Saturday, November 30, 2013

Legacy of Benedos

Hi, gamebookers!  I'm having a bit of an Advanced Fighting Fantasy 2nd edition   obsession at the moment.  I have just put together a scenario that grew out of one I ran on the official Fighting Fantasy forum a few years back (before it got overrun with spam and it had to be deleted and resurrected).  I've slimmed it down, and I may do some other edits and/or playtests in the future, but it is servicable at the moment.  It is called Legacy of Benedos.

In this scenario, Sir Benedos has sent you on a mission to recover an heirloom of his that he kept safe in a dungeon nearby.  However, it has been recently cursed, and so he needs brave adventurers to recover it.  but is there more going on?

Here is the adventure...

And if you want more Advanced Fighting Fantasy 2nd edition discussion, click here for the forum...

On a side note, is anyone heading to Dragonmeet in Kensington Town Hall in London on the 7th December?  I'll be there in the afternoon, if you fancy meeting up for a chat.  I'll be looking for Joe Dever, who announced on Facebook that he will also be there, and probably going to watch Ian Livingstone as well as looking at the latest Advanced Fighting Fantasy stuff from Arion Games.

Happy gamebooking!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

AFF NPC: Arcane investigator

Hello, gamebookers! I said that I would have Windhammer reviews up, but this is the busiest time of the year for me (parents' evenings, mocks etc.) and so I ahven't had a chance to do them.  In previous years, I've got around this problem by writing a load of posts during the holidays, when I have more time and then scheduling  them for the winter months.  However, since I can't do this for Windhammer as the results come out in November, I will have to hold fire on them, but they will be out.

In the mean time, here is the next post I have scheduled.  Enjoy!

Today's NPC is not really a villain - it is an AFF version of the paranormal investigator.  It will have a different spin to today's investigators as Titan is a world where most people know that magic exists.  However, villages may still have strange occurrences such as ghosts, demon portals opening or the ill effects from magical effects happening.  The investigator here is a non spellcaster (I will post a magical version and then a non human version later) who does not know how magic works, but has studied to the extent that they can detect it and identify magical things.  They can then use their knowledge to organise rituals or contact a relevant magic user to help them.  After all, there are not many spellcasters on Titan and a lot of them are too apathetic, insane or evil to deal with supernatural dangers that occur due to fallout from the War of the Wizards, schemes of the Demon  Princes or the tricks of non human races.  Or the spellcasters may be the ones causing all of these.

These investigators may either be independent, searching for 'The Truth' or just after some gold or they may be working for a patron, such as a lord, temple or a powerful spellcaster in order to stop supernatural occurences happening, or, in some cases, suppress witness accounts of supernatural occurrences that they, themselves have caused.

If there is some mysterious supernatural event in your adventure, these people may soon turn up and may be helpful or a hindrance.

Arcane Investigator (non spellcaster)


LOCATION:  Anywhere

REACTION:  Neutral


CREATURE TYPE: Humanoid (human)

SKILL:                      7

STAMINA:               12

LUCK:                      12

MAGIC:                    0


SKILLS: World Lore (1), City Lore (1), Religion Lore (1), Awareness (1), Common Speech (4), Swords (2), Sneaking (2), Locks (2), Magic Lore (1), Second Sight (1), Secret Signs (1), Trap Knowledge (1), Dodge (1), Con (1)

TALENTS: Dark Veil,

WEAPONS: Shortsword, dagger, silver dagger,  throwing dagger, silver throwing dagger.

ARMOUR:  Leather Cuirass

SPECIAL:  This is an arcane investigator at the beginning of their career.  If they work for a patron, these people will have access to all kinds of esoteric equipment from such as holy water, silver weapons, magical sundries and holy items.  Independent investigators will have less access to these things, but will seek them out wherever they can.  This arcane investigator is basically a thief with enough magical knowledge to identify a magical effect.  Their job is usually to break into a dungeon or building and to report back.  This arcane investigator has been selected based on their ability to be able to sneak past demonic entities with their Dark Veil talent, which is very useful as Demonspawn are usually used as guards.

More experienced arcane investigator (non spellcaster)


LOCATION:  Anywhere

REACTION:  Neutral


CREATURE TYPE: Humanoid (human)

SKILL:                      7

STAMINA:               15

LUCK:                      12

MAGIC:                    0


SKILLS: World Lore (2), City Lore (1), Religion Lore (2), Awareness (2), Common Speech (4), Swords (2), Sneaking (2), Locks (2), Magic Lore (2), Second Sight (2), Secret Signs (2), Trap Knowledge (1), Etiquette (1), Disguise (2), Dodge (1), Brawling (1), Bargain (1), Con (2), Sleight of Hand (1)

TALENTS: Attuned, Dark Veil

WEAPONS: Shortsword, dagger, silver dagger,  throwing dagger, silver throwing dagger.

