Friday, July 22, 2016

Tunnels and Trolls solo rules updated for Deluxe edition

Hello world! First of all, a big shout out to my readers in Russia - there seems to be loads of traffic coming from Russia in the past few days. Thanks for your attention :)

Secondly of all, I have just written some rules for Tunnels and Trolls solos using the Deluxe edition. I love that Tunnels and Trolls has so many solo adventures. I have written a few of my own (for PWYW!) and when I did, I came up with solo rules then.

I love Tunnels and Trolls solos, but most were restrictive on the level you had to play at and whether magic was allowed or not (normally it wasn't), so I made these rules for all characters to enjoy solos. I have done it again for the Deluxe edition (which is really awesome). I have another idea for a solo lined up which I hpe will come into being one day, so I updated these rules for that. However, if you want to have a look at the rules no, here they are!

So check out my solo rules.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Too much healing bad for a game?

I was reading a post on the Alex Schroeder blog about how he has No clerics in his game. He gave reasons for this, half of which involve the use of healing magic and how it makes combat longer, devalues hit points as resource, reduces the need for recovery periods and puts pressure on the player playing the cleric to heal people all the time.

This does strike a chord with me that also resonates with the philosphy in Magic the Gathering that a card that grants just life gain does nothing but buy time and does not affect the board or card advantage. In gaming terms, if you are up against an impossible opponent, then healing is just going to give you a few more rounds to lose. It is also very true of some Fighting Fantasy books where having a stamina of 24, 40 stamina points worth of provisions and a potion that restores all lost stamina will not stop you getting killed if your skill is relatively low. However, if your skill is middling-high, then all that healing will make you invincible, so we have the worst of situations where either no amount of healing will not prevent you getting killed or the healing removes all sense of tension from the game.

I guess the only time healing is actually game changing is if it saves you from a borderline loss, possibly due to bad luck. So mechanically, the best healing would be healing that happens when your hitpoints/stamina/endurance/whatever is below a certain value and then it raises it to the "safe zone" to mitigate the effects of bad dice rolls made from good decisions.

I will endeveour to do this in my gamebooks. In my Legend of the Wayfarer world, there is magick (with a k, because that's cool) which is restricted to changing the tides of fortune in a small way. Anyhting else will require rare artefacts a tome of spells and performing complex rituals. There is also mysticism which allows the character to be in touch with the natural energies of the world and so they are more in tune with the spirits and fae, so they are able to communicate with them better, resist their influence and possibly ward them for a short time. However, there is no healing magic, apart from some gods of healing (and even for them, in dnd terms they are restricted to spells of 3rd level and lower). There are also healers, but they can only restore 1 Vitality Point per day, which means that f your character is on a quest that involves a time limit (and my updated rules include time tracking partly for this purpose), then that leads to interesting decisions. Of course, it is possible to buy some portable healing that you could use as much as you like, but it costs 5 times the price of a healer per Vitality Point, so it won't be used frivolously. This leads to some interesting situations where time, money and Vitality are a limited resource that has to be used wisely, which would mean more decision making. Of course, if there were clerics wandering the land offering healing or items that restore all lost Vitality on sale for a low price then this would remove the situations.

I know removing convenient healing might sound contentious as healing items are a nice safety net against things going wrong, but it might remove a lot of tension from a game where it makes too much of a difference or give you false hope and waste your time if it cannot make any difference.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Advanced Fighting Fantasy branching out with pdfs and sci-fi (but only with your help)

Good news, everyone! Arion Games has released the Advanced Fighting Fantasy core rulebook as a PDF. You can get it for 14 USD (approximately £10) and their other AFF2 products should be out as
pdfs shortly.

Also, it is also running a kickstarter to get a sci-fi rulebook up called Stellar Adventures. Like all Arion games kickstarters, it is simple and has a realistic goal that. No calculating add ons, no weird stretch goals, just pick the type of format you want for the book and back it for that amout of money. Then, the book arrives. This is a winning formula that has worked for four other Arion Games products.

So head on over and support your Advanced Fighting Fantasy producers.

In other news there is a Way of hte Tiger Playthrough blog which is extremely entertaining. Check it out.

Also, check out this awesome blog of in depth gamebook analysis. Many nuggets of wisdom to be gained here.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Future plans part 3 - the rest

Hello all! Here are the rest of the options to my survey that didn't make the top 3.

Kickstarter updates

I put that in with news of releases seeing as they were close in terms of number of votes and also similar to each other.

Articles on boardgames, computer games and RPGs

Playing these things gives me a lot of ideas for gamebooks (a recent RPG I played has given me inspiration for a Windhammer competition), so I will keep these coming as they come.

Legend of the Wayfarer

Not much interest in this, so I will save it for when it is done (in the future...) and talk about its development when it is finished. The old version is available for PWYW. The new version will look quite different to it.


Wuite low. Maybe because there are plenty of other blogs that do them?

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Future plans part 2 - interviews and news of releases (+kickstarter updates)

Hello again, gamebookers! Here I discuss some more future plans.

