Sunday, December 30, 2012

Why 2012 was the year of the gamebook

Back in January, Tin Man Games published a post entitled 'Why will 2012 be "The year of the gamebook"?  Here's why...'

Let's have a look back on this post and see what has happened this year.

1)  Gamebook Adventures is coming to Android

Yes it did!  It also came to PC and Mac via Desura.  Nice work on expanding the market there!

2)  Fighting Fantasy's 30th Anniversary.

This wonderful milestone brought us Blood of the Zombies, a talk from Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone at Dragonmeet , it almost bought us a documentary and it may bring us a book on the history of Fighting Fantasy by Jonathan Green.  Thanks to Fighting Fantasy's 30th anniversary, I met both Steve and Ian (twice) this year :).

3)  Dredd

Yes!  Tin Man Games released a Judge Dredd gamebook and they are planning on releasing another one next year :).

4)  The rise of the gamebook blogs.

I was very flattered to be mentioned in this post.  I've not been able to give Lone Tiger as much love as I would like but there are plenty more gamebook blogs out there to enjoy.  Just have a look at The Gamebook Feed to see what's out there.  

5)  Gary Chalk illustrating gamebooks again.

Yes he is.  Look out for Gun Dogs which will be out in 2013.

6)  Gamebooks on other digital platforms.

Oh yes.  Keep an eye out for the projects mentioned in the Tin Man's post.

7)  Jonathan Green writing for GA again.

I'm looking forward to this one...

8)  Fighting Fantazine

I love the hard work that Alex has put into the Fanzine.  It is a hub of gamebook love and I look forward to more editions.  Look out for some contributions by yours truly too.

9)  Supernatural romance hots up.

TMG released Vampire Boyfriends this year, probably as an antidote to the bromide of the Twilight series.

10)  Stuff that can't be mentioned.

Maybe they meant stuff like House of Hell being released or maybe the Fire*Wolf series by H.B Brennan.  Or maybe they meant even more stuff...

Other stuff that happened included Frankenstein by Dave Morris being released and Fabled Lands 5 and 6 being republished.  

What about next year?  

It seems that Dave and Jamie have big plans for 2013 as does Tin Man Games.  Shane Garvey has also made a gamebook RPG system which I was honored to help with which will involve lots of gamebooks and that is just the tip of the iceberg.  Here's to 2013!  

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas one and all!

Here's to a merry Christmas and a happy new year!  Many thanks for all of your support, ladies and gentlemen, it is much appreciated.

I look forward to all the delights on 2013!

Remember to fill up on petrol.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The End

Good day to you all!  I hope you are all having a good Yule season.  However, today's post is not about Christmas.  Since it is most definitely not December 21st in any time zone of the world as you read this, I can gladly announce that we have all survived yet another apocalypse. 

Only those people living in a cave, scared that the Millenium Bug would launch all the world's nuclear missiles and cause a nuclear winter would not have heard that 21st December 2012 was the date that the Mayan calendar would end its cycle and therefore the world would end.  Because that's what happens when calendars end. 
So, instead of making a Christmassy post, I thought I would do an apocalypse themed post because Christmas is the same date every year whereas we may have to wait a while before the next apocalypse (which may be in 2038 or you can take your pick from this list). 

I feel kind of sad for the end of the world dates as they seem to get too overshadowed by public holiday to get any kind of proper turn out.  People were too busy celebrating the new year in 2000 to really get into the Millenium bug apocalypse and the Mayan calander end of the world probably never happened because people had to get their Christmas shopping done. 
So, since we are all in one piece, I will present what seems to be the most common sense view from Anvil, the dwarf in Dave Morris's Heroquest novella in The Fellowship of Four.  He has good reason to be skeptical, but since this is Heroquest and he's a dwarf who is talking to a wizard, an elf and a barbarian, you can probably guess that he'll join up with them later.

‘Wait,’ says the sorcerer, ‘aren’t you going to help us?’

‘Help you with what, laddie?’ I say as I wipe my axe and hammer clean with handfuls of snow.

‘Help us with our quest to save the world.  Help us to fight evil.’
'Save the world is it?  Fight evil, eh?  Oh ho.  well the thing is, lad, saving the world always seemed to me to be in the category of Things that really Express the Futility of It All.  You know, no matter how much you do, it's never over washing up.'

'Somebody's got to do it!'

'That's up the them, isn't it?  Me, I eat straight out of the cooking pot and that saves all the bother.'

'Of fighting evil?'

'No, lad,' I say, speaking slower now I realize he's an imbecile. 'Of washing up.'  I stroke my beard, thinking I'd better give him the benefit of my wisdom. 'now listen, I've seen more of the world than you have...'

'I've covered two hundred leagues in the last ten days,' he protests.

'All right, fine...' (it's a good point; I give him that)' you probably have seen more of the world than me.  OK.  but the bits I have seen, I've seen for longer.  And in all my years, do you know how often I've heard this spiel about how the world is going to end?  Pretty damned often, I can tell you.  And what happened?  Well, Take a look around; it's still here.'

