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

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Warlock Returns charity auction - Sunday 30th January 2pm GMT

 Hello all! The Warlock Returns (Advanced Fighting Fantasy Zine) is running a charity auction this Sunday (30th January) at 2pm. 

The current line-up of FF/AFF celebs for The Warlock Returns Charity Auction sits at:

Dave Morris;

Jamie Thomson;

Jonathan Hicks;

Graham Bottley;

Julien Ribeyron;

Shaun Garea.

Diarise it, and I look forward to seeing you there!

Click the link to find out more.



Sunday, January 23, 2022

Rulers of the NOW

 

Cover by Sammy

UPDATE 24/01/2022: I have updated the files, so if you downloaded them before today, download the new versions. I have also made the files PWYW in case you feel the need to give me money!

Hello lovely people! This post is to say that I have finally completed Rulers of the NOW, my 2011 Windhammer competition entry. Well, after 10 years and, a few iterations and LOTS of notes and planning, I have finally completed it! Here is the synopsis:

As a lowly temp for an insurance company, you dream that one day, your life will change. And one day, it does. You get charged with terrorism and stripped of all assets and social standing. Now you must navigate the dystopian world of England in 2041 to survive whilst the leaders of the New Order of Worlds, or NOW, enjoy lives of unlimited luxury, far away on their space station.

Will you ever discover why you were accused of terrorism? Will you survive as an outcast and will you discover who rules the NOW?

At the moment, it is a playtest version - it might need a bit of cleaning up, but it is ready to go. You can get it for free from the following places:

You can get it from Drive Thru

Rulers of the NOW Playtest edition - Slloyd14 | DriveThruRPG.com

You can get it from Itch

Rulers of the NOW - Playtest version by slloyd14 (itch.io)

You can get it from Google Drive:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1TPkdSz7RQLTEJi38DeiD_UxkCkt5I3cd/view?usp=sharing

Please feel free to leave any comments about your impressions or anything you missed. In the future, I hope to release a final version, possibly with more illustrations from the wonderful Sammy.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

When does combat get boring?

Hello all! Today, I want to talk about combat (or another test that requires an extended set of actions/choices) and how to have a system that does not make combat either too long or too short, contain no choice or too much choice to create overchoice.

Of course, everyone has different tastes, but I will discuss the different options available to see where I can find a sweet spot, or, if I can't find a sweet spot, at least allow us to have a better idea of what we like and how to identify/create it.

The title is about combat as this is usually the activity where you crack out the dice and think strategy, but in some cases, non-combat situations are just as involved (such as the Jumpster Hopper book shttps://www.facebook.com/pages/J-P-Barnett/131451400230809 where you are either running away from or trying to catch something).

There are factors that are involved in the process. One factor is the amount of effort you need to go to to determine it. Are there dice rolls for both attack and damage? How many dice do you roll? Do you just pick a random number?

Another factor is the degree of choice that you have in combat. Is the combat pre determined by the author after you decide to enter it (hint - the results are never pretty in Knightmare)? Or are there a huge array of decisions that you could make in every round?

Both of these factors will affect the amount of time that the combat takes. I originally thought that the quicker the combat the better, but that is not necessarily the case. If you get really involved with the combat, then it won't matter that it might take time. It might be disappointing to find that combat does not take very long.

So what kind of combats are there? Well, we have really quick combats, such as in the Knightmare gamebooks, where usually, if you decide to fight, you turn to a sudden death paragraph.  Or, combat could be like the Virtual Reality series where you lose a certain number of life depending on your skills and items. These combats offer no options (in the sense that you make a decision during the combat. I don't count choosing the Swordplay skill as an option as you did that before the combat) and almost no involvement.

There are combats that have a lot of choice, but a low level of involvement. This sort of combat usually revolves around being given a set of  options where you have to turn to a section depending on what you want to do. The book then tells you what happens. The examples I can think of appear in books in special combats, probably because since they require a lot of sections, the book would be too involved if every combat needed several sections or there might not be many combats anyway. Examples include the Cyclops fight in Seas of Blood, the fight with Yaemon at the end of Avenger!, the fight with the Hydra in Necklace of Skulls and a few fights in The Coils of Hate.

