Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lone Wolf: Reborn - Episode 4: Haven in a Treehouse

In case you've missed past episodes, see these links...
Lone Wolf: Reborn - Episodes 12, 3

You find the tree an easy climb. With a few quick motions, you swiftly ascend to the upper reaches, among the woody branches of the great tree. The simple act brings back memories of your childhood with surprising vividness. You used to swarm up trees in the countryside near Toran, where you grew up, to pick fruit and look out at the view that seemed to reach across the world. You can still see that beautiful vista of Sommerlund in your mind's eye.

Glancing out between the branches, you can see Sommerlund now... but the countryside is patched with black, and smoke rises on the horizon. Gritting your teeth, you turn your attention to the matter at hand.

You pull yourself up onto a broad, wooden platform. With a few swift steps, you throw open the door of the treehouse. You hear a strangled cry, and as your eyes adjust, you see the form of an old man cowering in his corner, half hidden under a blanket. Only his trembling and the bright eyes gazing out at you from the depths of his hiding place give his position away.

When he sees your green Kai cloak, the fear seems to drain from him. He drops the blankets, and stands to clasp you hand in friendship. Quickly exchanging news, you discover that he has seen no less than forty Kraan crossing the skies above his tree-hut, going east. The land has been crawling with the forces of the Darklords.

As the sun is now getting low in the sky, you gratefully accept the man's hospitality, sharing his table and the shelter of his hut for the night. You arise before the sun, eager to set out, but despite your soft steps, the old hermit awakens with you.

"Please, take this, for your journey," He presses a pack of food into your hands, enough for a single meal. Knowing how little he has, you attempt to refuse, but he insists. He even offers you his weapon, a long, sturdy warhammer, but you turn that down. You would not deprive the poor man of his only defense, and you already have a perfectly serviceable axe.

You slip the food into your pack and bid a silent farewell to the old man. As you descend the tree, you hope that he will weather the coming storm safely. But something in your heart tells you that he will not.

As your foot touches earth, the sky is just greying with false dawn. You set out on your way over open land.

The sunrise is beautiful, despite the dark tidings, and you reflect upon how the world keeps going, regardless of the efforts of men and monsters.

After several hours of hiking through the wilderness, you are scraped by nettles, exhausted from your efforts this morning and the day before, and beginning to suspect that you might be lost. You are sure you should have reached the road by now. You pause for a breather, leaning heavily on your knees and cursing the thorns that tore at your arms and legs earlier.

As you come to your senses, looking at the world around you, you notice a queer opening between some hanging vines not far away.

Surrounded by thorny briars and closely packed roots, you see the entrance of a tunnel disappearing into the hillside beyond. It is approximately seven feet in height and just over ten feet wide. As you get closer, you can feel a slight breeze coming from the inky blackness. If the other end of this tunnel emerges on the far side of the hill, it could save you many hours of difficult climbing. But it could also harbour unknown danger.
If you wish to enter the tunnel, turn to 170.

If you would prefer to climb the hillside, turn to 280.

[Save point: 331. We have gained a Meal, meaning we are less likely to face imminent starvation, but we may be lost in the woods, and our only hope of finding our way seems to be a mysterious tunnel through darkness. Does this seem queer to anyone else?]

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Reviews by Ash: Evil Under the Sun, by Agatha Christie

I just finished my first Agatha Christie book. (Remarkably, I happened to reach the Agatha Christie episode in Doctor Who later the same day that I started the novel.)

I'm not sure if there's much of a call for reviewing Agatha Christie, but I enjoy taking a stern look at things and analyzing what I like and what I don't like. So why not? So, I welcome you to...

Reviews by Ash
Evil Under the Sun, by Agatha Christie

Evil Under the Sun is a murder mystery (of course) set in England of the... what? 1920s? 1930s? It's a strange mix of a comedy of manners and a murder mystery, complete with femme fatale, heroin deals, and evil-hearted swindlers and murderers. Almost incongruous against the high-styled English background.

Set against the backdrop of a draughty old hotel on a secluded island once used by pirates and smugglers, Evil Under the Sun presents a convincing portrait of the genteel guests who attend the modern-day resort, when a woman in red comes among their number who draws the eye of every man who sees her, and an unknown, mysterious killer shatters their peaceful retreat.


I liked the attention to personalities that Agatha Christie brings to the table. I wouldn't necessarily say her characters have the most emotional depth, but she clearly had a keen eye for the mannerisms of people. I can only assume that these thoughtful descriptions were based on observations of real-life characters.

I liked that the morality of the story had a bit of complexity to it. Though titled, "Evil Under the Sun," the character who initially appeared to be the eponymous "Evil" was not it, and even the most heroic characters occasionally slipped up and lied, or worse (usually in misguided attempts to cover for the people they loved.) Gender roles were straight (1930s England, after all), but her judgement of and opinions about the genders were attractively subtle and shaded.

Finally, I was pleased to discover that the mystery was one which could have been solved. Theoretically. By Einstein with a supercomputer. But all the facts were there! Which makes it a welcome break from Sir Doyle, even if I do like my Sherlock once in a while. I suppose when you take a pirate island and throw in a bunch of elderly british people and a crack deal, what you have just isn't going to make much sense, no matter which way you look at it.


The opening of the story was a little slow. Aside from the detailed depiction of different characters and their behaviors, speech and mannerisms, there was very little to hook the interest until the murder happened later on.

The events of the murder were a tad far-fetched. I was not convinced the plan could have been pulled off that smoothly. Although it was at least internally consistent with the clues.

The finger pointing became a bit schizophrenic toward the end. In the final reveal speech of Poirot, he clearly and directly states "You did it!" to almost every character in the room, before finally settling on the real killer(s). Really Poirot? Couldn't you just have pointed to the killer first?

I'm the Guy with the Gun:

If you need a book that will hit the ground running and hook you from the start, this isn't it. But if you'd like to take a trip to a secluded hotel in 1930's England, and meet some colorful characters while you're there, you may have fun with this book.

At the end of the day, Agatha's attention to detail in crafting her mystery leaves me keen to read more of her books. Next time, I want to see if I can figure out the answer *before* she tells me. (Yeah, right!)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Lone Wolf: Reborn - Episode 3: The Murky Cave

C'mon, what self-respecting hero is going to pass up the opportunity to explore a nice, dark, scary cave? Into the cave we go!

In case you've missed past episodes, see these links...
Lone Wolf: Reborn - Episodes 1, 2

Feeling your way deeper into the darkness, you feet stir tiny bones and the sick droppings of some beast. The stale odor of rotting flesh wafts from the depths of the cavern. Rather than trip over your death, you pause and wait for your eyes to adjust.

