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Sunday, January 26, 2014

AFF villain - Scannax the Demon Summoner

Scannax is a wizard, who has done his fair share of adventuring.  However, upon seeking some treasure in a temple on the Pagan Plains, he came across an ancient grimoire which whispered to him of power.  After spending months studying the secrets within, Scannax learnt the art of summoning demons.  At first, his companions were horrified by this, but a demon he summoned saved them from an attack from a particularly nasty stone golem.  However, it was when Scannax learnt a ritual that would allow him to make bargains with demons to gain power in return for a part of his soul that things started to go downhill.  Scannax went from being an accomplished mage to on the brink of being an archmage in the space of a few short months.  He also grew physically stronger.  When demonic features started to appear, his former companions tried to kill him, but it was too late.  He slew them all singlehandedly and then seemingly vanished. 

Scannax is now the leader of a cult located in the ruined temple on the Pagan Plains which seeks to return demons to this world with the aim of being blessed with demonic powers.  In reality, Scannax has used his considerable charisma to lead poor unfortunates to do his bidding so that he can sacrifice them to advance his cause, which is more power.  Scannax wants more personal power and now he wants to expand his domain so that civilised lands will bow before him. 

Scannax will have several agents in cities, towns and wilderness all over Allansia who will be searching for magical items, assassinating local leaders so that they can be replaced with puppet leaders who will do Scannax's bidding, recruiting more cultists or stirring up discord amongst the populace.  Scannax is waiting for the right time to make an overt strike against civilisation with his growing army of demonspawn, corrupt cultists and chaotic non humans whilst he also searches the deeper depths of the temple for more magical items or books.  The grimoire Scannax found has one extremely powerful ritual which is beyond him at the moment, but once he manages to master it, no one will be safe. 

Scannax has given so much of his soul over to demons for power, it is now hard to work out whether it is him or the demons who are driving him now. 

Scannax the Summoner

CREATURE TYPE:  Demon

SKILL:  8

STAMINA:  15

LUCK:  10

MAGIC:  10

MAGIC POINTS:  32

Social Scale: 7

SKILLS:  Magic - Wizardry (6), Magic - Conjuration (4), Religion Lore (3), Awareness (1), World Lore (3), City Lore (1), Magic Lore (5), Magic - Minor (5), Second Sight (4), Con (3), Bargain (3), Leadership (2), Etiquette (3), Common (4), Ancient Allansian (4), Demon (4), Elemental (3).

TALENTS:  Dark Seeing, Learned, Silvertongued, Clearsight, Natural Linguist, Attuned, Focus, Natural Mage, Physical Empowerment,

SPELLS:  Darkness, Fear, Fire bolt, Ignite, Illusion, Ironhand, Strength, Tongue Twister, Weakness, Breach, Consume, Counterspell, Command, Explode, Fly, Grand Illusion, Grow, Lightning Blast, Poison, Restrain, Raise Skeleton, Death, Earthquake.

MINOR SPELLS:  Burn, Dry, Entertain, Glimmer, Hear, Heat, Honesty, Inebriate, Instil, Mistake, Noise, Pucker, Repulsion, Spark, Stutter.

SUMMONING RITUALS:  Ritual of the Flaming Nightwing (see Heroes' Companion), Ritual of the Cursed Soul (see Heroes' Companion), Ritual of the Nightmare Mount (see Heroes' Companion), Ritual of the Unearthly Binding (see below)

WEAPON:  Staff or small claw

ARMOUR:  Scaly skin (as monster light armour).

SPECIAL:

Ritual of the Unearthly Binding

Magic - Conjuration:  4
Type:  Summoning
Components:  1 pint of conjurer's blood, 1 nighthawk feather, 1 piece of parchment of human skin.
Time Taken: 1 month.
Rarity:  Rare

This is a ritual that Scannax found in a long forgotten Grimoire he found in a ruined temple complex in the Pagain Plains.  The ritual summons a powerful demon which grants the summoner power in exchange for part of their soul.  This could be in the form of a spell, a stat increase or a demonic power.  However, the caster will start to take on demonic form and may lose control over their actions as they give away more and more of their soul.  The process of gaining such power quickly can be addictive and casters may not be able to stop doing this ritual for more and more power until they become completely demonic themselves.

Demon powers

Scannax has given so much of his soul over to demons that he has started to become like one.  He has glowing red eyes and mall horns growing out of his head.  He is also starting to get claws and scaly skin and small wings have started to grow out of his back.  These changes give him the following abilities.

Glowing eyes:  Give Scannax the Dark Seeing talent.

Scaly skin:  Scannax has monster light armour.

