Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Long and Winding Road... leads to Bodie?

Ashton here, with one more update about the Kickstarter campaign for "The Good, the Bad, and the Undead." We are in the final hours now! You still have time to get in there and pledge.

The last of the Collector's Edition books have been claimed, but there's still room to name a character or to have an illustration of yourself as a cowboy vampire included in the book! Don't miss out!

Coming up next, I find myself looking forward to the last stages of writing the novel and developing the rpg. Unfortunately, creative time has been in short supply lately, with my main project having become managing the Kickstarter campaign myself. Now I'm looking back at my story notes, looking at where I left off, and thinking about moving to the climactic finale of the book.

After all the excitement lately, we've been considering a vacation, and this may be the perfect opportunity to go soak in a little Old West atmosphere.

I've discovered an old ghost town here in California called Bodie. It's not Texas, but it's about the best I can do at the moment. Actually, it turns out that one of the inspirational images we've used for art for "The Good, the Bad, and the Undead," are actually pics that came from Bodie!

Recognize this?

That's the old Methodist church in Bodie, CA. And I imagine the local saloon in Affliction, Texas looking a lot like this:

Once things calm down a bit, we'll be planning a trip out there, both to get away and to soak up some atmosphere before writing the final scenes. 

If you'd like to take a closer look at Bodie yourself, check out this video by a California local on visiting Bodie with his son. There's some really cool background info about the town there, including how killings occurred almost daily, and how the minister, Reverend Warrington, concluded, "Bodie is a sea of sin, because of greed, passion, and the overall lust of the civilians in the city."

Check out this video by youtube user moneybags73:

Also--there's still 10 hours left to contribute to the Kickstarter! 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

5 years!

5 years ago today, I published a short blog post about how I should just complete things. A lot has happened since then.

Before I get into what's going on, The Midnight Legion does not have long left - go and pledge!

The gamebook world

The gamebook community is a very different place now than it was back in 2010 when I started. Blogs have sprung up all over the place and it seems that gamebooks are something that loads of people love and want to write. It's great to see this happen and there is now too much for me to keep up with. When I started this blog, I thought it would be a pure retrospective look at the gamebooks of old, but now so many new ones have sprung up, it's great. It seems that past gamebooks are getting revivals and finally, Fabled Lands is getting book 7 printed. I have met so many excellent gamebook buddies and I hope this continues for another 5 years.

Legend of the Wayfarer

Before I start, I have decided book 6 today to celebrate my blog's birthday! Check it out! It is available for PWYW.

My system. It took a lot of planning and changing to get it going, and then after 6 books, I wanted to change the system again. At the time of writing, I have written 7 and a half books and the tweaks get more an more minor (the best I can hope for) and now I want to build a world with my system.

My system is not just meant to be quite simple and versatile - it is also meant to allow me to write gamebooks as quickly as possible - tests usually have a difficulty of 4, but 5 for harder tests. I then have to think of the skills that might help from a list of 12 and that's it. All the maths has already been done when I made the system and I added some failsafes (using xp and items for rerolls, getting things that can reroll fate rolls) that means that if I do mess up a number, it won't be devastating. Also, I don't have instant death from die rolls, so it is quite hard to die randomly.

The shortness is not an accident either. These gamebooks can be written quickly, but I can also assess what people like about them and if something goes wrong, I haven't put too much effort into it. A lot of little gamebooks means that I get more feedback and so I can correct myself more.

This system is teaching me to write gamebooks as quickly and as efficiently as possible, so that when I write a big one, I can plough through it and not waste time.

The Lloyd of Gamebooks team

They say that every problem is an opportunity if you look at it the right way, and last year, I was facing diminishing amounts of free time (for wonderful reasons - my firstborn was growing up fast and I had another baby on the way!) and my well of thoughts on gamebooks was drying up. I was eating into the stockpile of posts that I had made in the early days of the blog and I had no idea to keep it going.

I noticed that a lot of gamebook blogs were limping along with a few posts per year, and I didn't want to lose readership by posting infrequently.

