Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April A to Z - Z is for Zombies.

Yes, I'm sure about 78% of all A to Z blog posts today are about Zombies, but then why not?  They are very cool.

 And today, we have a gamebook author who has written a zombie apocalypse gamebook.  his name is James Schannep and his first Click Your Poison Book, Infected is available now as an ebook  or as a physical book from Createspace or Amazon.  He has also written an essay on why zombies are cool (at the bottom of this post).

And now, I'll hand you over to James...

Tell us a little about yourself.

Well, I have my "official" Amazon bio: "James Schannep (1984-) is an American novelist and screenwriter with a dozen competition wins and placements. His first screenplay was optioned in 2011 and the Click Your Poison series was launched September, 2012 with the flagship book INFECTED. A United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) graduate with a degree in English, Schannep left the service honorably to write full time. He resides with his wife along California's central coast. James has personally stopped three zombie uprisings without raising national attention."

And my "unofficial" personal website bio/writing manifesto: "Hi. My name’s James and I’m addicted to story. It started innocently enough, just a few movies at friends’ houses, books at school, getting the harder stuff from my older sisters and their boyfriends. Once I was hooked, I couldn’t get enough. I needed more, and in purer form and higher quantities. Soon I was on to whole book series and the seemingly endless RPG titles.

 It wasn’t enough to simply watch a movie anymore, I needed to know everything about it: minor characters’ names who weren’t even mentioned in the film, production notes, and trivia. Oh my, the trivia.This is when I started dealing my own stuff. Nothing big, but enough to support my habit and that of my story junky friends.

 I shared fan fiction with fellow nerds, I invented boardgames, I added my own voiceover to MST3K, made movies on the family camcorder… I created, and it felt good.Then I had what every veteran writer will identify as the “gateway thought” — not merely away from the innocent-enough world of story, but into parallel universes, into painfully deep philosophic thought, the kind that turns a dreamer into a cynic. I thought, “These stories should be better, I can do better.” I know there are other people out there, like me, addicted to story, who make their living off writing — whole cartels dedicated to story and story production — and soon, they shall know my name."

How did you get into gamebooks?
It started with the Choose Your Own Adventure and Give Yourself Goosebumps series that I read in grade school. To be honest, as a young child, books with thick pages of endless streams of words were rather intimidating. It's a big leap to go from picture books to novels. Gamebooks provides a way to read long passages, but broken up by choices. So I'd say they served as a natural progression from childhood reading into adolescent stories. 

What is your favourite gamebooks?
Another confession: After I moved on from those adolescent gamebooks, I didn't look back until I started my own series. Perhaps it's time I check out some other "adult" gamebook authors. Any suggestions? 

How did you come up with the idea of Infected?
Originally, I wrote INFECTED as a screenplay back in 2008. Back then it was just a standard genre tale, no bells and whistles. It wasn't until I started the "Click Your Poison" series, that INFECTED rose from the dead to be my first gamebook for adults. Really, zombies are so popular these days, that a gamebook allowing you the opportunity to battle your way through the apocalypse struck me as a natural choice. 

Why are gamebooks such a great medium?
First and foremost, because it's *active* reading. You can't skim a gamebook. You can't sit back and "watch" the story unfold. If a gamebook is done right, it should challenge you intellectually and emotionally. And they're a hell of a lot of fun. 

What's the most important thing you need to do when writing a gamebook?
Keep some kind of flowchart! INFECTED got too big with too many parallel universes to keep track of in my head. Luckily, I already had a flowchart built up by the time this happened--because without my "road map" I would have been truly lost!

Do you have any upcoming gamebook projects?
I do! I plan on making a whole series of Click Your Poison books, and I'm hard at work on CYP #2 a solve-if-you-can murder mystery. You can keep up with me on twitter or facebook for updates on the book's progress.
Okay, for the letter "Z" I bring you "Z is for Zombie" (if that's not a children's book, it should be!). I'd like to share an essay I wrote to answer a question I get a lot. "Why are zombies so popular?"

Tell Me, Why Do We Love Zombies So?


Why are zombies so popular? Well, for many, it’s a call to action. We’re Luke Skywalker, caught in the dregs of daily life, and the zombie apocalypse serves as the storm troopers coming to burn down our uncle’s homestead. Ready or not, time for adventure. Or (in case you’re not as big a Star Wars nerd as I am), let me put it this way: We’re not all the type to go out and join the military or the police force, but we’d like to believe that if danger came knocking on our door, we could rally to that call. The zombie apocalypse is when push comes to shove.
It’s pure escapism. Once the zombie apocalypse happens, all the things that are important to us will fall to the wayside. Unemployment, politics, failed relationships–anything that might have you “down”–all become a moot point when the dead try to eat the living. It’s a second lease on life. You get to start afresh. This is where the true You comes out, the side that’s underestimated by coworkers, family, and friends; the side that, deep down, you know is there. The unlikeliest of heroes can now come out and save the day. Were you a pimple-faced pizza delivery guy back in the day? Well, now you’re a zombie-slaying badass and everyone’s clamoring for your protection. What about the overworked and underpaid nurse stuck on the night shift with little chance of promotion on the horizon? Well, now those skills mean you’re the most valued member of your survival team.
With zombie fiction, we can experience this release all from the safety of our own home. We can escape, if only for a few precious hours. That’s part of why with INFECTED, I made YOU the main character. You get to test that measure of your true self, if only for a bit of fun. Make your choices, then see the outcome.
Are zombies at the height of their popularity? Probably… but they’ll never fully go away, even if interest starts to wane. Like everything else in our world, fads come and go, but zombies are forever.

