Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Pain on the Plains

Hello all! I've done another encounter table - this time for Plains. Pain on the Plains contains 36 encounters for SCRAWL (or you can use them for your own adventures if you like. I'm just glad you're enjoying them) all for the low low price of PWYW. Have fun!

You can get Pain on the Plains here.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Fun in the Forest

Hello lovely people! The SCRAWL machine keeps on churning out new stuff. Here is a list of forest encounters called Fun in the Forest. Here, there are 36 encounters for when you move onto a forest hex.

I intend to make 36 encounters for all terrains in SCRAWL, so keep your eyes peeled.

You can find Fun in the Forest on RPG Now for PWYW.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Anatomy of a Village

Hello lovely people. I'm doing some world building for SCRAWL and I've just created a village generator. I aim to make a generator for site adventures for different terrains (including underground), some maps for your to explore and then some special adventures. Enjoy!

To get Anatomy of a Village, go here. It costs PWYW.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Yin-Yang of game design

So Wayfarer and SCRAWL (along with a SCRAWL adventure) are up on RPG Now for PWYW and in taking them to the next level, I have realised that they are interconnected in a way that is helping them both grow.

I remember the first time I had the idea that would turn into Wayfarer. It was as far back as 2011, I think. I had just downloaded Trial of the Clone from Tin Man Games and I did a test. In Trial of the Clone, you roll d4 three times and if one is equal to or over the difficulty, you win. The numbers didn't all appear at once, but rather one at a time, like on a fruit machine.

Then I had a thought - could I create a game system that had a sense of tension and anticipation even if they lose a roll. In Trial of the Clone, if I failed the first roll, I was still excited to see whether the other two would succeed.

I experimented with several systems, going all the way up to 6d6 and pick the best 2, 2d6 and reroll 1d6. Eventually, about 5 years later and with lots of experimenting, I settled with 1d6 and rerolls. I guess the simplest answer is the best.

However, the system was only half of the battle. The setting was the other half.

I wanted to make the setting as sandboxy as possible. I also wanted to create a world with its own logic and natural lores that I could implement consistently. I soon discovered that this was difficult. Especially if I was trying to do a fantasy world with magic that is pretty much the definition of breaking natural laws. I tried tons of things to have a system that fitted the story. Evetually, I settled for...pretty much no magic.

The world has other races, clockpunk machinery, spirits, undead and faeries, but no magic in the sense of magic light, magic missiles or magically being able to fly or open locked doors. I bend the laws of physics and nature a bit with the presence of these other races, most of which would not be evolutionarily viable. After all, that's the only reason I can think of that dragons don't exist. And I'm sure some mad scientist is working on making a dragon right now (I mean, amassing genomes is great and everything, but that's not going to give you giant flying, fire breathing reptiles that you can ride any time soon, is it?).

The only thing close to magic is the "Aetherlink", a lore that all living things are connected which allows some low level telepathy between you and things like trees, animals and spirits - just don't expect them to tell you anything outside what they would normally know. A tree could tell you what walked past it and how damp the earth is, but it can't see a mile away. You need a lot of training to use the Aetherlink, too and you can't get it as a starting character.

Literally years of thought, experimentation, research and writing amounted to a rulebook that is about 5000 words in size. Wayfarer must have the highest effort to word ratio of anything I have written.

While working on Wayfarer, I came up with the idea of applying the system to a DnD type setting. The idea stayed in my head for a while until a few months back, when I wrote SCRAWL. It spilled out in a few hours and I've barely changed it since its conception.

Why the contrast?

First of all, SCRAWL came after all the work on Wayferer. I had also worked on Adventurer with Shane Garvey which is a solo DnD type game system. So the ideas were there - I just married two systems together for them to have a baby. SCRAWL was the capstone on an intellectual pyramid that I had spent 5 years building.

Also, with SCRAWL, I was less fussy about every detail. SCRAWL is meant to be an OSR style snadbox hack and slash murderhobo adventure. I didn't need to think about funy things like population, infrastructure, economics, medicine or any other of those silly details. There were dungeons all over - why? Because then you can raid them. There are a random number of villages on each hex and they all sell weapons and healing stuff. Also, some adventurer strolling into town with a sackful of gems won't do anything to the economy. There are more humanoid races than you can count all living within close proximity to each other and a number of extremely hostile monsters. And all of this does not bother me one bit.

In contrast to Wayfarer, where I agonised over every detail, I just let loose with SCRAWL and wrote what I wanted. And this is how they help each other. Wayferer and SCRAWL are like an odd couple. Wayferer is the uptight fastidious one and SCRAWL just wants to cut loose and party, and this helps both.

