Sunday, June 26, 2022

June news and upcoming July news

 Hello all! Here is the latest in the world of gamebooks.


Conventions

Dragonmeet tickets are live!

Dragonmeet is happening on the 3rd December. I may be going (I haven't decided yet), but tickets are live with early bird tickets available until July 31st.

Buy tickets for Dragonmeet – Dragonmeet – Novotel Hammersmith, Sat 3 Dec 2022 9:00 AM - 11:30 PM (tickettailor.com)


New releases


The world of Nimbus

Welcome to the 5e world where good, evil, and heroism MEAN EVERYTHING!

A monotheistic, human world where a crumbling empire struggles to regain its bearings Clerics have fled the continent Sorcery and magic items are rare and can lead to corruption Long rests in the Wilderness require Survival skills for success Humans are the only playable race And yet, the world is immersive, rich, and full of adventure!

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/m/product/388312


David Gilson

David Gilson has released 2 new books this month:

Varney the Vampyr Book Two: Vampyr Hunter B: Amazon.co.uk: Lowrie, Mr David: 9798836415877: Books

You know that house near you, the one at the end of the road? The one that looks a bit scary. It’s an old house, set back from the road. It’s thin and tall, with tall and thin windows. In the middle is a crooked green front door, paint peeling everywhere. The mortar is crumbling from between the brickwork, and the whole house smells of damp and decay. Well, it used to.


An Unkindness of Ravens: A Shadow Thief Caper: Amazon.co.uk: Lowrie, Mr David: 9798446323210: Books

After the epic tale of the original Shadow Thief trilogy - comes something a bit different.

In this first Shadow Thief Caper: an Unkindness of Ravens, and Shadow is back doing what he should be doing- stealing. Set a year after the epic events of Heroes, then Shadow is once again working as a thief, and trying to rebuild the Jackdaws, the thieves' guild. But what happens if he steals the wrong thing from the wrong person?

Expect sneaking , climbing , creeping , puzzles , fights in the dark , taverns , beer, bar fights , mysterious women, dark magic, poisoning , familiars , assassinations , rooftop fights, voodoo dolls, and horrific deaths.

Or, as Shadow calls it, Tuesday Night


Computer games

Fabled Lands cRPG

Update 10.5 is here!

Fabled Lands - Version 1.0.5 is live! - Steam News (steampowered.com)


Sorcery! coming to the Switch on June 23rd

Steve Jackson's Sorcery! hitting Switch this month (nintendoeverything.com)


Choice of Games has more releases!

The juggernaut that is Choice of Games has made yet more releases this month.

The Golden Rose book 1

You are a recent member of The White Company, a mercenary guild on the far side of the law. Your job consists of hunting artifacts and roaming ruins that the Church has forbidden to mention. One of your expeditions, however, leads you down a path that is much deeper than you ever anticipated.

The Golden Rose: Book One (choiceofgames.com)

By Crom

The drums beat, horns blow. It is time for you to dance a warrior’s dance. You were born in poverty and raised by ambition. Now is your chance to write your own legend, will it be a tragedy or a triumph?

By Crom (choiceofgames.com)

Social Services of the Doomed—They have magic and fangs. You have red tape!

As an employee of the Department of Supernatural Social Services, it’s your job to mediate when a dispute breaks out between vampires and werewolves. Which is pretty often, these days. Tensions are rising in your city: not all supernatural citizens think that they have to abide by the law. Flocks of harpies are crowing prophecies of doom; wizards are slinging fireballs; trolls aren’t just having peaceful chats about tunneling technology anymore; there are demons in the werewolf dive bar; and something is up with the ley lines. Sometimes it feels like you’re the only one standing between the supernatural factions and a city in flames.

Social Services of the Doomed (choiceofgames.com)


Crowdfunding

Legendary Kingdoms - Pirates of the Splintered Isles by Jon and Oliver — Kickstarter

Prepare for adventure in this huge open-world gamebook series. Legendary Kingdoms is a gamebook campaign, where you lead a party of adventurers in a world that adapts to your actions. Venture into ancient ruins, pick a side and lead an army into battle, sail the high seas on your own warship, defeat tyrants or restore them to power. Along the way your party will increase in skill, wealth and renown, allowing them to take on more challenging adventures. Reach the heights of power and you may uncover a dreadful threat to the world itself and go on a mission that spans all six gamebooks in the series.

