Sunday, July 28, 2013

Computer Games - Deadly Rooms of Death, Architects' edition

Our hero, Beethro Budkin
This game is a gem and what's more it's free and it is only an early version of a huge collection of Deadly Rooms of Death (DROD) games.

What makes DROD so great?  It is an exploration and puzzle game with simple rules but infinite variety.

The premise is simple.  You are Beethro Budkin, a dungeon exterminator who has been hired by the king to clear his dungeons of all the monsters infesting them so that his prisoners can be tortured in conditions that pass health and safety checks.

With your specialist equipment (A really big sword), you delve into the dungeon.

Each dungeon is made up of rooms, each room being a different puzzle.  The aim of each room is to kill all of the monsters and leave the room.  Once you have completed the level, you can move on to the next one.

A room full of cockroaches.  The
yellow circle is a switch which
will open or close one or more doors.
The arrows are one way squares.
This game is not what it sounds like, however.  It is far far better.  It is a turn based game and combat is resolved by sticking your sword in a square where there's a monster.  You do this by moving or turning.  The trick to winning a combat is planning your movements and understanding the strategy of the particular monster so that they end up falling on your sword.

Cockroaches, for example, have no intelligence and head straight for you.  They will just walk into your sword.  However, goblins flee if they can see that you are close to being able to impale them and so they are more tricky monsters to kill.

The aim of each room is to kill all
of the monsters and open the
green door (bottom left).
There are other special tiles which have certain effects.  For example, there are  one way tiles, switches which open, close or toggle certain doors when you hit them with your sword (you have to experiment in order to work out the combinations of doors to open) and potions which allow you to make a mimic of Beethro which can get to places that you cannot.

Actually, there aren't too many different special objects, but they present infinite combinations and so you could make thousands of possible puzzles from these simple rules.  The Architects' edition allows you to build your own dungeons and rooms which allows you to spend several hours letting your imagination run wild.

The game has nice touches of humour, such as the introduction and the way Beethro grins when he kills something and laughs when he solves a room.  It adds nice character to the game.

As well as being addicitve and engrossing, DROD is a great maths game.  It certainly stretches your brain.  And the best part is that this is just a really old version of DROD.  There are several other  versions which you can buy and which have even more deadly rooms for you to solve.

DROD has shown me that gamebooks do not need a load a complex stats to be fun.  In fact, these stats can be distracting from the game.  My micro adventure, City of the Dead had too many stats for a 81 paragraph gamebook.  I was too intent of creating a system that covered every situation rather than an entertaining gamebook.

Fighting Fantasy books have three stats that don't even cover attributes such as the hero's intelligence, but it hasn't stopped them being hugely successful.  In fact their simplicity probably helped.  You don't need stats for everything if they are not a huge part of the story.  Instead, it is much better to be creative with what stats you have.  A good example of how this is done really well is Destiny Quest.  You only have a few stats, but you can also get lots of abilities which let you make rerolls or give you bonuses or weaken opponents which give you the great challenge of aking the correct decisions to use your abilities wisely.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Ten adventurers I would like to have in my party

When you're going to raid another improbably located dungeon to slay the dangerous monsters to prove yourself at the top of the very loose food chain, you're going to need backup.  Here are ten adventurers who would be helpful to have along as such backup.

Youthful Knight

First, you're going to need someone who can actually get into the fray and deliver the killing blows.  This knight is swift and keen and he can kill most mooks before they have a chance to fight back.

Crossbow Infantry

There will come a point, however, when you are outnumbered and so you will need backup.  This fellow with his sharp eyes will take down any monster that dares get near you.

Steadfast Guard

What if something tries to sneak up on you in the fray?  You will need someone who can keep an eye out and be prepared to defend you no matter what.  This passionate rebel will never let you down.

Ghost Warden

Sometimes, however, you may come across something that can pack more punch than your team.  This spirit of a former companion can offer protection to you in you need it and help you slay those hulks.

Prodigal Pyromancer

Some monsters are impervious to steel which is why you will need a wizard to blast them away and clear your path.  If combat fails then this sorcerer will see the end of these monsters.

Telas Warrior

What if the dungeon is overrun and the treasure is surrounded by a horde of guards?  Instead of getting yourself killed, send in this fellow.  He is able to slip in unnoticed and escape with the loot.