I don't know how, but the solution hit me - all the people who make a few posts per year about gamebooks could also post here and link to their posts in their own blogs. That way, this blog would be updated quite frequently and the other blogs would not be forgotten. It is for this reason that you now see posts from people such as Paul Gresty and Justin MacCormack (as well as others, occasionally) on the blog now. I'm trying to post one post a month just to keep some regularity, but now I feel that I should focus on writing actual gamebooks and I am attempting to write one short (around 100 sections) gamebook a month using the Legend of the Wayfarer rules.

I would love to thank everyone who has contributed to the blog and kept the community strong. Live together, die alone and all that.

What exactly have I written?

In preparation for this post, I listed my bibliography with links. You can look at it here.

The future...

I started this blog to get all the thoughts I had on gamebooks over the 18 years I had known of them (at the time) out and to discuss them. Now that stream of original thoughts is running dry and I have discussed and analysed gamebooks and games, I want to write more actual gamebooks.

I want to up my game. Almost all of the gamebooks I have written are less than 200 sections. I want my gamebooks to be bigger and better, so I'm going to write more, and they're going to be longer.

In terms of community, I want to get to know the interactive fiction world and also the international gamebook world a bit more and learn some programming language to allow me to take my books to new platforms.

So here's to another 5 years, everyone. Looking forward to it!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Lone Wolf book 2 - Fire on the Water playthrough

"Fire on the Water", written by Joe Dever, illustrated by Gary Chalk.

Before starting on this adventure, as per the rules laid out at the start of this endeavour we treat the previous book as if it had been completed correctly (because the narrative of this book does, you see) and update our Kai skills. To hunting, tracking, sixth sense, mind shield, animal kinship, we now add another skill - a weapon skill in swords.

Having arrived at the king's palace in the previous book, we are told that the darklords armies are massing to take the city. As we start, there are more gribbly monsters outside the city gates than the whole of the final Lord of the Rings movie. The only way to defeat them is to recover an ancient mystical sword, which was loaned to a neighbouring country. Way back then, this was the usual method of cementing alliances between nations, based very much on the time-tested technique of kids swapping stickers and baseball cards.

As I'm the last surviving member of the kai and the only guardian of their powerful wisdom left in the entire world, naturally the king insists that I am sent to a safe location far from the war, with a unit of his best men to protect me, so that my knowledge may be preserved for future generations... Nah, of course not, he sends me off to recover the sword alone. Fantasy adventures aren't much fun if the kings of nations play it cautiously, after all.

I'm given fourteen gold coins, a sword and a set of chainmail armour. I also carry the royal seal, two meals and a crystal star pendant from the previous books. Now, let's rock.

The adventure starts as the captain of the guards escorts me to the docks, to board a ship that will take me the first part of the way on my quest. I'm confronted by a man who claims to be the first mate, who asks me to prove that I am the Kai by using one of my skills. After I command some mice to bring me cheese, he is so amazed that he summons two of his biggest friends to kill me. Yeah, turned out that he wasn't the first mate at all, but a servant of the darklords. You'd have thought that my ability to slice the nuts off a passing housefly would have put some doubt into his mind about this plan...

When I was finally able to catch up with the ship, it was already pulling out of the harbour, ready to leave me behind. Which was not exactly encouraging. Even less encouraging was several days into the voyage, when our stock of food was set alight and our water supply poisoned. Things were not going well, and they took a turn for the worse when we fished an injured man out of the sea. He told us that his ship had been wrecked by pirates, but Lone Wolf suspected that the darklords were behind it. But then, he says that every time he misplaces his car keys.

Following this ominous series of events, which are only slightly more ominous than a secret message scrawled on the wall in blood, the game decides that I've spent far too much time enjoying a comfortable voyage and sends a storm. The ship is ruined, leaving me bobbing up and down on some driftwood. After an extended period of time, I wash up on shore, having chosen not to flag down any passing fishermen out of fear that they might be the afore mentioned pirates. You can never trust fishermen, I tell you!

After regaining my strength with some fruit I found growing on a nearby tree, I headed inland until I found a caravan route. Fortune smiled upon me as I was able to hitch a ride on a carriage, and before long I had ridden into a city, Ragadorn.

