Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fabled Lands - War Torn Kingdom Review

Wouldn't this have been a better title screen for The Plains
of 'Owilng Darkness?  (Thankyou, I'm here all week).

After my first journey into Fabled Lands in which I took advantage of being a merchant and killing pirates to get lots of money and go up in rank faster, I was left feeling a little empty.  There were no challenges any more - all my ability scores were high for the books, I was of a very high rank (and therefore had a very high defence score making me extremely difficult to hit in combat) and I had several tens of thousands of shards.

Feeling left without a challenge, I decided to play Fabled Lands properly in order to enjoy it fully for what it is - a big world to explore and create your own narrative in - and to review it for this blog.  

It is a little known fact that
The War Torn Kingdom has
a yellow sub theme.
I'm only reviewing the War Torn Kingdom today, so, with that and my previous rampage in mind, I decided to make some rules for myself.

1)  I will not take advantage of any infinite loops in the book.

2)  I will stay in Sokara (i.e. book 1) as I am just reviewing book 1 and I do not want to take advantage of any of the things in the other books, even if there are some tasks that you cannot complete unless you get information or items from other books.  I want to see how far a starting character can go in just one book.

So, how did my journey go?

I decided to be a wayfarer.  While not having the broken levelling up ability a warrior has, I would still be a good combatant while still being able to look after myself in the wilds.  I was also quite a decent thief.  However, anything involving magic, the supernatural or charming people would not go well.

What's yellow and above
our heads? The sky. 
The War Torn Kingdom starts with me in a small boat, drifting through the sea on brink of death.  You have your map, an heirloom, which you have already memorised.  I'm on the brink of death, but eventually, I crash into the shore of Isle of Druids and meet a crazy old man who tells me to follow him where he will show me the gates of the world...

It's Ok, old man.  I'll take a look around here first.  

I checked out the village near the coast and went to the temple of Lacuna, the nature Goddess.  However, becoming an initiate costed 30 shards and I only had 16, so I entered the forests, thinking that I would be right at home there.

It required a scouting roll of 10 to not get lost.  With a scouting score of 6, all I needed to do was roll a 5 or more.

I got lost twice and lost 4 stamina points each time.  Not wanting to die prematurely, I went to the inn and spent 4 shards to restore them both times.

What's yellow, smelly and busy?
Yes, barkeep, I got lost again.  Why don't you try it rather than swilling that bilge water you call ale?

I succeeded a third time, met a tree who liked me because I was a wayfarer.  I then found another city where a druid gave me a staff to deliver to another forest, because I was a wayfarer.  It was time to leave the isle of druids.  I left through the Yellowport arch an was greeted by the disgusting smell of the sulphur saturated stinking river.

Exploring the city at night, I was confronted by a thug who I easily killed and took 15 shards from.  That was the only time I did that.  

I then went to the tavern where I bought a round of drinks in order to glean some rumours.

Here you go, friend.  I hear this is a nice place to visit.

What's yellow and should be thrown
into the blessed srings?  A vial of
yellow dust.
I was told by a scholar that it certainly was not a nice place to visit and that he was annoyed because the scorpion people had stolen the Book of Seven Sages.  If I return it to him, he'll reward me.  With a quest to complete and an insatiable curiosity, I decided to leave Yellowport and explore the countryside.  I headed to the Forest of Larun in order to deliver the staff.  After passing a sanctity test of 9, I handed the staff to a druid who handed me another staff and told me to take it back to the Isle of Druids.  I returned to Yellowport, hitched a lift on a boat and gave the druid a staff.  In return, he let me train with the best druids and wayfarers.

I'm no longer an outcast.  I have reached the heady rank of commoner.  

I had many other adventures.  I got beaten into submission by a group of rat men.  I tracked some ghosts down only to find out that they were people.  I took the book from the Scorpion Men.  I fought some knights.  And much much more...

The verdict

From a gameplay view, The War Torn Kingdom is second to none.  In my other posts, I have already talked about the huge variety of things to do and the many rewards, but there are other subtle touches that makes the game balanced and playable.

What's yellow and doesn't
appear in this book?
The Yellow Dragon Knight.
First of all, the difficulties for the tasks are calculated well.  The first tasks that you will face will have a difficulty of 9 or 10.  Even if you have a 2 in the required characteristic, investing in a stat boosting potion and a blessing should make them doable.

The book is not too lethal either.  A lot of tasks are not combat based and you have the chance of escaping many combats.  For example, you can avoid combat with the thug if you make a charisma roll at a difficulty of 8.  Some combats are not lethal even if you lose them.  For example, if you lose a combat against rat men in the sewers, they just beat you and take all of your items and money rather than kill you.  The dragon knights in the dragon castle challenge you to non lethal combat for a wager of your weapons and armour.