When I hit a wall with my Wayferer worldbuilding, I do some world building in SCRAWL, knowing that I can come up with something in 20 minutes that won't bother me no matter how inconsistent I find it. This might unblock a creative pipe with Wayfarer. What about the rules holding SCRAWL together? Well, if I find a hole in them, working on Wayfarer helps with the system in SCRAWL. And this is why they are the Yin-Yang of game systems for me. I've just come up with ways of generating adventures for SCRAWL which, when complete, I might also apply to Wayferer. Which is good, because I was wondering how to do it with Wayferer.

So it seems to be good to have projects that require different skill sets and perspectives as they feed each other.

And if you are curious as to what I'm talking about, you can get Wayferer and SCRAWL for PWYW.

I picked this colour scheme, because Wayfarer and SCRAWL also remind me of the Blue-Red conflict from Magic the Gathering.

Friday, January 20, 2017


Hello to you gamebookers!

Last week, I told you about Wayfarer, a system where you can explore a world, its ancient ruins and Wayfarer and Adventuer which Shane Garvey came up with.
encounter its strange creatures. The world of Wayfarer is a very low magic, quasi-medieval world where much of the adventure comes from exploration and interaction. However, after writing it, I decided to try my hand at using the system for a different kind of game. That is how I came up with SCRAWL. SCRAWL is short for Solo CRAWL. It is all about delving into dungeons, hacking up monsters and getting treasure. It is pure unapolagetic murder-hobo fun. It is a cross between

I have written the core rules, which includes character creation, spells, treasure, magic items and monsters in one book.

If you want to take a look at SCRAWL, the rulebook is on RPGNow for PWYW.

To play Dungeon of the Orc Boss, go here. You can get it for PWYW.

To get advanced notice of all Wayfarer and SCRAWL products and to read notes about their development, you can back me on Patreon for a mere $1 per product.

Happy gamebooking!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Wayfarer 2nd edition out now

Hello, my lovelies!

A while ago, I came up with a gamebook system called Legend of the Wayfarer and tinkered with it until I was blue in the face. I also made 8 short gamebooks with it. I have made all of them available PWYW on RPGNow. I was, however, unhappy with many aspects of the system, so I tinkered with it for ages until I have come up with a new edition. I have simply called it Wayfarer and it is now available for PWYW on RPG Now. I intend to release gamebooks for it later in the year, as I am currently working on another gamebook.

However, if you support me on Patreon, you will be able to get the gamebooks in advance as well as read articles on how I developed Wayfarer. I am asking for a mere $1 per product. I probably wil lonly make 2 per month maximum, so that is not much. And I won't be making paid posts for a while, but I am making some posts about development for free which you will see if you are a patron.

I also have a similar system called SCRAWL (short for Solo CRAWL). It is like Wayfarer, but it is pure unadulterated OSR murder hobo mayhem. You can read more about that on my Patreon feed too.

Enjoy! And happy gamebooking!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Making challenging options

Gamebooks run on giving a player choices to take and then telling them what the consequences of
Unless its this which door choice,
where it's best to change your mind.
those choices are and  there is a fine art to getting the choices and the consequences right.  If the consequences to your choices cannot be predicted (the which door choice), then it might get frustrating, especially if one or more of the choices leads to sudden death.  However, if all of the options have consequences that are logical and easy to predict, and one of the consequences is better than the other(s) then there is no real choice, as this essay states.  However, I get annoyed if something that should be done reasonably to me is not an option as it makes me think that the author has not thought the options through.

So there is a very fine line with making options that are not too obvious yet also provide enough information for you to make the best decision with some thought.  So how can we do that?

And you've just lost.  THE GAME!
There does not have to be a 'winning' or 'losing' paragraph in some gamebook choices - this would be more apparent in gameBOOKs where the main aim is to create an interesting story and if the story is interesting, even if your character dies, it might feel like a satisfying end.  This kind of gamebook would have a different feel to a lot of gamebooks, however, which would appeal to some people (people who want to create stories), but not people who want to win at something, or beat a challenge.

If you see this, you can't learn magic.
Another way to make all choices equally valid is to have them mean different things to characters who have made different past choices.  For example, in a dungeon where you know you have to fight either a gang of orcs or a dragon, the character who picks up a sword of orc slaying is going to mind fighting the orcs less than the character who picks up the spear of dragon slaying.  This approach is done very well in Slaves of Rema where the first choice you make determines which path is best for you later on in the game.