Follow me on twitter.

Join the Lloyd of Gamebooks Facebook page.

Keep up with other gamebook blogs at the Gamebook Feed.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

April A to Z - X is for eXtra stuff that I follow

Good day to you all, lovers of all things gamebook.  Today, I'm going to list a few of the many blogs and other sites that I enjoy reading either as they inspire and inform me about gamebooks or because I just like them.  For a more comprehensive list, you can read mu upcoming Y post or go to Deminan's links page.  So here they are:

Adventures and Shopping:  This is run by Billiam Babble, who I interviewed last year and he does a great job of telling us all about the latest great deals in RPG related goods.  He also has his own store pages so check them out.

Ashton Saylor:  This is the blog of writer, game designer and three times merit award winner for Windhammer, the awesome Ashton Saylor.  We are working together on Goblin's Bounty at the moment and Ashton has several other irons in the fire, such as his new site, Black Hat Writing, so check it out.

Fabled Lands:  The blog of gamebook writers Dave Morris and Jamie Thomson who came up with the fabulous Fabled Lands series amongst many other gamebooks and other books between them.  They are still doing lots of great gamebook related stuff, so check out their site.

From the Shadows:  I'm a big fan of UFO encounter stories and conspiracy theories, so I enjoy reading this site which chronicles many weird encounters.  Have a look.  There's more to aliens than little grey men from Zeta Reticuli, that's for sure.

Heroes Against Darkness:  This is a blog for the eponymous RPG which I have found to be very elegant, simple and extremely well put together.  It is out in physical and PDF form, so take a look.

Jonathan Green, Author:  Here is the blog of the fabulous writer, Jonathan Green, who has written several gamebooks.  His blog is updated daily, so check it out.

Trollish Delver: This is a great geek blog by Scott Malthouse which, amongst gamebooks and Tunnels and Trolls, also covers films, comics and just about anythiing you can think of.  A must for your dose of geek.

Mark Rosewater:  Mark Rosewater (or MaRo) is the head designer at Magic the Gathering, and he is so good that I still rad his column, even though I no longer play Magic the Gathering.  One of my favourite all time articles of his (I'll only mention one here because I could write a massive post on just him) is his article on how to become more creative.

Arion Games forum:  Somewhere I like to hang out.

Unofficial Fighting Fantasy Forum:  Another place I like to hang out.

Trollhalla:  Another place I like to hang out.

So there we go.  Are there any sites you guys like?

Happy gamebooking!

Follow me on twitter.

Join the Lloyd of Gamebooks Facebook page.

Keep up with other gamebook blogs at the Gamebook Feed.

Friday, April 26, 2013

April A to Z - W is for Walters, David

David is an excellent author who has penned many thrilling adventures which you can find here.  He is also a prolific tweeter and you can find his Twitter account here.  recently, David has been working on RPG and gamebook material, including writing for the much loved Way of the Tiger RPG, entering the Windhammer Competition and writing a gamebook for the Adventurer RPG system.

Here comes the interview...

Who am I?

I am David Walters, author of seven novels (including the Samurai’s Apprentice series), and a member of the design team on the forthcoming Way of the Tiger Role-Playing game. I'm based in Edinburgh and work full time in a day job, so keep pretty busy.
My very first experience of gamebooks was with fighting fantasy when I was seven, when I used to borrow them from a ‘mobile library’ van that used to visit my countryside school every other month. Talisman of Death was the first one I read, which is odd considering how I'm now designing a roleplaying game around that setting of Orb.

What am I doing?

I'm in the process of writing my first gamebook which will be out later this year, and it is based on the adventure games guild rules. I'm also involved in a project to write another gamebook with some other writers and artists, but waiting for that to take off.