Samite Healer

After the combat has calmed down, wounds will need to be attended to before the next round begins.  That is why it's always useful to have a healer on board.

Minister of Impediments

If retreat is called for then this magician can slow down the pursuers giving the gang a chance of escape.

Seeker of Skybreak

Everyone needs to rest at some time, which is why its important to have a lookout.  This alert elf can spot trouble and energise the party to stand against it.

Stonework Puma

Finally, there is nothing more dependable than a construct.  It does not need air, water, food or sleep.  It can go places that mortals fear to tread and it is without mercy.  It is a fine companion to have on such a quest.

That's ten companions that you could bring with you on a quest.  It certainly would make Firetop Mountain easier.

Until next week...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Five more stupid decisions that you can make in gamebooks

1) Obeying the 'No weapons beyond this point' sign in Deathtrap Dungeon.


Walking along, you see a red line painted across the tunnel floor and notice a sign on the wall which reads: 'No weapons beyond this point'.  If you wish to abandon any weapons before continuing north, turn to 389.  If you would rather ignore this notice and carry on north, turn to 181.

You're in a dungeon full of deathtraps.  You've overcome them all to be faced by a red line and a sign.  Are you actually going to obey it?  If you do, you'll probably be killed by a ninja later on and you will deserve it. 

Chardonnay or type A?
2) Drinking Red Wine in Vault of the Vampire.

Drinking red wine in a Vampire's castle?  This is not red wine, this is blood, and it seems to be still warm! You spit it out in horror. Lose 1 faith point. Taking no more risks, you head for the west door. Turn to 45.

The above paragraph says it all.  If a vampire lives there and there's some red liquid, it's blood.  

You need to be
stern with yourself.
3) Trying to destroy the huge ironclad with your crystal explosive in the Masters of Darkness (Lone Wolf 12).

When you (Lone Wolf) leave to fulfil your mission of destroying some device in Helgedad that helps the Darklords survive outside of their polluted wasteland of a home, you are given three pieces of advice - never remove the amulet that helps you survive in such a hostile climate, never unsheathe the Sommerswerd unless it's to destroy Gnaag and use the crystal explosive to only destroy the device.

Now you may come across a huge ironclad, but you should not use the crystal explosive to destroy it.  For a start, it's not your mission and if you try, Joe Dever rightly kills you off.  Think about this - if you do complete your mission then do you think anyone will be in any fit state to drive the thing?  Of course not.  Think about the bigger picture or, if you can't do that, just do exactly as Banedon tells you.  

4) Using the Dark Veil ability when you confront Myurr in Dead of Night

I love Dead of Night.  It is a great book where you can get some good abilities.  One of them is the Dark Veil ability where you can make yourself invisible.  However, it comes with warnings:

However, this is a trick you have learnt from your study of Demons and so, whenever you use it, your EVIL score will increase.


Be warned, too, that more powerful creatures will be able to sense the veil, though they may not see you and may even know a how to use the veil against you!

So with that in mind, when you face the Demon Prince, Myurr, would you consider him to be a powerful creature?  Of course you would.  He's a Demon Prince!  However, you still get the option of using it and if you do, this happens:

Though you succeed in becoming invisible, you also contrive to give yourself over to the powers of Evil one last time.  Myurr has no trouble seeing you. when he beckons you forward with a mere twitch of his finger, you find yourself compelled to obev.  Your adventure is over.

You get exactly what you deserve.  

5)  Attacking a horde of pirates in Keep of the Lich Lord

There's a load of pirates and two chaos knights.  Just don't attack them.  Get on the ship and kill the captain.  He's far easier to kill.  

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Book That Made Me

Trollish Delver rocks!
Good day to you all!  Two posts in one day!  Surely you are being spoilt!

Anyway, I am blogging about something that Scott Malthouse brought to my attention.  It is The Book That Made Me where people can share the books that changed their lives.  I have put the press release below my links.

My book is a classic about a person yanked out of an ordinary life in order to carry a powerful artefact of doom across a magical fantasy world whilst being pursued by powerful evil creatures.  That's right - it's Talisman of Death.  My first gamebook (you weren't thinking that it wasn't a gamebook, were you?)