Some combats have little choice, but a lot of involvement. Most Fighting Fantasy combats are like this, where you have to roll 2 dice for your enemy and 2 dice for you each round and usually the only choice is whether you use luck to increase the damage you deal or reduce the damage your opponent deals to you. In the worst case scenario, the skill difference is so high that the combat is a foregone conclusion and rolling dice is busy work. For example, in Demons of the Deep, you might get into a fight with a skill 6 stamina 16 statue. If your skill is 9 or 10, then you will probably lose about 2 stamina points. If you skill is 11 or more, you will be rolling 2 dice sixteen times, at least (remember that if your attack strength's are equal, then nothing happens and you have just done some die rolling for no result) to determine the small probability that you will lose 2 stamina points. The consequences for such an effort are very low. The aim of breaking combat into rounds means that the same combat would cause you different amounts of damage, which adds more variance to the same combat. This is an admirable goal. However, there is a limit to the amount of involvement I have to go through to achieve that variance. Is there a better way to do it? If not, is the variance worth the involvement? If you are playing an app that does all the busywork for you (or if you play on www.ffproject.com, which just calculates all the rounds in one go)

Contrast to Lone Wolf books where you only have to pick 1 random number per round and there is a possibility of dealing a large amount of damage or even automatically killing your opponent if your Combat Skill is much higher than theirs. Also, in Lone Wolf books, every round results in a change of endurance for at least one combatant.

Finally, some combats have lots of involvement and choice. For example, in the Way of the Tiger books, you usually choose whether to punch, kick or throw your opponent, then make a choice based on that. Sometimes you choose what type of punch, kick or throw you make and sometimes you may be able to use special skills. Then you roll a die to see if you succeed. Destiny Quest is the king of choice in combats. By the time you are completely kitted out, you have many special abilities which you can use. Combat is the main activity in Destiny Quest.

So, we have four extreme points - high choice-high involvement, low choice-high involvement, low choice-low involvement and low choice-high involvement. I've put a few examples on a 2x2 grid.


I don't think there is objectively much of a problem with any point. It depends on what I want at the time. Sometimes, I want to get through a story quickly and reach for a CYOA, but sometimes, I want to exercise my tactical mind and grapple with some probabilities, so I might grab Destiny Quest. I think the only one that  I would like least is low choice, high involvement. This means I would be rolling dice a lot, but not really having any power over the situation. I might get tired of this. Apparently, however, I am not the only one. When I asked Ian Livingston why there was no longer any skill score in Blood of the Zombies (like EVERYONE who met him that day), he replied that people no longer have any time for lots of dice rolls, so he had gone for a simpler system.

I might get tired of high choice, low involvement fights eventually, as they usually involve a set of pre-determined options. Once you have worked out the optimal path, there is no variance in the fight and so it will not be different.

So, I guess that there is no right answer to where you should go on the quadrant. However, I expect that there is a level of too much when it comes to involvement and choice, so the question I need to think about is - is there too much dice rolling here? Is it getting boring? In my first version of Isaac Newton: Badass Ninja Crimefighter, combat would go in rounds. However, I decided that there was too much involvement in that system and the variance was not worth it, so I reduced the combat to one ability roll where you lose more vitality if you fail. Sure, there were only 2 difference amounts of vitality that you could lose, but I had greatly reduced the number of rolls you needed. There is still choice - you can spend will points or use items to get rerolls.

I suppose the best I can do is to make sure I don't go too far in any one way and alienate a lot of people. It's quite hard, since a combat system might look fine on the surface, but particular combats might turn out to be too involved (for example, Fighting Fantasy combats have some tension when the difference in skill is 2 either way. Above this and it's too one sided).

What do you prefer in combats and other tests? Leave a comment!

Happy gamebooking!