As mentioned earlier I am a designer on the Way of the Tiger RPG, and as well as writing all the classes and pre-generated characters, I've written two adventures, one which will be available for free with the beta testing pdf, the other bigger one will be in the core rule book. I have also been helping to proof-read a Way of the Tiger gamebook that is due to be re-released in the next month or so. Orb is a great world to spend time in - designed by Mark Smith back in the 1970s - and it is great to shine a torch in new or unexplored areas.
Last year, for the first time, I entered the Windhammer competition, to experiment a little with the format and style of a gamebook. I'm mulling over whether to enter this year or not, based on my other time commitments. I'm waiting for Stuart Lloyd to convince me!
What is the future of gamebooks/roleplaying games?
The development of more advanced computer games largely destroyed the old gamebook industry, and so it is odd that now technology is bringing them back. It seems to me that traditional publishers of novels are looking for ways to exploit new technology to enhance the reading experience and compete with games/films, and for this gamebooks are a good intermediary. The lines are blurring between books and apps, and I see this continuing as technology is fully exploited. We have seen old books be released electronically with new art and features, but can gamebooks evolve into something new, though?
Some of the work done on the forthcoming re-release of the Way of the Tiger gamebooks is blurring these boundaries. You don't see dice rolls or even page numbers, it is all hidden by the technology, so now you are just living the story. Even the old combat choices of kick/punch/throw have been replaced with narrative.
Role playing changed too with technology taking players away from the tabletop and into computer games. However, computer games have never truly replaced the social element to role playing, and I see new ways of publishing and co-ordination arising from technology.
The traditional publishing world is struggling to adapt to the new technologies and ideas coming onto the market, and that leaves gaps for those who can see new ways to create books in new ways, to sit alongside other forms of entertainment. The struggle is no longer to get published, now that self-publishing is prevalent, but rather how to get noticed. Also through time we'll see if it is possible to take a linear novel and make it into something more through technology, without losing its core strengths - I'd love to try it.


Follow me on twitter.

Join the Lloyd of Gamebooks Facebook page.

Keep up with other gamebook blogs at the Gamebook Feed.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

April A to Z - V is for Very nice of Graham Bottley to drop in.

In its original print run, there were a few Fighting Fantasy books released for Fighting Fantasy RPGs.  Three were released as Advanced Fighting Fantasy.  Although fun and simple, its system had several flaws.

However, we now have a 2nd edition which has cleaned up all the problems of the first edition.  The man behind the cleanup operation is known as Graham Bottley and he is here today to talk about AFF2.

Who you are and how you got into gamebooks

I am Graham Bottley, founder of Arion Games and responsible for the resurrection of the Advanced Fighting Fantasy RPG.  It is nice to come full circle as it was "The Forest of Doom" that got me into rpg's in the first place.  I spent many an hour as a youngster trying to thwart Balthus Dire, defeat the Warlock or vanquish Zanbar Bone.  I played quite a lot of the FF rpg (the one with the tiger man coming out of the dice) with my friends and moved on to AFF along with other games.  Even when I played RPG's, I still continued to play through the gamebooks and i still have all of my originals.

What you have done since April 2012?

Over the last year i have released "The Crown of Kings" campaign for AFF, turning the classic 4 book series into a full blown rpg campaign and complete with John Blanche art!  I have also released the "Heroes Companion" which is full of new and interesting rules options including new magic systems, a wilderness creation system, organisation and mass battle rules and more.  It is fantastic to be able to bring this game back, and bring new life to classic material.
During its original print run, there were some Fighting Fantasy RPG products produced.  There were quite a few flaws in the system and I

What you plan on doing now related to gamebooks?

It could be a very interesting year.  With any luck, it will see Blacksand, Beyond the Pit, a SciFi AFF book, a Salamonis book, a rerelease of the Sorcery spell book and an GM screen/accessory pack.  That is in addition to loads more paper miniatures and a whole heap of Maelstrom stuff, including Domesday!

What you think the future of gamebooks is like?

Very strong.  The FF franchise is going from strength to strength 30 years on.  Tin man games are doing a great job with iPad conversions, there are strong possibilities of a film or two and we have loads of stuff planned.  I sell quite a few of the FF gamebooks at conventions, and many are bought for or by youngsters.  They are seen as an easy way into rpgs, encourage reading, literacy and numeracy and are good fun.  I also know teachers who use them as part of their lessons, and they are often found in school libraries.  All of this says that there is a new generation getting into gamebooks and they will keep going for some time yet in the face of computer game competition.

For more information of Advanced Fighting Fantasy 2nd edition, or to order one of their source books, go to Arion Games.

Follow me on twitter.

Join the Lloyd of Gamebooks Facebook page.

Keep up with other gamebook blogs at the Gamebook Feed.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April A to Z - U is for Unbelievably wonderful gamebook releases

Today, we have Louisa Dent Pearce, writer of the Spellcaster gamebook trilogy.  The first one, The Wizard books in 2006 as a physical book.  It will now be released as a app by Tin Man Games in September 2013 followed by a second physical priniting, so keep your eyes out for that.
Forgotten Spell was released by

Over to Louisa....

How did you get into writing gamebooks?

I was a kid in the eighties and at that time, Choose-Your-Own-Adventure and Fighting Fantasy gamebooks were all the rage. I loved the Fighting Fantasy series but it was Steve Jackson’s “Sorcery!” series which really inspired me to write my own. That was a four-part series in which you could cast spells and collect lots of clues. I didn’t want to miss even a single paragraph in that book, so I used to draw maps as I read the story so I could go back and choose a different path.

The maps helped me understand the game logic and after that I figured it wouldn’t be so difficult to create my own. I was about twelve years old when I bought a fancy, leather-bound journal from the local newsagents and numbered every page. Then I started writing. I don’t remember what the story was about but it quickly became too difficult! These were the pre-computer days – I couldn’t cut and paste text or change things as I went, so I eventually gave up writing my little handwritten gamebook. Only years later, when I was grown up and computer-literate, did I set about writing gamebooks in earnest.   