In the half-light, you can make out a shallow cave littered with the bones and fur of small animals. It seems to be the cave of some large animal, perhaps a mountain cat. Against the far wall, you see what looks like human bones. Just as you are about to turn away in disgust, your eye falls on a leather pouch by the side of the long-dead man.

Hurrying to the pouch, you find it still tied. You quickly unlash it, feeling coins jingle inside. The leather all but disintigrates in your hand--the pouch is no good. But from the remains you pull three bright golden coins.

Feeling a small triumph, you decide to take your gains and clear out before the cat comes back.

Blinking into the light of day as you exit the cave, you peer around, but you can find no sign of the servants of the Darklords nearby. You descend the rocky hill and continue your journey. After some time time, you come to an old forest track running north and east. You follow it to the east, hoping to meet up with the main road which will take you south to Holmgard.

Several times during your trek, you see dark wings passing overhead, but each time you duck between the trees and are not spotted. You take your lunch on a pleasant boulder overlooking a small lake--but your repast is spoiled by smoke rising on the horizon.

Your appetite souring, you force down the last of your food. With nothing but crumbs remaining, you are not sure where your next meal will come from. You clear the rock of signs of your stay, and continue along the trail, resisting a desire to stop and sleep.

As the afternoon draws on, your forest path opens into a large clearing.

In the centre of the clearing is a tree much taller and wider than any others you have seen in the forest.
Looking up through the massive branches you can see a large treehouse some twenty-five to thirty feet above the ground. There is no ladder, but the gnarled bark of the tree offers many footholds.

If you wish to climb the tree and search the treehouse, turn to 307.

If you would rather press on, turn to 213.

[Save Point: Section 96. {Edit: Save Point 13} We've gained three gold but lost our only meal. Presumably we may need to rest soon, though the book has not required it yet. Curious about this tree house. An intriguing encounter!]

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Invitation to the Isles of Mist

Hello comers and goers, prospective players and party makers,

I am hosting an online game which, for some mad reason, I think I have time for, and I need one or two more players!

The Game: One part strategy game, one part RPG, one part writing extravaganza.

The Setting: In a world where there is no solid land, but only a hundred islands and continents floating in the mists, the death of a High King has left twelve great realms vying for power. Using wisdom, negotiation, and might, you must take responsibility for one of these realms and lead your people to glory--or destruction.

The Players: The twelve realms are each controlled by another human being (except for a few NPCs, whose identities are secret). A set of skilled writers and gamers, they bring more to the game than I ever might have dreamed.

The Peoples:

The Eldryn are an immortal race who awoke from collective amnesia just over 800 years ago. Only surviving as long as their passion for life does, they must find causes to strive for, or they slip into silence... forever. Their noble caste, called the Nobilis, are creatures of elegance and arrogance who would drive their peoples to the brink in their struggle for dominance against one another.

The Duor are a race of pacifistic giants who were plunged into war, death, and slavery when their continent emerged from the mists to collide with Alendia, the Eldryn homeland, long ago. Having lost the ensuing war, they have spent the last 300 years as a slave race. Will the current chaos and turmoil bring them freedom, or extinction?

The great and beautiful continent of Alendia was shattered in a titanic magical war for dominance between Eldryn noblility long ago. Now, it is divided into two lands, each of whom hate the other. Celida and Quienenas call themselves High Alendia, claiming they inherited the culture and civilization of Old Alendia. Ardath and Essetia name themselves True Alendia, insisting that they carry on the morals and honor of their forebears. Between them, the high city of Tyrenegarde floats, a relic of an ancient age, now closed with the High King's death until the twelve realms can sort out their differences and come to peace.

The remaining lands, scattered beyond the limits of Alendia, are collectively called the Outlands. Perenor is a land of startling civilization, with great cities and broad boulevards, and their own musical language. Sitokia is home to a race of learned barbarians, savages who will quote poetry as they cut your throat. Rhosyn, called the Enchanted Isle, is a place of knights and princesses, jousting and festivals, where it is said that mysterious creatures emerge from magical glades to dance with the Nobilis after too much wine is had. Tilaria is a stern land of merciless laws and hardened warriors. Khande was once a beautiful land--but the warrior caste, the Bushin, rebelled against the Nobilis and left, taking many of the other castes with them. With too many Nobilis and not enough followers, Khande has spent the generations since then in eternal civil war. Only now has a promising young leader emerged to rally Khande from the fallen glory of her past. Orenspeak is the high, cold land where the Bushin and their allies settled after abandoning Khande. From their high mountain peaks, they rule the skies as traders and pirates. They are widely hated, but the High King's laws granted them immunity. Now that the old order is gone, the martial power of Orenspeak is once again free to sway the world.

Where will you fit in? Which of these great lands will you take leadership of? And what future will you guide your Realm into?

Okay, on to the practical stuff:

To be honest, most of the roles are already taken. We've done one turn of the game so far, but the amount of time and energy it took from me was overwhelming, so I went back to the drawing board to put in some more infrastructure to help the game move more quickly. It's looking good, and almost ready to play again.

To give you some context, I someday want to run a roleplaying program for teenagers (like the Roleplay Workshop, where I once worked), and this is the world it will be set in. Half the purpose of this game is to flesh out the setting and backstory for that future roleplaying game. This is your chance to get in on history in the making! Literally!

The goal of bringing in more players is to lessen the burden on me, as storyteller. Managing all the correspondence and turn orders for several NPCs was just too much. I don't want to give up all the NPCs, but I can definitely relinquish at least one, maybe more. This is NOT big enough that the entire internet can join. I've only got space for a few people, but if a world-building game on an epic scale, a strategy game heavy with roleplaying, sounds amazingly awesome to you, then please let me know.

I can link you to the rulebook, character sheets, public book, etc.

(If you want a preview of the map, see the map that's used as the background of my twitter profile:!/AshtonSaylor.)

Hope to have you on board! Or, if not, hope you've at least enjoyed the read ;)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Lone Wolf: Reborn - Episode 2, A warning comes too late

Eyeing the malicious creature, you judge the timing just right. As you see the Giak climb up on it's haunches, preparing to jump, you leap into action.

You speed from the bushes, rounding the ruined pillar just in time to catch the monster as it falls from the sky toward the unsuspecting back of the young magician--whose eyes widen in surprise as he sees you round the corner, axe raised.