One of the fellow passengers took the time to tell me that the man who owned the city was evil, which is about what you can expect in any city's politics. I quickly make my way through the city, only encountering one group of muggers (good going, you normally get four times that many just walking through Liverpool), and get to the next coach station. The attendant tells me that a ticket will set me back a good 20 gold, which I don't have. But after about ten minutes of solid gambling at the local (and very convenient to even exist in this book, so close to the coach station!) casino, I've won enough to pay my ticket.

Leaving Ragadorn behind, I board the coach with five fellow travelers - two brothers who are knights, a down on his luck merchant, a traveling priest, and a warrior woman. The coach rattled along for a few days, with each stop at inns for the night leaching me for more gold. One afternoon while driving through a mountain pass, falling boulders kill the driver. Everyone assumes it was an accident, but my Kai skill of paranoia tells me it was someone trying to kill me!

That evening the six of us arrive at the inn, I'm now down to my last 3 gold after I pay for the room. When dinner is served, I find that it's been poisoned. I'm told that I can go and attack the would-be assassin, but the options I'm given are the five other travelers. Guess I can't just question the cook or the waiter, then!

Given the option of leaping up and attacking one of my travel companions, I realise that I don't have many clues to examine. The only one I can think of is that the priest announced that the failing rocks at the mountain pass were an act of God rather than an attempt to kill us. It's a pretty sketchy reasoning, but I roll with it. Amazingly, it turns out to be correct - after I kill him, I find that he has a whole bunch of darklord mementos in his backpack. This doesn't seem to be enough to convince the witnesses that I didn't just murder the priest, though. I'm not given the option of simply explaining it all, so instead I have to run away.

The next day, I find a man lying injured on the roadside. He's been impaled by a spear and, when I remove it, he turns into a horrible gribbly monster and tries to eat me. I'm glad to have a weapon again, and I remember that this spear is very important later in the adventure... Once the fiend is dead, I push onwards until I eventually get to the port.

The port is a bit of a hassle, as I need to show the king's seal at an office in order to get a pass to continue onwards. Wild adventure of office red tape! After navigating some very dull offices and getting my red pass, I'm introduced to Rhygar, a stand up chap who offers to accompany me. One of the army's best and a heroic veteran, the book tells us how awesome Rhygar is. So, naturally as per all fantasy books, he'll be dead by sundown.

Almost immediately after we leave the port, we are attacked by an entire cabal of helghasts, the same gribbly monster we meet a few days ago. Rhygar and I have no choice but to flee from these nazgul wannabes, so we pelt it at full speed across the countryside. Eventually we come to one of several large tunnels which we are required to pass through, and one of the helghasts ambushes us, having hid in an overturned carriage within the tunnel. Thankfully I kept ahold of the magic spear, and killed the bugger without too much difficulty.

Now, I actually do remember the helgasts very vividly, because when I played the game as a kid, encountering them here had a good chance of being an instand-death moment. I'm unsure what it is about the adventure that worked out differently here. Perhaps it was because I chose to keep the spear. For whatever reason, though, I distinctly remember the helgasts as being horrible. And they have a face that looks like a cross between Norman Bates' mom and the Emperor from Star Wars.

I leave Rhygar behind and make the final rush towards the capital. Stumbling into the waiting arms of the guards, I wave the royal seal at them, and they rush me to see the king. He's thrilled to see me - so thrilled that he unlocks the royal vault and hands over the legendary sword.

The Sommerswerd is pretty imba, to be honest. It gives my combat skill a massive boost, deals super damage to undead, and amplifies my sixth sense. It also glows in the dark. In all seriousness though, this moment is written in such a way that it genuinely does feel very epic. I'm so pleased with it that I don't even care when a messenger tells me that Rhygar's body was found in the field, eaten by helghasts. Told ya so.

I'm sure that, somewhere out there, Rhygar is someone's favorate character. Not mine, though, mine's Banedon. But it's only right to spare a moment's silence for Deadmeat- erm, Rhygar.