Looking forward to seeing you here next week!  In the mean time, I've got to go and do some washing up.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

AFF2 Heroes' Companion

Before you read about this delightful little nugget, have you funded YOU ARE THE HERO yet?


Excellent.  Then let us begin.

Back in April 2011 (wow, that wasa long time ago), I published a wishlist for the 2nd edition of Advanced Fighting Fantasy.  Most of my wishes were granted, but it looks like the Heroes' Companion, the latest addition to the AFF2 collection will grant some more of my wishes and more with its simple yet versatile system.

I picked up this book at Dragonmeet but it will be available online in a few weeks.  Here is a run down of its contents.

Extra special skills and talents

This allows the players to have more options when building their heroes.  Most of the new skills are skills that more experienced heroes will want to learn when they move on from exploring dungeons for gold to spreading their influence across the world, such as battle tactics, leadership and stewardship.  There are several more advanced types of magic to learn and talents that make for more interesting heroes.  The templar talent allows you to create a paladin type hero, which fills a gap as usually, creating a warrior with some magical ability in AFF required a lot of XP to do both well.  Now, with talents such as templar, second sight and clearsight (which allows heroes to identify illusions), combat focused heroes can supplement their talents with a little magic.  There is also a magic resistance talent, a talent for leadership and a talent that negates your opponent's attack if it is the first round of combat.

New magical styles

This also offers plenty more options for players and also for directors to create NPCs.  There are several new magical types.  Tattoo magic is a great addition and also a nod to The Riddling Reaver.  Necromancy, conjuring and chaos magic will allow the director to create interesting NPCs and villains and battle magic will allow the heroes to take on whole armies.  I was glad to see that battle magic spells cost a lot more than normal spells to reflect their large scale effect as it seemed a bit wrong that in Allansia, creating a hail of arrows cost as much stamina as a couple of lighting bolts.  However, the rules allow the battle mage to use magic points from assistants so they do not have to sink all their XP into getting tons of magic points.

We also have more detailed instructions on making magical items, something the first edition AFF covered with a confusing description of a spell that cost 6 stamina in Blacksand.  Here we have a special skill for enchantment along with costs in terms of money, time and magic points.  The method does not cover every specific item so calculations need to be made but it has enough examples for a director to make an educated guess.


We then have a chapter on hirelings which gives rules for heroes to buy services of NPCs quickly and simply.  This allows the players to move on from a ragtag bunch of adventurers to people who can interact and grow in the world of Titan.

Domain management

Speaking of growing in the world, this chapter provides simple rules for owning a domain and making money from it from a small farm to a huge country.

Mass battles

Here are new rules for mass battles.  They are like an amalgamation of the complex and basic rules from Allansia! but they are more versatile covering units in the 10s, 100s or 1000s and also including heroic combats.  There are also rules for siege engines, buildings and standard bearers.  A lot of the mass battle rules needed more elaboration and these have done so without making them more complex.

Wilderness rules

This chapter covers the creation of a wilderness using a similar method to the dungeon generator from the first book (throw six sided dice on a piece of paper, draw a map based on where they land and assign the type of wilderness based on the number thrown).  There are also descriptions of hazards and encounters in the book.


Finally, we have some nasty afflictions that the heroes pick up, which also include a few nods to Vault of the Vampire. These afflictions are meant to create some interesting problems for the character and a hook for an adventure.  For example, curse of the warrior reduces a hero's skill and stamina if they fight, so they will have to find non violent solutions to their problems.

So there we are.  Graham Bottley continues to expand on the AFF2 system whilst at the same time making it  simple yet versatile.  This is not a system for those looking for hardcore realism.  It is more for people who want a fun game without being bogged down by too many rules.  Keep an eye out for it when it finally arrives  on the digital bookshelves.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


It's been a great year for Fighting Fantasy, but the goodness isn't over yet!

Yes, we've had the 30th anniversary of Fighting Fantasy gamebooks this year, marked with the release of Blood of the Zombies in August where many adoring fans turned up to get their copies signed by Ian Livingstone.

The creators of the well loved gamebook series were also present at Dragonmeet where they told us the story of how they brought Fighting Fantasy to us all.  And it was a great story indeed.

Jonathan Green, author of many a great Fighting Fantasy gamebook wants to tell this story and bind it into a book called YOU ARE THE HERO.

To get this mighty tome off the ground, Jon requires £15000 to be raised.  Things are going well, with almost £7000 raised at the time of writing.  Well, this is the time when YOU ARE THE HERO and you can fund this excellent project.

The rewards for funding this book are wonderful.  You can get a pdf of YOU ARE THE HERO if you fund £10, a hard copy for £25.  For £30, you name will be in the acknowledgements part of the book - your name in a piece of FF history.  Other rewards include superb art prints, being interviewed for the book, and, if you have £500, having a lunch with Steve Jackson, Ian Livingstone and Jon Green.  Now that is something to look forward to.

So get on down to the Kickstarter page and show your support to fighting Fantasy :)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Artist profile - Tony Hough

When I was younger, I would look at the front cover of Night Dragon made by the talented artist, Tony Hough and think of only one word - awesome!

