Friday, January 29, 2016

Gamebook Statting - Intro

Hi everyone,

Welcome to my first run at statting out the FF line of gamebooks.  For those of you not accustomed to reading big blocks of text can jump straight into the action by looking at my findings below (scroll to the bottom).

For the rest of us, here’s a little more guidance on what all this is about.

So what is it?
Simply put, I’ve gone through an entire gamebook, listed all the monsters, their skill and stamina scores, the treasure they’re carrying, along with any and all traps you encounter and other events.  That in itself isn’t really of much interest.  The ‘fun’ comes from comparing the gamebooks to each other.  For this first run, I’ve statted out Warlock of Firetop Mountain and Forest of Doom.

What am I looking at?
First up there’s a link at the bottom that will take you to the google spreadsheet that contains all the data I’ve collected for Warlock of Firetop Mountain (as it was first, this will be the baseline).  However, this will be very dry and not much fun for you unless you love numbers and statistics.  Beyond that is my ‘findings’.  The results, if you like, of my gamebook study.  I’ve generated these results from using the SAS programming tool in my day job.  For example, we can see the average stamina score of all creatures in both books amongst other things.

What are you hoping to achieve and where do I fit in?

Eventually I hope to stat out every single gamebook there is.  A very lofty goal considering Warlock and Forest took me over 6 months to do.  By sharing my work now, I’m hoping that any feedback will spur me on to deliver my findings faster.  Also, I need feedback and ideas on what to look for in the data.  For example, you might want say, “I found Temple of Terror to be the hardest gamebook there is, where does that fit in your list of stats, Number Boy!?”  You might be right, so I’d go through ToT and see if the data bears out your comment.  Or you might ask, “Which gamebook has the highest rate of insta-death paragraph results?”  We can look at all of these, but I need those questions from you lot.  At the moment I’m literally looking at the numbers and averages of things like Gold Pieces and Luck Reward bonuses.  There must be more interesting things I’m missing!


Warlock of Firetop Mountain
Forest of Doom
Total Gold
Luck modifier total
 Luck from opponents
 Luck from other
 Luck penalties
Skill modifier total
 Skill from opponents
 Skill from other
 Skill penalties
Stamina modifier total
 Stamina from opponents
 Stamina from other
 Stamina penalties
No. of combat encounters
Total number of opponents
Average Opponent skill
Average Opponent stamina
Lowest Opponent skill
Lowest Opponent stamina
Highest Opponent skill
Highest Opponent stamina


Okay, let's start with the Gold.  In any FF adventure you’re going to find gold, usually from friendly goblins who leave it to you after their untimely death at your hands.  This row shows you not only all the charitable donations you receive from such creatures, but also just lying around (such as the gold piece you find in Forest of Doom on the path).

I’ve omitted such things as items (like Catwoman’s gold stud earrings) which are valued at 5gp each.  It was never made clear if you could ‘spend’ items like that on anything?  And are you supposed to get change?  So for now I’ve only gone with actual gold piece-age.

WoFM has a greater yield than FoD, especially when you consider the more numerous enemies in FoD, but more on that later.  You’ll note that I’ve not mentioned the chest of treasure you find at the end of Firetop Mountain after liberating it from the Warlock.  Didn’t see the point, especially as there’s not an exact amount listed (I like exact amounts as you’ve probably guessed).  But this is something we could put in if people are interested?

Even though this part takes up 12 rows, I’m not going to dwell on it too much.  What we have here is an amalgamation of EVERYTHING you can gain and lose with regards to your attributes.  I’ve given a top line result for each (Attribute Modifier Total) which is made up of modifiers made by meeting, defeating or being defeated by opponents; ‘penalties’, which could be things like traps; and ‘other’ which encompasses everything else.

It’s really the total modifiers I’m interested in here.  I think it indicates the overall danger level of the adventure you’re in.  Firetop is really quite giving in it’s Luck bonuses: 59 points up for grabs compared to Forest’s 14, all of which can be taken away!  Skill is comparable, but Stamina, phew, that’s a mighty 67 points Forest will beat out of you if you let it.  How many forests do you know that could kill you 3/4 times over?  Forest of Triple Doom could be an acceptable name.  Forest of Quadruple Doom even?  Forest of Quintuple Doom however is right out.

The number of actual fights you can have in both adventures is relatively comparable, but Forest has 9 more guys to jump you.  Understandable really as the Forest doesn’t have a fence, anyone can just wander in from the grasslands.  Not so with Firetop and it’s strict members only policy.  Although the bouncer at the front doesn’t really take his job seriously.

