Sunday, August 5, 2012

My Blood of the Zombies signing experience or: How I ended up having a pint with Ian Livingstone

About my trip to Forbidden Planet


Having never been to a book signing before, I looked up how early I need to be for them.  Yahoo answers suggested 4 hours but I didn't go that early.  I went two hours early at 1pm to find someone else doing a book signing and decided to look at the various Call of Cthulu modules on offer.  At half one, I decided to go for a little walk and returned at about two to find a rack of Blood of the Zombies being wheeled out in preparation for Ian Livingstone. 



I noticed that there were two other people who were also eyeing up this treasure trove and they turned out to be the Tin Man, who is going to release the digital version of Blood of the Zombies and the Warlock.  It was great to finally meet them in person and have a good old natter over a pint nearby before heading on over to meet the man himself.

But that was not all.  Whilst waiting to have my book signed, I also bumped into Torallion and Tony Hough, fighting fantasy artist and we all had a good old chat.

Upon meeting Ian Livingstone himself, I became a bit of gibbering wreck.  I managed to ask him why he had removed skill and luck from the book and he answered that people don't have time to fight combats any more but he then assured me that I will still die on my first two or three attempts.  So no change there then. 

I also asked him if he wanted to write more books and he said that he certainly enjoyed writing Blood of the Zombies.  So I think that if we show him that we want one badly enough, he will oblige. 

Ian stayed over his allocated hour to sign some books and afterwards I headed to the pub with Torallion.  After a brief diversion to a games shop where he showed me Arkham Horror (Lovecraftian boardgame =brilliant!) which I ahve just ordered.  We talked gamebooks, MMOS, MUDS and roguelikes before the Tin Man and the Warlock joined us.  We were then joined by Ian Livingstone himself!  In the pub!  Where we talked more and I managed to speak in complete sentences without gushing. 

It was a most excellent day and I hope that there will be another signing soon (get writing, Ian!)

There is another chance to see Ian Livingstone.  He will be making an appearance at the Edinbught festival on the 11th August 2012, doing a talk about Blood of the Zombies at 10am and doing a talk at 2pm.

One of my Twitter pals, writer of awesome martial arts fiction and Way of the Tiger RPG, David Walters will be there to talk to Ian Livingstone.



About Blood of the Zombies

The book has an introduction from Ian Livingstone.  He states that he was originally going to do a Firetop Mountain themed book but he didn't want to do one without Steve Jackson.  He then wanted to do a zombie themed book in Allansia but then decided to change it to the modern world and that it was a big decision for him.

It would be fair to say that a lot of Ian Livingstone's older books are populated with high skill opponents making a lot of combats difficult.  Well, I can tell you now that it definitely isn't the case in this book.  That's because you don't have skill in this book.  Nope.  Not at all.  You don't have a luck score either. 

'Then how is combat resolved?' I hear you ask.



Glad you asked.  Instead of skill, you have a stat called damage.  If you are unarmed, your damage is 1d6-3.  In the examples in the rules, Ian mentions that a knife has a damage rating of 1d6, a machine gun (nice!) has a rating of 2d6 + 5 and a shotgun (a must in anything zombie related) has a damage of 1d6 +5. 

You still have a classic stamina score of 2d6 +12.

Combat is in rounds but instead of computing attack strengths, you take turns at hitting each other.  First you are told how many zombies you are facing.  Each zombie has 1 stamina point.  You then calculate the damage you inflict with your weapon.  Each point kills off a zombie.  When its the zombies' turn, each zombie automatically inflicts 1 point of damage on you.  You then go back to damaging the zombies.

My first thought was that this will make combat fairer as the amount of damage you deal is dependent on your weapon - something you can change and improve over the course of the adventure.  Your skill score was usually static and if it sucked, you were stuck with it until some monster mercifully made mincemeat of you.

however, as I stated above, Ian Livingstone assured me that the book is still very difficult as if not more difficult.

However, I can't talk about it any more because I've refrained from playing it because I'm going to do a playthrough with Scott Malthouse. Keep your eyes peeled for that.

I can say that there are plenty of Easter eggs in the gamebook.  The background contains a location name that is meaningful to Ian when he first started writing Fighting Fantasy.  There is also the obligatory depiction of Ian in an illustration and there's also a reference to Zagor.  So that's something else to keep your eye out for.








We're all playing Blood of the Zombies.  Join us! 
You can buy Blood of the Zombies from Amazon. 

There will be an electronic version released by Tin Man Games...coming soon!


35 comments:

  1. Oh man, fangasm. That's awesome! I wish I'd been there... All that great gamebooking goodness in one place!

    I'm very impressed that you managed to speak in complete sentences without gibbering. I'm not sure I could have managed ;)

    I'm looking forward to the playthrough you'll be doing with Scott Malthouse!

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    1. It was touch and go about the full sentences. Ian asked me if I wanted a number in my book (as in which number book in the queue he had signed) and I couldn't answer straight. I then apologised to the people behind me.

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  2. Oh you lucky, lucky thing. Even meeting local celebrities like Chris Lackey who does HP Podcraft had me tongue-tied, so I can't imagine what I would be like talking to a legend like Ian. Sounds like you had a great time, although I feel bad for making you wait! My copy is shipping from Forbidden Planet (signed - couldn't miss out on that' so hopefully it will be here by Tuesday.