You leap past the magician and intersect the startled Giak in its flight. No sooner has it boggled at your sudden appearance than your axe catches it full in the chest, splitting the startled monster in two. In a spray of blood, the mangled Giak falls to pieces on the ruined floor of the temple.

It was over before it began. (Combat ratio of 10, roll of 7--yeah, it really was over before it began. He didn't even wound us.)

The remaining Giaks scream at you in their horrible language, then flee the field. Given that the dead Giaks you can count amidst the ruins number a dozen at least, and now the mage has backup, you can understand their retreat. Nevertheless, you are glad you don't have to fight further.

The mage approaches and extends his hand in friendship. Just as you take his arm, a spell of fatigue passes over his eyes and he nearly collapses. You help him sit on a fallen block of stone.

‘My eternal thanks, Kai Lord. My powers are nearly drained. Had you not come to my aid, I fear I would have ended my days atop a Giak lance.’

Once he has caught his breath, he explains that he is Banedon, of the Magician's Guild of Toran. He was on his way to warn the Kai Lords of the Darklords' impending attack... but the warning came too late.

He shows you the letter he was to bear to your masters. Your heart sinks as you read that the Darklords gather their strength, and a vast army has mustered just beyond the Durncrag Range.

‘I fear we were betrayed,’ says Banedon, his head bowed in sorrow.

‘One of my order, a brother called Vonotar, had explored the forbidden mysteries of the Black Art. Ten days ago he denounced the Brotherhood and killed one of our Elders. He has since disappeared. It is rumoured that he now aids the Darklords.’

You explain to Banedon your own tale, and he silently slips a gold chain from around his neck and hands it to you. It is a Crystal Star Pendant.

‘It is the symbol of my Brotherhood, and we are both truly brothers in this hour of darkness. It is a talisman of good fortune—may it protect you on your road ahead.’

With promises of goodwill and future friendship, you both return to your respective missions.

You bid him farewell and continue on into the thick woods ahead. Then something tickles your senses: a noise in the underbrush--is that yellow eyes?

You throw yourself to the ground just as a black-tipped arrow speeds past your head! The Giaks! They did not flee--they merely set up an ambush!

You race through the wilderness, picking your path at random as you try to escape the army of small monsters cackling evilly behind you. Bursting clear from the trees, you catch a glimpse of a cave in a hillside.

You glance back; the Giaks are not in sight yet, and the cave would not be easily discovered by one not looking for it.

Without wasting further time to think about it, you throw yourself into the cave and slither deeply in to hide. The Giaks come up around you, and you can make out their outlines searching at the cave mouth for you.

Luck is with you, and the Giak voices eventually move farther away, the harsh notes of their language barking with frustration.

For a moment, you simply lay back and let yourself relax. After a few deep breaths (and once the sound of the Giaks has moved beyond hearing) you pull yourself together and begin to plan your next move.

You shimmy up the cave entrance to look around. It looks clear. But just then a sudden curiousity strikes you. You look back, deeper into the cave, and only then do you realize how deeply it runs. You have not found the depths of it, and you have no idea what dangers or treasures might be hidden in the darkness.

Section 96:

If you wish to explore the cave further, turn to 33.

If you wish to leave the cave and descend the hill in case the Giaks return, turn to 248.

(P.S. Thanks to Joe Dever, for writing this amazing story in the first place! And to Gary Chalk for these wonderful, evocative old fantasy images!)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Fighting Fantazine Issue #8 Review

Review of Fighting Fantazine Issue #8

The Fighting Fantazine has been running since September of 2009, and it is the ezine to go to for all things Fighting Fantasy and gamebook related. Low production value and slightly amateur art is offset by an extremely high level of care and attention that's gone into creating a quality product, and the sheer amount of content is staggering--including two complete, original gamebook adventures!

[This is also my chance to field my new, "Reviews by Ash," review scheme: "Good, Bad, I'm the Guy with the Gun." Seeing as how my name is actually Ash... it seemed appropriate.]


This is the first time I've ever opened a Fighting Fantazine, and I was blown away by simply how much is inside. You're looking at multiple interviews with people in the gamebook industry, recent news of new releases and exciting products to look out for, nostalgic articles about gamebook lore and history, as well 70+ pages of original gamebooks, adventures, fiction and comics. Wow!

For myself, having already plowed through most gamebook material that is available today, it was an unexpected treat to find two new original pieces of gamebook fiction inside the Fighting Fantazine. That itself might win my loyalty as a reader. In brief, I found Vengeance at Midnight to be a delightful and action-packed sequel to superhero-themed Fighting Fantasy books, such as Appointment with F.E.A.R. I think the pacing could have used some work; I frequently found myself struggling a little to slog through the story, but I found the investigation system to be innovative and engaging. It provided a satisfying puzzle-solving kick.

The other thing that I found extremely useful was the news and updates on new interactive fiction coming out. I saw some titles that I hadn't known existed before, including the full line of Capstone educational interactive fiction, which is something I'm very interested in. What I thought was a second gamebook turned out to be an Advanced Fighting Fantasy adventure for 2-4 heroes, presumably to be run by a gamemaster. The comic was a little hard to get into without having read the previous issues, but had excellent art (random gargantuan boobs aside...) and an amusing premise of gaining power by defeating Fighting Fantasy books. There was also original fiction, yet more interviews, reviews... it goes on and on.

Overall, I would say the best thing about this ezine is the depth. Clearly a lot of work and love goes into producing it, and the amount of content it has to offer is prodigious.


As in many things, the greatest strength of the Fighting Fantazine is also it's greatest weakness: content. There's just so much of it. Don't get me wrong, too much is definitely better than too little, but a little more selectivity could have improved the final product, IMNSHO. Three interviews with gamebook industry insiders? That's great... but maybe they could have been spaced out, one in each of three different ezines. Just an example. I don't want to start pointing fingers at what should be in and what shouldn't. The fact is, almost all of it is good content, but part of the job of the editor is not just to rustle up lots of content, but also to make hard choices so that what remains is the best of the best--in an attractive, meal-sized package.

I also have to mention, for the sake of completeness, the art. While the back cover looked really very nice (if not work-safe), the front cover definitely had an amateur quality to the artwork. I haven't seen enough of FF yet to know if this is normal, but it gave the front cover a "home-brewn" feel that might turn off some readers. If there's a budget, it might be worth splurging on art for the front page, if anything.

I'm the Guy with the Gun:

I didn't expect to say this, but I absolutely recommend the Fighting Fantazine for any gamebook enthusiast. This definitely has a "by fans, for fans" feel to it, but if you don't mind the low production values, it's a great place to get news of the industry and even some awesome, original material. Your only challenge might be sorting through the voluminous content to find the bits you're most interested in. Go check it out! You won't regret it =)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lone Wolf: Reborn - Episode 1

Hello All! Time for the first proper entry in "Lone Wolf: Reborn," a Let's Play Lone Wolf series.