So, why don't you head on down to the Waterstones website and write about the book that made you.  You only need 100 words or less, so it won't take long at all.

Waterstones invites readers to share the book that inspired their life-changing moment…

The Book That Made Me…collects readers’ experiences together in order to inspire others.
How many lives have been changed by the words on a page? Waterstones recently launched a campaign with a mission: 'The Book That Made Me…', is looking for the books that have had the biggest impact on the lives of readers everywhere, including writers, politicians, actors and other high profile book lovers.

The campaign gives everyone a chance to share the story of  the book that has most affected them, offering readers the chance to keep their most treasured tale alive by sharing it with others.   

Many well-known names have contributed to 'The Book That Made Me…', with some choosing the first book that really affected them, such as author Terry Pratchett who named Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in The Willows as "the first book I remember reading for pleasure." "Once I had read it, I read everything I could get my hands on", he explained.
For others, their choice reflected the first book they personally related to. Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women offered journalist and writer Caitlin Moran a role model: "I felt I could try and be the teenage Jo March in a way I couldn't be the teenagers in Sweet Valley High. I felt far more affinity to a 19th century American bluestocking than I did with Kylie."

Some contributors honoured a story for opening their eyes to new opportunities. Newsreader Penny Smith was bound for South America after reading Peter Fleming's Brazilian Adventure: "It sent me off on two and a half years of backpacking – one of the most formative experiences of my life," she said.

Jon Woolcott, Marketing Manager at Waterstones commented on the power of books and why they wanted to ask readers about the books that shaped them: "The stories on our bookshelves don't just tell of the adventures within their pages, they reveal little glimpses of who we - the readers - are. They represent different times in our lives; different interests, different hopes and dreams - what drew us in at the time.

"Now, here at Waterstones, we think it's time we all placed our most life-changing books on one big bookshelf, along with the reasons why they're so affecting, for everyone to share."  

Members of the public are invited to submit the name and title of their favourite book and explain how it affected their lives. Waterstones will feature their favourite responses both in their bookshops and in an online gallery.

Jon Woolcott noted that “often, the best books are the ones that bring a little magic to our everyday lives,” and for novelist Ben Kane, one book did just that: "Tolkien's The Lord of The Rings was the story that shaped my childhood and teenage years. More than any other book, it drew me away from ordinary life, into an incredible world where anything seemed possible."

Everyone is invited to share their story, either by going online or into one of Waterstones' bookshops, and become part of an on-going journey of revelation, adventure and life-changing experiences. 

More basic than Advanced FF but more advanced than basic AFF

Here is a rules set that I used for an FF RPG on the official website before the forums were changed.  It was before the new AFF so I used a class system loosely based on the Conan RPG.

Here are the six classes you can choose.  They all start with a set of basic skills but they can get advanced skills when they get more experience.  Alternatively, they could multiclass.


You spent your formative years with your head in books, driven by a desire to understand the world. However, as you grew older, you realised that books alone could not satisfy your insatiable curiosity and so you left the security of your school to explore the world and all of its dangers. Adventurers value your skills when dealing with creatures of legend and in the ancient tombs below the Old World.


Skill 5-7 (roll 1 die, divide by 2 rounding up and add 4)
Stamina 10-15 (roll 1 die and add 9)
Luck 9-11 (roll 1 die, divide by 2 rounding up and add 8)


Staff, blank parchment scroll, ink, feather, backpack, waterskin, 2 provisions, 5gp.

Basic skills

Literacy - The scholar can read and write. Something most people cannot do.
Decipher Script - The scholar can read in many ancient and modern languages and attempt to decipher mystical symbols.
Astronomy - The schlar has an understanding of the movement of the heavenly bodies.
Folklore - The scholar knows many legends and has an arsenal of knowledge of how to deal with mythical creatures.
General knowledge - The scholar has picked up many rumours and tidbits of knowledge and may have an answer to even the most obscure problems.

Advanced skills

Trickery - using a mixture of showmanship and prestidigitation, a scholar can pass themselves off as a sorcerer of some power.  They can perform sleight of hand tricks (which may also be used to attempt larcenous activities), make believable astrological readings and prophecies or bestow 'blessings' or 'curses' which, although are not magical, are convincing enough to make people believe that they have been blessed or cursed.