The last leg of the adventure is in sight, and I'm amazed that I've made it this far. The king sets me up with a new ship in order to get me home, where I can kill an entire army single handedly with this imba sword. The voyage goes fairly well, until we're attacked by a massive, gigantic death-ship. Not just one ship, either, but a full armada of ships, all full of undead, which is a rather poor choice by the opposition given my newfound epic sword of undead-killing. I leap onboard their ship, carving my way through them by the bucket load, until I eventually find who is leading the vessel - the evil wizard, Vonotor. I chase him off the ship, and we sink it. I'd rather been hoping for more of a confrontation between Lone Wolf and Vonotor, but that will have to wait for the third book. For now, we have an army to slay! Almost there!

Having broken through the enemy armada with far, far too much ease, I return to the field of battle, ready to turn the tide of the war by slaying the darklord in heroic combat, mano e mano. I'm expecting the book to end with a phenomenal battle, one that will break the siege and cement me as a hero across the land. Unfortunately, the heroic warrior Lone Wolf instead decides to use his sword on possibly the least heroic way possible - to zap the darklords tent with him inside it, from all the way across the field. He doesn't even see the enemy in person, and possibly kills even kills him while he's asleep (or having a dump, or jerking off, whichever is funnier).

So yeah, the ending was a little anticlimactic, but it's still only the second gamebook I've actually finished in all the years I've been doing this blog, so that's a thing.

Despite that, though, the book is still damn good. Like the later Fighting Fantasy books, you get a real sense of having gone on a long journey. Finding the sword feels genuinely rewarding and suitably epic. It takes everything that worked with the first book and built on it to create something very memorable. The only thing that's really missing is a fight between Lone Wolf and the Darklord.

As a kid, I remember the helghasts being the most difficult part of this book, but I experienced none of the problems associated with my misadventures with them this time around, I'm unsure why that's the case but I'm definitely not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

It's also a good thing that the book had Vonotor put in an appearance, because he's the focus of the third book in the series. Check back in two weeks for the third book, Cavern of Kalte.

Lone Wolf Statistics at this point
Combat Skill – 15, Endurance – 25
Kai Skills - hunting, healing, sixth sense, mind shield, animal kinship, weaponskill swords (+2 CS)
Special items – Map, Crystal Star Pendant, Sommerswerd (+8 CS)

(If you've enjoyed this article, be sure to check out Justin MacCormack's two bestselling collections of dark fantasy stories - "Return to 'Return to Oz'" and "Cthulhu Doesn't Dance". His newest book, "Diary of a gay teenage zombie", is available now)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Books 1-5 of Legend of the Wayfarer out now!

Hello all! Books 1-5 of Legend of the Wayfarer are out now on PWYW (which can be £0).

You can get the core rulebook here.

If you want posts and analysis or if you want the books early, you can back me on Patreon.

Below are the blurbs for the books. Enjoy!

Deepbridge Danger Day

The town of Deepbridge is holds many strange inhabitants and you have no idea what you might walk into. Yet, there are many rewards for the daring adventurer and this is the perfect place to begin your legend.

Challenge of the Faerie Lord

A man has been accused of a crime and faces exile unless you can prove him innocent. To do this, you must brave an ancient and mystical forest, under the control of the fickle and dangerous Faerie Lord and his subjects. Dare you enter?

Risky Ventures

Looking for company, you hire yourself out as a guard to a caravan. Little do you know however, what a cursed journey it will be. Can you survive the bandits, strange creatures and wild folk and finally make it back to the comforts of civilisation?


The world is littered with many ancient ruins holding magic and treasures beyond the understanding of humanity. They also hold many dangers. You have decided to find one of these ruins and liberate these treasures. However, despite been left uninhabited for hundreds of years, pernicious sorcery keeps these treasures protected.

Seek and Ye Shall Find

 Baron Rogaris’s lands seem like a quiet place to stay, but there is opportunity here. People have lost things and people need to find things. If you can find these items, it will become very profitable for you. Of you could end up dead and forgotten in a ditch. But that’s the life of an adventurer such as yourself.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Legend of the Wayfarer 2nd edition rulebook out!