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Those pesky lich lords

 Hello all! I am making a blog post on Lich Lords as they seem to pop up all over the place.

The Lich Lord's Lair



This is a Savage Realms solo book by Troy Anthony Schermer and Brian Henson.

Labyrinth: The Lich Lord's Lair: 1 (The Legorian Kings Saga): Amazon.co.uk: TroyAnthony Schermer, Brian Henson and, Shkipin, Ilya: 9781092418386: Books

Troy Anthony Schermer has released a Savage Realms single player gamebook. It is currently on Drive Thru RPG: Balance of Fate: The Legorian Kings Saga - EndGame Gaming | DriveThruRPG.com

Deep Where the Liche Lord Lies



This is a Tunnels and Trolls dungeon. The spelling is a bit off, but it's still pronounced the same.

Deep Where the Liche-Lord Lies - A Descent into Horror By Andy R. Holmes, a GM Adventure for Tunnels & Trolls (tavernmaster-games.co.uk)

The Keep of the Lich Lord




The Keep of the Lich is the 43rd Fighting Fantasy book by Jamie Thomson and Dave Morris.

The Keep of the Lich-Lord: Fighting Fantasy Gamebook 43 (Puffin Adventure Gamebooks) : Jackson, Steve, Livingstone, Ian, Morris, Dave, Thomson, Jamie, Gallagher, David: Amazon.co.uk: Books

It also got turned into a Fabled Lands quest, so you can play it with your Fabled Lands character:

The Keep of the Lich Lord: Volume 1 (Fabled Lands Quests): Amazon.co.uk: Morris, Dave, Thomson, Jamie: 9781909905214: Books

Honorable mentions

Deathlord of Ixia



The Deathlord of Ixia is the 17th Lone Wolf book. You can get it here: Project Aon: Main / The Deathlord of Ixia (browse)

Of course, being a death lord, they are not quite a lich lord, so they go here.

Return of the Witch Lord



The Heroquest campaign involving the Witch Lord. You can get the book and cards here: HeroQuest :: Return of the Witchlord :: English (United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand) :: Ye Olde Inn

It gets an honourable mention because witch rhymes with lich.

A Heroquest remake has been funded, so you might see more Heroquest soon: The Hero Quest Game, Hero Quest Game System - Avalon Hill


Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Savage Realms gamebooks

Hi all! I'm sorry for the late post. Gearing up for work is happening and then I've almost finished the sections for a gamebook (I'll do a post on that another day!) and I got a little too focused on finishing it.

This post is about the Savage Realms gamebook series. This is to coincide with a new release in the series called Balance of Fate.

This post contains information about Savage Realms, Balance of Fate and the artwork here is from Balance of Fate.

You can currently get a pdf of Balance of Fate from Drive Thru RPG


Here are other Savage Realms links:

Savage Realms Gamebooks | Facebook

Savage Realms Gamebooks (@gamebook_adventures) • Instagram photos and videos

Savage Realms Gamebooks (@SGamebooks) / Twitter


Keep an eye out for it.

Balance of Fate is 715 pages long with over 80 illustrations and fillustrations combined. It is the culmination of over 3 years of writing for me so I'm very excited to finally be sharing it with the world.

More people are going to be writing for the Savage Realms gamebooks series. James Hirons is one of those people.


He never gets invited to parties because
he has nobody to go with.

Here is an except from the book:

It is late afternoon when you unexpectedly stumble upon the remnants of a long and forgotten city from a bygone era. The crumbling ruins have long since been invaded by the forest, and with the exception of a few miniature, boar-like creatures darting in and out of hiding, the place appears to be deserted. An uncanny and unsettling silence hangs heavily over the place, even more so than what you experienced in the forest.

With little alternative but to continue moving forward, you pick your way through what was obviously the city’s gates at one time. Before you and flanked on both sides by the advanced architecture of the ancient and long-dead metropolis, is a broad, paved avenue that seems to run right through the middle of the city. Almost immediately, you are confronted with the uncomfortable sensation that you are being watched. Looking up, you are startled to discover that the rooftops and upper story windows of every building are literally lined with monkeys. What makes this even more disturbing and unsettling, is the fact that every one of them is just sitting there motionless and staring down at you in silence.