After getting comments and insight from a number of readers, we have wound up with our Lone Wolf setting out with the following five Kai Disciplines: Healing, Sixth Sense, Animal Kinship, Mindshield and (my personal addition) Weaponskill: Sword. (I cheated a bit and rolled the weapon before deciding whether to pick Weaponskill or not. Since it rolled sword, I really wanted to grab it now for use with the Sommerswerd later.) The other four were all chosen by reader-suggestion.

The Story So Far

While out gathering wood as punishment for not paying attention in class, you see a cloud of dark, leather-winged shapes fly overhead, so many of them as to blot out the sun. I quote,

"Suddenly a great black cloud comes from out of the western skies. So many are the numbers of the black-winged beasts that fill the sky, that the sun is completely hidden. "

Quickly realizing their target is the Kai Monastery, you drop your wood and race to the aid of your school! But it is to no avail. You trip and strike your head on a low-hanging branch (what kind of hero are you anyway?)

You awaken to the complete destruction of the Kai Monastery. Here and there amidst the rubble you see the broken bodies of your teachers and fellow students. Wiping away tears with a grime encrusted hand, you realize that you must journey to warn the King...

...for you are now the last of the Kai Lords.

Able to scrounge nothing from the ruins, you depart with only the supplies you had with you: a woodsman's axe, backpack, an emergency healing potion and enough food for one meal. As you leave, you find a single gold coin gleaming in the rubble. You take it for good luck.

Luck that you will sorely need.

Despite your fatigue, you leave the ruins immediately--before the black-winged beasts decide to return and finish the job. A sixth sense seems to warn you that the paths will be watched, so you strike out into the undergrowth at random.

The shriek of some terrible animal above alerts you that you made the right choice in getting off the path. You remain motionless while the sound of great wings beats above you. When all is still again, you press onward.

The sound of shouting and a clap of thunder alerts you to a commotion ahead, through the forest. Staying swift but silent, you approach the noise.

You come upon a forest clearing. In the middle of the clearing stands an ancient ruin, tumble-down walls green with moss. A full war-party of Mountain Giaks (vicious, goblin-like creatures) lays siege to the ruins. Here and there amid the stones lies a broken body of a fallen Giak.

But you cannot see any defenders. The Giaks seem to wave their blades at the inanimate stones themselves. Then a slim, blue-clad figure steps from behind a pillar. As you watch, he mutters arcane words and magical power crackles between his fingertips. He releases the energy in a bolt of lightning into the heart of the enemy, and a half-dozen Giaks fall to the ground in charred husks!

To your amazement, the ruins are being defended by a young man no older than yourself. You recognize his sky-blue robes, embroidered with stars. He is a young theurgist of the Magicians' Guild of Toran: an apprentice in magic.

The remaining Giaks of that group flee from the young mage's position to re-group under the trees. But even as they do so, another bunch move from the cover of forest to attack from another direction, led by one of the tallest and meanest looking Giaks you have ever seen.

While you watch, a small Giak creeps up, hidden from the mage by a wall of rubble. The Giak climbs one of the ruined pillars, a dagger clenched between his teeth. The young magician does not see him!

What will you do?

If you wish to shout a warning to the wizard, turn to 241.

If you wish to run forward and attack the Giak when he jumps, turn to 55.

If you wish to pick up a chunk of temple marble and throw it at the Giak's head, turn to 302.

Or if you would rather turn and leave the battle area, and run back into the woods, turn to 101.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Review of the Choice of Games gamebook house

Just when I think I've found everything related to gamebooks on the web, I stumble across something else. Apparently there's a whole other production house out there producing gamebooks. Check out Choice of Games.

I thought about doing a review of individual gamebooks published by them, but there's enough similarities in style and composition between them that I'll start by just doing a review of the whole lineup.

The Pros

* I really like the focus on story in the Choice gamebooks. They are less about adventuring and more about navigating political or social interactions. I found the intrigue presented in the "Affairs of Court" series (part 1: Choice of Romance, part 2: Choice of Intrigues) very compelling and fun--a great example of intrigue in the gamebook format (something TMG has promised us as well... hopefully?)

* Very high standards for the kinds of choices players are presented with

* Their books are presented free online, or for a very modest price on various digital platforms.

* There is an announcement on their website that they are currently looking for writers. (For all of us aspiring gamebook authors out there ;) In addition, anyone can write a game using their system and they will host it on their website and share with you a measure of any revenue it generates.

* Large selection! There are five officially published books, and a whole score of fan-made ones.

* Some nice art. Each game has at least one nice piece of artwork, if only for the title.

* Quick! This is also a con, but it is nice that you can bust through one in an hour or two.

The Cons

* The writing is a bit hit or miss. I'm not sure this should be in "cons" because sometimes the writing is very good, but, well... it's just hit or miss. Sometimes I'm very impressed, but other times I felt like it was a bit lackluster, both with overall plots and with the quality of the prose.

* Several of their games use a system where character attributes are inversely linked. For example, in the Choice of the Dragon book, Brutality is an important fighting score. But increasing your Brutality necessarily reduces your Finesse. They only have 100 points to split between them. Similarly, increasing your Honor reduces your Cunning, and vice versa. This makes it hard to feel very much like you're making any progress over the course of the game. You're just moving points about, and if you train one thing here and another thing there, then you end up not improving either. I found that very annoying.

* Traits occasionally available that aren't really relevant. I specialized in magic in my playthrough of the Affairs of Court series (starting with Choice of Romance) and it only really came up once. And it didn't really seem relevant then.

* Too Short: It's fun that they're quick, but I think if they were longer they could be built with more depth to really take advantage of the story-based system they're obviously striving for.

(I hate to belabor myself, but my example of excellent, relatively deep story-based gamebooks remains Endmaster's works on the Storygames website, Necromancer and Eternal. Let me tell you, I could not read through one of those in an hour.)


I have read... apparently all of the Choice gamebooks. Didn't realize I'd managed that yet. My recommendations:

Choice of Broadsides: This was my favorite so far. I'm not a special fan of "high seas" settings, but I though this one was very well put together. Mostly, it just lasted long enough for me to start to care about the character a bit and get invested in what was happening. It does suffer from the inversely related stat pairs, though.

Choice of Romance/Intrigues: Together composing the "Affairs of Court" series, I thought these were pretty fun. Mostly, they are a good example of political intrigue in a gamebook.