Finally we have the skill/stamina ranges.  I guess it’s good news that these are similar (WoFM is actually skill=6.5, but I didn’t want decimals dirtying up the place).  Of all the book stats, this is the one I’m most keen in seeing the variation of.  What’s interesting to note is that the highest skill/stamina in WoFM is actually from one guy, the Warlock himself!  Before you meet him in his chambers, he was playing poker with those dwarves you met earlier and beating them into poverty.  Before that he’d been up for 24 hours, having just come back from teaching the dragon how to play the piano. What a guy!  

Okay, so we'll be able to glean more useful information when we have more data to compare.  My next gamebook statjob is Deathtrap Dungeon.  Seeing a theme?  I'm focusing on 'fantasy' adventures.  I'm not sure how it's going to work comparing Freeway Fighter with Masks of Mayhem, so I'm going to leave non-fantasy books for the time being.

Also, all the data you see above is only about 95% accurate.  Probably only 90% if I'm being honest with myself.  Working in such a regulated industry that I do, you come to value the benefit of having someone independently QC your work.  They always find things you've missed or gotten wrong.  I've had no such help here.  So if you spot any errors or want an explanation of why I've interpreted something a certain way, please comment!  ALL FEEDBACK WELCOME.  Including insults (provided they're funny).

Link to WoFM spreadsheet:


  1. Love the analysis. The Forest of Doom stats confirm one of my suspicions in that although it is theoretically possible to play infinte number of times, the game is set up to gradually wear down your resources. There are fewer stamina bonuses, more stamina penalties and lots of luck tests and penalties. This means that it becomes harder to succeed at the luck test to avoid getting peppered with arrows on the way back. I don't know if this was intentional.

  2. Good point, I hadn't actually thought of that! Ruddy Forest of Whittling Doom.

    Something else you've mentioned that I forgot to do: how many 'Test Your Luck' commands are there? That's a good one to look at I think. That and 'How many paragraphs are required to actually complete the adventure'. A higher number could be harder, but also give you more value for money. I remember The Shamutanti Hills having a fair bit of crossover, so fewer paragraphs were 'wasted'.

  3. I love this idea! It will be interesting to play top trumps with our favourite gamebooks.
    Can I have your permission to build similar tables into the gamebook authoring tool some day? When I create the analysis module this is exactly the sort of thing we need. I would also love to get some form of importing in there so analysis like this would be a breeze.

    1. Hi Daniel, thanks! What did you have in mind exactly? And do you have any requests (I'm collecting the data from Deathtrap Dungeon as I type!).

    2. Hi Ben! Well, computers are especially good at scanning text, automation and counting things. It would be nice if there were some software to scan in a gamebook, search for text, ie "test your luck" and collate all that in a table!
      Have you done citadel of chaos yet? It would be interesting to see how useful the spells were. I know creature copy must be way up there!

    3. Ha, yeah that would make my job easier collecting the data! Not done CoC yet. I skipped over that one despite it being one of my favourites, because of the magic system. I think some of the gamebooks are going to skew the results somewhat because they have extra rules attached to them. So for now I'm concentrating on the basics. I only skipped City of Thieves because I don't have a map for it. But now you've put the idea in my mind, I can't stop thinking about the impact of the spells. I'll have to put a column in for when it asks you to use spells. Thanks, this is all great feedback!

  4. I'm actually doing something different: I'm counting how many paragraphs I pass thorugh on my path to visctory, and then I factorize that number with the total number of paragraphs of the gamebook.
    Try it and you'll find lots of interesting things about gamebook struuctures etc.

    1. Nice! So what kind of things have you discovered with that route Yaztromo? Also, did you mean the minimum number of passages to complete the gamebook or just how many you'd gone through?

    2. I counted how many passages I went through to complete the gamebook (that in my personal experience is the minimum number required to complete them, but there may be some better way that I didn't spot).
      I found that most linear gamebooks are between 20% and 30%, while "map" gamebooks are higher (my highest score is probably Island of the Undead at 52.5%).
      Steve Mason has an amazing gamebook building technique that I would call "jigsaw" and that delivers high percentages without making you feel that. Actually you feel the gamebook as linear, but it is not ;-)

    3. Staying within the boundaries of linear books, the gamebooks working group that produced for Hachette in France, has usually slightly higher percentages than the gamebooks working group that produced for Puffin in UK.

    4. Fascinating stuff! I didn't know anything about this. I do like the idea though as you have less wasted paragraphs. Steve Mason eh, I'll keep an eye out for him. Thanks for the info!