So is this a Solo Gamebook or an RPG?

The Legendary Kingdoms series has been designed to be played solo, as a choose your own adventure style gamebook. However, as you lead a party of four adventurers on an epic journey in a truly sandbox world, we have had playthroughs where one person has acted as the GM (Narrator) and four friends have taken on a character each.


WORM GNOSIS, an interactive comic book by Maldragon Editorial — Kickstarter

Worm Gnosis is an interactive comic book by Boris Ramírez. In it, the reader will take the role of the main character and go on an adventure whose development (and ending, therefore) will be determined by the decisions and actions taken over the course of the story. With a plot and setting clearly influenced by Lovecraft’s Mythos and tales, the readers will dive in a fantastic and chillingly fun adventure in which they will unravel mysteries and confront dark forces and enemies from this world and from others.


Adventures in social media

I found this awesome website out on the Reddit gamebooks group. They are gamebooks specifically aimed at girls in the teens and tweens age group.

Gamebooks - Trident Gamebooks

Monday, June 20, 2022

Sorry :(

 Hi all! 

I'm sorry there haven't been any posts in the last two weeks. I've been busy with exam revision and various things, and I haven't had time to make a massive backlog of posts for times like this (ahh, the heady days of 2011!).

Normal service will be resumed soon...



Thursday, June 2, 2022

May news and upcoming June news

 Hello all! Sorry I'm late again, but here is the news from May.


Black Dog Gamebooks

David Lowrie has released another book!

A brand new gamebook from Black Dog Gamebooks, written and illustrated by David Lowrie

After the epic tale of the original Shadow Thief trilogy - comes something a bit different.

In this first Shadow Thief Caper: an Unkindness of Ravens, and Shadow is back doing what he should be doing- stealing. Set a year after the epic events of Heroes, then Shadow is once again working as a thief, and trying to rebuild the Jackdaws, the thieves' guild. But what happens if he steals the wrong thing from the wrong person?

Expect sneaking , climbing , creeping , puzzles , fights in the dark , taverns , beer, bar fights , mysterious women, dark magic, poisoning , familiars , assassinations , rooftop fights, voodoo dolls, and horrific deaths.

An Unkindness of Ravens: A Shadow Thief Caper: Amazon.co.uk: Lowrie, Mr David: 9798446323210: Books


Adam C. Mitchell

Welcome to General Quarters Captain! You are about to take control of a submarine in World War II. Your mission to sink merchant trade convoy's, ships and tankers. With each ship lost the much needed resources of the Japanese War Machine will slow to a crawl. This is your mission Good Luck Captain!

General Quarters: A WW II D66 GAMEBOOK ADVENTURE: Mitchell, Adam C: 9798436451107: Books - Amazon


Dragon Warriors

Red Ruin Publishing has released another Dragon Warriors solo.

You have entered this benighted land, where you can either aid or oppose the forces of order.

In this open world gamebook, many adventures await -- explore haunted monasteries, delve into once deserted barrows or investigate cursed forests -- the choice is yours!

Scourge of the Shadows – A Dragon Warriors Solo Adventure - Red Ruin Publishing | DriveThruRPG.com


Choose Your Own Adventure

There are some CYOA releases this June:

The Flight of the Unicorn (PRE-ORDER) – Chooseco LLC (cyoa.com)

You are on a fantastic quest through medieval Scotland to find your missing pegacorn mentor, Dame Scotia. You believe she was kidnapped to steal her magic to create a pegacorn army. Can you and your newly-trained pegaorn, Liss, locate Dame Scotia in time to prevent war?

The Ghost on the Mountain (PRE-ORDER) – Chooseco LLC (cyoa.com)

You’re on a family vacation in Haiti to learn about your heritage when you discover a ghost in your room. The ghost tells you her name is Yvette, and that the mountains are calling you. Before you can answer, you meet a little girl named TiYoyo, who wants to show you her home.