ARMOUR:  Leather Cuirass

SPECIAL:  This is a more experienced arcane investigator who may do some extended fieldwork or infiltrate a cult over some time.  Their skills are moving from breaking and entering to also interacting with people to get what information or assistance they need.  These investigators may have access to a potion or scroll in addition to the magical sundries to help them out.

Arcane investigator chief


LOCATION:  Anywhere

REACTION:  Neutral


CREATURE TYPE: Humanoid (human)

SKILL:                      8

STAMINA:               16

LUCK:                      12

MAGIC:                    0


SKILLS: World Lore (3), City Lore (2), Religion Lore (3), Awareness (3), Common Speech (4), Swords (2), Con (2), Sneaking (2), Locks (2), Throwing (1), Magic Lore (3), Second Sight (3), Secret Signs (3), Etiquette (2), Disguise (3), Dodge (2), Brawling (2), Leadership (1), Stewardship (1), Bargain (2), Sleight of Hand (1)

TALENTS: Attuned, Dark Veil, Clearsight,

WEAPONS: Sword, dagger, silver dagger,  throwing dagger, silver throwing dagger.

ARMOUR:  Leather Cuirass

SPECIAL:  This is a leader of a group of arcane investigators.  This investigator will have access to all the magical sundries they need.  This one also has one enchanted item - a bone medallion which reduces all damage from undead creatures by 1.  Ironically, even though a group of arcane investigators will come across many magical items in their time, they usually come across the unpredictable, inscrutable and dangerous ones, so they are no more likely (or even less likely) to have powerful magical items than other adventurers.  However, they do have a ready supply of potions, sundries, scrolls and a minor item or two such as a blue candle or pickled shapechanger brain.  This arcane investigator will do less routine fieldwork and only go out for special missions.  They have started learning some of the skills of managing a domain and leading a group of younger investigators.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Journey to Mount Darkness review

Hello, gamebookers! I will be bringing you Windhammer reviews, but not today.  however, if you want some Windhammer reviews, Brewin' (author of Infinite Universe) is writing in depth reviews over on his blog  and the Crumbly Head Games blog has a review of every Windhammer book.

Today, I'll be writing about another gamebook that will be hitting the shelves soon.  This is Journey to Mount Darkness, by JP Barnett who has written Invitation to a Feast.  Journey to Mount Darkness takes place in the woodland Forest Chronicles universe - a place where The Noble Ranger looks after many woodland creatures, such as rabbits, owls and dogs and where the Dark Panther leads evil creatures such as Darkness Wolves to kill the good creatures.

Whereas in Invitation to a Feast, you played Jumpster Hopper, a young rabbit whose aim was trying to get to a feast, in Journey to Mount Darkness, you play Theodore Hopper, Jumpster's dad, who is tasked with an important task which requires a longer and more perilous journey. 

His journey involves Mount Darkness which is a mountain in the centre of the Woodland Forest.  As its name suggests, all kinds of nasty things live there, and if nice creatures on one side of the forest want to visit their friends, they have to spend ages travelling around the mountain. However, one day, the Noble ranger mined a tunnel through the mountain and lit five special torches that kept the tunnel lit all the time.  This scared off the nasty creatures and provided a safe quick route through the mountain.However, on one fateful day, the lights went out.  It is now Theodore's quest to relight them.

This first book in a four part series takes you from Theodore's home to just outside Mount Darkness.  There are two main routes through the book; one is harder than the other (but it may be more reqarding), and this offers some replayability. 

One of the great strengths of the book lies in the world that JP Barnett has crafted.  Along the way, you will meet several types of animals and they all have special characteristics and you learn how they fit into the Woodland Forest community and whether they serve the Noble Ranger or the Dark Panther - there are fox archers (bad), sneaky weasels (bad, but some can be good), noble deer (good), wise owls (good), ranger dogs (good) and many others, including some animals that were in Invitation to a Feast. 

There is no system for combat, but there is a system for pursuit - you are usually running away from things, or, in some cases, chasing things.  This fits in with your character being a rabbit and also the mentality of the Noble Ranger who does not seem like the kind of guy who supports killing.  However, there are other ways of getting out of trouble.

The whole series has an epic feel to it and there are some good scenes, especially at the end when you have to get past a horde of fox archers with the help of an owl friend; and the chase situations can be quite gripping.

Aimed for younger readers, this is not your traditional dungeon crawl gamebook, and it is not full of battles with various monsters, but it is still gripping and it sets up the main bad guys quite well.  You don't see them in this book, but there is plenty of talk about them and it sets itself up for book 2 very well.  So why not give it a go? 

To buy Journey to Mount Darkness, go here, where the website is having paypal features added.  When they have been added, you will be able to order a copy.  If you are interested, you can email JP Barnett here and he will notify you when the website has been updated.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Competitions, apps and blogs

Hello, gamebookers!

There's lots going on in the gamebook world.  First of all, the Windhammer results are in! 

Congratulations to the winner, Phillip Armstrong for his entry, 'Normal Club', the merit award winners Ramsay Duff (The Scarlet Thief) and Paul Struth (Out of Time) and the highly commended winners, Marty Runyon (The Independence Job), Andy Robinson (Tipping Point), and Nicholas Stillman (Gunlaw).

