The Lindenbaum prize for short gamebooks is running! Entries accepted from 1st December 2021!

Saturday, October 16, 2021

fightingfantasy.net

 Hi everyone!


I'd like to show you FightingFantasy.net today.

FightingFantasy.net is an awesome website where you can play gamebooks (and not just Fighting Fantasy ones) online. It was created by Jason Archer aka Beeblbrox.



Jason has created an awesome code that allows you to play books online and also create your own online gamebooks with hyperlinks and either save them as webpages or as hyperlinked pdfs. You can do this from a Rich Text file. 


There is also a Facebook group and a blog by Matt Ward.

It is an awesome website which I plan to use to convert the entries to the Lindenbaum competition into hyperlinked pdfs and websites.

Jason has done all of this for free for years, so any donations to him would be very welcome!

So go over, play the gamebooks and create your own!


Sunday, October 10, 2021

A (not so) brief history of the Windhammer prize

 Hi all! 

Hopefully, you know that last week, I announced the Lindenbaum prize for short gamebook fiction. 

What some of you may not know (which is what I found out when chatting with some gamebook people on International Gamebook Day) is that the competition is basically just a continuation of a gamebook competition that ran from 2008-2015 called the Windhammer Prize. This article is about the Windhammer Prize's history. In researching this article, I realised that Andrew Wright had a similar idea in 2011, where he wrote "A Brief History of the Windhammer Prize", so this is the not so brief version.

The Windhammer prize was for writing an adventure of up to 100 sections. A few rules were added over the years - a word count limit of 25000 words (that might have been after my entry Rulers of the NOW), pictures being allowed if they are maps or parts of puzzles being the two main ones.

In 2012, The Gamebook Authoring Tool came to the scene. It has a free version that allows you to create a gamebook of up to 100 sections (perfect for Windhammer) and Daniel, the creator posted reviews of the entries on the blog.

The prize started when gamebooks just started to have a resurgence online. Before then, I couldn't find many websites related to gamebooks (www.ffproject.com was the main one).

I loved it, because as well as having the chance to win a prize, you could read gamebooks by other people and get to know who was into gamebooks at the time.

Why did it end?

Here is a quote from the competition page:

"From 2016 however, it became apparent that the possibilities for commercial gamebook publication had evolved considerably. New media opportunities including gamebook application development and more accessible self-publishing options allowed authors to find much wider audiences for their work than had been previously available. A consequence of that evolution was smaller numbers of authors coming forward to participate in the competition.

In 2016 the Windhammer Prize closed. What you can find here are all the preceding years' competition guidelines, entry lists and winning submissions, and an archive of all entries participating over those eight years. Please download whatever you wish from the archive. It is a collection of extraordinary talent and a wonderful exposition of how gamebook fiction can relate to a wide range of different genres and subject matter. What follows on this page is the final set of competition guidelines for the 2016 year including an outline of the benefits to authors of participation. May Glory and Renown follow all who entered."

Why do a similar competition now?

The reasoning in 2016 made sense. Kickstarter and self publishing was taking off. You didn't need a competition to reach and audience. The reasoning still applies today, so why am I doing it. A few reasons:

1) New fans. The seed of the idea was planted during the International Gamebook Day weekend, when, on a group call with others, I mentioned Windhammer and most of the gamebook fans hadn't heard of it. This means that we have either picked up new fans or had fans return since 2016. They might appreciate a competition.

2) Nostalgia. I've been getting a bit more nostalgic in the last year, which was probably exacerbated by Covid. A lot of the stuff I liked from the 10s is gone, but this is something I decided to bring back.

3) Time. I had no time during lockdown as I was both working and teaching my children. When I got more time, I decided to spend more of it one something I loved and this is one of those things.

To be honest, I have no idea how many entrants I have. It could be 0. It could be 20. Whatever happens, I wanted to find out.

Where are they now?

Here is a list of what some of the entrants did after their Windhammer entries. I searched everyone on Google and I have listed the people who are still up to stuff. If anyone has any other updates, please let me know.

I do not know about everyone and I might have forgotten some people, so please let me know if someone is missing.

I'd like to point out that some of these people drew attention to themselves via Windhammer and went onto bigger things because of that. The gamebook writers of the 1980s and 1990s also pay attention to the competition.

Tammy Badowski

Tammy has written a trilogy of gamebooks called the Grekgun series.