Fairy House (PRE-ORDER) – Chooseco LLC (cyoa.com)

Bored and ignored by your busy parents, you decide to go outside and build a fairy house. Just when you’re sure nothing is going to happen, you meet Bert the Below Average: a real, live fairy. He’s not exactly what you had in mind. But he’ll do. Let the adventures begin!


Computer games

Fabled Lands CRPG

The beta for the entire of Harkuna (books 1,2, 4 and 5) is up now. You can sign up for the beta here:

Fabled Lands - BETA sign-up! - Steam News (steampowered.com)

You can read about it here:

Fabled Lands: Plunge right in


Choice of Games

 Freshman Magic: Spellbooks and Tangled Sheets

Freshman Magic: Spellbooks and Tangled Sheets (choiceofgames.com)

Freshman Magic: Spellbooks and Tangled Sheets] is a 263,000-word interactive gay romance novel by Raven de Hart. It’s entirely text-based, without graphics or sound effects, and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

A magical duelling scholarship won you a spot at the prestigious Briarthorn University, one of the top magic colleges in North America. You expected a hard workload and even harder dueling practice sessions…you weren’t expecting your classmates to be so distracting!


Crowdfunding

This is a murder mystery gamebook. It has 28 days left and about £550 to go!

Framed by GR Jordan

UYD#2: Framed by G R Jordan — Kickstarter

"Framed" is a tale where YOU are the hero, or rather the victim, having been found beside the body of your employer with a gun in your hand. YOU don't know how YOU got there but if YOU're going to avoid jail then YOU'd better find out, and sharpish!

This gamebook is a mix of murder mystery and action adventure gamebook as you explore the island of Dr Flavius Munroe, now deceased, and try to find out which of the invited guests has landed you in the frame for his murder.


Nikola Tesla: War of the Currents

Nikola Tesla: War of the Currents (choiceofgames.com)

Nikola Tesla: War of the Currents is a 225,000-word interactive science-fiction novel by Dora Klindžić. It’s entirely text-based, without graphics or sound effects, and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

The man who invented the 20th century was a queer immigrant from Serbia. Nikola Tesla dreamed of distributing free energy to all of mankind but passed away in a New York hotel room alone and forgotten. What if it had gone differently?


Life of a Space Force Captain, plus Paradox Factor is now on Steam!

User-Made Games Archive - Choice of Games LLC

Play as human, various species of alien, or even a robot. With the help of your friends and your loyal, upgradable robo-pet, you will go to school to learn skills of your own choosing before taking a position as a lowly cadet.


Destiny Quest World Companion

I've mentioned this one before and it is already funded. You can still get it here:

DestinyQuest: The World Companion by Michael J Ward — Kickstarter

Dormus is a world riven with strife and conflict, its very fabric of reality under threat from otherworldly forces and cataclysmic events. These are dark and perilous days, where fractious tensions threaten to bring down kingdoms and empires, and demonic invaders sow seeds of chaos and destruction to hasten the fall of humanity.

This is a time when great heroes will rise – legendary men and women of fame, who will spin the web of destiny anew, changing lives and history, influencing kings and nations, and becoming beacons of hope amidst a desperate world teetering on the brink of ruin.


Interactive Fiction and Gamebooks Book Club

Interactive Fiction & Gamebooks Discussion Group (Book Club) | Facebook

June's book is You Are a Filmmaker.

Amazon.com: You Are a Filmmaker: An Interactive Novel: 9781736502624: Harry, Matt, Crump, Juliane: Books


Tuesday, May 24, 2022

The costs and benefits of rolling dice part 2 - the benefits of rolling dice

 Last time, I wrote about the costs of rolling dice. It takes time, it might result in bad things and if the system isn't thought out properly, then it will just be frustrating.

So why do it? 


Excitement

As Radnoff said in my last post, there is excitement of the possibility of success, and if success happens in unlikely situations then it is even more exciting. 

There is also excitement from rolling dice because they offer the chance of variety.

Also, rolling dice means that you never know what's going to happen with each different read through.

 With enough random events, it is possible to read a completely different story with each read through.


It can help decide whether something happens or not

This can determine whether a wandering monster finds you or whether there is treasure at the bottom of the lake or whether the strange monster will attack you or run away.


