Tuesday, May 30, 2023


 Hello all! I'm very sorry, but the recent few weeks have been very busy. Here is a lot of news from the gamebook world.

The passing of Russ Nicholson

Russ Nicholson, a superb artist who has illustrated many, many gamebooks, passed away recently. He will be greatly missed.

I never met or worked with Russ, but I loved all of his artwork from the books he illustrated. 

You can read dedications to him on Fabled Lands and on the official Fighting Fantasy blog.


New releases

The Citadel of Bureaucracy

The Citadel of Bureaucracy holds many perils for civil servants unprepared for its labyrinthine cubicle walls. Yet enter you must. Working against the clock, you must fight unreliable transit, dodgy IT, the dreaded Canada goose, and a rising sense of nihilism in order to get paid and clear your desk for a much-needed vacation.

YOU decide which paths to take, which dangers to risk, and which colleagues to confront. May the Janus-faced God of Finance and HR be with you, for you’ll find little succour in the Citadel’s unhallowed halls.

Novels | J.D. Mitchell (jdmitchellwriter.com)

One Roll Gamery

One Roll Gamebooks has released the Seeker of Valenreath

The Seeker of Valenreath: Amazon.co.uk: Makin, Matthew D: 9780645661507: Books

If you seek adventure, then enter the fantasy realm of Lorelos and embark on a quest to find an ancient relic. You are a Seeker and must choose one of multiple paths you can take to reach your goal. You will need one six-sided dice, a pencil and an eraser to keep track of your attributes, record your discoveries and determine the victor in battles. You will use a unique, 1d6 combat system to do battle with Orcs, Goblins and many other formidable foes. Your success will oftentimes be decided by your strategy and the roll of one six-sided dice, be it combat or the execution of a task or skill of your choosing. You may come across puzzles to solve and riddles to decipher. Use alchemy to overcome the many challenges you will face and discover items and potions to aid you in your quest. You will journey through the mysterious Faewood or the marshy Fens of Lorelos, before embarking on your perilous ascent of the Blackspire Mountains to find the entrance to the ancient ruins. The many challenges that you will face and the characters you will meet on your journey, are contained in this adventure gamebook of over 350 pages and 1000 paragraphs. There are multiple paths to achieve your goal and each playthrough will be different depending on your choices and selected abilities. Containing 50 hand-drawn illustrations, your friends and foes are revealed in 22 full page illustrations with many secrets to discover.

You can follow them here:


One Roll Gamebooks | Facebook

Escape to Glitter Land

Escape to Glitter Land (fungamery.com)

In this world are two kinds of people: The Privileged and the Unprivileged. Unfortunately, you are the latter. That's why you are trapped in Dunghill Land, forced to perform menial tasks day-in and day-out, just to survive. You long for a way out.


Dragon Warriors Day of Legends

DRAGON WARRIORS is the key to a magic world. A land of cobwebbed forests and haunted castles. A land where dire monsters lurk in the shadows of the night, where hobgoblins shriek across the bleak and misty moors, where wizards and armoured warriors roam dank dungeons in their quest for gold and glory. The realm of your imagination.

On July 15th, 2023, we come together on a Day of Legends. We meet old friends and make new ones. We drink, we eat, we game, and we celebrate.

We gather just before midday at Brewdog Chancery Lane, London, UK. This is a face-to-face meet with no online element.

Day of Legends. The Ultimate Dragon Warriors Convention | Warhorn


Home - NarraScope

Celebrating Narrative Games

June 9 – 11 at the University of Pittsburgh

In-person registration is now closed.

Online registration still open!

(through June 8th)

NarraScope first took place in 2019, live at MIT. In 2020, Narrascope was fully online, and for 2021 we skipped a year, returning for 2022 as an online event. Our conference aims to be a place for everyone interested in narrative games to hang out, exchange ideas and get inspired. We do this through a broad selection of talks, keynote speakers, discussions and workshops.