How did you come up with the idea for the Spellcaster series?

The original inspiration for the setting of Suidmor, the evil city of the faeries, came from spending a lot of time sitting in cafes in the laneways of Melbourne. These laneways are dingy, dark, cluttered with little shops and full of character.  They are particularly atmospheric in the winter. I would sit there for hours watching the laneway life and imagining that faeries and goblins lived there. Then I began to wonder about the backstory to this city, and the ideas formed from there.

What type of character do you play?  What is their history?  What skills and abilities do they have?

The reader plays a 13-year-old boy or girl called Anivad (the gender is kept deliberately ambiguous) who has grown up in the mortal world. You begin the story by being captured by the villain, Olcrada, and taken to his lair in Suidemor. You have no idea why you have been captured, and when you escape his lair, you find yourself in a strange city full of faeries and other creatures that speak different languages and use magicraft.

In the first book, The Forgotten Spell, part of the challenge is to figure out why Olcrada is pursuing you. You discover that you are fact an Elder Fey - the ruling race of faeries - and that you have magical powers as yet untrained. When you acquire a spellbook, you are able to use your magic to help you navigate the dangers of Suidemor. As the trilogy progresses, your magical powers grow, as does the range of spells you can use. The spells range from harmless (e.g. the Unlock Spell) to highly combative (the Choke Spell).

What challenges will you be up against in the book?

The gamebooks are like detective novels and there are lots of puzzles to solve. You are a stranger in a strange land and you have to discover the nature of your quest, your magical powers, and the truth about your heritage. You have to master a whole new alphabet (the Elder Fey language), which often gets used for clues. You also have to solve visual puzzles, and because the Elder Fey magic works by using number and geometry, there are some maths challenges as well.

The visual puzzles are particularly exciting for me because of the wonderful artwork which accompanies the book; Tony Hough (of original Fighting Fantasy fame) is the illustrator, and he is adept at doing very finely detailed drawings that you can get completely lost in!     

When will the Spellcaster gamebooks be out?

The release date for the gamebook app (www.tinmangames.com.au ) is September 2013. I will be releasing the print books then as well, but if readers want to get in early, they can pre-purchase a personally signed copy of the Forgotten Spell by visiting my website: www.spellcastergamebooks.com

Do you have any other projects that you can talk about?

I am writing another series of gamebooks based on historical events, and I have a few other ideas in the pipeline, but essentially the Spellcaster trilogy is going to keep me busy for the next 18 months.  One thing I have learnt in my years as an author is: one idea at a time! 

Take a look at Louisa's site here to pre-purchase your copy.

Follow me on twitter.

Join the Lloyd of Gamebooks Facebook page.

Keep up with other gamebook blogs at the Gamebook Feed.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

April A to Z - T is for Tin Man Games

Neil Rennison is the co-founder of Tin Man Games and one of the people responsible for bringing gamebooks into the digital age.  I had the privilege of interviewing Neil last year and he has had a busy time since then.  Now we can find out what Neil has been up to.

Who you are and how you got into gamebooks/solo adventures/RPGs/art.
Neil Rennison, one of the co-founders of Tin Man Games.
How you got into gamebooks/solo adventures: This explains it well enough... http://tinmangames.com.au/blog/?p=147
How you got into RPGs: I went on a three week French exchange programme to Paris around the age of 12 (late 80s) and stayed with the family of a french pen-pal who was into D&D. So my first ever tabletop role-playing game experience was in a language I barely knew! It was awesome. I came back to the UK and rushed out and bought the D&D Red Box. Two years later Orlandes was born as my own AD&D campaign setting. 20 years later An Assassin in Orlandes was released!
How you got into art: Always been into drawing and painting. I studied Fine Art A-level before going into a Product Design Visualisation degree. There I learned 3D modelling which took me into the games industry building massive 3D envrionments for lots of games (mostly racing). From there I started my own indie dev company, Tin Man Games, and went back to what I loved...gamebooks.
What you have done since April 2012?
Released a Judge Dredd digital gamebook. Signed a licensing contract for Fighting Fantasy and gone on to release two digital FF gamebooks. Had lunch at Ian Livingstone's house. Been to book signings with Ian and Steve Jackson. Exhibited at PAX East (Boston), UK Games Expo and MCM Expo. Signed up lots of new licenses and gamebook properties. Oh, and became a father for the second time - I have a son!
What you plan on doing now related to gamebooks/solos/RPGs/art?
Work, work, work. We have so many amazing digital gamebooks to release over the coming year including around 5 new Fighting Fantasy titles, 4 Gamebook Adventures titles, some of Herbie Brennan's catalogue as well as some exciting new IP such as Zach Weinersmith's Trial of the Clone, which is narrated on the app by Wil Wheaton!
What you think the future of gamebooks/solos/RPGs/art is?
Digital is looking more and more the direction to go in and hopefully we're riding the front of that wave!


Follow me on twitter.

Join the Lloyd of Gamebooks Facebook page.