She also has gamebooks on FightingFantasy.net T M Badowski | Fighting Fantasy .Net

She also has several books on www.ffproject.com (scroll down or do CTRL-F to find her name).

Felicity Banks

Felicity has written a lot of Interactive Fiction, including the Choices games for Tin Man Games and many more that you can find here: Search for Games (ifdb.org)

Felicity has also written many novels. Check them out!

Zachary Carango

Zachary has several books on www.ffproject.com (scroll down or do CTRL-F to find his name).

Jake Care

The entrant with the shortest gamebook entry ever started a blog for a bit, about really short gamebooks, but stopped (ironically, his last post is about the biggest gamebook ever). Jake Care's Gamebooks (jakecaregamebooks.blogspot.com)

Simon Christopher Chapman

Simon wrote Golem Gauntlet, which is on www.ffprojet.com: Fighting Fantasy Project - Gamebooks by Simon Christopher Chapman (ffproject.com)

Kieran Coghlan

Kieran has several books on www.ffproject.com (scroll down or do CTRL-F to find his name).

Jac Colvin

Jac has a website of several interactive fiction works: JACIC GAMEBOOKS - Home (weebly.com)

Ivailo Daskalov

Ivailo has made several gamebook apps here: xsgamebooks and also wrote the Choice of Games book AI - Aftermath - New Hosted Game! AI — Aftermath by Ivailo Daskalov - Choice of Games LLC

Robert Douglas

Robert has several books on www.ffproject.com (scroll down or do CTRL-F to find his name).

Andrew Drage

Andrew Drage wrote the awesome Infinite Universe for Tin Man Games. He did lots of other work for Tin Man Games including designing Sultans of Rema with Gaetano Abbondanza. He has also written novels: The Calling, The Dark Horde and Evermore.

He is currently working on a heavy metal concept album also called The Dark Horde.

Ramsay Duff

Ramsay has several books on www.ffproject.com (scroll down or do CTRL-F to find his name).

Paul Gresty

Paul went on to complete Fabled Lands 7 and also writes for Choice of Games. One of his games is The Orpheus Ruse. The ORPHEUS Ruse (choiceofgames.com)

Per Jorner

Per Jorner was very active on the old gamebook Yahoo groups where he wrote funny and scathing reviews. His Coils of Hate review was very helpful for me when I wrote the reboot. I'm not sure what happened to him after Yahoo Groups closed.

Stuart Lloyd

No idea what he's up to these days.

Ashton MacSaylor

Ashton went on the write The Good, the Bad and the Undead with Jamie Thompson.

He also went on to write for the game Dwarf King with Micabyte.

He has done several other works.

Ashton has co-created Story Tables which uses RPGs to do teambuilding.

Stefano Ronchi

Stefano has recently released a gamebook: How the Spider Ate the Moon: A Gamebook Struggle eBook : Ronchi, Stefano, Ronchi, Elisa, Constantine, Francis: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

Phil Sadler

Phil Sadler has created many awesome Fighting Fantasy fan works which you can get for free at www.ffproject.com (scroll down or do CTRL-F to find his name).

In fact, Phil recently released another gamebook called The Dark Domain. You can get it here for free!

Al Sander

Al Sander also has gamebooks on www.ffproject.com (scroll down or do CTRL-F to find his name).

Paul Struth

Paul Struth wrote the Dervish Stone for Warlock Magazine 4. He also published The Queen of Shades for Fighting Fantazine 7.

David Walters

Gamebook-wise, David Walters went on to work with Mark Smith and Jamie Thompson to complete the Way of the Tiger saga with the seventh book, Redeemer!. Finally, Avenger got out of that web. David also made a prequel called Ninja!

David has also written several novels with samurai and ninja in them.

Alec Worley

Alec doesn't seem to have any more gamebooks, but he has a website: ALEC WORLEY / COMICS, FICTION, AUDIO - Alec Worley: Portfolio Homepage

Andrew Wright

Andrew wrote Catacombs of the Undercity for Tin Man Games which is available on several formats.

He then went on to write several books for Advanced Fighting Fantasy 2nd edition including Return to the Pit, Beyond the Pit, A Rough Guide to the Pit and The Titan Herbal. Hmmm. One of those is a bit different. I think he is currently working on a magical item book for AFF2.

