person can leave the dungeon as a champion, and obviously you want to be that person.
To put it simply this is blood sport; much like that of the Ancient Romans. The more blood that is spilt the more excited the crowd becomes. Granted, back in Rome, gladiators took on the role that our sporting heroes take on today, the only problem was that you would only retain that support as long as you won, namely because if you didn't win, you would die. However there are suggestions that it did not always end in death, and if you were defeated, but not killed, then there was always the possibility that you would live to fight another day.
The problem with Deathtrap Dungeon being a bloodsport in this sense is that the crowd see you enter, but does not know what is happening inside. Obviously there would be gambling rackets on the side, or more likely in the open, and would probably look like this:
Once again, you would only win if the person you put money on actually comes out from the other side (alive, obviously). Nobody knows what is happening inside the dungeon, which suits the baron because he does not want anybody knowing about the secrets of the dungeon or how to escape.
Livingstone gave a more Asian flavour to this gamebook by giving the name of the region an Asian flavour, however it does not seem that an actual Asian gamebook was released until the Sword of the Samurai. It made creating the world a little more difficult, with an Asian sounding province to the north of the European sounding provinces, but then again this is a game world that was mostly for teenagers and I doubt they really cared.