Keep up with other gamebook blogs at the Gamebook Feed.

Monday, April 22, 2013

April A to Z - S is for Smith, Paul

I interviewed Paul Smith (aka Torallion) last year as one of my R entries and since he was such a great bloke, I asked him to come back again.  Since April 2012, I met Paul at the release of Blood of the Zombies.

Torallion has a playthrough blog here with his very thorough and entertaining reviews of various Fighting fantasy books.  Give it a read before reading the interview.  Go on.

you can also follow him on Twittter.

On with the interview...

I got into gamebooks during my first year at secondary school, when a friend wandered over to me in the school library with a copy of House of Hell in his hand. "This is awesome," he said, thrusting it in front of my confused face. "It's not really a book, it's a game!" I snorted derisively and he went off to read it, but later on my curiosity got the better of me and I went and found the book on the shelf. Minutes later I was hooked and my life changed forever. I loved the fact that I was in control of my own horror story (and the fact that this made it even more horrific) and I loved the combat system and stat-keeping. I started to pick up every Fighting Fantasy book I saw, popping into a local second-hand bookshop so often that the owner would look out for the green spines and put them aside for me. Before long I had a full collection and had expanded my interests to Lone Wolf and other series. In the mid 90s, much to my dismay, gamebooks started to disappear from the shelves and I moved on to tabletop games and RPGs.

The recent renaissance in the world of gamebooks (I keep saying that, but it's been a few years now) has inspired me to relive my old adventures and the internet provides a fantastic opportunity for us not only to find new adventures but to invent and share our own. My blog, Gamebook Geek, is an excuse to do just that. In the last year I've been working my way slowly through the books - what with my job, getting married and doing a PGCert course - but I'm determined to keep going and eventually expand beyond playthroughs and reviews to discussing wider issues of game design. Eventually I hope to start developing my own gamebook, but that's probably a long way off at the moment.

As for the future of gamebooks, I think they're going to stick around for a long time. The rise of mobile apps is a huge step forward and one which is pushing gamebooks further and further into the mainstream, and internet communities have sprung up where people can express both nostalgia for the old gamebooks and creativity in creating new ones. The electronic format is definitely a large part of the future of gamebooks, but I'm hopeful that printed versions will continue to be produced, aka Destiny Quest. I'd like to see gamebooks explore different concepts - while hack 'n' slash has its place, it would be great to see gamebooks where the choices made have real consequences, beyond "you don't have this item so the dragon eats you". Imagine a gamebook based on the ideas explored in Planescape: Torment or Tides of Numenera. The Windhammer competition has started to attract increasingly creative entries and I'm already looking forward to seeing another batch of entries later this year. There are also opportunities for educational uses - learning through scenarios or playing the role of historical figures, for example. Games-based learning is becoming increasingly popular and gamebooks, electronic or otherwise, could be a big part of that.

Here is Paul's blog and Twitter account.

Follow me on twitter.

Join the Lloyd of Gamebooks Facebook page.

Keep up with other gamebook blogs at the Gamebook Feed.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Warlock of Firetop Mountain conversion for Adventurer

Hello gamebookers!  Today, I give you another Adventurer gift.  One of the aims of Adventurer is to apply it to existing gamebooks.  Today, I present to you the conversion needed for The Warlock of Firetop Mountain.

Most of the work came from making sure that all the luck tests followed Adventurer rules.  I did this by looking at the situation that the character was in and finding the appropriate talent to use instead.  I then had to convert all of the stat changes to something Adventurer appropriate.  I made all the skill changes bonuses or penalties to your Battle Skill in your next combat.  I kept all the stamina changes the same and instead of gaining luck points, the hero gains the ability to re-roll failed rolls which they can use during the adventure (but they can't be used afterwards).

The range of levels of the monsters goes from 0 to 10, so you will need to be quite a high level character to complete it.  Why don't you try it with a level 5 character or a level 9 character or even a level 13 character?  If I had more time, I would modify it so that there would be 4 different versions - one for a level 1-4 character (adventurer), one for a level 5-8 character (champion), one for a level 9-12 character (hero) and one for a level 13-16 character (legend).

However, I hope you enjoy it and that you've enjoyed the other Adventurer goodies that I've made this month.

The link to the Adventurer rules manuscript is here.

Here is the link to the converter, ladies and gentlemen!

Edit:  At first, I forgot to add what you get when you get the Warlock's treasure, so I have added this to the document.

If you win, you get the following things:

Coins:  Gain 1000 coins + your level x100 coins.

Gems: Roll 4 times on treasure table 3 with a +6 bonus to find out the coins value of all the gems you have found.

Warlock’s spellbook:  Roll 4 times on treasure table 21 to determine 4 spells in the spellbook that you can learn.  You are able to learn them if you succeed at a Mind (Arcane lore) check with a difficulty equal to the difficulty of the spell.  

You are also able to avoid any combat with any creature in Firetop Mountain and you may check what any action leads to as if you had the Divination spell without making a roll or losing magic points as long as you are in Firetop Mountain.

Happy gamebooking!


Follow me on twitter.