The cover said it all. Here was a dragon that all other dragons feared.  It wasn't like a normal dragon as it looked like it had some biomechanical enhancements to it.  It's chest looks deliciously gigerian as if it is not just a dragon but some kind of xenomorph dragon hybrid.  Magic was flowing out of its claws as if there was too much magic inside it to be contained and its head contained an eerie blue glow, not like the traditional fire of those mediocre modern day dragons.  Oh yeah.  You don't mess with the Night Dragon.
Tony Hough has illustrated the interior of Spectral Stalkers, Night Dragon, Knights of Doom and Bloodbones.  He has also illustrated the covers for Night Dragon and Knights of Doom.
Tony has also done some excellent artwork which you can buy from here.  You can also commission him to do some art that you might want.

You can take a look at Tony's website here where he has many more excellent pieces.  You can also follow his blog.  So have a look.  

Monday, December 3, 2012

Dragonmeet 2012

Goblins and
First of all, apologies for the lateness in my post.  I always try to get them out on Sunday and most of the time, I achieve this by bulk writing posts when I have the time and then scheduling them.  However, this one could not be scheduled as it was about the great experience I had (and gained) from Dragonmeet 2012, where I met up with lots of gamebookers and other great people in the gaming community.

I met up with Emil before the convention to  have a little discussion about Goblin's Bounty, which is coming along very nicely.  I also had a demo for people to play at the convention.

The fans are enraptured.
I then got to the convention in time for Steve Jackson's and Ian Livingstone's talk '30 years of Fighting Fantasy' where they entertained us with stories about them living in a van together,  being accused of making children fly with their books and how their first shop was so small, they had to leave it whenever a customer came in.  There was also lots of good stuff about the future of Fighting Fantasy where they announced that House of Hell will be the second fighting Fantasy gamebook to be released by the Tin Man and Jonathan Green announced that he is planning to write a book about the history of Fighting Fantasy and that there will be a kickstarter for it soon.

After the talk, I had a great chat with Tony Hough, artist, who has put his talents into illustrating some Fighting Fantasy books and is also responsible for my favorite Fighting Fantasy cover.
This is not Tony Hough - this
is my favorite FF cover.
Now this is Tony Hough.

We bonded over our mutual love of Terry Gilliam and manga and he told me some very interesting stories about his illustrations, which are awesome.

If you want to see more of his work, you can view his black and white drawings here and his colour illustrations here.

If you would like to buy any of Tony's art, you can go here.  If you would like to commission him, you can go here.  I'll be doing a post on more of Tony's work next week.

Sam Richards. Tweet RPG master.
I was also approached by Sam Richards of Tweet RPG fame  and we had a good chat about where he wants to take his innovative marriage of gamebooks and Twitter.  I'm looking forward to what is coming up.

I then headed over to the fighting Fantasy stall, noticing Michael J. Ward selling his new Destiny Quest book and made a mental note to talk to him when he wasn't being surrounded by enthusiastic customers.

Jonathan Green
The Warlock.
It was all happening at the Fighting fantasy stall - Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone were signing their adoring fans' Fighting Fantasy books (including mine - thankyou!) whilst the Warlock was selling a variety of Fighting Fantasy merchandise and trying to keep up with the demand.  The Tin Man and Jonathan Green were also there for a chat.  It was gamebook central.

Steve Jackson and the warlock
discuss who gets to ride
the dragon home.

Ian Livingstone talks to a fan whilst being minded
by the Tin Man and Jonathan Green.

Graham Bottley spearheads theAFF2 revival.
The Fighting Fantasy stand was not the only one that had all the gamebook goodness on it, however.  I also visited the Arion Games stall where Graham Bottley was selling his latest addition to the Advanced Fighting Fantasy RPG - the Heroes' Companion with its simple yet flexible rules for managing domains, mass battles, wilderness creation, curses, more types of magic and much much more.  Copies will be available from Cubicle 7 in the next six weeks or so, so stay tuned!

Michael J. Ward and myself.
Although it was only 2pm at this point, I was approached by Michael J. Ward who had closed his stall down because he had actually sold out of the Destiny Quests that he had bought with him.  It was great to finally meet Michael who had created the Destiny Quest series.  I was glad to hear that there is a third book in the works, planned for late 2013.  Until then, you have the Heart of Fire to beat.

The day went too fast but I also managed to squeeze in a game of Lords of War, a card game where fantasy races battle it out.  It was a close and enjoyable game, so I'm glad I played it.

It was an excellent day and I heartily look forward to next year's Dragonmeet.  I have plenty more posts to write about the day, such as a review of the AFF2 Heroes' Companion, Destiny Quest 2 and new projects from various people.

In the mean time, check out the Tin Man's 12 days of gamebooks and updates from YOU ARE THE HERO, the title of Jonathan Green's history of FF blog (also on Twitter) and back Goblin's Bounty to make it even better!

There's plenty to do in the world of gamebooks, so get stuck in!

Lastly, here's a picture of myself and Ian Livingstone :) (thanks, Ian Livingstone!)