Good news everyone! After a load of tinkering, editing the first 5 books and writing books 6-8, my Legend of the Wayfarer system is back on track!

I have released the rulebook on RPG Now for the price of Pay What You Want (which can be £0).

I have also updated books 1-5 with the rules and they will be out in a week's time. Why?

Because on Patreon, if you pay $2 or more, you get the books a week before everyone else and so those people are enjoying the books right now.

Happy Wayfaring!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Artist Profile: Callie MacDonell

This is Ashton Saylor again, this time here to talk to you about the woman behind the beautiful art we've been providing for "The Good, the Bad and the Undead." At the time of writing this, we are 85% funded, and only on the 3rd day of the Kickstarter campaign! I think the magnificent illustrations by Callie MacDonell are a significant driving force behind this success. Here's to good art! And another to the people who make it! Us writers wouldn't be half what we are without you lot.

Finding the right artist for "The Good, the Bad and the Undead" was a project in itself. Time after time, we thought we found a great artist, only to have it fall through for one reason or another. Just as I was ready to tear my hair out from frustration, Callie came along with the right skills and talent and agreed to join the team.

A stylized self-portrait by Callie MacDonell

Callie MacDonell is a professional artist and designer. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, in California, where she works full time doing art, design, and video production for the mobile game company Kabam. She got her undergraduate degree in Media Arts and Animation from the Art Institutes International Minnesota, and went on to get her graduate degree in concept art from The Academy of Art University in San Francisco.

She has a remarkable array of eclectic experience, having done animation, writing, illustrations, motion graphics, design, video production, and concept art. She was a character and environment concept artist for the short film Curpidgeon, where she worked along side Pixar Art Director, Anthony Cristov. She did design work at Marvel Comics, using Marvel artwork to design merchandise such as T-shirts, jackets, children's wear and the like. And she worked as a writer for a TV show pilot for FonCo Creative Company... but if she told you the name, she'd have to kill you ;)

Callie is a lifelong fan of science fiction and fantasy movies, tv shows and literature. She loves art in all forms, but is especially excited by opportunities to work on sci fi and fantasy projects within the comic and animation industries. She is currently working on her own short animation for children, "Cat Walrus," about an exchange student who is a cat-walrus mix, and she's struggling because it's picture day at school and she's clumsy on land and has nothing to wear... it's adorable!

In her own words, she couldn’t be more excited to be working on The Good, The Bad, and The Undead! We're excited to have her :) The book wouldn't be the same without her vision bringing it to life.

Callie MacDonell painting her own self-portrait

If you like her work, check out more of it!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Lone Wolf 1 - Flight from the Dark playthrough

Originally posted at

"Flight from the Dark", written by Joe Dever, illustrated by Gary Chalk.

Our adventure begins, as I'm sure we are all aware, with the destruction of the Kai monastery by the armies of the darklords. You are the sole survivor, etc. You, doubtless, know the story and how it begins. So let's dive right in to rolling up our titular character - Lone Wolf.

Character generation is remarkably forgiving on me, for a change. I have a decent 17 for my combat ability, equal to about a solid 10 for Fighting Fantasy's skill points. I have rolled endurance of 25, which would be equal to roughly 15 stamina points.

Kai disciplines are the core magic type of system in the Lone Wolf series. You pick five in this adventure, and gain more as the series processed. The five that I have selected here are - hunting, healing, sixth sense, mind shield, and animal kinship.

I start the adventure with an axe, probably the same one that Lone Wolf was using to cut firewood when the evil army attacked. In addition, I have 4 gold coins, one meal, and a quarterstaff.

This is the part where I would normally discuss the adventure back story, but it's relatively sparse in this book. The seeing is a traditional fantasy kingdom, you are a monk ranger type of a chap by the name of Silent Wolf. The land has historically been benighted by the terror of a group of lords of darkness called, surprisingly enough, the darklords. One morning, while Silent Wolf was out gathering firewood, the evil army invades and burns the monastery down, killing all your friends and adopted family. Impressively enough, this means that the entire Kai order has been massacred, because they were all in the monastery at the time enjoying the festival of big dinners. You are now alone - Lone Wolf.

So, let's get on with this, then. Our route is clear, we need to go and see the king, who will... Ek... Do whatever kings do in this situation. Raise an army or something. I start off, trudging through the forest, avoiding the energy orcs (called Giaks in this series) until I eventually run into a wizard. He is fending off a group of the giaks, and I help him out by hurling a rock at one of the buggers. Just call me Lone Hobbit.

Our wizard here is Banedon, and he has been sent here to tell the Kai about the army that are coming in our direction any moment now... Oh, woops, he arrived a little too late, ehh? Still, he gives me the symbol of his brotherhood, the pendant of the crystal star, which is bound to be useful. He also tells me that his order was betrayed by within - one of his below mages, Vonotor, betrayed them. I'm sure we'll see more of him again, probably two books from now. Anyway, I really like Banedon, and genuinely hope to see him again soon. Let's hope he appears in a future book (possibly Lone Wolf book 34: Wrath of the Rock-Throwing Wizard)

I stumble through the forest for a while until I'm chased by a pack of giaks. Attempting to his in a cave proves no use, as they find me and I have to fight two of them. They're not too tough, and I managed to find some gold in the cave for my time.

After meeting an old hermit who lives in a tree and gives me yet another weapon that I don't need because I have my axe, I stumble upon a hill. There is a tunnel through the hill, and a memory from childhood stirs. I remember that something bad happens if I either climb the hill, or go through the tunnel - one or the other, dammed if I can remember which. I chose the tunnel, and was immediately attacked by a giant insect monster, one which was actually damn hard to beat for this early in the game. The book grants me twenty gold for my effort, and yet another weapon. I should say here, finding a specific weapon is very useful if you have chosen the weapon skill ability for your character, for that respective weapon. So in that respect, it's good that the book makes so many available to you. However, it does mean that I am essentially tripping over daggers and war hammers all through the forest for this part of the adventure.

We eventually leave the forest and find a massive caravan of refugees, fleeing the evil army. I join them on their travels, and protect them from an airborne attack from the dark lords flying monsters. Choosing to protect some children who are trapped under a caravan leaves me open to assault from a horde of giaks, but the book is nice enough to treat them as a single enemy, so they aren't too much of a threat.

I heal up in an old farmhouse, and push onwards, where I encounter as royal regiment lead by the prince. He isn't doing too well though, as the battle quickly turns against him and he is felled by a monster called a Gourgaz. The damn thing is an utter tank and bloody near impossible to kill, in fact I'm sure that it's outright sadistic on the part of the author. Somewhere, Joe Dever is laughing at me.

With a spare four endurance points left after that utterly brutal fight, the price gives me a message to take to his father. I'd make a comment about inconsiderate quest givers, but given that he provides me with a horse, I can't really complain. I push onwards away from the battle, riding through the forest to avoid rampaging packs of doom wolves, and eventually catch sight of the capital. For a moment, I think I might make it there intact. But no, the book decides to remind me that my endurance is so low that I'm likely to die from enemy attacks if I ride right to the gate. It gives me two alternatives - jump into the river and swim, or take a short cut through the nasty, vicious, haunted graveyard of the dead, famous for the many thousands of innocent adventurers who have snuffed it from the ghosts that dwell within. Joy.

So, let's assess the choice here. The book indicates to us that running across the field is likely to attract attention of the enemy army, so it's clearly begging us to choose another option. Of the two, the river is the most innocent. Which means, I think, that it's a trap. Remember the Clash of the Princes Fighting Fantasy book, when I was eaten by invisible, carnivorous, implausible fish? Yeah, I'm not taking the river. So it's easier the graveyard of nastiness, or the field. The graveyard is the most likely option. It's set up to be so evil and dangerous, that we are bound to think that it hides a great treasure. Treasure which would attract the most desperate of adventures. But no, I'm not going to fall for that either. I make a break for the field.

I think that I choose quite well, because the biggest threat I encounter is some easily avoided wolves. After a quick stop at an old hut in the field, I'm beset by three bandits dressed as the kings soldiers. I'd actually have almost fallen for their disguise, were it not for my sixth sense. I push onwards for another day, and arrive at the capital.

The guards recognise me as one of the Kai and offer to take me to the king. Eager to stop in at some shops and spend s some of my considerable wealth of gold, I turn down his offer and head off on my own. Almost immediately someone steals some items right out of my backpack, I injure myself in a massive crowd of people, and I'm attacked by the city's resident madman.

I'm rather thankful to get out of the city streets when I find a herbalist. Even though my senses tell me to watch out and be careful, I decided to stick around and do some shopping. Whilst looking at the various magic wands that are on special offer, the herbalist's son jumps out from behind the counter and tries to kill me. Very poor customer service, let me tell you! My best guess is that he thought that I wasn't going to spend any gold, so he decided to kill me and take it all from my body anyway. I'm doing fairly well in the fight, until he throws an explosive pellet at me, and then proceeds to cut my throat.

That herbalist is getting a very bad review on trip advisor, let me tell you!

As one of the only three Lone Wolf games I had as a kid, Flight from the Dark has held up very nicely. The atmosphere is rich, with promising world building (although they rarely try to go beyond the usual fantasy genre tropes). The sense of tension is very nice, though, leaving the reader with a real sense of desperation as you try to flee the darklord army. This is still a very good book, even when you take off the rose tinted goggles of nostalgia. But where it really shines is that it perfectly sets the tone for a franchise. If this book had been any weaker, the Lone Wolf franchise would never be the strength it is today.

Come back in two weeks time, when Lone Wolf is sent on a mission to recover the only weapon that can turn the tide of the invasion and save Sommerlund. Will he manage it? Doubt it, but it'll be a laugh finding out!

Lone Wolf Statistics at this point
Combat Skill – 15, Endurance – 25
Kai Skills - hunting, healing, sixth sense, mind shield, animal kinship
Special items – Map, Crystal Star Pendant

(If you've enjoyed this article, be sure to check out Justin MacCormack's two bestselling collections of dark fantasy stories - "Return to 'Return to Oz'" and "Cthulhu Doesn't Dance". His newest book, "Diary of a gay teenage zombie", is currently available now)

The Midnight Legion book 1: Operation Deep Sleep review for Kickstarter

And so we have a gamebook review! Here, I'm Reviewing the Midnight Legion book 1: Operation Deep Sleep by Aaron Emmel and illustrated by Aaron Kreader. This will be the first in a trilogy (book 2 is The World Reborn and book 3 is The Portal of Life).

It's hard to give away the plot without spoilers, but when you begin, you are an android agent that has been woken up in the far future by a super computer called MELMA. The base you were put in stasis on is under attack, and you have a mission to carry out. However, you have no recollection of who you are, where you are, why you were put in stasis, or what your mission is.

Just as you are woken up, your room is attacked by large humanoid rats. If you manage to defeat them or escape them, you can explore the rest of the base. As you do, your memories will return and you will realise that things are not as you expected...

Aaron has a system where memories are gradually given to you, allowing for the story and your background to unfold as you read. This is a great strength of the book, where every few sections gives you a new insight into the mystery around you.

He also has insights (basically codewords) which allow different NPCs and situations to interact differently with you depending on what you have done with past decisions. The world here is not static.

There are also many secrets in this book - some skills allow you to gain extra information, which means that you can go to extra sections - for example, with hacking, you might be able to get more information from computer based items. Also, information you learn might allow you to interact differently with areas or people that you come across.

There are plenty of NPCs to interact with. First of all, you have MELMA, who you interact with Marathon style through different terminals (and who may be about as trustworthy as a Marathon A.I). Then you come across the invaders to your base and realise that it is not as simple as expected...

The art is great and conveys the futuristic setting very well and I hope the funding means that there is more of it.

So there we go. If you want to solve the mystery, back the book on Kickstarter. $28 gets you book 1.

To see Aaron Emmel's website go here.