Claws:  Scannax has claws which he can use as weapons if disarmed.

Immune to non magical weapons:  Scannax can only be wounded by magical weapons.

Fire breath:  Scannax is able to breath fire. In combat, he can breathe fire on one opponent per combat round.  This deals 1 point of damage and armour cannot reduce it.

Small demon wings:  Scannax's small wings are able to let him fall slowly as if he has access to the FAL spell without having to make a casting roll or use stamina points.

Demon weakness:  Scannax is now vulnerable to the priest powers Smite and Banish.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Resurrection of the Dead review

Today, I'll be turning my eye on Resurrection of the Dead, a 200 paragraph adventure written and illustrated by Alexander Ballingall which first appeared in the first Fighting Fantazine magazine back in September 2009.  If you do not know about or have not read Fighting Fantazine, then I urge you to do so now.  Not just number 1, but all of them.

As well as writing Fighting Fantasy adventures, Alex is the founder, editor of and contributor to Fighting Fantazine, writer of its blog and is also the founder a massive contributor to (thankyou, Paltogue) Titannica, the Fighting Fantasy wiki.  He is also a prominent contributor to the unofficial Fighting Fantasy forum and the Titan Rebuilding yahoo group .

In Resurrection of the Dead, you are a retired adventurer turned merchant who returns home to hear of strange goings on which have driven your friend, Karl, mad.  Your investigations uncover plenty of foul deeds as you have to inspect every corner of the town from the monastery to the thieves' guild to the heath.  The solution is elusive and it will take a few goes to work out the correct path to victory or even work out what you need to do to achieve victory, making the adventure a satisfying challenge.

Theme

The setting for this book the Old World where some familiar sorcery may make an appearance. The adventure takes place in a town with undead crawling around in the darker, more hidden corners.  It is not safe to just wander around.  There are plenty of characters to interact with from monks to thieves (Vannix 'sticky fingers' gets a shout out here for helpfulness and having an amusing nickname).  Alex has a very in depth knowledge of the Old World (who knew about the Dryaden race?) and there a plenty of Titan references in the book.

4/5

Illustration

Alex has included illustrations from full page pictures to small pictures between paragraphs.  The illustrations are clear and cover the essential elements of the creature or item that appears in the picture.  I particularly like the flesh golem.

3/5

Gameplay

The book provides you with plenty of options and plenty of places to explore.  There are also a few secret places which you need to discover in order to achieve victory.  You also need to pay careful attention to the information that people give to you as it will help you win.

I enjoyed the challenge of working out how to win, but there are a few unavoidable difficult combats for anyone who does not have a skill of 11+, especially since you do not start with a weapon.  There is also a fight with the six parts of a living corpse which can get tedious as they all have low skills and you have to roll a die to see which one you hit rather than choose your target.  That battle could go on for some time.  There might be some 'ignore the combat' activity needed to actually get to the final paragraph.

3/5

Exposition


The descriptions and the interactions are good and well thought out.  Most of the characters in the book see you as a merchant and treat you with disdain for your investigations, especially since you have no weapon to start with.  There are some good details dropped in (Titan references and the relationships between yourself and the other characters).

4/5

Rules

The rules are the standard Fighting Fantasy rules - you have skill, stamina and luck and provisions restore 4 stamina points.  If you fight unarmed, you have a -3 penalty to skill.  You will have a character ready in seconds.  There are no other scores to keep track of or instructions that involve you rolling lots of dice.  Everything is nice and straightforward.

3/5

Total 17/25

Resurrection of the Dead is an engaging and challenging adventure written by someone who knows Fighting Fantasy like the back of their hand.  You may need to fudge a few dice rolls to finally win, but it is satisfying to work out what the path to victory actually is.  In tiger terms, there is plenty here to get your teeth into, but some of the bits might be too tough to chew up without some help (i.e the combats) so they might need to be skipped.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

My system take 2

Hi gamebookers!  I'm posting again, because I've had some great feedback about my gamebook system.  I have had some feedback form people who like it, but also some people may think that it is too complicated for gamebooks.  So I have updated version 5 (which I still like) and created version 6, which is a lot simpler.  I will explain how.

Instead of rolling x dice and taking the best 2, you always roll 2 dice for skill tests.  Your skill level is the number of dice you can reroll.

I have changed the wealth system to remove destitute.  I figured that even if you have no money, you could still steal or make basic items of equipment, so, if you have 0 wealth points, you can pick up simple items.

I have removed livings.  I liked livings a lot, but they would add extra complexity to someone both playing and writing with this system.

I have changed the will abilities around a bit.  There are now 13 - 12 of them cost 3 will points and one costs 6.