Alchemy - the scholar develops a knowledge of the properties of herbs and minerals.  They also know of recipies in order to brew potions or other concoctions with a wide array of effects.

Artifice - scholars can identify the function of strange objects or discern which civilisation made them, how old they are or whether they are magical and if they are, what magic they may contain.  A scholar can also build mechanical devices and if they know sorcery, they can use it with this skill to make magical items.  


Since you were a child you have fought against any who threatened you. You lost many of those early battles but they only hardened your resolve to triumph. With an already formidible fighting ability, you joined the army which added discipline to your strength and skill. There is no weapon that you haven't wielded and you have an understanding of battle tactics. Tired of the boredom and regiment of the army, you left to persue your fortune as an adventurer.


Skill 7-9 (roll 1 die, divide by 2 rounding up and add 6)
Stamina 14-19 (roll 1 die and add 13)
Luck 7-9 (roll 1 die, divide by 2 rounding up and add 6)


Sword OR Mace, Dagger, Chain cuirass (reduces damage by 1 on a roll of 1-2), backpack, waterskin, 2 meals, 3gp.

Basic skills

Weaponskill - You can use all common weapons and a few uncommon ones with no loss to attack strength.
Discipline - You are able to fight with other soldiers to maximise your abilities. If you fight in a group of 3 soldiers or more, you will get bonuses to your attack strength.
Ride Horse - You are an expert at riding and fighting from horseback.
Unarmed Combat - You can fight unarmed with no loss to attack strength.
Athletic - You are able to endure more than most humans and are better at climbing, swimming and running. 

Advanced skills

Weaponmastery - the soldier can pick a weapon.  With that weapon, they gain an attack strength bonus of 
+(their soldier level - 1).  They also reduce an opponent's stamina to -1 if they roll a double 6 for  their attack strengths with their specialist weapon.  They can do this for a number of weapons equal to their soldier level -1.

Officer - the soldier is able to organise non soldiers to fight as soldiers, giving them a bonus that soldiers get for fighting in formation.  The soldier has a knowledge of battle tactics and can command a number of combatants to fight effectively as a unit.  The officer is also knowledgeable about keeping morale up, organising supply lines and messages and public speaking to inspire their troops.

Combat expert - the soldier can attempt a number of manouvers - disarms, quick draws, charges, maiming, sundering and two weapon fighting.


You grew up on the streets, stealing and picking pockets to survive. You then got drafted into the theives' guild where you proved yourself a capable theif. When a local official hired you to spy on another official, you learnt that your talents could be very profitable for yourself if you went freelance, so you left your guild and took to the life of a wanderer stealing, spying and occasioanlly killing either to survive or for profit.


Skill 6-8 (roll 1 die, divide by 2 rounding up and add 5)
Stamina 12-17 (roll 1 die and add 11)
Luck 8-10 (roll 1 die, divide by 2 rounding up and add 7)


Dagger, backpack, waterskin, 2 meals, 3gp.

Basic skills

Stealth - You are adept at hiding and moving silently.
Quick talker - You are able to con or intimidate a mark into doing what you want.
Awareness - You are better tuned into things that are out of place. This may help you find a hidden door or a trap or sense whether someone can be trusted or not.
Good with hands - You are able to pick locks and pick pockets easily.

Advanced skills

Mechanic - the rogue can disarm traps, build their own traps, pick more compicated locks, fix mechanical devices and has a better chance of finding hidden doors, mechanisms and compartments.  

Acrobat - the rogue has increased dexterity and suppleness.  The rogue is excellent when it comes to climbing or escaping from a tight spot.

Underhand - the rogue is an expert at performing sneak attacks, using poison and dodging attacks in combat.


Years of living in a remote village and the wilderness has hardened you to the extremes of nature. You tested yourself by climbing great mountains and delving into the hearts of deep forests. Now you strike out to find a challenge worthy of your hardened exterieor. You scouted for the army for a while but left as it was too easy for you.