It can be used to work out how much something happens

Instead of finding a fixed amount of treasure or taking a fixed amount of damage when something bad happens, the die roll can add some randomness to it. Sometimes, it won't make much of a difference, but it might if the treasure is needed to afford something awesome or if a certain roll could kill your character. 


It can work out what happens

A random event is going to happen to you in Fabled Lands, but it could range from finding a staff to being attacked by a wolf. 


It can be fun for stats nerds

One thing I like about gamebook systems is that I can analyse them and work out whether the system makes the game possible to win. I usually use Anydice. to analyse systems and work out how easy it is to win the book.

Champskees in the Fighting Fantazine forum includes tables or probabilities of winning certain Fighting Fantasy books depending on your stats. 


Conclusion

Rolling dice can add extra variety to a gamebook and also add extra excitement. If you do it, however, you need to make sure that the statistics have been calculated to make sure that these dice rolls are going to be exciting instead of impossible or too easy. 

The variables in the numbers need to be added in the right places so that the random numbers actually have an effect. It is more exciting to lose 1d6 stamina points towards the end when the character may only have a few stamina points left rather than at the beginning where 1 or 6 points won't make a difference.

If they are used for random events, then you need to make sure that the events will be significantly different.

Next time, I'll do...something else. Random elements is a multifaceted issue. I might do the difference between probability and consequences and how they fit together. 

Sunday, May 15, 2022

The costs and benefits of rolling dice part 1 - the costs of rolling dice

Hello all! Back to my series on the good and bad points of having random elements in gamebooks. This week, I'm going to look at the costs of doing so and how these random elements might cause work for the player.

So, when I say work, I do acknowledge that rolling a few dice is nothing like doing an actual job. What I am trying to express is that the idea of getting a random result has the advantages of some tension and excitement and if too much dice rolling and number picking has to happen, then the excitement might wear off and all the dice rolling and number picking will be a chore.

So what situations does this happen in? Firstly, it does not seem to happen in skill tests. They all seem to be one die roll (for the sake of brevity, I will refer to do rolls despite the fact that it could include picking numbers at random from a square of random numbers, coin flipping, picking cards from a deck etc.) with a pass fail, if that. A lot of times, the book simply asks if you have a particular skill, so no dice roll is involved. In these cases, you either roll a number and the higher the score the better, with the skill giving a bonus (Lone Wolf) or you roll to get higher than a number and add a stat (Fabled Lands), equal to or less than a number (Fighting Fantasy) or just less than a number (Fighting Fantasy which wasn't able to make its mind up sometimes).

In the cases with trying to compare your scores to the dice roll, the tricky bit has always been what to do with the case when the dice rolls are equal to your score. In all cases, the book decides that rolling equal to the score is either a pass or a fail. This means that you don't have to reroll your dice if you get an equal value to your score. 

For some reason, in some cases, this idea goes out of the window in combat.

In Fighting Fantasy, you roll 2d6 and add to your skill, then do the same for your opponent. If the scores are equal, nothing happens. Unless there is a time limit to the combat, then all that dice rolling has resulted in nothing. That's one way to watch the excitement drain down. However, at least the chances of getting a draw in a Fighting Fantasy combat are quite low - 11% with two fighters with equal SKILLs and lower if they are unequal.

Having a draw in combat does have utility if something will happen after a certain number of rounds, but I don't think that it is worth it. The solution here is simple, though - simply state that rolling equal scores is a win or a loss for the character.

In some cases, the character needs to roll equal to or less than their skill to hit an opponent. This turns up with ranged weapons, which makes sense. There is less interaction with the opponent, so it is more like a skill roll for you than for both of you. This turns up a few times in Fighting Fantasy (Starship Traveller, Space Assassin, Siege of Sardath)

However, this has the potential to make combat drag out even longer because both combatants can roll above their skill and miss, so nothing happens. Siege of Sardath has a mechanic where if you miss with an arrow, you can test your luck to make it a hit, reducing the probability of missing (which is good, because there is a case in Siege of Sardath where you have to hit with an arrow or get an instadeath). You could also do a luck test to turn a hit for an opponent into a miss. This would be good in Starship traveller where ranged combat normally involves a one hit kill.

What about other gamebook series?