I have made it to base the numbers around the number 6 as much as possible.

I have changed experience around a bit.  It is quite easy to learn will abilities and a lot harder to train in skills.  My idea is that most starting characters will rely on will abilities which represents natural talent.  As time goes on, training in skills will give them the edge.  Learning will abilities costs a lot less in terms of experience because A)  There are more of them.  B)  I want training in skills to be a late development thing.  C)  Will abilities depend on will which also  needs experience to increase.

So there we have it.  Will version 6 be good for gamebooks?  Tell me what you think!

Edit:  I'm always updating the system.  I'm on version 7 now, which has 18 will abilities (I changed the ability that lets you roll an extra die for any test, just roll an extra die for 1 skill).  Let me know what you think!

Friday, January 17, 2014

My new system.

Hello, gamebookers!  I'm being early this week (on a side note, my posts don't appear on my feed until a couple of days after I have published them.  Has anyone else noticed that the posts are on their feeds after the dates that they were published?)

Today, I have a gamebook system that I want to show you all.  I will also give you some inspiration I had for the gamebook system.

The seed of the idea came from the strangest of things.  I was playing Trial of the Clone , and noticed that the skill checks were very intriguing.  A skill needs to be made against a difficulty score.  You need to roll three dice with values of 0-3.  You then take the highest value that you rolled, add it to the relevant stat and get a score above the difficulty.  What was special about the way this was done was that when you make a test, the numbers rolled do not all appear at once - rather, they appear one at a time, like on a fruit machine.


The way this skill test was done, gave me an extra 'buzz', as it extended the tension and excitement.  If I failed on the first roll, I waited with anticipation for the second etc.  Contrasted to most gamebook skill tests, where you make one roll, and then it's over, it was more intriguing.

This was the birth of my system.  At first, I tried the same system but with 6 sided dice.  Doing some stat analysis with the great website, Anydice revealed that if you roll three 6 sided dice and take the highest score (output {1}@3d6), getting a 1 has a probability of less than 0.5%.  Getting a 6 has a probability of 42%.  So that system wasn't great.

Eventually, I settled for rolling between 1-6 dice and taking the best 2 results (or 1 result if you only rolled 1 die).  That seemed to have a more acceptable spread of results.

However, I wanted more from my stat tests.  Now, you could roll more than 2 dice and enjoy the tension of not knowing if you win or lose the roll until the last die was thrown, but I wanted people to get more from their skill tests.  It is for this reason that I added abilities that allowed you to roll more dice or manipulate die rolls.  you were also allowed to do it after you knew the result.  I got this idea from the very well designed board game, Last Night on Earth.  I liked the idea of manipulating dice rolls after you knew the result as it takes away the frustration of spending a lot of resources on making sure that your dice roll is what you want, only to find out that it would have been fine anyway.  It also makes using the abilities as more of a strategic choice and less of a blind guess.

I then wanted the system to be able to accommodate many different types of characters.  I came up with six stats that I thought covered most things - combat, athletics, lore, roguery, survival, and social.  It is actually very close to the stat system in Fabled Lands.  You can have a score of between 1 and 4 for each skill.  Your score is how many dice you roll when you do a skill test.  Skill tests are done by rolling the relevant number of dice and trying to get higher than a difficulty score.  Of course, you may use abilities to change the results.  The highest difficulty that you can beat is 11.  No matter how many dice you roll, only the best 2 rolls count.  I think this is important if I was to make several gamebooks using this system.  No matter how good or bad your character is, they can still only beat a difficulty of 11.  This means that no book is off limits to a starting character and no book would be too easy for a veteran.  If you compare this to Fabled Lands, you cannot start book 6 at level 1 - the tests would be too high for your character.  Also, doing book 1 with a 6th level character would just be too easy.  With my system, better characters have a better chance at getting a high score, but they cannot ever go above 12 (except in exceptional circumstances).

For flavour reasons, I also added livings - careers that you can take.  If you have a living, it will help you in some situations, but for potentially any skill roll.  The idea of livings comes from Maelstrom where a character has several skills that cover just about anything, but they also have livings which give them bonuses.  I have six livings.  I originally had the soldier and criminal living amongst them, but I decided that they were too close to the combat and roguery skills.  Since I wanted livings to not be synonymous with skills, I got rid of them and created two new livings.  

I then had to simplify several things for gamebook purposes.  There is a magic system in my system, but magic is very rare.  Instead, there are abilities that use will.  Some of them are personality traits, and some of them are trained.  However, all of them can be used without any reference to them in the text (most of them manipulate dice rolls).  I think this is important as when I'm writing a gamebook with a spell or skill system, I have to think about what each spell or skill would do in a particular situation.  This system reduces the thinking.  Actual spells with overt magical effects are rituals which take time and effort to cast.  They are not tools to help you win, but more things to drive the plot of the books.