A story with a sting in the tail.

A short time later, the avenue finds its end and you find yourself standing at the edge of a large, circular plaza and what seems to be the very heart of the city itself.

Suddenly, a shrill, pulsating hum fills the air and begins to reverberate throughout the city. Quickly finding cover inside a nearby building, you watch in terrified astonishment as a large, saucer-shaped object descends from the sky above, coming to rest in the air just above the plaza. Its appearance is like that of liquefied metal and as it hovers in midair, its mirror-like surface reflects the entire panorama of the sky, the city, and even the surrounding forest. Even as you stand there transfixed and wondering what manner of sorcery this is, an opening materializes in the bottom of the floating phenomenon and a flat, disc-like object emerges and gently lands in the plaza.

For several moments you wait, watching intently from your place of hiding, but nothing happens...

Pressing on, you have not ventured far when the passage makes an abrupt swing to the left, and it is here that the way forward becomes significantly smaller and more narrow. Worse still, the tunnel begins to dip down and is now partially submerged underwater ― no doubt caused by massive flooding within this particular area.


Jawsome

Deciding the best course of action is to keep moving forward, you slowly and cautiously step down into the crystal-clear, knee-deep water with Avril-Lyn close behind you. It soon becomes apparent as you plod along that, although gradual, the water is definitely getting deeper. By this time, the water level has reached your waist and with the ceiling rapidly getting closer and closer with each passing moment, you quickly realize at this rate, the passageway will soon be beneath the water entirely. It is not long before you find yourselves standing neck-deep with the ceiling now just barely above your heads.

“Looks like we’re going for a swim,” says Avril-Lyn wryly. “Fortunately, it just so happens I have a spell for such an occasion as this...” 

The sorceress utters an incantation, and much to your complete surprise and utter amazement, gills instantly appear on both sides of your neck and on Avril-Lyn’s as well! Slipping beneath the surface of the water, you marvel as the filaments within your newly-formed gills immediately begin extracting the dissolved oxygen from the water, enabling you to breathe with ease as you resume your path forward.

Kicking your feet and using your hands and arms to maneuver, you are astonished by how clean and clear the water is. The very same bluish-green crystals that illuminated the passages before now light the way forward with a ghostly underwater glow, at the same time, allowing you to see quite some distance ahead.

He's not 'armless

The watery passage continues its downward slope, simultaneously meandering back and forth in true aimless fashion. After a span, it begins to rapidly expand, and before long, you find yourselves in a massive, underwater grotto teeming with an abundance of life, both plant and animal. You quickly realize what you initially thought was just a flooded passageway is actually part of a much-larger and vibrant, underwater ecosystem fed by an underground spring. Schools of fish swim in 

synchronicity as they zigzag as one through the water, while still other, more solitary individuals dart in and out of the aquatic flora growing copiously all over the floor of the cave. You also see several strange, bioluminescent, tentacled creatures closely resembling jellyfish hovering in place as if suspended from above by an invisible line. Fascinated, you stretch out your hand to touch one, but it quickly glides away.

Carefully assessing your underwater surroundings, you notice at least three passages diverging from the cavern you and Avril-Lyn are currently in. A mysterious light source emanates from the passageway to your immediate right. In addition, there is also a passageway almost directly above you and the opening of another just ahead on the cavern floor...

No words will ever accurately convey the horrific scene that now meets your eyes as you enter the throne room. It is a sight so grisly and so ghastly as to make even the bravest of adventurers grow faint of heart. Thousands of human skulls adorn the walls in a grotesque exhibit of the macabre ― a mass grave literally put on display in this gruesome chamber of horrors! The very same, knee-deep, supernatural mist swirls about the entire room and a low, ethereal hum only adds to the frightening reality of the moment now before you.  