Choice of the Dragon: It was okay. I guess it's fun to be a dragon and pick on the little villagers, but I wasn't really sure what the point was.

Choice of the Vampire: *shudder* Despite a beautifully written beginning, the writing went on to completely lose me. Sections frequently had more choices than text. I had very little idea what was going on, and the options available were frustrating and pointless. By the time I got into the supposed "romantic" plotline, it had so completely lost my interest I actually stopped playing. It just seemed easier to close the tab in chrome than to make the next choice.

May the next player enjoy Choice of the Vampire more than I did. It's a shame, because I was all prepared to be really excited about getting to be a vampire in the New Orleans of the 1800s.

Above all, I'm just really glad to see someone out there experimenting with a different form of interactive fiction. As much as I love the Fighting Fantasy/Lone Wolf/Tin Man Games genre of gamebooks (and think the genre is making major improvements as it evolves!) my true passion is interactive fiction as a whole, not just this one, fantasy-adventure, interpretation of it.

Thank you, Choice of Games, for taking your own stab at expanding the boundaries of what gamebooks can be.

Hope some of you enjoy the links :) Happy reading!

Oh--one final thought! If you want more detailed reviews of any of the above, (or any other requests, for that matter) let me know ^^

Monday, February 20, 2012

What makes a good gamebook - Part Two: The Game of Narrative Choices

Hello everybody =) Thanks for being patient. After the positive responses to Part One of this article, I have wanted to take my time and make sure not to let you down with Part Two!

The goal today is, of course, to discuss the game side of a gamebook, and what makes a good game in a gamebook. When I read this article by the excellent  Raph Koster (author of "A Theory of Fun") I had a bit of an epiphany: I was thinking of discussing things like combat, inventory, game balance, etc--but the true essence of the "game" in any gamebook is not any of that stuff, it's the narrative choices you make.

A lot of gamebooks have other game mechanics layered in as well: inventory, combat, magic, you name it--but all gamebooks share the core mechanic of narrative choices. This is a "game" in Raph's terms, because the entire gamebook is a problem to solve. The solution is the "best" ending. The problem is finding your way there through the maze of narrative choices. For this to be fun, the choices along the way must be interesting, meaningful and relevant. The player should be provided with enough information to have a chance of success without having to brute-force the problem (using trial and error), but not so much that the solution is immediately obvious.

What I'll do today is go over some common errors, as well as some good types of choices that we often see in gamebooks. To get started, let's look over some of the flawed narrative choices that are frequently used:

The "Which Door" Choice: One common flaw, and one which is a particular pet peeve of mine, is not providing enough information on which to base your choices. This is commonly seen in the "which door do you go through," or "do you go East or West" type of decision. If you have no clues whatsoever what's behind either door, then you might as well flip a coin. There's no choice. Don't get me wrong: luck has it's place. Even this type of faux-choice can be called for if you want to inject some randomness, but it should never be mistaken for a choice.

The "Cake or Death" Choice: The flip side of that first error is giving too much information. If the player has enough information to be able to definitively determine which is the correct path, then he has too much information. If you're offered cake or death, there's not a choice, unless you're a suicidal maniac. Obviously, you want the cake! You should be able to figure it out, or at least make a good guess, with a close reading of the text, but it should not be clear and obvious, or why offer the choice at all?

The "Shell Game" Choice: A third flaw steps outside of the paradigm of either of the first two, and that's simply making the results of a choice unrelated to the options presented. Like the shell game con, you don't get what you think you're choosing. If you're choosing between apples and oranges, and you get cake with one and death with the other, then wtf? It takes all significance out of the choice for the player, because whatever thought process they went through in order to arrive at that choice is invalidated. 

The "Blah" Choice: Finally, I would like to assert that too thin a narrative is itself a game-design flaw (in addition to simply being a weak story.) The reason for this is that the central game mechanic of gamebooks is that of making choices based on narrative. The narrative gives you the terms of your choice. The narrative gives you your reward or penalty. If you don't care about the characters or the outcome of the story, you can't take much pleasure in getting to read the "best" ending.

There's some examples of bad uses of the narrative choice. Now, let's take a look at how narrative choices can be handled well. I'll go through a few good examples to provide contrast.

The "Apples or Oranges" Choice: It can feel very rewarding to pick between two options, both of which offer a benefit, but with benefits that are different enough so that one can't be quantifiably defined as better than the other. This is often seen in picking skills or powers during character creation (see Lone Wolf), or in having a certain amount of money to equip your character early in the game (see The Wizard of Tarnath Tor). This gives a lot of food for thought in guessing which will be most useful, and also gives the player a chance to start identifying with their character. Think of trying to choose between a rope or a better weapon.They are fundamentally different, but both could be useful, depending on what you run into.

The Tactical Choice: Following up from that one, another good choice is one that gives the player a chance to take advantage of skills or equipment they may have previously acquired. If the choice presented hints that one resource or another will be more useful down each path, then it ties into a prior choice made with the same character, allowing the player to exercise an overall strategy. Then, each time a player comes through on different play-throughs, they may make a different choice, based on how they've prepared themselves this time.

The "X or ?" Choice: Another good option is the choice between a known quantity and an unknown quantity. Do you want to brave the guards you know are at that door, or sneak down into the dark tunnel below, with no idea what might be down there? This gives you something to think about, yet there's also no clear right answer.

The Moral Choice: Last but not least is the moral, character choice. Will you kill the enemy you've defeated, or show mercy and let him go? Will you assume leadership of your city, or walk away? Will you keep the jewel of power, or destroy it? Your estranged brother apologizes, do you forgive him or hold him accountable? A character of questionable moral integrity offers their services; do you accept? In some senses, these are the most interesting choices, and the ones every gamebook should be striving for. Not only do they provide meaningful choices but they also help tell a great story, and give the player a chance to really get personally involved and invested in that story.

This list is hardly comprehensive, but it at least provides a starting place to begin discussing choice theory in the terms of gamebooks. There's just one more point I'd like to make before I leave you:

The Principle of Choice-Based Results: The results a player gets should always be determined by choice, not by raw luck. It's okay to provide choices that manipulate odds. It's okay to have the challenges a player is presented with be determined randomly. It's even okay if terrible luck can sink the player even if you make perfect choices. But it's important that at the end of the day, the results be primarily determined by player choices, not raw luck.