The combat system also has the potential to complicate things.  I had combat as being an opposed skill test that also drained each combatant's endurance slowly (so there would be no deadlocks).  Also, I made it non lethal in most cases.  Endurance is not actually a measure of how wounded you are, but a measure of your stamina.  I envisaged combat, even armed combat to not cause nasty wounds (unless they are the final blow).  I got this idea from number 4 in this Cracked article.  I also got this idea from the MMORPG Battlemaster, where it is unlikely for a character to die.  Weapons don't enhance the endurance lost per round, since you are not actually hitting people with them - they are losing endurance because you are wearing them down.  Rather, they just make combat more lethal.  Armour does very little, unless it is full plate armour, which makes combat less lethal.  Shields have a minor bonus in combat.

You don't have to keep track of your money in this game.  Instead, you have a certain number of wealth points.  Most people can afford food, clothes and basic equipment, even if they don't have hordes of treasure.  Instead, you have wealth points which represent how rich you are.  This reduces the need to choose between basic items on a shopping list and speeds up decision making on important plot points.  The Conan RPG advises to not agonise over shopping lists too much. I got the wealth points idea from this forum.

I added one final rule - in case I missed something, I added the rule of simplicity and serendipity - if there was somehting that I hadn't covered, you should just assume that you can take the best outcome for your character.  Therefore everyone is a winner.  The simplicity of the system will leave some holes and since I would rather keep it simple than add a load of rules to cover certain occurances, you should take full advantage of it and assume it works out for the best for you.

I added a bit more detail to this world (I will add more if it looks good).  There are gods, but they are not omnipotent beings - gods are physical beings who can simply excel human limits in several (not necessarily all) areas.  Depending on how powerful a god you are, gods are able to count the best 3 or best 4 dice rolls on skill tests and they also have higher endurance and will scores, but they can be killed just like mortal beings.  There are also fey, spirits and other monsters, but they are very rare as this is a mostly human centric world.

I will add a list of spells, more will abilities, a list of gods and creatures and their stats and actually write a book for this system.  I also need to give it a title.  I'm terrible at titles.


Anyway, tell me what you think!


Sunday, January 12, 2014

AFF NPC - the scholarly arcane investigator

Hello gamebookers!  Here, we expand on our fantasy arcane investigations agency with more NPC investigators.  This time, we have another non spellcaster, whose knowledge revolves less around getting into places and more to do with knowing what on Titan is going on.  They are more of a scholar than a rogue or warrior.


Arcane Investigator - young scholar

NUMBER ENCOUNTERED:  1-3

LOCATION:  Anywhere

REACTION:  Neutral

INTELLIGENCE: High

CREATURE TYPE: Humanoid (human)

SKILL:                      7

STAMINA:               12

LUCK:                      12

MAGIC:                    0

MAGIC POINTS:     0

SKILLS: World Lore (1), City Lore (1), Religion Lore (1), Awareness (1), Common Speech (4), Ancient Allansian (1), Staves (2), Healing (2), Bargain (2), Magic Lore (1), Second Sight (1), Secret Signs (1), Etiquette (1),  Con (1)

TALENTS: Natural Linguist,

WEAPONS: Staff, dagger, silver dagger,

ARMOUR:  Leather Cuirass

SPECIAL:  This is an arcane investigator at the beginning of their career.  Their job is to decipher script, identify items and interact with other people.  When exploring a dungeon or temple, they can be useful as healers too and they are handy with their staves.

Arcane Investigator - experienced scholar

NUMBER ENCOUNTERED:  1

LOCATION:  Anywhere

REACTION:  Neutral

INTELLIGENCE: High

CREATURE TYPE: Humanoid (human)

SKILL:                      7

STAMINA:               13

LUCK:                      12

MAGIC:                    0

MAGIC POINTS:     0

SKILLS: World Lore (2), City Lore (2), Religion Lore (2), Awareness (2), Common Speech (4), Ancient Allansian (3), Elvish (2), Dragon (2)  Staves (3), Healing (3), Bargain (2), Magic Lore (2), Second Sight (2), Secret Signs (2), Etiquette (2),  Con (2)

TALENTS: Natural Linguist, Attuned, Learned

WEAPONS: Staff, dagger, silver dagger,

ARMOUR:  Leather Cuirass

SPECIAL:  This arcane investigator has a wide range of knowledge after their experience in the field.  Rather than specialise on one particular area, the investigator has studied a wide range of subjects, not knowing which ones will turn up on their investigations.  They have learnt more languages and they can decipher most script which is sometimes vital in a dungeon.  They are also able to identify many magical items.