At the far end of the immense and elongated chamber, and rising up and out of the mist like a mountaintop breaching the clouds, is a massive throne composed completely out of skulls. Seated on the throne is the Dark Overlord himself, the Lich Lord, Sineus ― his withered hands clutching a staff pulsating with dark and evil magic. You can also see the skeletal remains of his many victims scattered about the dais and stairs before him. 

“Foolish mortal!” the Lich Lord sneers from his throne, his voice resonating throughout the chamber. “By your own hand, you have sealed your fate on this day! But your pain will not end with your death, for my wrath will be cruelly exacted upon your soul!”

Erupting into maniacal laughter, the Lich Lord slams the butt end of his staff to the floor, and then, raising it towards the ceiling, launches a devastating blast of energy at you…

You can currently get a pdf of Balance of Fate from Drive Thru RPG

Other links:

Savage Realms Gamebooks | Facebook

Savage Realms Gamebooks (@gamebook_adventures) • Instagram photos and videos

Savage Realms Gamebooks (@SGamebooks) / Twitter


History of Savage Realms

There were two Savage Realms books that were created by Brian Henson and Troy Anthony Schermer. Troy is now doing gamebooks as a solo effort.

Its current releases are:

Labyrinth: The Lich Lord's Lair: 1 (The Legorian Kings Saga): Amazon.co.uk: TroyAnthony Schermer, Brian Henson and, Shkipin, Ilya: 9781092418386: Books

Not only can it be played as a solo quest, but it can also be modified to be a 4-player co-op, with each of the multiple storylines contained within culminating in the final, climactic confrontation with the Lich Lord, himself!


Escape from Darkmoor Keep: Amazon.co.uk: TroyAnthony Schermer, Brian Henson and, Shkipin, Ilya: 9798564564748: Books

Killing the Lich Lord was just the beginning.... Now, with no memory or knowledge of how you got there or even why, you find yourself trapped on the mysterious and savage island of Darkmoor Keep. But can you survive long enough to solve the mystery, or will you become just another one of the island's many casualties?


Savage Realms Gamebooks | Facebook

Savage Realms Gamebooks (@gamebook_adventures) • Instagram photos and videos

Savage Realms Gamebooks (@SGamebooks) / Twitter

Thursday, December 30, 2021

2022

Hi all! Here is a list of things that are going on in 2022!

I hope you all have a happy new year. Stay safe!

Competitions

The Lindenbaum competition for short gamebook fiction is still going. Entries need to be in by midnight on February 1st (by the end of January 31st).

Lloyd of Gamebooks: The Lindenbaum prize for short gamebook fiction 2021/2022

Gamebook releases

I VIRUS by Adam Mitchell

I VIRUS is getting a re- release and expansion hopefully due in early to mid next year

Maglanian Chronicles by Joe Cheal

Book 2 is in the making.

Black Dog Gamebooks

Varney the Vampyr book 2 nearly ready . A novel with a separate extra 115 section gamebook

Troy Anthony Schermer

Balance of Fate: The Legorian Kings Saga drops soon and will be the first volume in the all-new Savage Realms Gamebooks series. 

Balance of Fate is 715 pages long with over 80 illustrations and fillustrations combined. It is the culmination of over 3 years of writing for me so I'm very excited to finally be sharing it with the world.

Here are some illustrations from the gamebook.



Authors David Gillson Lowrie, Pat ONeill, and Matthew Hollis Damon have signed on to contribute additional gamebooks to the series.

Destiny Quest

Michael J. Ward will be running a Kickstarter for book 5 around April time. The RPG will also be out at some point. 

Flights of fancy » DestinyQuest (destiny-quest.com)


Solo RPGs

A Dungeons and Dragons solo adventure, Caught in a Wizard's Web is due out in March. You can follow its progress here: Dungeons & Dragons Solo Adventures | Facebook


Other stuff

The Interactive Fiction Database - IF and Text Adventures (ifdb.org)#


What will I do in 2022?