Join the Lloyd of Gamebooks Facebook page.

Keep up with other gamebook blogs at the Gamebook Feed.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

April A to Z - R is for Really stupid goblins

I've talked about Goblin's Bounty before and now it is nearing completion.  Between myself, Ashton Saylor
and Emil Bakalinov, we are creating something great :).

The system is similar to Warlock's Bounty, since there is a gamebook with a collectable card game element.  We have added to the system by creating categories for enemies.  This allows us to give you the information you need so that you can arrange your deck with cards that will help you beat your opponent.  We will also be making other changes in order to make combat a lot more smoother.

The story is very different to Warlock's Bounty.  You are not a noble wizard but instead a lowly goblin who is in charge of three other goblins, each one a complete fool in his own way.

The whole world is in danger and you are the last choice for its saviour.  Unfortunately you and your friends have to save the world as you have killed the last person who could be.  Your quest to save the world will take you across different planes filled with infinite wonder - beautiful and terrible things that most ordinary mortals would not have the chance to see.  But since the food is lousy, you can't be bothered to look at them .
In the end, it turns out that you and your friends will save the world, not despite your flaws but because of them.  There's going to be a rollercoaster ride through the planes where you battle armies, invulnerable warriors and hordes of robots in order to save your home.

Keep an eye out for Goblin's Bounty.  


Follow me on twitter.

Join the Lloyd of Gamebooks Facebook page.

Keep up with other gamebook blogs at the Gamebook Feed.

Friday, April 19, 2013

April A to Z - Q is for Quick and dirty dungeons

Good day to you all!  Today, I have a solo game using the Adventurer solo RPG system.

It is a quick and simple dungeon crawl where you roll dice to determine your encounters.  It is available for characters of any level.  Give it a go and see if you survive.

You can find the Quick and Dirty Dungeon sheet here.


Follow me on twitter.

Join the Lloyd of Gamebooks Facebook page.

Keep up with other gamebook blogs at the Gamebook Feed.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

April A to Z - P is also for Percy's Pick Your Plot sequel

Hello lovers of all things gamebook!

There is some more gamebook goodness in the blogosphere today!  AJ Lauer, creator of Pick Your Plot book Armageddon has written a prequel to another Pick Your Plot book.  You can play it over here.

Happy gamebooking!

April A to Z - P is for Paul Gresty

Paul Gresty is an excellent author and gamebook writer who has kindly agreed take part in the April A to Z.  You can find his blog here and buy his latest gamebook - Arcana Agency here.

Over to Paul...

When I first began begging Stuart Lloyd to take part in his April A to Z of blogging, the man wasn't keen. 'Who the hell are you?' he said, and 'Why should I care?' and 'Your eyes are too close together'.

At last, I bought him a giant-sized tube of Smarties, and he agreed to give me a shot.

'But I can't be bothered thinking of any questions for you,' he told me. 'Just write up any old tat, and I'll put it on my blog.'

And yet 'any old tat' was far from what I had in mind. I was a big fan of Stuart's blog, and I was determined to give him some good material. And so I took the brave decision to interview myself. I invited myself to London's swankiest restaurant, The Ivy, determined to give Paul Gresty (me) the most gruelling, probing interview of his (my) career to date.

Paul: You're an awesome guy, Paul. How do you get your beard to look so cool?

Paul: A lot of people ask me that. Actually, my beard is still a work in progress. I trim it with my electric clippers every nine or ten days - but every time I do, it's still a little short for my liking. I'll find the right set of clippers one day, I'm sure (chuckles).

Paul: Okay, let's talk gamebooks. Last year you entered the 2012 Windhammer competition. Your entry, 'Ookle of the Broken Finger', won first prize, didn't it?

Paul: No, not at all. You've been woefully misinformed. In fact, I didn't even place in the top three prizewinners. It's a shame, really - I rather liked that story. I think I'm not finished with Ookle quite yet.

Paul: Wow, that's embarrassing. How did you feel about that failure? Humiliated?

Paul: (shrugs) You know, when you're putting work out into the public sphere like that, you have to be prepared to face a little rejection. You learn to get over these things. There's a lovely boating lake near my home in Paris, so I went for a walk round the lake, and I kicked a duck, and then I felt much better.

Paul: Your first gamebook, 'Arcana Agency: the Thief of Memories' was published recently. Can you tell us about that?

Paul: Sure. It's a supernatural detective story set in New York in the 1930s. It's written in the third person, which is somewhat rare for gamebooks - but that allows you a little more narrative trickery, such as moving the focus to different characters, 'cutting away' from the action for a few moments, things like that. It was originally planned as an iOS app, to be the sequel to the Arcana Agency app published by Megara Entertainment in 2009. Megara has a lot of talented writers, but the advantage I bring to the table is that I'm very, very cheap. So I got the job. During the development of the app, we saw that there had been some notable gamebook successes crowdfunded by Kickstarter, and it struck us as a good medium to get the attention of the more grown-up gamebook fan base.

Paul: I recently saw your promo video for that Kickstarter bid. You looked somewhat ill at ease.