Subjects vary from interactive fiction tools to writing best practices and everything in between. Previous talks had titles like “Choosing Your Happily Ever After”, “Shaping Your Story with Emotional Intelligence” and “Adapting Film’s Techniques for Nonlinear Stories”, to give you a bit of an idea. The NarraScope History site lists everything we did over the past years.

Home - NarraScope



Voidspace is currently on issue 6.


The Warlock Returns

The Warlock Returns is currently on issue 9.

The Warlock Returns Issue #09 - Arion Games | Advanced Fighting Fantasy | DriveThruRPG.com


A Puzzled Adventurer's Journal is still exploring gamebook design.

A Puzzled Adventurer's Journal (puzzlejournal.blogspot.com)


Fantastic Flights gamebook podcast is currently on Armies of Death.

Campaign on Dice is currently on Battleblade Warrior.

Fighting Fantasy 21 - Trial of Champions - Vintage Gamebook Podcast | Podcast on Spotify


Antarctica: a solo sci-fi post-apocalyptic gamebook by Chronicle Craft — Kickstarter

Embark on a journey through a post-apocalyptic world after the climate has changed everything. Explore, survive & forge your own path.

This Kickstarter is yet to launch.

Wallace Designs – Everything Martin Wallace

Wallace Designs is excited to announce its next major release, ‘Fighting Fantasy Adventures’, which will be coming to Kickstarter on the 1st July 2023. Based on the iconic series of books created by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone the co-operative card game allows up to four players to experience the classic adventures in a completely new way. Martin Wallace, the co-designer of the number one rated board game ‘Brass: Birmingham’ has developed an elegant card-based system that gives the feel of a role-playing game without the need for a games master. The first campaign will comprise of five adventures, based on four beloved books, with the promise of more to come.

In Fighting Fantasy Adventures (Campaign 1), you can experience the stories in a whole new way. Now you can play with up to three friends, in a co-operative format. Gameplay is easy to learn and engaging, downtime is limited to some dice rolls and your characters level up after each adventure.

This Campaign includes the stories below:

The Warlock of Firetop Mountain

Island of the Lizard King

Deathtrap Dungeon

The Forest of Doom

Subterranea: Empire of Wrath A SAVAGE REALMS GAMEBOOK by Savage Realms Gamebooks — Kickstarter

The small becomes large as the large becomes small. What you would normally squash in the palm of your hand, now stands equal to you. The shock of the sudden change in perspective is nothing compared to the dangers you now face. A pin becomes a weapon that could save your life! The beat of a fly's wings now deafens you! A spider's web is the deadliest of traps! To birds, you are food, but to the Murina People, you are an imposter in their realm and imposters are unwelcome in the black eyes and outlook of the Rat Emperor himself.  

The underground miniverse of Subterranea and its denizens await you...

This Kickstarter is funded, but you can still follow it.

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Fantastic Fights gamebook podcast awesomeness

Hello all! Here is a post from Hieronymous J Doom, host of the awesome gamebook podcast Fantastic Fights. His podcast involves playthroughs of the Fighting Fantasy books and other books along with his thoughts and some design lessons he has taken from them. 

Hieronymous releases two podcasts per month. One is about a Fighting Fantasy book (at the time of writing, he is on Daggers of Darkness) and a bonus playthrough with a gamebook from a different series. These gamebooks have included Destiny Quest, Grailquest, Transformers books and many more. The podcast is always entertaining and informative.

Hierronymous also releases his own gamebooks. However, these are only available to people who back him on Patreon. However, Hieronymous only requires as little as £1 per month, and since you get a lot of awesome gamebooks in return, it is a bargain!

You also get posts about Hieronymous's design process. Hieronymous has kindly let me copy one of his design posts to share here as a taster of the value you get for as little as £1 per month.

