Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 in review

So 2016 is almost over, thankfully. This year, we saw the sad passing away of Joe Dever, the man behind Lone Wolf. Paul Gresty made a very touching and eloquent post about him. Joe has contributed a huge amount to gamebooks, games and many other areas. I world is a poorer place without him.

There were plenty of releases, as always. One of the most pleasant surprises and "problems" I've had since starting this blog is that the number of gameboook related products is so large that I have had trouble keeping up. Back in 2010, I envisaged this blog to be mainly a retrospective look at gamebooks with the odd Windhammer review, but I couldn't have been more wrong, which is great.

However, a great website called Gamebook News has started up to keep up with new developments, so keep an eye on that one.

If analysis is your thing, then head on over to the Interactive Visual Gamebook Adventures blog by Peter Agapov who has written many excellent and thought provoking posts this year.

Kickstarter has been the home for many gamebook projects this year. The last one I backed was Sword of the Bastard Elf, by Hermit Skull (not his real name, I presume). The book is a parody/homage to Fighting Fantasy books where the titular bastard elf goes on a quest across the land of Nonce to find the Wandering Milkman, who is supposed to be his real father. Hopefully that sentence will tell you what kind of story this is supposed to be. The art is awesome and manages to homage past Fighting Fantasy books. You can find more awesome works at Hermit Skull also managed to fund Star Bastards (I see a theme here) earlier this year and I have the awesome book in my possession now.

Megara is continuing to release collectors' editions of the Golden Dragon books and having guest authors add to them. Golden Dragon book 2 has been funded and an extra 100 sections will be written by Mark Lain. Book 1 was funded earlier this year and I received it in the summer with an awesome extra 100 sections written by David Walters.

After the success of Alice's Nightmare in Wonderland, Jonathon Green got the Wicked Wizard of Oz funded and that will be out next year. He's also asked fans that if there was a YOU ARE THE HERO 2, what they would like to see in it. There's nothing promised, but Fighting Fantasy Fest 2 will be taking place on September 2nd 2017 in the University of West London and that would be an excellent time to sell it.

Arion Games ran a campaign for Stellar Adventures, rules for science fiction  Advanced Fighting Fantasy. This is something I am looking forward to as I have access to the playtest files and they look great. I have also written two adventures for it, which will be released shortly after the rules. I ran the shorter one at Dragonmeet and it went well.

I also back the Qanharren series which is a gorgeously produced gamebook series which Ihaven't played yet, but I look forward to doing so. You can find the website here.

There were two big gamebook related programs this year. Tin Man Games released the Warlock of Firetop Mountain (I paid to design a room in the maze and write a death section - anyone want to guess at which ones?). Tin Man Games have really upped their game with making a 3D map, a new combat system and wonderful new rooms, characters and quests to go with the game which you can get on Steam.

Finally, Inkle released Sorcery! part 4 which is the conclusion to the Sorcery! series. Inkle have built on the series again and introduced new features to conclude this epic story. You can get Sorcery! from the app store, Google Play and Steam.

So what have I been up to this year?

Secret project

 I finished off rewriting an existing gamebook. It's all done and I'm talking with the original author to get it released.

Tunnels and Trolls solo rules

I love Tunnels and Trolls for its tradition of solos, so when I got my awesome copy of Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls, I wrote some rules for solos using them. Then the awesome Troll God Father, Ken St. Andre himself asked me if I could let him add art to it and release it. I said yes, of course. You can get them from RPG Now. Many thanks, Ken. You are absolutely awesome!!

Tunnels and Trolls magic weapon solo

 I started writing another Tunnels and Trolls solo. The premise of this is that you discover a magic item that allows you to spend your Adventure Points to add abilities to a personalised magic weapon for you. I came up with this idea ages ago with the aim of giving someone a magic weapon that can grow with its owner so that it won't get abandoned as the hero gains experience. I have done 100 sections of the gamebook and the rules for making the weapon. The hard part was making the rules for creating the weapon and that is complete, so now I just need to finish off the scenarios. I started it in the summer holidays with the hope of finishing it by September, but I didn't. Realistically, I won't have it finished by this time next year due to...

The Glass fortress, with Jeffrey Dean

This is something that I am working on at the moment and I am really excited about it, especially as it lets me revisit some of my favourite past ideas. I have done 80 sections so far. I am only writing half of this gamebook, however, so I'll let you know when I can say more...

Works of art are not finished, only abandoned

One of the main sinks of time is constantly tweaking my Legend of the Wayfarer system. I released 8 books with the system I used ages ago,  but I was constantly trying to improve it. Well, after combing through literally every word, I think I've got to the stage where it is ready. Or at least, I've got to the stage where I sick of yet another tweak invading my brain, compelling me to write it down so that I have to then look at the document again to see if I want to make that change. Either is fine with me. The kicker, however, is that I haven't yet written a gamebook using the new system and so I'm imagining the first time I do, I might have to change the rules again to avoid some big mistake that I couldn't see unless I was actually playing with them.

The new rules, called Wayfarer take place on a world that I have worked very hard to create a sense of logic to it. The magic level is very low and I have thought more about the world building than the rules. The rules have then been changed based on the world building, which is why they have changed so much. As I have got a better idea of the world, I have had to change the rules to fit it. Now that I have thought about pretty much every aspect of the world, I'm confident I won't be changing the rules much either now, so I will release them in the next few days.

As an antidote to my careful planning, tweaking and world building, I created a similar game system called SCRAWL with a completely different aim. SCRAWL stands for Solo CRAWL and its aim is for pure murder hobo wander round the wilderness/dungeon/city/ruins and steal treasure from monsters. There's no logic, just a big country with dungons brimming with gold, monsters and traps nad plenty of villages that sell all kinds of stuff to help you steal some more stuff. In a way, SCRAWL is my antidote to Wayfarer, where I can just kick back and stick in any idea I want without having to think about the ramifications that much.

I have created a Patreon page where for the mere cost of $1 per product I make, you can get the SCRAWL and Wayfarer gamebooks in advance and also read posts from me about how I make them and my sources of inspiration. Eventually, they will be available on my RPG Now page for the cost of Pay What You Want.

I'm looking forward to 2017 with another Fighting Fantasy Fest, Dragonmeet and wonderful new releases. I hope to meet you at some point at a convention, or maybe at another You are the Beer-o or just around.

Happy 2017 and happy gamebooking, people!


  1. Ruffnut, lovely post, are you banned from the AFF2E forum as well? Shintokamikazie is as well.

  2. Yes, me too. If it's happened to all of us, it might be a hacker.

  3. Or Bottg banned everyone to sort out the spam.

  4. Looking forward to Wayfinder and SCRAWL books!