To phrase this another way, it should always be possible to succeed with good choices without requiring good luck as well. If you have to pass an arbitrary dice roll in order to have a chance of succeeding, the author has done something wrong. Players sit down to read a gamebook in order to solve a puzzle by reading the narrative to search for the best path, not to play, "let's roll dice and try to get above a 10!" Choices are at the heart of the game, and nothing should ever supplant their rightful place there.

Well, I think that has about summed up what I've got for today. Hopefully I've provided some food for thought, as far as how to best make use of narrative choices as the central game mechanic of any gamebook. I'm sure there are a lot of directions to go from here, not least of which is analysis of some of the systems provided by specific gamebook rule-sets. But this at least provides a place to start.

To borrow a phrase from Stuart, "Happy gamebooking!"
[Edit: I've made some changes to the formatting of this post to break it up and make it a bit more readable. Those followed with some edits to the content :P]

[Edit #2: Does anyone here know Blogger well enough to have any idea why those extra spaces between paragraphs are showing up randomly between some paragraphs? As far as I can tell, I have two "enters" between each set of paragraphs. I've tried again and again to get rid of them. I just can't figure it. Thanks!]

Friday, February 17, 2012

Lone Wolf Reborn: Character Creation

I have an interesting idea: instead of just reading Lone Wolf myself and writing about it, I will write overviews of the action, and present some of the more critical choices to you. Together, we can decide what route to take =)

I went ahead and rolled up stats and equipment, but I'll get your guys' help picking the Kai Disciplines (always my favorite part!) Let's get started.

Stats: Okay, if I'm going to try and take this incarnation of this character through all 20+ books, I don't want to try and do it with crummy stats. So, I figured I would roll two d10's and keep rolling until both came up 5 or above. Lo and behold, after three terrible rolls, on the 4th roll I got a 10 and a 9! Excuse me while I write this...

Combat Skill 20
Endurance 29

Ah yeah... that felt good. Those are the numbers I always wanted to roll when I was twelve. (Admittedly, I cheated a bit, but a man can only be pushed so far!)

Equipment: Okay, let's tackle "stuff." I've got the clothes on my back, an axe (presumably for chopping the wood I so irresponsibly dropped when I saw my home was on fire) and a bag with... *roll* a lousy 1 gold coin in it. Great. In addition, I find in the wreckage... *roll* a Healing Potion! I was hoping for a weapon, but not too bad.

Moving on...

Kai Disciplines: The Kai Disciplines are the (badass!) pseudo-magic special abilities that make your character (badass!) special. We get to pick 5 now, and learn one more each time we pass a (badass!) book.

Camouflage: The ability to blend in, either outdoors, or in a city.
Hunting: Free meals outdoors, and some woodsmanship skills.
Sixth Sense: I used to always take this skill as a kid. So cool to be psychic.
Tracking: Very nice information gathering skill, useful either in cities or wilderness.
Healing: Amazing skill. Heals 1 point of Endurance for each book section you read with no combat.
Weaponskill: I don't usually take this, but I rolled a sword... Thinking of the Sommerswerd, I suggest we go ahead and pick it up now.
Mindshield: Protect your mind from the psionic powers of the Darklords and their servants.
Mindblast: Psionic powers give you +2 to combat skill, unless the opponent has Mindshield.
Animal Kinship: Speak with and befriend animals. This skill is mandatory to win book 2, unless you're a douchebag and keep the spear for yourself.
Mind over Matter: Move small objects with only the power of your mind. (oooooh...)

Voting begins now! I'll tally results in a day or two, and continue.

Last time I tried this, I rolled awful combat skill. Something like 4. After that, this high-rolling badass should be awesome.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lone Wolf Reborn: Introduction

Alright folks, I know I promised you a post about gamebook creation, discussing the game side of a gamebook, and that is still coming. I'm working on it.

In the meantime, I don't want to hold off on all other posts. For the time being, I thought I would share my adventures in the world of Lone Wolf with you, that 80's classic by Joe Dever, which forever galvanized gamebooks as an artform both holy and wise into my impressionable young child's mind.

I still get a little shiver of excitement reading through the opening lines. Get a load of this gold:

In olden times, during the Age of the Black Moon, the Darklords waged war on Sommerlund. The conflict was a long and bitter trial of strength that ended in victory for the Sommlending at the great battle of Maakengorge. King Ulnar and the allies of Durenor broke the Darklord armies at the pass of Moytura and forced them back into the bottomless abyss of Maakengorge. Vashna, mightiest of the Darklords, was slain upon the sword of King Ulnar, called ‘Sommerswerd’, the sword of the sun. Since that age, the Darklords have vowed vengeance upon Sommerlund and the House of Ulnar.

Oh yeah, gimme more of that good stuff =D

So, over the next... however long, I will be periodically updating this blog with my adventures in the world of Magnamund. I hope to make fun yarn out of it for you folks, as well as having fun myself.

I've read them before as an adult... several times. But I always get bogged down in book three. The initial plotline resolves at the end of book two, and the change of pace to Caverns of Kalte is a bit jarring. Besides, book three is hard. In italics, no less.

I don't know what it is, I just tend to lose interest after I die a half dozen times with no sign of what the correct path is. (Game balance! One of the things I will be discussing in my upcoming post on the "game" aspect of gamebooks. Stay tuned!)

Anyway, I'm going to have one more go in hopes that, this time, I can push through and actually build up my Kai Lord all the way to the end. For Sommerlund and the Kai!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Style and Tone in a Blog

Getting started with my blog, I feel a little like I'm wandering into a deep dark cave. I know there are thousands, millions of other people out there in this cave with me, but I can't see them, and I don't know if they can see me. But once in a while, we stumble into each other.

As I grope my way around in the dark, I'm trying to figure out what I'm doing. How should I write? What kind of style and tone is appropriate? Will people be reading this, or is it little more than a glorified journal?

Here are a few answers I've tripped across so far:

Authority: The internet is made of audacity and hot air. As near as I can figure, presenting yourself as anything less than the absolute authority on a subject is a major faux pas. For example, in this post, I've already made it clear that I have no idea what I'm doing. Yet now I'm about to proceed to give you all my advice. Welcome to the internet. (*sigh* this bullet point is going to take some getting used to for me.)

Topic: It goes without saying that you should write about what you care about. If you are genuinely engaged with your subject matter, you will have far more of substance to say than if you are writing for some other reason (e.g. you think it's what you "should" write, for any misguided reason.) I also speculate that a blog will likely be more successful if focused on a single topic. Readers who know what to expect will be more likely to come back.

That said... I may deviate from that last point in my own blog. I have a core purpose for this blog, but as it is also a "personal" blog, I plan on experimenting with sharing other observations from time to time as well (as I am doing in this very post.) We'll see how that works out.