Well Fabled Lands has two scores in combat - Combat and Defence. 

To hit an opponent in Fabled Lands, you need to roll 2d6 + Combat to get above their Defence. The difference is how much damage you deal. The fact that damage is not a fixed number means that combat could be over very quickly.

The scores are linked - Defence = Combat + Rank + Armour, so the better you are at hitting opponents, the better you also are at not being hit. People used to include Combat bonuses from weapons to Defence, but that made characters unbeatable, so when book 7 came out, they decided that only your character's innate Combat would add to Defence.

However, they are not completely linked, so it is possible to have a high defence score whilst having a low combat score. 

This is where combat could get tedious because if a character is bad at hitting but good at defending and they are fighting a similar opponent, then there will be several rounds where nothing happens. 

Some people on the Facebook group have thought up ways around it. If you search "Defence", you will see what people say. One person has stated that if someone rolls a double, they deal damage equal to their combat score. Rolling a double on 2d6 has a 1 in 6 chance, so that would definitely speed up combat. 

Tin Man Games had a Gamebook Adventures system similar to this. You rolled a number of dice equal to your Attack score and compared the results to the dice rolled from your opponent's Defence score. You hit your opponent if your highest die roll was higher than their highest die roll and did damage equal to the sum total of the dice. This was find when attack was 3+ and higher than the opponent's Defence, but with low attacks, it was hard to hit. TMG had a mechanic in play where if you rolled equal to or less than your Fitness, you got a +1 to your highest die roll which made it more likely to hit your opponent.

It is Lone Wolf, however, who wins the prize for making sure something happens in a combat round. If you look at the combat table, then, whatever number you pick, someone loses Endurance points every round. That means that combat will always flow. Of course, this means making a table for such a purpose, so the solution is not the most elegant. It is up to the person making the system and the person playing it to decide if that is a sacrifice they are willing to make. For me, it is. The system is very simple, so referring to one table is not going to overcomplicate things compared to some RPGs.


So there are basic systems where we find out whether something happens in a combat round. Of course, a combat system can still have a possibility of nothing happening in a combat round, but the wasted time and effort can still be reduced if the player has options to change things about that combat round, like manipulating dice rolls or having a special attack, having an ability that deals damage every round or doing various other things. 

There can only be one winner when it comes to this and that's Destiny Quest. Seriously - look at the 9 page glossary of abilities (and that's just book 1!) you could use in combat. Combat is similar to Fighting Fantasy - roll 2d6, add your Speed attribute and the highest one wins. However, once you include all the abilities you could have (and you can have loads when you are fully kitted out), that gives loads of choices so that each combat round is less about rolling two dice and comparing numbers and more about making decisions about what abilities to use. 

And if you love Destiny Quest, remember there is a Kickstarter for the World Companion coming out on the 17th May!


So it seems that the lesson from this is that in every combat round, have something happen - at least one combatant's stats have to decrease somehow. Or at least let the player have the opportunity to decide on making something happen.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Rulers of the NOW Scathing gamebook review

 Hello gamebook team! I know last week, I did a post on random elements in gamebooks which I fully intend to continue. Unfortunately, I haven't had time this week to do post 2, so here is a post I saved up. A scathing gamebook review of my book Rulers of the NOW.



Welcome to scathing gamebook reviews, where I rip gamebooks apart, sometimes literally, but always figuratively.

In this issue, we look at Rulers of the NOW, a dystopian, self described comedy, by Stuart Lloyd.

The author has described this work as a near future, dystopian, cli-fi black comedy, probably because he thought that putting as many adjectives as possible into the book’s description would be funny, or at least distract the reader from how dire it is. Unfortunately, it does neither.

The best part of the book is the cover. It is skilfully crafted by Sammy who is a talented artist and the author of the Two Fisted Fantasy gamebooks. Unfortunately, she had to bring to life the products of Stuart’s diseased mind, but she nonetheless takes his insane ramblings and produces an awesome cover art. If only other authors would pay her to do something, then she would not have to associate with the author who is a clear raving maniac.

After the beautiful cover art, it goes quickly downhill from there.