Funnily enough, Andrew also wrote a blog post called "A brief history of the Windhammer Prize" back in 2011, making my entry a not so brief history, I guess.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Lindenbaum prize for short gamebook fiction announcement

 Hello all! I'm really excited to announce the Lindenbaum award for short gamebook fiction.

The award is inspired by the Windhammer competition which ran from 2008-2015. I loved entering my books, seeing other books, voting and getting feedback. To be fair, I loved every aspect of it.

So, when it was discontinued, it left a hole. Between 2016 and now, I was very busy. However, I have a bit more time now and I was also shocked when I was on an online gamebook meetup to learn that almost no one there had heard of the Windhammer competition.

If you look at the list of Windhammer entrants, you will see a few familiar names. This is basically what kickstarted a lot of careers for the new gamebook writing crew.

I would love for that to continue with the new fans we have picked up along the way so that they can have a gateway into the gamebook community. I found the chance to meet new people and get lots of expert feedback invaluable.

So, without further ado, here are the details for the Lindenbaum competition:

Entry requirements for the 2021/2022 Lindenbaum competition

All entries must be in English.

All entries must be original works incorporating unique characters and world settings. This can include real world settings, people and events as long as they aren't the property of someone.

All entries must be previously unpublished works.

All entrants must state clearly on the first page of their entries that they are the authors of the work submitted.

All entries must be provided in rich text format (rtf) and sent as an email attachment to lindenbaumprize@gmail.com.

All character or status sheets provided with entries must be presented in a simple layout that does not include complex table formats.

All entries must be spell-checked and thoroughly tested prior to submission.

The total length of the entry does not exceed 100 sections and a word count of 25,000 words.

Illustrations will not be accepted as a part of an entry except in two specific circumstances. 

Exception 1: Maps that are integral to navigation within the gamebook.

Exception 2: Graphics necessary as a part of puzzles or clues integral to the entry's narrative.

Graphics provided for these purposes must be in either BMP or JPG format and be included as a part of the RTF entry forwarded. 

Graphics purely of an illustrative nature will not be accepted.

The entry may either be a complete stand-alone story or a self-contained excerpt from a larger gamebook adventure of your own creation.

The entry can be of any genre except erotica.

There is no entry fee.

All rights remain with the author and the author can withdraw their entry at any time during the course of the competition.

An entrant can submit one entry only.

All participants must have a valid PayPal account at the time of submission. For reasons given below you must have a valid PayPal account if you wish to receive a cash prize. Account information is not required by the organisers of this competition unless you are one of the winning entrants. Only at the time of winning a prize will you be asked for your PayPal details.


Competition deadlines for 2021/2022

3rd October 2021: Competition guidelines released

1st December 2021: Entry submissions begin

1st February 2022: Entry submissions close.

8th February 2022: Voting begins.*

22nd March 2022: Voting closes.*

31st March 2022: Winners announced.*

* If there are more than 14 entries, these dates will be extended.


Voting

The prize is awarded to the entrant who receives the greatest number of reader votes. This prize relies on votes provided by readers who have read enough of the entries to make a considered choice as to the relative merits of the gamebooks submitted. It is expected by the sponsor of this competition that votes will be provided on this basis. For 2021/2022 the voting system applies as follows:

A valid vote must be forwarded by email to lindenbaumprize@gmail.com. A valid vote must nominate the three gamebooks most favoured by the voter from the competition entrants. A vote with less than three nominations cannot be accepted. A vote forwarded with more than three nominations will only have the first three accounted for in the voting tabulation.

Only one voter email is allowed per reader. All votes will be checked for duplication of email addresses.

Feedback to the authors may be forwarded to the competition sponsors at lindenbaumprize@gmail.com. All feedback given will be provided to authors at the end of competition as a part of the email notification of results.

Prizes

Winning entrant

A cash prize of £100 GBP (Great British Pounds) to be paid within 48 hours into a PayPal account of the winner's choosing. If you do not have access to a valid PayPal account the cash prize cannot be paid.

A desktop licence to the Gamebook Authoring Tool which lasts for 1 year.

A First Prize certificate memorialising their success in the competition.

Merit awards

Two entries are chosen for Merit awards. These entrants receive:

A cash prize of £30 GBP (Great British Pounds) to be paid within 48 hours into a PayPal account of the Merit Award winner's choosing.