Well, you seem to like interviews. That's great. I do a bunch of interviews in April and then none for the rest of the year. Looking at other peoples' April A to Zs, my interviews are a lot longer than most other posts. Also, the A to Z didn't provide as big a stat boost as it used to possibly due to more participants and also possibly due to categorising blogs so that people skip categories they don't like. There are not many gameing blogs in the A to Z (about 10 this year from hundreds), so maybe either I need to do another challenge or have a different approach to the April A to Z.

However, I now have 5 years of interviews with people that most people probably haven't read properly because they were having 1 a day and may have been looking at other blogs, so one thing I will do is to repeat interviews and spread them throughout the year.

I will also ask people for interviews around the time they have some releases out. Hang on a second, that sounds like a link.

News of releases

There is now way too many websites for me to go through to get every gamebook release, which is why I use the gamebook feed and also why I have the feed link in to my Twitter profile. However, I can put the choice posts here, when a book is released, which leads on to kickstarters, which came a close 4th. I can also post links to kickstarters to do with gamebooks and IF.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Skills as saving throws

 I read a really interesting post in Known World Old World about skill checks as saving throws. I must admit, I have always seen skills in the roll to accomplish way where if someone wants to do something, then they have to succeed at a skill check to do so, but Dr Bargle is right. If someone is a trained pickpocket, then why do they have to make a roll to pick every person's pocket? What if you're a trained blacksmith? Surely all those years of training means that you don't need to make a roll to make your 5000th horeshoe. The other 4999 times have been plenty of practise to get it done without messing up. AFF2 and Maelstrom Domesday both follow the same rule in the sense that if you have x points in a skill then you don't need to roll to accomplish certain things. If you have 4 points in Language - Common, then you speak fluent Common and you don't need to make a roll every time you have a conversation with someone.

It got me thinking about my system. Sometimes, I do ability checks and sometimes I just go by whether you have the skill or not. The main reason for this was actually a game reason. If the consequences of the check were low, then I would just let you check whether you have a skill or not as I did not want you wasting time rolling over a few silver florins or 1 point of Will or Vitality. However, I will think carefully about when you need to do a roll now.

In book 3 of Legend of the Wayfarer, you are given the chance to find some treasure after beating some bandits. I made it an ability roll with the perception, but if you have enough time to search the clearing, then why bother rolling? Maybe, with enough time, you find it without any skill or maybe it is so well hidden that it doesn't matter how long you take - if you don't have Perception, you can't find it. Maybe a roll is appropriate if you have little time to do the search.

I will think more carefully about where I place my skill rolls now. Maybe they should only be the result of bad decisions or sub-optimal conditions and this will reward good play more. For this reason, I need to make decisions meaningful and leave enough clues to make sure people can work out which decision is best.

Happy gamebooking!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Computer games - Battle for Wesnoth

Battle for Wesnoth is a brilliant turn based fantasy strategy game for the low low price of $0.  I had a period where I just played that game in all of my free time and if you played it, you could see why. 

The concept is quite simple.  You are the commander of an army from a particular classic fantasy faction (humans, elves, dwarves, orcs, dragonfolk, Lizardfolk, Merfolk being the most common).  You then summon units which you move around a hex map across different terrains in order to destroy the other faction. 

That is the essence of it but there are many aspects to the strategy of Wesnoth which make it so great.  The map is made up of different terrains which have different effects on defence and movement.  They are quite intuitive - for example, mountains offer the best defence and take up the biggest number of movement points.

There are also castle hexes which allow you to summon your units.  You cannot, however, summon whatever you want.  You are limited by a list and how much gold you have.  You get more gold by owning village hexes.  Units that stop in villages for a whole turn are healed. 

There are many different types of unit - each faction has variations on a theme.  There are units that are good at offense, units that are good at defence, units that heal, units that are fast, mounted units, units that are good at ranged attack (they still have to attack from an adjacent square but if the defender does not have a ranged attack then they cannot fight back) and units with special attacks such as slowing attacks or poisonous attacks.

Also, units gain experience with each battle or kill.  If they get enough, they can level up and become more powerful.  Most units start at level 1 and can go up to level 3.  If you are playing a story game then you can carry any surviving units over to the next scenario.

I haven't even got round to unit alignment (chaotic, lawful or neutral) and how the time of day affects their attacks or how the game accounts for different attack types and how each unit has a resistance score for each type.  There are several more subtle details like this that make the game a great exercise in strategy. 

If all Wesnoth had were scenarios where you pick or create a map, your faction and an enemy faction, I could still play the game for ages.  however, it goes much further than that as the game also provides several story based games (campaigns) with interlinked scenarios.  The stories are far from the standard 'kill all the opponents' aim and usually have some great plot twists such as the original campaign Heir to the Throne.  Each scenario in a campaign offers a some interesting strategy choices.  Some scenarios involve you going from A to B.  Some involve you you killing a certain number of units.  Some involve you surviving a certain number of turns.  As well as the official aim, you also have to make sure that your units are getting enough experience so that they will level up for the more difficult, later scenarios. 

On top of that, there are an infinite number of other scenarios and eras (collections of new factions with interesting units) available from Battle for Wesnoth's large and dedicated fanbase - enough to keep you happy for months.

Battle for Wesnoth is simple to learn yet very deep in terms of strategy, its rules providing an infinite number of units, scenarios and campaigns.  It will surely keep you hooked for months.