Skill 7-9 (roll 1 die, divide by 2 rounding up and add 6)
Stamina 14-19 (roll 1 die and add 13)
Luck 7-9 (roll 1 die, divide by 2 rounding up and add 6)


Shortsword, bow, 6 arrows, backpack, waterskin, 2 meals

Basic skills

Endurence - You are able to withstand extremes of heat and cold more than most humans. You can also go without food for longer. 
Survival - You are able to forage for food, water and helpful plants. You can also build shelters or find them more easily in the area.
Handle animal - You have a greater affinity with animals and may be able to placate or scare them. You can also ride a horse and fight from horseback.
Tracking - You can navigate across terrain and track creatures.
Archery - You are an expert with the bow.
Athletic - You are able to endure more than most humans and are better at climbing, swimming and running. 

Advanced skills

Favoured terrain - the ranger picks one terrain.  They add a bonus equal to their ranger level -1 to dodging, sneaking, hiding, tracking and finding food, water and shelter for that terrain.  They can do this for a number of terrains equal to their ranger level -1.

Natural lore - the ranger has an extensive knowledge of plants and their effects on people.  They are able to make herbal preparations with a wide range of effects.  The ranger also knows details of plants and animals to the extent that they can find them, hunt them or train them well.  

Hardened traveller - the ranger can endure extremes of heat and cold and can travel further and faster than most people.  The ranger is better at riding, climbing, running and swimming.


You grew up on the remote plains, slaying beasts and evil men. You backed down from no challenge. After forming a fearsome reputation, you struck out alone, eager to show those city dwelling losers what a true warrior is capable of. Civilisation just makes men soft and nothing is more reliable than a sharp axe. You have yet to face a warrior that will best you and although you despise book learning, you are cunning and fast thinking. People should think again before they anger you.


Skill 7-9 (roll 1 die, divide by 2 rounding up and add 6)
Stamina 16-21 (roll 1 die and add 15)
Luck 7-9 (roll 1 die, divide by 2 rounding up and add 6)


Axe, backpack, waterskin, 2 meals.

Basic skills

Endurence - You are able to withstand extremes of heat and cold more than most humans. You can also go without food for longer. 
- You are able to forage for food, water and helpful plants. You can also build shelters or find them more easily in the area.
Pursuit - You are able to track any creature.
Improvisation - You are able to use almost any object as a weapon including things not used as weapons. You can use pretty much anything with either no loss to attack strength or a reduced loss to attack strength.
Hardened mind - Your fierce singlemindedness makes you more impervious to psychic attacks and attempts at telepathy on you.
Athletic - You are able to endure more than most humans and are better at climbing, swimming and running. 

Advanced skills

Beserk - the barbarian can fly into a rage, increasing their attack strength and damage they deal by up to their level -1.  However, they automatically receive the same amount of damage per turn as their defences are lowered and they are easier to hit.  This is in addition to any damage inflicted if they lose an attack round.

Animal instincts - the barbarian is almost impossible to surprise having honed their instincts to danger.  They have also trained their bodies to be quick and supple making them acrobatic and better able to dodge traps and blows.  

Bear power - the barbarian's strength and level of endurance has increased.  They inflict 1 extra point of damage in combat.  


The child of aristocracy, you grew up knowing nothing but the best. You had a deep education and a rigorous physical regimen. However, one day your father told you that your title meant very little until you had proved yourself a true leader. He cut off your allowance and instructed all of his servants to shun you until you prove yourself in great challenges. You set out to lead a band of heroes against great odds in order to get your heritage back.


Skill 6-8 (roll 1 die, divide by 2 rounding up and add 5)
Stamina 12-17 (roll 1 die and add 11)
Luck 8-10 (roll 1 die, divide by 2 rounding up and add 7)


Sword, backpack, waterskin, 2 meals, 100gp.

Basic skills

Literacy - You are educated and can read and write.
Charisma - You know how to look and speak in a way that will make people want to follow you.
Oratory - Your puclic speaking skills allows you to sway crowds to your view. You are also able to ruin another's good reputation.
Wealth - You left your family with a large amount of money to sustain you. While most of it has been spend, you still retain some of it.
Reputation - Your name carries weight with the commoners and other nobles. People know of your family and may help you out of a sense of loyalty.

Advanced skills

Leadership - the noble can inspire others, giving bonuses in combat and with other tasks.  They can be very persuasive with people.

Ambassador - the noble knows the languages, customs and etiquette of most cultures.  They can fit as a respectable member of society in almost anywhere.

Great charisma - the noble's reputation is so great that declaring who they are makes people hesitate to attack them.