Paul: (laughs) That's right. I wanted to seem spontaneous, so I did about forty semi-improvised takes of that video. I still wasn't happy with the final cut. I've only managed to watch it back once.

Paul: No really, you looked a total ass. You know those X Factor auditionees who go mental and start screaming at the judges? That's how much onscreen charisma you had. If I'd put something like that online I'd probably just go ahead and blow my brains out.

Paul: Jesus, tone it down, will you?

Paul: Okay. I was just kidding anyway. So, what are you working on now?

Paul: I'm glad you asked that, as I rarely have a chance to promote myself. Just now, I'm just finishing off an app for Choice of Games, called 'The ORPHEUS Ruse'. That's an interactive novel where the player takes the role of a psychic infiltrator with the ability to inhabit the bodies of other people. Pending the final, final green light from the publisher, that'll be available in the near future.

Paul: ...

Paul: Are you okay? You looked like you had a question.

Paul: No, sorry. I forgot what I was about to say. What were you talking about?

Paul: Right. After I hand over The ORPHEUS Ruse, I'm scheduled to start working on a gamebook for Greywood Publishing, 'The Gift of the Fog King'. That will use the Adventurer game mechanics created by Shane Garvey and the male man Stuart Lloyd. The concept there is of a 'solo role-playing game' - each Adventurer gamebook depends on the system's core rulebook; they can be played in any sequence, and they're balanced for a wide variety of power levels. I'm also part of the development team for Megara's Way of the Tiger RPG, based on the gamebooks of the same name. That should be available early next year. The game is going into beta playtesting right now, and it looks fantastic - though, of all the people working on it, I can probably take the least credit for that.

Paul: You have a blog, don't you?

Paul: Yes, but I can't be bothered talking about that.

Paul: Fair enough. It's been a pleasure speaking with you, Paul, and it's refreshing to meet such a handsome visionary author who can nonetheless remain so grounded.

Paul: I've enjoyed it too. You had some insightful questions, there.

Paul: Maybe we can meet up again sometime.

Paul: Yeah, I hope so.

Paul: No, but I don't mean as a work thing. Maybe we can get a drink together, just to hang out, you know?

Paul: Um, that wouldn't really be appropriate.

Paul: Oh, okay. Sorry.

And with that, Paul Gresty drank the last of his Fanta, and told me he had another appointment to attend. As I watched him walk away, I felt oddly unfulfilled. He was at once a man, a hero, a lover, a literary god, a middleweight boxing champion, and the greatest rock guitarist ever to come out of the northwest of England. I felt sure he would go on to do magnificent things.

Paul's gamebook, 'Arcana Agency: the Thief of Memories' will shortly be on sale on the website of Megara Entertainment, http://www.megara-entertainment.com/ .

A free mini-adventure, 'Arcana Agency: the Case of the Unghostly Ghost', is available in PDF format at: http://www.megara-entertainment.com/ArcanaAgencyFreePreview.pdf).

His award-losing story, 'Ookle of the Broken Finger' is also available in PDF format, at http://www.arborell.com/ookleofthebrokenfinger.pdf .

Paul's occasionally-updated blog can be found at: http://pwgresty.wordpress.com/ .


Follow me on twitter.

Join the Lloyd of Gamebooks Facebook page.

Keep up with other gamebook blogs at the Gamebook Feed.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

April A to Z - O is for One more interview with Zhu Bhajee

I interviewed Zhu Bhajee last April under the predictable letter  Z so this year, I decided to think of some convoluted way of giving him another letter of the alphabet.   

Zhu's blog covers a wide range of art, RPG and gamebook material and it is well worth a look.  In fact, before you read this interview, just take a look now.  Go on.  See?  Told you.

>   - Who you are and how you got into gamebooks/solo adventures/RPGs/art.

From reading the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings at a young age, then growing up through the D&D boom / FF boom of the 1980s. I still think dungeons should have shops in them.

>   - What you have done since April 2012

Oh, I hate retrospectives, like birthdays and christmas, and school-reports. A time for looking back and reflecting, yuck! Gosh, I don't know what I've been doing. I probably did some more artwork for Otherworld Miniatures http://otherworldminiatures.co.uk/ and Red Box Games,http://www.red-box-games.com/  becuase they're kind enough to keep asking me to draw for them. I think Greg Gillespies Barrowmaze IIhttp://www.barrowmaze.com/ got released, but that might have been a bit before, and I have a load of artwork in that. Also took on my first tattoo commissions and had a few private commissions as well.

On the fandom front. I managed to get my hands on a copy of Trolltooth Wars by Steve Jackson from @FFproject  http://fightingfantasyproject.wordpress.com/ because he took a photo of a shelf in a charity shop and posted it on twitter. Silly stuff. Great illustrations by Russ Nicholson in there, and some quite gory and weird scenes, but overall not one of Steves high-points.

>   - What you plan on doing now related to gamebooks/solos/RPGs/art.

Well I am developing a couple of games, slowly. One is a dungeoncrawl (yes, the world does need another dungeon-crawl boardgame) that can be played solo, and the other is an old-school style XXX game loosely based on XXX, which is top secret. I am also available for commission (hint!) and would be happy to do do some work on solo/gamebook products (hint!).