Arcane Investigator - head scholar

NUMBER ENCOUNTERED:  1

LOCATION:  Anywhere

REACTION:  Neutral

INTELLIGENCE: High

CREATURE TYPE: Humanoid (human)

SKILL:                      8

STAMINA:               14

LUCK:                      12

MAGIC:                    0

MAGIC POINTS:     0

SKILLS: World Lore (3), City Lore (3), Religion Lore (3), Awareness (2), Common Speech (4), Ancient Allansian (4), Elvish (3), Dragon (3), Dwarfish (2),  Staves (3), Healing (3), Bargain (3), Magic Lore (4), Second Sight (3), Secret Signs (3), Etiquette (3),  Con (3), Leadership (2), Stewardship (2),

TALENTS: Natural Linguist, Attuned, Learned, Silvertongued

WEAPONS: Staff, dagger, silver dagger,

ARMOUR:  Leather Cuirass

SPECIAL:  This arcane investigator is running a group of other investigators.  Their job will most likely to be interpret all the reports that have been brought back from the field and then to decide where to direct their resources next. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

AFF NPC - Arcane fighter

Hello gamebookers!  Here, we expand on our arcane investigators.  Today, we have fighters as meddling with demons, spirits and undead is always going to get hairy at some point.  Here is a fighter who is skilled against magical creatures.

Arcane Investigator - fighter

NUMBER ENCOUNTERED:  1-3

LOCATION:  Anywhere

REACTION:  Neutral

INTELLIGENCE: High

CREATURE TYPE: Humanoid (human)

SKILL:                      7

STAMINA:               16

LUCK:                      10

MAGIC:                    0

MAGIC POINTS:     0

SKILLS: World Lore (1), City Lore (1), Religion Lore (1), Dodge (1), Common Speech (4), Swords (2), Armour (2), Brawling (2), Strength (1), Bows (1), Healing (1), Second Sight (1),  Hunting (1), Ride (1)

TALENTS: Templar (Smite Undead)

WEAPONS: Sword, silver dagger, bow, 6 arrows, silver arrow

ARMOUR:  Chainmail Cuirass, large shield. 

SPECIAL:  This is a standard warrior with some magical talent.  They are able to sense spirits and magical creatures and they have the ability to smite undead.

Arcane Investigator - sergeant

NUMBER ENCOUNTERED:  1

LOCATION:  Anywhere

REACTION:  Neutral

INTELLIGENCE: High

CREATURE TYPE: Humanoid (human)

SKILL:                      7

STAMINA:               18

LUCK:                      10

MAGIC:                    0

MAGIC POINTS:     0

SKILLS: World Lore (1), City Lore (1), Religion Lore (1), Dodge (1), Common Speech (4), Swords (3), Armour (3), Brawling (2), Strength (1), Bows (2), Healing (2), Second Sight (2),  Hunting (1), Ride (1), Magic lore (1)

TALENTS: Templar (Smite Undead), Strongarm, Combat reactions

WEAPONS: Sword, silver dagger, bow, 6 arrows, silver arrow

ARMOUR:  Chainmail Hauberk, large shield.

SPECIAL:  This is a more experienced warrior who has expanded their knowledge to be able to fight demons and spellcasters.

Arcane Investigator - captain

NUMBER ENCOUNTERED:  1

LOCATION:  Anywhere

REACTION:  Neutral

INTELLIGENCE: High

CREATURE TYPE: Humanoid (human)

SKILL:                      8

STAMINA:               20

LUCK:                      10

MAGIC:                    0

MAGIC POINTS:     0

SKILLS: World Lore (2), City Lore (1), Religion Lore (2), Dodge (1), Common Speech (4), Swords (4), Armour (3), Brawling (3), Strength (1), Bows (3), Healing (2), Second Sight (2),  Hunting (2), Ride (2), Magic lore (2), Mounted combat (1), Leadership (2), Battle tactics (1), Stewardship (1).

TALENTS: Templar (Smite Undead), Strongarm, Combat reactions, Magical resistance

WEAPONS: Sword of demon slaying (double damage vs demons), silver dagger, bow, 6 arrows, silver arrow

ARMOUR:  Chainmail Hauberk, large shield.

SPECIAL:  This is the leader of a large number of arcane fighters.  They are able to direct and manage troops.  This fighter has a sword of demon slaying and they would be the one who would take on more powerful creatures.  They also have resistance to malign magic.