Saturday, January 8, 2011

Happy new year!

Happy new year!

I have been neglecting the blog recently - december is both a hectic and a tiring time for me at work and  then there are all the holidays.  However, I am now refreshed and relaxed.  You could say that my stamina has been replenished. 

However, I have been working quietly away and keeping my finger on the pulse. 

First of all, there is a new gamebook blog, written by Andrew Wright who has also written tons of great gamebooks which you can find on

The blog can be found on:

It has only been active for a short time, but it already contians several well written posts with references for further reading.  In fact, it was Andrew's post about gamebook blogs that has inspired this post as it showed me that people are taking notice that I haven't updated yet. 

So read it - it is really informative.  Andrew's latest posts contain a great review of Heart of Ice, a gamebook by Dave Morris.  You can find it on his blog for free (it is half way down the page).  I'm ashamed to say that I haven't read it yet, but I am putting it on the top of my list.

Secondly, it was announced that Advanced Fighting Fantasy (AFF) is being revised, re-written and reorganised by Arion games.  It is due to be released in Spring 2011.  The website for the new Advanced Fighting Fantasy is here:

I am looking forward to it.  I have the AFF gamebooks and I enjoyed the unique way in which it was presented.  Adventures were presented as films with scenes, characters and props.  The approach did not take itself too seriously, either, which I enjoyed.  It made the book an entertaining read for the director while they were planning an adventure.

The side of me that was all about games mechanics noticed a few things though (and when I was younger, I went through a phase that was all about games mechanics.  Sometimes I would scan gamebook paragraphs to see if I needed to changed stats or gain an item and jsut ignored all the lovely description that the author had gone to lots of trouble to write - sorry!).

First of all the old problem of having a skill range between 7 and 12 was exacerbated by the rule that every point in skill you had allowed you to pick a point in a special skill. 

The value of that special skill was your skill + the number of points you had allocated to that skill (maximum 4).

This means that a skill 7 character had 7 points to use and the maximum value they could have was 11.

A skill 12 person had 12 points to use and the maximum value they could have was 16.  The minumum value they could have was 13.

So a skill 12 character could have 12 special skills with a value of 13, while a skill 7 character could have a value of 11 for their best skill and only 3 points left to spend. 

I also think that there needs to be clarification on what the skills do and how balanced the skills are.  Some skills overlap with others.

The scouting skill allowed you to sneak and hide outdoors.  However, there was already a sneak and hide skill.

The heavy armoured combat skill which allowed you to fight in heavy armour.  However, there were no rules for what heavy armour did.

There was a battle combat skill and siege combat skill which allowed the character to fight well in a mass battle and siege.  What did that mean exactly? 

Excellent vision and excellent hearing are both  self explanatory, but there is also an awareness skill which allows the character to detect anything. 

The strength skill allowed you to increase the damage you inflict in combat by 1 - I'll have that one!  Heal allowed you to restore other peoples' stamina. 

The magic system also needs tidying up.  There was a priest magic list and a sorcerer magic list.  However, they were too similar.  Priests had offensive spells and sorcerers had healing spells.  Priests had to follow a moral code of their god or be excommunicated and lose the chance to learn more spells. They only had a few spells that sorcerers did not have.  Sorcerers, on the other hand, could do what they liked and had lots of spells that priests could not access.

I just read what I wrote and realised that I was sounding a bit down on AFF.  I enjoyed reading the books immensly.  I was never able to find a group to play with, but I'm sure I would have liked it.  These issues are easily tidied up and I look forward to the new releases!

I am working on my post about endings in gamebooks which are a result of bad choices (I really wanted to say bad endings there, but that would be ambiguous).  However, I am getting sucked in to reading a lot of endings.  A lot of them are very entertaining.


  1. Hi Stu,

    Nice post and thanks for the shout-out!

    Old AFF was definitely buggy. I started working out a system on Titan Rebuilding, where everyone starts off as novice adventurers with a SKILL of 6, 7, or 8, but it certainly wasn't perfect. I think it all began here:

    (and sprawls badly across the posts for months and months)

    Like you I'm really looking forward to seeing what Arion Games do with it - it could be very cool!



  2. Thanks for the link Andy,

    I like the idea of starting adventurers out with much weaker stats as it gives characters more challenges, it gives them more opportunities to advance and it is more realistic.

    I would still prefer players to choose whatever skills they like, probably because I like the idea of a firebolt flinging warrior. However, the idea of class is more realistic and stops characters who can do EVERYTHING.

    I also like the new special skills.

    I will complete all the posts soon...

  3. Thanks for the link dear andy