Style and Tone: This is the question which really got me started along this line of inquiry. After putting some thought into it, I've come to the conclusion that the correct tone for a blog post is light and conversational--but this does not excuse bad writing. "Conversational," is not an excuse for "long and rambling" and "light" does not mean you don't have to put effort in.

So what does it mean? I think "conversational" just means informal. You can throw jokes in.You can address the reader. And you can refer to yourself (which we were all instructed not to do in college). "Light" simply means easy to read. Use simple sentences. Don't weigh down your prose with heavy words. Get the point across, but don't be pretentious about it. (I was a lit major; this is basically anathema to everything I was ever taught.)

For myself, I have a tendency to write in a long and rambling style. Learning to adjust my style to be more punchy and to-the-point is one of my major growth areas as a writer.

Length: On the strong research platform of a 30 second google search and a link provided by Stuart, I have drawn the conclusion that a good guideline is to keep posts over 250 words and under 1000 words. Honestly, the best answer to this is, "as long as you need." The topic should determine the length... but between 250-1000 words does provide a good guideline. Just try to stay (see above) light and to-the-point, and if you have more to say, you may want to split it into a few posts, each comfortably meal-sized.

Presentation: This point cannot be emphasized enough: the title and the first few lines MUST accurately represent what the rest of the post is about. From my own observations (backed up by more popular wisdom) you can only count on a reader to view the title and maybe the first few lines. That's long enough for most of us (me at least) to determine if I want to read the whole thing. There is no point in burying valuable content deep in an the text of an unrelated post.

Last but not least...
Readership: Gosh, when I figure this one out, I'll let you know. I still have only eight followers. On the other hand, I'm up to eight followers, some of whom I don't even know OMG!!!

And that concludes this week's session of Professor Ashton. Hope you enjoyed =)

P.S. 750 words, not too bad! (more or less... after edits)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

What makes a good gamebook - Part 1: Story

I'm working on a major gamebook project at the moment, one which means a lot to me, as it represents my first chance to potentially get published. As I approach this project, I've been doing a lot of thinking about gamebooks, what they are, and what makes a good gamebook.

A good gamebook incorporates elements of both a novel and a game (as the name implies.) I would say that all too often, the historical gamebooks lean more towards "game" and away from "novel." Something like the first two Lone Wolf books would make great novels, even if you took out the game side. But something like Warlock of Firetop Mountain, the first Fighting Fantasy gamebook, would not. If you took out the game-ness of it, there wouldn't be much left.

Let's take each of these in turn, looking at the novel aspect, and then the game aspect, understanding that gamebooks need both to be successful. (EDIT: Because this ran into being waaaaaay too long, I'm splitting this into two posts. This post is about the story aspect. Next post will be about the game aspect.)

Gamebooks are both easier and harder to write than novels. The very nature of a gamebook, with branching storylines and a demand upon the author to accomodate player choices, makes it intrinsically harder to construct a narrative than it would be with pure long-form fiction. You can't put together the ideal plot and pacing. You can't keep secrets from the player, the way you can in fiction, because the player is making choices for the hero. You can't jump from one set of characters to another, because the reader sees the wolrd only through the eyes of a single character. You can't come up with just one story, you have to make up a dozen, and then figure out how they all interweave, based on the choices the player makes. It's hard.

At the same time, gamebooks are in a sense more forgiving than novels. Warlock of Firetop Mountain perhaps wouldn't have flown as a novel, but it was certainly a success as a gamebook. Because you literally can't write a gamebook with as much tightly controlled narrative structure as you can a novel, you don't have to. The standards, as far as the story goes, simply aren't as high. That said, that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to tell good stories. In fact, I would argue that though developing the plotline is harder (because of the branching nature) there is something to be gained from having branches to the story.

What you gain from a gamebook is the opportunity for a reader to get involved in a way you never can with a novel. The reader may not be whisked down one perfect plotline. But he or she can explore the world, the  character, and choices or outcomes in a way that you never could with any other strictly linear storyform. No other genre gives the audience this much control, aside from video games. And video games, all too frequently, do whisk the audience down one tightly controlled plotline, with only minor variations. The best games, like Fallout, give you real choices that effect both your path through the story, and the outcome of the story. Other games, like Skyrim, give you only the illusion of choices. You can pick which order to view the story in, but your choices don't change those bits of story once you get there. You never make choices that have any real effect on the world. (Note: I am writing this based on what I've heard about Skyrim. Please don't eviscerate me if this is incorrect, in your opinion!)

To see my favorite examples of how a gamebook can make a story interactive in a delightful and engaging way, see some of the stories by Endmaster on the Storygames website, such as Eternal or Necromancer. These gamebooks are described as more "story" than "game." They are, in fact, written using the "simple" gamebook engine, which has absolutely no features except the ability to make choices as you progress through the story. No hit points, no combat, no inventory, just choices. They are works of art. (Of course, some of Endmaster's other stories are... well, let's just say they defy description. That, and, I'm never introducing him to my children.) But those two, at least, exemplify something that I would like to see more of in gamebooks: a true interactive story.

What makes it successful as an interactive story? Well, for one thing, there's no "which door do you go through" choices. (I hate "which door do you go through" choices. I should maybe do a future blog post about this.) A few choices you make are success/failure type choices. "What method will you use to try and achieve your goals" type choices. But the vast majority are character choices. You know, the kind that in novels and movies bring the story to life. The kind that say something about the person making the choice. But this time, you don't have to sit there and watch while someone else makes this choice. YOU can make the choice. YOU call the shot, and once it's done, you get to see what happens because you made that choice. (Why did I just slip into the fighting fantasy style "YOU"?) Maybe your sister dies. Maybe you reconcile with your father. Maybe you end the world in cold fire. The point is, the choice is meaningful, and you get a different story because of the choice you made.

This comes back to why writing a gamebook is harder than writing a novel: the author doesn't get to just write one story and call it a day. An author as ambitious as Endmaster must write a dozen stories, each of which makes sense as an evocative story, each of which the reader can access based on the choices he or she makes.

But telling a good story is only one half of what a gamebook is. If you just wanted to tell a good story, you could write a novel. Of course, you would lose the interactivity that is the soul of the gamebook, but my point is, there's more to a good gamebook than just telling a good story. Gamebooks also open the door to include a "game" aspect, which can be fun in and of it's own right. Not every gamebook has to be a work of art in order to have value. Some can be fun games. Or, in the very best of circumstances, they can be both.