Also, everyone who entered deserves congratulations for putting the time and effort into their entries.  As the Winhammer competition has progressed, the gamebooks have become more and more innovative in every way (system, storyline, writing style, setting, subject matter) and I love reading all of the entries.  I'll be making video reviews of the entries and posting them later on.

I did not win, but as I said in my video, I did not think that I would.  My gamebook was entered to demonstrate another facet of the gamebook gem that was around in the 50s and 60s before there were actual gamebooks (for more examples, go here), but seem to have been largely neglected since actual gamebooks were released.  I wanted to demonstrate that modern technology could make these gamebooks relevant again (as this review mentions, it would be great as an app).

I got some great feedback from it, which is another reason for entering the competition, so I would also like to thank those people who took the time and effort to write some feedback, especially since there were 14 entries.  The entries are still all on the page, so check them out.  You can read all of the Windhammer entries (and there are quite a few of them, now) here.

In other news, there are still plenty of other great blogs to check out on The Gamebook Feed.  There is a new one called Ludus ex Libris (it is in English), where you can read about a playthrough of the masterful Heart of Ice.

Also, you should try Marsten's blog where he has had some time off in September, but has returned with a vengeance and you can read his current post which is a playthrough of Tower of Destruction or his own gamebook - Choose Your Own Drunken, Insane, Drug-fuelled Rampage!

And finally, Sorcery! 2 is out!  And it is amazing!  As I said of my review of part 1 in issue 12 of Fighting Fantazine, as well as keeping all the classic scenes and adding to them, there were also a few more plot features such as goblins looking for special metal, spirit guides and magic being woven from the stars.  Part 2 really turns this up a notch with loads more encounters and features, such as being able to make up your own spell, learning more about the nobles of Khare, giving twists to harmless encounters in the first book (such as the scholar), being able to go back in time if you fail, Swindlestones (an addictive little subgame), getting to know Vik a bit more, being able to switch gods (and I get the impression that it won't lead to sudden death in book 4), and having an epic end where you have to fight off an invasion single handed.  There is loads more freedom in this game where you get an impression of being in a living, breathing place.  Once again, all the old scenes from the original are there, sometimes with a twist, and not just because there are no random elements (apart from Swindlestones).

Inkle have done a great job with their programming - one feature involves instead of having discrete sections for each occurrence, there are different fragments of section which are put together when relevant.  For example, if you have the enchanted compass, and you are near one of the bearers of the North Gate spell lines, you get a paragraph telling you that it is pointing in a certain direction.  This allows greater freedom in the game and allows several encounters to be different depending on your past actions. I will be doing a more in depth review at a later point (probably in Fighting Fantazine), but for the moment, download it yourself.  And if you haven't already, download the first one, so that you can play Sorcery! 2 with more money and items (you won't regret it, even if it's just so you can buy an awesome sword for 40 gold pieces.  With this sword, combat becomes a LOT easier).

So in summary, here is your reading list for the week:

Windhammer 2013 entries.

Ludus ex Libris.

Fighting For Your Fantasy.

Fighting Fantazine 12.

Sorcery! 1

Sorcery! 2

Plenty to keep you amused and to guarantee happy gamebooking!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Lindenbaum Memory Palace analysis

Good day to you all, gamebookers!  All is good in the gamebook world today.  Way of the Tiger got $45000 in their Kickstarter, which means that they just snuck in one final stretch goal at the last minute - the Music of Orb, 8 soundtracks inspired by the Way of the Tiger gamebooks, one for each book.  And if you can't get enough of martial arts themed gamebooks, there is another one to fund:  book 2 of the Shinte Warrior series.  Just $20 will get you a pdf of the book.

This positive Kickstarter has, once again, piqued the interest of Dave Morris, who is interested in doing a kickstarter, but reminds us that a Kickstarter for Fabled Lands would require a lot more money than $45000 and would probably cost a lot to pledge for a book, but, as the Way of Tiger Kickstarter has proved, there are plenty of people who are willing to pay $375 for the complete set of 8 books.

I would also like to say how impressed I am with how the Kickstarter was organised and run.  I have read Kicking It by Monte Cook and Shanna Germain (both Kickstarter veterans) and WOTT did a lot of the things mentioned in the book. There were clear stretch goals, tons of updates and lots of links to people who mentioned them (thanks, guys!).  I also think releasing the test version way before the kickstarter started was a great way to get publicity and feedback.  By the beginning of the campaign, the rewards were what the people wanted.  Also, it gave a lot of time for people to make up their minds about what they wanted, which lead to them getting $11000 in the first 24 hours.  Nice work, guys.

Also, the votes for the Windhammer votes are in, but the results will not be known until November 7th.  I'll be talking about other entries, but for now, I have a video about my analysis of my book, the Lindenbaum Memory Palace.

Here it is.  Enjoy!