This is all good as at the beginning of the book, you will not have enough resources or knowledge to buy things such as stat boosting equipment and potions, blessings and resurrection deals and so your life might be painfully short if failing all of your challenges had lethal consequences.

The game will also never grind to a halt if it all goes wrong.  If you need money for passage on a ship to complete a quest, you can sell most of your items.  If you sell an item and realise that you need it later, you can probably buy it from elsewhere.  If you get all of your possessions stolen, you can store a spare set of equipment in a house or cache so that you can start out again.  If you are terrible at combat, then you can find other ways of getting money other than combat.

What's yellow and wet?  The Lake of the Sea Dragon.
For example, after I had been beaten to within an inch of my life (my stamina was reduced to 1) and had all of my possessions stolen by the rat people, I left Yellowport and headed north where I came across the ghosts taking an offering.  Not wanting to fight them, I tracked them with my scouting skill, where I discovered that they were people.  The villagers gave me 80 shards.  I also managed to catch a smolder fish which I sold in the village by the lake of the Sea Dragon.  I used the money to buy an ordinary weapon and some leather armour.  I then went to the castle of the dragon knights where I beat two of them in combat in order
to get two suits of heavy plate mail, one of which I sold for
1440 shards.  I had recovered from that set back.

The Yellow Dragon Knight in
another role.
The game is hugely replayable.  Once you get used to the area, you could try it as another character.  However, as soon as you incorporate it with the other books then the potential for different adventures increases exponentially.  Playing this book along with the other books opens up new areas in all books.  For example, there is a door in the Forest of Larun in book 1 which can only be entered if you learn the password in book 3.

Since all of the books are made up of several small quests, there is little chance for characterisation or an overarching storyline, but as I have said before, thinking of your own story adds an extra dimension to the gameplay.

I would recommend that you buy all of the Fabled Lands books and enjoy being immersed in the world that Fabled Lands has to offer.  For more  information about Fabled Lands, go here.  To buy Fabled Lands from Amazon, go here.


More profession rules

I was just thinking of how to add more dimension to gaining a profession.  Here is another way of doing it.

How about a rule where you can gain a profession every x levels if you have an ability score which allows it.

The abilities linked to the professions are:

Charisma - Troubadour
Combat - Warrior
Magic - Mage
Sanctity - Priest
Scouting - Wayfarer
Thievery - Rogue

For example, you can gain an extra profession at level 5 and then at level 9 but you can only gain a profession if the ability linked to that profession is 6 or higher without any items to boost it. This means that the player does not have to make a difficult decision between losing a level and gaining a profession, which some people may not like.  This idea is for all of the people who don't want to take a penalty.

You can change the rank number, the ability requirements and also limit the number of professions if you wish.

This also opens up the optional rule that if your unmodified ability score for your profession drops below 6, you are not allowed to count as having that profession until it has increased again.

Or for every ability score you have at 6 or more, you can count as having the related profession.  Or maybe, for your second profession, the score has to be 7, for your third, it has to be 8 etc.

The dimension for extra challenges and rewards are limitless.

Finally, just for flavour, here are some profession titles for characters with dual professions.

Priest/Mage:  Miracle worker                  
Priest/Rogue:  Inquisitor
Priest/Troubadour:  Preacher
Priest/Warrior:  Paladin
Priest/Wayfarer:  Druid.
Mage/Rogue:  Trickster
Mage/Troubadour:  Bard
Mage/Warrior:  Warlock
Mage/Wayfarer: Wiseman/Wisewoman
Rogue/Troubadour:  Spy
Rogue/Warrior:  Bandit
Rogue/Wayfarer:  Vagrant
Troubadour/Warrior:  Spreader of sagas.
Troubadour/Wayfarer:  Keeper of folklore.
Warrior/Wayfarer:  Ranger


  1. Excellent review! I'm fairly new to the series, having just discovered it early last month. Since then i've purchased all four available books, the iPhone, and the iPad game and have explored Sokara up and down.

    I LOVE it. Such an amazing experience.

    The iOS versions have made some questionable changes to the text that the purist in me doesn't care for but they led me to the books, so they served their purpose!

  2. Stuart, I am currently looking for gamebook writers :-)

    I am a game-developer and can make textual games be available by IM-client AOL Instant Messenger. Windows Live Messenger, or any other that supports XMPP.

    If you are interested in turning a couple of your books into on-line textual RPGs, contact me please.

    fomenko5045 AT

    Just a few words about XMPP:

  3. @Jimwise - thanks for your kind comments. I'm glad you're enjoying the infinite variety that is Fabled Lands.

    @Andrey - thanks for your offer. I've sent an email.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Wow sounds great! I am currently working my way through the fighting fantasies, but these sound way better! Cheers.