>   - What you think the future of gamebooks/solos/RPGs/art  is.

Did we do this before? The future is going to be largely digital, but with a niche space for highly produced physical products. But I think that is largely true of publishing in general.  Kickstarter has completely revolutionised how people buy games. It might be a bubble, but it is altering the commercial landscape considerably at the moment, this seems especially true of miniatures gaming and board gaming. It does seem to be able to empower the creator/publisher quite significantly. With regards gamebooks, something like The Maze of Games shows how experiments within the form are being successful.

Zhus gaming blog: http://realmofzhu.blogspot.com


Follow me on twitter.

Join the Lloyd of Gamebooks Facebook page.

Keep up with other gamebook blogs at the Gamebook Feed.

Follow me on twitter.

Join the Lloyd of Gamebooks Facebook page.

Keep up with other gamebook blogs at the Gamebook Feed.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April A to Z - N is for Nicholson, Russ

Russ Nicholson is an excellent illustrator who has directed his talents to many things, including many prolific gamebooks.  I interviewed him last year  and he was kind enough to return again, so let's see what he's been up to.

  • Who you are and how you got into illustrating gamebooks?
Russ Nicholson. Got started with FF Gamesbooks, The Fiend Folio and have contributed art for many books, games & publications since. 
  • What you have done since April 2012?
Since last year? Contributed to many games related publications, including several French companies, Goodman Games, Kobold Publishing, Silver Sprocket Cycling Company and many others, as well as private commissions.
  • What you plan on doing now related to gamebooks/solos/RPGs/art?
 Couple of big projects lined up as well as private commissions.

  • What you think the future of gamebooks/solos/RPGs/art  is?
I'm no clairvoyant, but considering the internet and rise of apps, etc. believe it is reasonably healthy for a good while yet.  

If you want to see Russ's excellent art, head on down to his blog.

Follow me on twitter.

Join the Lloyd of Gamebooks Facebook page.

Keep up with other gamebook blogs at the Gamebook Feed.

Monday, April 15, 2013

April A to Z - M is for More playthrough blog goodness

There are several gamebook playthrough blogs out there on the internet (you can find them at The Gamebook Feed) and since last April's A to Z, we've had a few new ones including the Adventure Gameblog from Ed Jolley.  Ed has already been a long standing member of the gamebook community as he is a prominent poster on the Unofficial Fighting Fantasy forum and also a regular contributor to Fighting Fantazine.   Since last year, Ed has been posting gamebook playthroughs like there is no tomorrow.  On with the interview!

Who you are and how you got into gamebooks?

  • My name is Ed Jolley, and I first got interested in gamebooks in the summer or autumn of 1983, when the kids' section of the Sunday supplement to the family newspaper (the Express, IIRC) included a feature on The Warlock of Firetop Mountain. Not long after I read that, I came across a copy of Skyjacked (from the early gamebook series Tracker Books(http://gamebooks.org/show_item.php?id=2654)) at a book sale. I played it a few times, and then wrote my first gamebook, the Enid Blyton-influenced Smugglers. Then a copy of TWoFM turned up at school, I discovered that in Fighting Fantasy books your character could meet with a grisly end (being eaten, possibly alive, by a Ghoul in this instance), and I was hooked.
  • What you have done relating to gamebooks?

    I have my own gamebook playthrough blog, Adventure Gameblog, which is usually updated three times a week, and covers a wide range of gamebook series (there's an index of everything I've attempted for the blog at http://myadventuresendhere.blogspot.com/2013/04/we-could-look-it-up-in-index-file-under.html). I also write the Everything I Really Need to Know in Life I Learnt From Reading Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks feature for Fighting Fantazine, and was author of the mini-adventure in issue 9. I believe my teaser adventure The Sanguine Wave is still online somewhere at the official FF website, I was one of the co-authors of the amateur gamebook From the Shadows, and I'm an admin at the unofficial FF forum.

  • What you plan on doing now related to gamebooks?

    I still have a couple of hundred gamebooks to attempt for Adventure Gameblog (plus the possibility of retrying the ones I lost). There's enough material for at least another two instalments of Everything I Really Need to Know... If I can get sufficiently organised, I hope to write another mini-adventure for National Novel-Writing Month this November, involving a character I created forFrom the Shadows. And at some point I'd like to complete two larger-scale projects: a full-length version of The Sanguine Wave (but massively changed from the teaser, partly to tone down similarities to Bloodbones and partly because I've moved beyond the cynicism that was one of the driving forces for the original plot), and the mystery adventure The Great Blacksand Robbery.

  • What you think the future of gamebooks is?
    Right now it looks as if it's moving more into the realm of eBooks and apps and the like, which isn't really my field. I hope the paper-and-ink gamebook hasn't had its day, but right now it seems to be running into difficulties again. I'm sure that fans will continue to produce material whatever happens, but beyond that I can't really speculate.

  • You can find Ed's blog here.

    The Unofficial Fighting Fantasy Forum is here.

    Fighting Fantazine is here.