In this book, you play a lowly office worker, who, at the beginning of the story, gets branded a terrorist. From there, you can decide whether to go along with the authorities or go on the run. The author clearly has a problem with authority because going along with the authorities gets you thrown into jail and sent to a re-education camp for years, then the book ends. Going on the run has a far longer route where you can meet some rebels, find a home, and, if you go far enough, go aboard the space station where the billionaires live.

The beginning of the book appears to be a homage to Kafka, if the person doing he homage had attempted to skim the summary of Kafka’s work on Wikipedia, but actually read Dan Brown’s page instead without realising it.

The book seems to be taking potshots at certain philosophies or lifestyles and tries to point out the problems with them. As if his gamebook is going to solve the world’s problems. I mean, whenever did a book ever highlight a possible horrible future that it could slip into to warn its readers to avoid it?

Well, lots of times, obviously, but they were good. This book is like a cross of The Trial, The Illuminatus Trilogy, Nineteen Eighty Four and The Divine Comedy, because why not, I guess?

The book moves from chase to search to heist to rescue mission, each time, attempting to raise the stakes or teach you something about how messed up the world is. In reality, it just made me want steak and it taught me how messed up Stuart’s head is.

There are many of what the author would probably describe as jokes in the book. I’d like to say that these jokes deliver the book’s message skilfully with wonderfully crafted humour. However, if I did say that, I would be lying. These “jokes” can be seen coming a mile away. The first section has a joke about Youtube ads and flatulence. I mean, some on, flatulence is just too easy. It gets even worse, where you could come across a cannibal whose heinous crimes are played for laughs. There is nothing funny about cannibal blancmanges.

The book is clearly a love letter to socialism and environmentalism, which is not inherently bad in itself. Everyone is entitled to political opinions and the right to broadcast them in whatever media they like, but the messages of this book are delivered with the subtlety of an anvil being smashed into your face by an elephant wearing a top hat. The author obviously has a massive bee in his bonnet or there is a satanic death cult ruling the world that paid him handsomely to inflict this steaming piece of work upon the world, probably in return for a human sacrifice to grant him eternal youth (have you seen Stuart Lloyd? He claims to be in his late 30s!) .

The book is currently free on Itch and Drive Thru, but, after reading it, I felt like the author owed me money for having to sift through it in order to write a review of it. I would have given a better review if he had taken a dump on my doorstep and told me to sift through that instead.

Score: 4/5 turds


Thursday, May 5, 2022

Destiny Quest World Companion Kickstarter

 





Hello all! I've got some exciting news that can't wait until the end of the month because it's about a Kickstarter.

It's the Destiny Quest World Companion!

As you may know, Destiny Quest is a series of huge gamebooks where you can create and customise your own character as you go, fighting many epic battles with a combat system with many many options. All the books are superb and beautifully produced. Now you can get to know the world of Destiny Quest even more with this awesome world companion!

The Kickstarter will launch on the 17 May at 10.00 EST (3.00 in the UK). The Kickstarter will be running for 30 days and offers a range of pledge levels to cater for different fans. 

You can sign up to be notified for the launch here.

The World Companion is a hardback collector's item, that provides the following: 

A detailed history of the world, from its creation by the celestial Fates, to the current ‘end days’ of crumbling empires and war-weary kingdoms.

A comprehensive timeline that charts the key events that have shaped the world of Dormus, right up to the present-day narratives of the gamebook series.

An overview of the magic system, detailing the chaotic forces of the Shroud and the effects of its demonic taint, as well as the runic magic of the dwarves and the dangerous arts of elemental sorcery.

Exciting character stories and biographies, exploring some of the key heroes (and villains) who have influenced the Destiny Quest world, including the legendary witchfinder, Eldias Falks, and the enigmatic archmage, Avian Dale.

Detailed summaries of the main factions that vie for power and influence within the Kingdom of Valeron, from the secretive enclaves of the Arcane Hand to the scheming masters of shadow, the Nevarin.

Whether you are a fan of the DestinyQuest series or a gamemaster looking for a new and immersive setting for your homebrew roleplaying campaign, The World Companion delivers a wealth of exciting secrets and discoveries – everything you need to arm yourselves for epic adventures ahead.

The Kickstarter is on this page: DestinyQuest: The World Companion by Michael J Ward — Kickstarter