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    1. I love HP Podcraft. All good things come to those who wait :). I'm looking forward to getting killed in all kinds of crazy ways.

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  3. Darn, wish I could have come along now - was in two minds. Would have been great to have a pint with you all (and the great Ian Livingstone himself). Maybe next time!

    Bit scared Ian said 'People don't have time for combat any more...' Wonder what he makes of DestinyQuest. Probably not a lot then lol.

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    1. Hello Michael,

      Some may say I have defected but I unashamedly bought a copy of your gamebook yesterday at Forbidden Planet, signed and with bookmark. Now to check out the competition!

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    2. Oh excellent! I'm honoured - and more than a little bit nervous. Hope you enjoy it :)

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    3. I thoroughly enjoyed your book Michael - great work and a fun challenge

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    4. When the combat has as much variety as you give it, I do have time for it. It would be nice to meet up at some point!

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  4. I know what it felt like the first time I met Ian myself but I have got used to it now and definitely know what you felt like Stuart. It was great to meet the fans and even have a pint with the best of them. Some of us even got to see a sneak preview of the book on the iPad!

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    1. Things like THAT are reasons as to why I should look into buying an iPad one day... :)

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    2. I do now. I'll try to speak properly if the time arises again.

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  5. I think you can just about see my leg in that photo with the trolley of green-spines there! Gah, I really wish we'd have planned to meet up at this beforehand. Ian was a lovely chap, very friendly and it was a great excuse to get up to London for the day!

    On the good news, my experiment worked and my kindle posted my playthrough of Caverns of the Snow Witch to my blog while I was on the train yesterday. Yay for technology! :)

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    1. On closer inspection, no, those ain't my shoes.

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    2. I'm reading COTSW playthrough now and enjoying it. Very appropriate for meeting Ian Livingstone.

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  6. I've exhausted my jealous vibes of missing this day enough already, so I'll instead express my slight surprise at you only just discovering Arkham Horror and its plethora of expansions. It's simply fantastic. One more point of note - don't you find the Skill and Luck removal affect the whole Fighting Fantasy feel of the book? As in, does it feel less like an FF book without them there? I'm merely curious :P

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    1. That's an interesting question. I'll play it and tell you if I get the Fighting Fantasy feel from it. That also leads into a discussion about what makes Fighting Fantasy Fighting Fantasy (or any gamebook series for that matter).

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    2. Aboiut Arkham Horror: I know! I love Lovecraft and I have the Call of Cthulu RPG book. I'm looking forward to Arkham horror. I've been warned that victory is nearly impossible which is what I would expect from a Lovecraft based game. Him and Ian Livingstone would get on.

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    3. Never played Arkham Horror before? How about we have a game at this gamebook gathering then? :)

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    4. I don't own Arkham Horror myself but I recall games taking quite a while. One step at a time, we need to actually organise the gathering first! :)

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    5. If we're playing Arkham Horror at this gathering, we'll need to meet before midday if we're going to have any chance of getting everyone up to speed on the rules and then having time for a full game :)

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    6. There's a PDF of the rules here, which might help:

      http://new.fantasyflightgames.com/edge_minisite_sec.asp?eidm=6&esem=4

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    7. If Arkham Horros is too long, I also have:

      Last Night on Earth (90 minutes max as games are timed)

      Illuminati (By the OTHER Steve Jackson, can take quite long too)

      an RPG scenario I devised for the FF forum but never finished (they're back up now, though) which I could rehash for AFF2.

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    8. If you're after an anti RPG game for the gathering I have quite a few Munchkin base sets and expansions. Those of us with Destiny Quest could bring our hero sheets to make the most of those 2 player rules that exist :)

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  7. It was a very enjoyable day and great to meet you, as well as the Tin Man, Jamie and of course Ian himself. I greeted him just after he entered the shop when there was no-one else around to pester him, and I too was a gibbering 11 year old at that point! By the time I got my book signed I'd managed to pull myself together a bit and asked a few questions. Will be blogging about this soon, of course :)

    Hope you enjoy Arkham Horror...

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  8. Ah man. Sounds great. I was toying with the idea of heading down there myself but didn't make it. Very jealous, but can't help thinking I'd have ended up ranting at Ian like some demented weirdo.

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  9. Nice post. I saw you there, I was Zombie #60 :]

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  10. Boy, I am jealous. Seems I'm on the wrong continent for gamebooks. Glad you all had a great time!

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  11. Very disappointed I couldn't make it myself. (And the 30th anniversary of all things!)

    However, I clearly need a nickname too. We have the Tin Man, the Warlock, Torallion...

    Any ideas? Or daren't I ask?!?

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    1. Since you work with the Tin Man, you could be the Lion or the Scarecrow. I'll lean towards Lion since he's got brains :)

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  12. I started playing it on the train home and got utterly munced after just a few paragraphs....now on about my fourth attempt and have got a lot further! Now I have that machine gun....but I'm still expecting to die at any minute!! Smashing stuff!!

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  13. This is so cool! So happy for you, dude!

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