Finally, there is an approach which I have found Dave Morris is very good at.  He sometimes presents you with options which seemingly make no sense, but when you choose them, you realise that the consequences fit into the logic of the world that Dave has set out.  Dave's method involves 2 steps - the first one is to create and communicate the 'rules' of the world - for example, most of his books have a very medieval approach to fey, elves, etc., so you have to know that they are tricky to deal with.  He communicates this through how the world looks as well as how these creatures act.  Sometimes, he is just explicit about his rules (like in the Knightmare books).  The next stage involves having people do things that are consistent with those rules, but framing the options so that it is not entirely explicit as to what exactly the reasoning is.  The reasoning is left up to you as the reader.  This requires a deceptively large amount of work as the world has to be consistent.  If it is not, it will just devolve into a 'which door' choice or a 'guess what the author was thinking' choice.

For example, in Blood Sword book 1, you have the task of identifying a magi in a masked ball.  You can summon a fey like creature to do so.  It will ask you if you want it to find the magi.  The options you have are 'yes' and 'no'.  The correct answer is 'no' because you have to be more explicit with your instructions to fey as they will exploit every loophole you give them.

Another good one is in Castle of Lost Souls, you have to get a crystal ball from a fortune teller.  The options are:  Ask her to read your fortune, ask her to read her fortune or take her to the fair.  The best choice is to take her to the fair as you will then dance with her, get her drunk and then sneak back to her tent to take the crystal ball easily.

A subset of this method is something I have seen in some gamebooks, which is when you have a list of actions that you could take to overcome a problem, one of them being to try 'something else'.  You really don't know what this something else could be so it is a bit of a gamble as to whether it will work or not, but it always intrigues me as to what this 'something else' could be.  It is not quite like what Dave Morris does because there is no insight afterwards as to how the action was logical (as you never knew what it was in the first place) but I find it good for a different reason as it provides me with a thrill of a gamble.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

You are the Beer-O 2017

Hello gamebookers! These are the dates for You are the Beer-O 2017. In case you don't know, You are the Beer-O is a chance for Fighting Fantasy fans to meet up, have a pint and talk Fighting Fantasy.

Sat 18th February - London (The Salutation, Hammersmith)
Sat 27th May - outer London meet-up (exact location to be confirmed)
Sun 28th May - London (The Salutation, Hammersmith)
Fri 1st & Sat 2nd September - London (The Castle, Ealing - special meet-ups in conjunction with Fighting Fantasy Fest 2)

I missed all of the events last year due to other commitments, but I hope to be at at least one of these fine events.

Also take note that Fighting Fantasy Fest is on the 2nd September this year

To see my posts about my new gamebook rules, Wayfarer and SCRAWL and to see my first SCRAWL adventure, back me on Patreon for a mere $1 a product.

Happy gamebooking!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy new year!

Happy new year, everyone! I am looking forward to a wonderful 2017 with lots of changes and lots
of gamebooks.

I have actually been quite busy over the last few days. After working on it for ages, I have finally finalised my system that started off as Legend of the Wayfarer. If have called this new version Wayfarer and it is probably the piece of work that has the highest effort to word ratio of anything I have written. Every section of the system and world building has been written, rewritten and tinkered with until I've come up with a system that I'm happy with. It is simply called Wayfarer and I will make it public at some point in 2017 when I've also written an adventure for it. It is available for my Patrons to see. I will also be writing articles about the develpment of Wayfarer (because I've done a lot of it!) for my patrons. I'm only asking for $1 per product on my Patreon feed.

You can get the original Legend of the Wayfarer rulebook and the eight books I wrote on RPG Now for Pay What You Want.

Wayfarer is a system for a very low magic world that is heavily based on medieval Europe. The adventures will be mainly based around exploration and NPC interaction. There will not be much combat. As a response to this, I took the principles of the Wayfarer system and combined them with old school dungeon crawling. This lead to a system called SCRAWL (short for Solo CRAWL). This will involve the opposite mentality to Wayfarer - there will be no attempt to build a believable society with a rich history and ancient mysteries. The land of SCRAWL is full of villages with all the weapons and potions you need and they're all a day's walk from a dungeon full of monsters and treasure, wilderness where monsters roam with treasure and
cities where monsters live with their treasure. SCRAWL will hark back to the days of old school gamebooks such as Warlock of Firetop Mountain, Forest of Doom and City of Thieves.

I have also released a short adventure for SCRAWL - Dungeon of the Orc Boss. It is not a gamebook, but a dungeon with a random generator, which I made to see how the system would work.

Once again, you can see SCRAWL and Dungeon of the Orc Boss if you back me on Patreon.

Or you can wait for a few weeks before I release them on RPG Now.

The Gamebook Feed is getting more views than this blog on most days. I've removed the content from the posts to make sure that people click on the links and so the people who wrote the posts get the traffic.

So that's what I've been up to over the last few days. Enjoy!

If you would like to show your appreciation and/or get a sneak preview of Wayfarer and SCRAWL products, you just need to back me on Patreon for a mere $1 per product.