Because I've run out of time, we'll have to explore the game side of a gamebook next time. In fact, I think I'm finding that there's more here than can be covered in one or two posts. I might want to do a series about the kinds of choices you face in gamebooks, and my opinion of the value of each kind of choice.

One final question: One thing I'm struggling with is how much to prioritize editing while blogging, vs. just getting my ideas out there and posted, even if it's in a raw form. For anyone who actually read this whole thing (Stuart, I'm looking at you ;) do you feel this is fine as is, or could it have benefited from some editing?

Blogging in general seems to be more impulsive and free-form, but for most people, that means short. For me, impulsive and free-form means long, which all too often results in TLDR. So please, give me your feedback! Should this post have been edited before posting, or is it fine as is?

See you next time with "What makes a gamebook good - Part 2: Game"

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Last World War I Veteran died on Saturday

Last Saturday, Feb 4, marked the end of an era. The last surviving veteran of World War I died. She was Florence Green, who joined the Women's Royal Air Force at the age of 17, two months before the war ended.

The WRAF recruited women as drivers, mechanics, cooks and clerical workers, freeing up men for active duty service. Florence served breakfast, lunch and tea in the mess hall for two months, before armistice. Because she was a member of the armed forces during the period of the war, she counted as a veteran.

The last combat veteran was Claude Choules of the British Royal Navy, who died May 5, 2011, aged 110. The last veteran who served in the trenches was Harry Patch, who died on July 25, 2009, aged 111.

Time marches on. The world turns. Our ancestors are left behind, as we come into our primes. Soon, all too soon, we ourselves will be left behind.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Character Creation Rules for Rise of the Runelords Campaign

First of all, thanks to Stuart for the very kind plug for my new site!
Also, thanks to Geek Related for providing an excellent write-up of how to use Fate Points in Pathfinder, copied and pasted below. I will be sending these rules out to the players for my upcoming game ;)


Aspects! Please write 3 aspects for your character before you reach the gaming table, we will create 2 more for each character when we get together for the first session. The first three should be as follows: The first aspect should be a description of your character’s archetype, such as “Half-orc sorcerer in tune with nature’s fury”, “Physically perfectionist elven wizard”, or “Charming Sunderer”. Try to make sure your character’s core competency makes it into your first aspect.
The second aspect should describe your character’s trouble, the main weakness or stumbling block that keeps causing trouble for the character. It can be a personality trait that causes trouble for the character, or it can be something bad that just keeps happening to him for some inexplicable reason. Examples: “Why did it have to be fairies?”, “Vengeful over hurt pride”, “Family Man”.
For the third aspect, think about what motivates your character, what shaped him to become who he is, and what pushed him to the life of an adventurer. The best aspects are ones that can be used both for or against your character. ex. “Must protect my friends at all costs”, “People are not always what they seem”, “I Heart Forbidden Lore”, “There must be some way I can find a profit from this…”
Each character will get 3 fate points. When you level up, they will be refreshed. You can get more fate points whenever your character suffers due to one of his aspects (depending on the situation, this could result in failed skill rolls, damage, or just social humiliation). Spending a fate point allows you to either reroll the d20 roll you just made, or add +4 to it, your choice, but you can only spend a fate point when one of your aspects applies to the roll you’re making. For instance, “I Heart Forbidden Lore” could help you if you’re doing research or trying to recall facts about some kind of demonic monster, but it wouldn’t help you on a to-hit roll against a goblin. Regardless of aspects, a fate point can always be spent to stabilize you if you’re dying.
For those who are interested, my other character creation rules for this game are as follows:

Stat Rolling: I'm experimenting with a new idea of doing 4d6, drop the lowest, but having the players roll 8 times and keep the lowest result along with the five highest results. Theoretically, this will create characters with multiple good stats, but one "flawed" stat, which I speculate could be good for character development.

In addition, a player can re-roll the entire stat line if they promise to do a song and dance at the first session ;)

Perk: Each character is allowed to pick one "perk." This can be 

A) An additional feat.
B) A minor spell-like ability, equivalent to a 0th level spell (3x/day) or even weaker than a 0th level spell (at-will)
C) An heirloom magic item.

Some players have used this for other things. For example, we needed an arcane caster, and the closest we had was a Bard. So the Bard used her perk to gain the ability to cast as a Wizard, and to cast from the entire Wizard/Sorcerer arcane spell list, instead of just the Bard spell list.

Leveling up: We will start at level 0, and be leveling up per GM fiat. As this game will only meet approximately once a month, I'm going to be skimming quickly through the Rise of the Runelords content (with heavy modifications by yours truly), hitting only the important highlights and avoiding long dungeon crawls and side-adventures. If we can keep up the pace, I hope to level the characters once per session, and take about 3-4 sessions per module, getting us through the entire campaign in, well... about a year and a half.

Should be fun!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Content Uploaded!

Over the years I've accumulated massive amounts of detritus, scraps and bits of pieces of games or story ideas. Very little of it is in any sort of usable form, but as I look back over the last few years, I find that I actually have produced several complete, or complete-enough, works.

I have added two new pages to my site, one to showcase all the gamebooks I've written, some of which have never before seen the light of day, and another to show a bit of the game design work which I've done.

Enjoy =)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Feeling out a new idea

I can't say I have much readership here yet, but I'll go ahead and post this here for the sake of appearances, at least:

I have a preliminary question: I'm developing an alternate setting for the Pathfinder system which I want to put together as a fan-made supplement. From there, my goal would be to develop adventure paths within this world, in the style of the current Paizo adventure paths.

Do I have friends who would be interested in writing for an adventure path using the Pathfinder system? I'm thinking of doing six installments, the way Paizo does it. Each volunteer writer would be assigned one installment. Within broad guidelines, you would have a great deal of room for personal creativity to develop the module.

Raise your hand if you may be interested. I can send you more details.

The blurb about the world, tentatively named Ava:

In the deepness of the void, Great Xintarion, the World Dragon, curls protectively around her single egg. Ava, the World Egg, dreams. He dreams of an entire continent that has been abandoned by the ancient and noble race that once lived there, vanished without a trace. He dreams of two great human empires whose rivalry drives each to feats of magnificence, but threatens a war to destroy them both. He dreams of magical machines built to be so clever that they walk and talk like men. He dreams of a hole blasted on the land, destruction so complete that no magic can heal it. And he dreams of the haughty elves, who sing to him in his sleep, but who, in their exaltation, ignore the woes of the world around them. He dreams; while in the deeps, beyond the pale of Xintarion’s watchful claws, Zaggath’Thul the Hungerer draws closer.