A desktop licence to the Gamebook Authoring Tool which lasts for 1 year.

A Merit Award certificate memorialising their success in the competition,

Commendation awards

If there are 10 or more entries, there will be 3 commendation awards. The entrants receive:

A Commendation Certificate memorialising their success in the competition.

Gamebook writing help

If you haven't written a gamebook before, you might think that arranging and randomising the sections might be a problem. However, there are now good gaembook writing programs out there. One is The Gamebook Authoring Tool, which has a free version specifically designed to write a 100 section gamebook and export it to Rich Text Format. You can try it here: About The GameBook Authoring Tool – Crumbly Head Games


Crowdfunding going on right now

Hello all! I would normally put these crowdfunding campaigns in my monthly roundup, but by the time the next one comes around, these campaigns will be over, so I'm mentioning them now.

Rebel Planet - the graphic novel

This classic sci fi Fighting Fantasy gamebook (some might say the best sci fi Fighting Fantasy gamebook) is getting a graphic novel!

FIGHTING FANTASY: REBEL PLANET the graphic novel by Mark Lain — Kickstarter


Malivor: Cataclysm's Edge

This is the third book in the Savage Realms gamebook series by Troy Anthony Schermer. Here is the synopsis:

Tasked with finding a lost family heirloom, you unwittingly stumble upon an ancient evil whose malevolent plot could very well bring about the complete and utter destruction of your world...

Malivor: Cataclysm's Edge | Indiegogo


Also, tune in tomorrow for a big announcement!

Sunday, September 26, 2021

September roundup and upcoming October events

 Hello all! Here are some things going on in the gamebook world.


Releases


You're a Wizard!

You’re a Wizard! is aimed at children aged 6-10 and is an interactive story in which you, a schoolchild, go on an exciting adventure. It’s a 100-section gamebook filled with original illustrations, and is designed specifically for a younger audience:

  • an optional, introductory approach to mechanics with no need for dice
  • language and presentation aimed to be accessible for early readers while stretching vocabulary
  • unsuccessful endings contain hints and shortcuts to “save points”
  • a minor sense of threat appropriate for the adventure, with no violence or death
The illustrator is Lee Hesketh.

It will be available in November. You can pre-order here:

You’re a Wizard! (paperback pre-order) – IsaacsonAuthor.com

Steam Highwayman on Cubus Games

Martin Noutch's Steampunk open world gamebooks are becoming an app! They will be released by Cubus Games on September 30th 2021.

http://www.cubusgames.com/steam-highwayman

Break Out Dig the News

Break Out Dig the News is a choose your own adventure text maze game. Such games take you on a trip through a story told in a non-linear way. You’ll need to make choices and face the consequences. Let’s see how far you can get in the wicked and vicious world of creative news writing and disinformation. I hope, it'll help you boost your resistance to the nuisanse news which bombard us all the time.

Break Out Dig The News by ils 9 on Genially

Artemis Tabletop

Artemis Tabletop is making solo games for DnD 5a and Pathfinder

artemis (artemis-tabletop.com)

Lone Wolf 31 out!

This is not new, but I've only just realised. Lone Wolf 31 is out. Only one more Lone Wolf to go!

The Dusk of Eternal Night - Lone Wolf 31

Skelley Tales

Cat Wheel Table Top has released some solo gaming experience based on public domain comics.

Skelly Tales 5 - Cat Wheel Table Top | DriveThruRPG.com

Zines

The Warlock Returns is on issue 4.

The Warlock Returns Issue #04 - Arion Games | Advanced Fighting Fantasy | DriveThruRPG.com

The Gamebook Zine is currently on issue 3

The Gamebook Zine 3 by Simon Palmer (itch.io)


Podcasts

Campaign on Dice is a podcast where two guys play through gamebooks

CAMPAIGN ON DICE | wwwwb (whenwagonwheelswerebigger.com)

The Instadeath Survivor's Support Group is currently playing through the Island of Dr Moreau by K.J. Shadmand.

Welcome to Instadeath Survivors Support Group by Instadeath Survivors Support Group (anchor.fm)

Fantastic Fights and Where to Find them is a podcast where someone works through gamebooks. The current one is Appointment with F.E.A.R.

Fantastic Fights — Haunted Phonograph


Fundraising

Sam at The Warlock Returns Zine is running a charity auction and raffle for Mind. Live stream planned for the results on 24/10. Guests to confirm, and prizes may well be of interest..