In 2022, I plan on finishing Rulers of the NOW and then restarting my regular SCRAWL 

Saturday, December 25, 2021

December news and upcoming January news

 Hello all. Happy holidays! I hope you had a lovely Christmas. Here is the latest news in December and January. Lots of things to do in the quiet, dark nights.

Crowdfunding

Ronin 47 by Jonathan Green is still going. Back it quickly!

RONIN 47 - A Mech-Vs-Kaiju ACE Gamebook | Indiegogo

Competitions

The Lindenbaum competition for short gamebook fiction is still going. Entries need to be in by midnight on February 1st (by the end of January 31st).

Lloyd of Gamebooks: The Lindenbaum prize for short gamebook fiction 2021/2022

Blogs

Mrs Giggles

Mrs Giggles has some new gamebook reviews! She has reviewed the latest Fighting Fantasy ones, the Tunnel of Issoth (a Tunnels and Trolls solo adventure). She has done many other gamebooks reviews, but you need to go through the list as she has organised them by set order and not chronological order.

Itch

I found out that you could search gamebooks on Itch.io, so you can keep up with gamebook releases.

Top physical games tagged gamebook - itch.io

New releases

The Armchair General

Assume the role of real Generals, Leaders, Soldiers and Intelligence Officers in the Allied Forces during WWII, including Winston Churchill and President Eisenhower.

The Armchair General (penguin.co.uk)

Plague of the Undead

Coming soon...

Published by Red Ruin Publishing and available on drivethrurpg and itch.io, for free. Uses the Dragon Warriors rules and set in the land of Legend. Should be released sometime in January. Blurb:

The town of Overdale is under attack from within! Night after night, the walking dead rise from their graves to stalk the streets. YOU have volunteered to investigate, but will your skills - in combat, the arcane arts or trickery - be enough to save the people of this once peaceful town?

FightingFantasy.net

Jason Archer is working on an online version of Can you Brexit without Breaking Britain?

FightingFantasy.Net Homepage - Welcome Adventurer!

Atariquest

AtariQuest is an interactive novel based on the retro gaming trend, as it is set in the world of Atari 2600 console games. You can read more about it here:

https://venturebeat.com/2021/12/23/atariquest-is-an-interactive-novel-based-on-400-plus-atari-2600-games/amp/

Savage Realms Gamebooks

Balance of Fate: The Legorian Kings Saga will be out soon!

Savage Realms Gamebooks | Facebook

Choice of Games

Pon Para and the Unconquerable Scorpion

Pon Para and the Unconquerable Scorpion is a 742,000-word interactive fantasy novel by Kyle Marquis, and the sequel to Pon Para and the Great Southern Labyrinth. Your choices control the story. It’s entirely text-based—without graphics or sound effects, and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

Witchcraft U

You’re a fresh-faced new student at Larkspur University, a college for witches that began accepting mundanes a few decades ago. (Strangely, the mundanes never seem to notice the witches.) It’s your first time living away from home, and that means new spells, new friends, and new opportunities for romance!

Faerie’s Bargain: The Price of Business

Faerie’s Bargain: The Price of Business is a 300,000-word interactive fantasy novel by Trip Galey where your choices control the story. It’s entirely text-based—without graphics or sound effects—and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

DL Lewis

Army of Bones, the sequel to The Demon Sorcerer is coming!

https://www.facebook.com/dllewisgamebooks/

Tin Man Games

Tin Man Games is releasing To Be Or Not To Be for the Switch.

https://youtu.be/UnErEQSrwQo

A Branching Narrative

December's release is going to involve the hero from Arcane Rites.

Derilion Returns for December - by Simon Birks (substack.com)

Podcasts

Instadeath Survivors' Support Group

Instadeath Survivors' Support Group has released a Christmas Episode - a playthrough of Twas the Krampus Night before Christmas.

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

Interactive Fiction and Gamebooks discussion group

In January, the group is discussing the Vulcanverse gamebooks.

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

Reddit

Simple Choose Your Own Adventure/Gamebook Engine Designer Needed! : gameDevClassifieds (reddit.com)