I do a lot of my design in my head before I even start sketching out basic ideas. I like to turn ideas over and over, looking at them from different angles and considering what potential ramifications different decisions might have for the design of a game or a book. It’s not something I’d recommend to everyone, I’ve always had a good memory for this kind of thing. When I was a teenager I would regularly run roleplaying games with zero preparation and took very few notes. Instead I’d spend the intervals between sessions turning the characters and situations over in my head and thinking about possible directions that I could take events. I do the same thing in the early stages of designing a gamebook. I audition a bunch of ideas in my head and then turn them round, mentally sketch out different possible iterations and then try something else to see if that feels better. There’s a lot of instinct at this stage of design, I tend to wind up settling on something that just feels right. The important thing for me at this point is to start with something concrete that I can use to orient my thoughts. I think of this part of the process as being like improvising a musical solo, a guitarist needs to know what the basic chords of the song are in order to be able to improvise successfully. Quite often I’ll decide that I can’t come up with enough to do the premise justice. That’s when I move onto another premise and start turning that around to see what I can do with it.

These aren’t failed ideas, I quite often find myself coming back to them months or even years later and I’m always careful to make a note of what I had when I let the idea go so that it can act as a memory aid for future development. They just didn’t feel right for me at the time and that’s fine. Thinking about those ideas helps me sharpen my critical faculties. There’s nothing worse than starting a large project like a gamebook and finding out halfway through it doesn’t actually work.

I thought I would share some of the ideas that I tossed around in my head before abandoning and the reasons why I abandoned them. Then in the next development diary I’ll talk about the idea that made it past the mental stage. I think the majority of these are things I’ve mentioned at least in passing on the podcast.

The first idea that I auditioned was an idea for a science fiction book. I’ve always wanted to do a sci-fi one and this one would have involved the player trying to regain control of a spaceship that had been captured by space pirates. You’d be trying to free crew mates, take control of key sections of the ship before a final showdown with the space pirate chief. There’s definitely the kernel of a good idea here, I’d be riffing on Star Trek, a show I love, and big spaceship would lend itself well to gamebook design being a nice constrained space. I abandoned it only after reluctantly concluding that I couldn’t think of quite enough memorable encounters to get a full book out of it. The premise was great but I couldn’t see a way to avoid a certain amount of repetition without watering it down.

The second idea was a werewolf book where the player would take the role of a human afflicted with lycanthropy. The key thing I wanted to explore was phases of the moon, I loved the idea of the character’s stats and options changing depending on where the moon was in its cycle. I also liked the idea of the character being hunted by professional werewolf hunters. It would have been a great opportunity to bring in some gothic horror in the vein of Hammer horror. I mentally sketched a simple system for tracking phases of the moon but in the end it was clear that it would add a great deal of complexity to the book-keeping and complicate every single encounter design to an outrageous degree. Tracking time is also not something easy to do in a gamebook format where paragraph descriptions are set in stone. The simple answer is to move the phases of the moon from a system approach to a narrative approach, so that early sections of the book take place during the new moon and the climax takes place at the full moon. This a pretty good premise and would allow the finale to be the moment where the hero finally goes full werewolf but it wasn’t the book I wanted to write so I let it go.

This second idea failed partly because it was a mechanics led idea rather than a narrative led idea. I’m a sucker for a simple clever mechanic but I find that whenever I start from the mechanics the final idea is never quite as strong because I’m looking for a reason to justify my mechanics not a narrative hook. In general I believe starting from a mechanical approach is putting the cart before the horse for gamebooks and RPGs. The systems should always be in service to the fantasy not the other way round because you end up designing a board game with some narrative features. Board games with narrative features are a fine thing but it’s not something I think works all that well in a gamebook.

In the next installment I’ll explain what idea has wound up winning the audition process, why it doesn’t resemble my initial idea all that closely, why I think it has legs and what my next steps are.



So, to listen to HJ Doom's awesome podcast, you can get it here - Fantastic Fights — Haunted Phonograph

To back HJ Doom on Patron, starting at a mere £1 a month (you can also give him more!) and get his gamebooks and access to his design posts, go here - HJDoom | creating podcasts and writing/journalism | Patreon