The Warlock Returns auction for FF & AFF ttRPG Fans - GalaBid

Crowdfunding


Malivor: Cataclysm's Edge (MCE) 

Malivor: Cataclysm's Edge (MCE) is the highly-anticipated, third title in the Savage Realms Gamebooks library and is written in the style of the Choose Your Own Adventure and Fighting Fantasy gamebooks. YOU determine the outcome of the story by the choices that you make! Sometimes, your very fate will even depend on the roll of the dice themselves!

The two small shorts that you got in the Gamebook Zine issues 1 and 2 were only a taste of what will truly be an epic storyline and gamebook!

Malivor: Cataclysm's Edge | Indiegogo


Interactive Fiction & Gamebooks Discussion Group (Book Club) | Facebook

October's book is Dracodeep Dungeon by The Story Master's Tales.


Err, just one more thing...

Next week, I will be releasing the rules for the first Lindenbaum Prize for short gamebook fiction! This competition is inspired by the Windhammer competition which I loved doing from 2008-2015. 

Come back next week for the guidelines!


STOP PRESSES:

There is a Rebel Planet comic coming soon! FIGHTING FANTASY: REBEL PLANET the graphic novel by Mark Lain — Kickstarter


Sunday, September 19, 2021

Windhammer and a question

 Hi all. Who hear has heard of the Windhammer competition? When I mentioned it at the last online Beer-o, a lot of people hadn't, to my surprise.

It ran annually from 2008-2016 and the entrants include a lot of people who went on to write published gamebooks. The Arborell gamebooks are also awesome (and free!). It's stopped now.

The gamebook entries were short (100 sections and 25000 words max), so first timers didn't feel that they had an impossible task.

I enjoyed entering it and seeing some of the innovative entries - there's a mind bending symbolic one about light and darkness, one about being an orc in a dungeon, a couple of Fabled Lands inspired ones and one where you are a dwarf leader amongst others.

I'd like to start a competition like this, maybe as a gamejam on Itch or maybe on a website or both.

Who would be up for that?

Friday, September 17, 2021

Why I chose rerolls over bonuses

 Hello all! I'm sorry I'm late again. I keep forgetting how much work I get at the end of the school year and the beginning of the school year are way busier than I remember.

I wanted to write about one aspect of SCRAWL. SCRAWL changed a lot over the years, but there was one aspect of it that never changed and that was when the characters did ability tests, if they were good at them, they get an extra die to roll rather than a bonus to the roll. Then they use the best roll.

An ability test in SCRAWL has a number between 3 and 6. To succeed at an ability test, you need to roll equal to or more than that number on 1d6. 

There are certain abilities, items or codewords that help with each ability test. For each ability, item or codeword you have that helps, you may roll an additional 1d6. You only need 1 die to roll equal to or over the difficulty to succeed at the test.

I could have changed it. I could have said that each ability, item or codeword gives a +1 bonus, but I never did want to. I wanted to go into why.

The main reason stems from a problem that may occur in Fabled Lands or Tunnels and Trolls solos, which uses a level system. That is that if I gave bonuses out that add to the die roll, it will prevent anyone who didn't have those bonuses from succeeding. Fabled Lands and Tunnels and Trolls are great, but the books are suitable for characters of a certain level. If you attempt Lords of the Rising Sun as a lowly level 1, you will be splatted. And if you attempt the War Torn Kingdom as a level 6, it might be such a cake walk that you might find it boring. The same is with Tunnels and Trolls solos. Get the wrong level and it will either be too easy or too hard.

I just went out for some milk


Part of the reason is that the tests in those books, where you roll dice and add a stat, will be impossible to reach because your character's stat will not be high enough.

The answer is rerolls. If you give someone a reroll, they will have a higher chance at success, but the range of numbers they roll will still be the same as the range that someone without the reroll could have. For that reason, it will be harder, but not impossible, for a beginner character.

SCRAWL is intended to be a gamebook where anyone can do any quest in any order, adding to the openness of the system, which is why nothing gives bonuses. They only give rerolls. If I wanted to give a minor bonus, I gave it the bonus of rerolling all 1s that are rolled.

I'll be going into SCRAWL design more as the weeks go on (though not every week, that could get a little boring).