Sunday, October 10, 2021

A (not so) brief history of the Windhammer prize

 Hi all! 

Hopefully, you know that last week, I announced the Lindenbaum prize for short gamebook fiction. 

What some of you may not know (which is what I found out when chatting with some gamebook people on International Gamebook Day) is that the competition is basically just a continuation of a gamebook competition that ran from 2008-2015 called the Windhammer Prize. This article is about the Windhammer Prize's history. In researching this article, I realised that Andrew Wright had a similar idea in 2011, where he wrote "A Brief History of the Windhammer Prize", so this is the not so brief version.

The Windhammer prize was for writing an adventure of up to 100 sections. A few rules were added over the years - a word count limit of 25000 words (that might have been after my entry Rulers of the NOW), pictures being allowed if they are maps or parts of puzzles being the two main ones.

In 2012, The Gamebook Authoring Tool came to the scene. It has a free version that allows you to create a gamebook of up to 100 sections (perfect for Windhammer) and Daniel, the creator posted reviews of the entries on the blog.

The prize started when gamebooks just started to have a resurgence online. Before then, I couldn't find many websites related to gamebooks ( was the main one).

I loved it, because as well as having the chance to win a prize, you could read gamebooks by other people and get to know who was into gamebooks at the time.

Why did it end?

Here is a quote from the competition page:

"From 2016 however, it became apparent that the possibilities for commercial gamebook publication had evolved considerably. New media opportunities including gamebook application development and more accessible self-publishing options allowed authors to find much wider audiences for their work than had been previously available. A consequence of that evolution was smaller numbers of authors coming forward to participate in the competition.

In 2016 the Windhammer Prize closed. What you can find here are all the preceding years' competition guidelines, entry lists and winning submissions, and an archive of all entries participating over those eight years. Please download whatever you wish from the archive. It is a collection of extraordinary talent and a wonderful exposition of how gamebook fiction can relate to a wide range of different genres and subject matter. What follows on this page is the final set of competition guidelines for the 2016 year including an outline of the benefits to authors of participation. May Glory and Renown follow all who entered."

Why do a similar competition now?

The reasoning in 2016 made sense. Kickstarter and self publishing was taking off. You didn't need a competition to reach and audience. The reasoning still applies today, so why am I doing it. A few reasons:

1) New fans. The seed of the idea was planted during the International Gamebook Day weekend, when, on a group call with others, I mentioned Windhammer and most of the gamebook fans hadn't heard of it. This means that we have either picked up new fans or had fans return since 2016. They might appreciate a competition.

2) Nostalgia. I've been getting a bit more nostalgic in the last year, which was probably exacerbated by Covid. A lot of the stuff I liked from the 10s is gone, but this is something I decided to bring back.

3) Time. I had no time during lockdown as I was both working and teaching my children. When I got more time, I decided to spend more of it one something I loved and this is one of those things.

To be honest, I have no idea how many entrants I have. It could be 0. It could be 20. Whatever happens, I wanted to find out.

Where are they now?

Here is a list of what some of the entrants did after their Windhammer entries. I searched everyone on Google and I have listed the people who are still up to stuff. If anyone has any other updates, please let me know.

I do not know about everyone and I might have forgotten some people, so please let me know if someone is missing.

I'd like to point out that some of these people drew attention to themselves via Windhammer and went onto bigger things because of that. The gamebook writers of the 1980s and 1990s also pay attention to the competition.

Tammy Badowski

Tammy has written a trilogy of gamebooks called the Grekgun series.

She also has gamebooks on T M Badowski | Fighting Fantasy .Net

She also has several books on (scroll down or do CTRL-F to find her name).

Felicity Banks

Felicity has written a lot of Interactive Fiction, including the Choices games for Tin Man Games and many more that you can find here: Search for Games (

Felicity has also written many novels. Check them out!

Zachary Carango

Zachary has several books on (scroll down or do CTRL-F to find his name).

Jake Care

The entrant with the shortest gamebook entry ever started a blog for a bit, about really short gamebooks, but stopped (ironically, his last post is about the biggest gamebook ever). Jake Care's Gamebooks (

Simon Christopher Chapman

Simon wrote Golem Gauntlet, which is on Fighting Fantasy Project - Gamebooks by Simon Christopher Chapman (

Kieran Coghlan

Kieran has several books on (scroll down or do CTRL-F to find his name).

Jac Colvin

Jac has a website of several interactive fiction works: JACIC GAMEBOOKS - Home (

Ivailo Daskalov

Ivailo has made several gamebook apps here: xsgamebooks and also wrote the Choice of Games book AI - Aftermath - New Hosted Game! AI — Aftermath by Ivailo Daskalov - Choice of Games LLC

Robert Douglas

Robert has several books on (scroll down or do CTRL-F to find his name).

Andrew Drage

Andrew Drage wrote the awesome Infinite Universe for Tin Man Games. He did lots of other work for Tin Man Games including designing Sultans of Rema with Gaetano Abbondanza. He has also written novels: The Calling, The Dark Horde and Evermore.

He is currently working on a heavy metal concept album also called The Dark Horde.

Ramsay Duff

Ramsay has several books on (scroll down or do CTRL-F to find his name).

Paul Gresty

Paul went on to complete Fabled Lands 7 and also writes for Choice of Games. One of his games is The Orpheus Ruse. The ORPHEUS Ruse (

Per Jorner

Per Jorner was very active on the old gamebook Yahoo groups where he wrote funny and scathing reviews. His Coils of Hate review was very helpful for me when I wrote the reboot. I'm not sure what happened to him after Yahoo Groups closed.

Stuart Lloyd

No idea what he's up to these days.

Ashton MacSaylor

Ashton went on the write The Good, the Bad and the Undead with Jamie Thompson.

He also went on to write for the game Dwarf King with Micabyte.

He has done several other works.

Ashton has co-created Story Tables which uses RPGs to do teambuilding.

Stefano Ronchi

Stefano has recently released a gamebook: How the Spider Ate the Moon: A Gamebook Struggle eBook : Ronchi, Stefano, Ronchi, Elisa, Constantine, Francis: Kindle Store

Phil Sadler

Phil Sadler has created many awesome Fighting Fantasy fan works which you can get for free at (scroll down or do CTRL-F to find his name).

In fact, Phil recently released another gamebook called The Dark Domain. You can get it here for free!

Al Sander

Al Sander also has gamebooks on (scroll down or do CTRL-F to find his name).

Paul Struth

Paul Struth wrote the Dervish Stone for Warlock Magazine 4. He also published The Queen of Shades for Fighting Fantazine 7.

David Walters

Gamebook-wise, David Walters went on to work with Mark Smith and Jamie Thompson to complete the Way of the Tiger saga with the seventh book, Redeemer!. Finally, Avenger got out of that web. David also made a prequel called Ninja!

David has also written several novels with samurai and ninja in them.

Alec Worley

Alec doesn't seem to have any more gamebooks, but he has a website: ALEC WORLEY / COMICS, FICTION, AUDIO - Alec Worley: Portfolio Homepage

Andrew Wright

Andrew wrote Catacombs of the Undercity for Tin Man Games which is available on several formats.

He then went on to write several books for Advanced Fighting Fantasy 2nd edition including Return to the Pit, Beyond the Pit, A Rough Guide to the Pit and The Titan Herbal. Hmmm. One of those is a bit different. I think he is currently working on a magical item book for AFF2.

Funnily enough, Andrew also wrote a blog post called "A brief history of the Windhammer Prize" back in 2011, making my entry a not so brief history, I guess.

1 comment: