Gamebook store

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Toffee-fuelled delirium

A guest post today by Jamie. After Franklin's recent wedding (see last post) we wound up with glasses of toffee vodka (don't ask) at 2am listening to my wife Roz read letters to the Royal Mythological Society on her new Kindle. (On waking later that day, I discovered to my horror that, despite the confectionary taste, toffee vodka actually is rather alcoholic. An easy mistake to make, I'm sure you'll agree.)

Despite remembering little of the evening's events, Jamie must have been entertained by the badinage of Clattercut and Bromfield as he had a crack at writing his own Mirabilian correspondence. The only snag is, he neglected to give the letter-writer any advice, as is usually the case; for example here and here. So - the floor is open. Over to you.

I am the curator of the Uttersnope Museum in Hartington Nether Quarter, Derbyshire. As you know, the Museum is dedicated to the works of that great 19th century Romantic artist, Obadiah Uttersnope.

Last week, I was working on cleaning up one of Uttersnopes pieces from his Gothic period, a large canvas entitled The Wanderer Amidst the Tombs. This dark and brooding work depicts a young mourner, rain-drenched, pale faced and grief stricken, wandering a wet and muddy cemetery of fog-shrouded tombs and ornate family crypts. Overhead storm clouds darken the sky. I left the work in my office overnight - the next morning I came to find a trail of muddy wet footprints leading from the outer door of my office to the painting, oddly formed, as if someone had walked backwards through the door toward the canvas and then seemingly disappeared. And this when we have had a dry period, without a drop of rain, for two weeks or more.

Also, I could have sworn that the painting had never before shown such a look of ghastly terror on the face of the young wanderer, and nor had it depicted one of the tombstones broken and cast aside, with the grave upon which it rested open to the rain-swept sky. How could I have missed that, after some ten years as curator? I must have viewed this painting a hundred times or more!

Yours in perplexity,
Sir Artorious Featherswill,
Curator, Uttersnope Museum.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

A master, a mistress and two slaves

Some personal news for once, but not without bearing on Fabled Lands, as our patron and Grand Panjandrum, Franklin Lee Johnson Jr, tied the knot with the lovely Lydia Radosevic in London on Saturday. Somehow the Fabled Lands LLP team wangled an invitation, and you can see us here in the sort of clothing we often throw on for a weekend bash. From left to right: Jamie Thomson, Berenice Gummer with her hubby, FL business brain Tim Gummer, and finally yours truly. Among the guests were the legendary founder of MUD, Dr Richard Bartle, and Professor Mark Watson-Gandy, the legal genius behind FL LLP and incidentally also a Papal Knight (yes, he was in full regalia, including sword). And we got to meet the globetrotting Johnson clan, as nice a bunch of people as you could ever hope to share a slice of wedding cake with. A very happy day.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

In an open boat waiting for death

Fabled LandsIn case you thought we'd forgotten about the Fabled Lands RPG, the very latest news is that it is undergoing a thorough edit by the world's foremost FL authority, Andrew Wright, will hopefully be ready for release next month, and here is a sighting of the map and character sheet to prove it. Rara avis in terris commenticia.

Monday, 16 May 2011

We Do Write interview

I was recently interviewed by Dorothy Dreyer on her blog We Do Write. As you might guess from the name, it's all about writing, not game design, so don't feel you have to. Highlights (or lowlights, depending on your tastes) are: Earl Grey tea, Ragnarok, Lawrence of Arabia, the day I saw a ghost, super powers, how I met Leo Hartas, horses, Alfred Hitchcock, and Philippe Starck furniture. Ouch.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Roll a D6 (music video)

Here's a bit of fun for a Sunday evening. And you can't laugh at those guys because, come on - we've all been there.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Bristol comics expo

And a very quick note to say that if you're at the Bristol comics expo this weekend, you can find Leo at table 61 in the Mercure Hotel. He has copies of Mirabilis book 2 and may even do you a sketch if you buy one.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Mwa ha ha - UPDATE

I don't think I'm letting the cat out of the bag here, as this was the subject of one of our first FL posts and is now up on Amazon too. Dirk Lloyd is what happens when the Lord of Darkness is banished by his archfoe the White Wizard and is magically hurled across the dimensions, crashing to earth in a modern car park and finding himself in the body of a 13 year-old boy. It's Sauron in suburbia - with zits. Starting in October you'll be able to read the hilarious adventures of the Lloyd of Dirkness (say it in a Brummie accent, it makes sense) in a series of novels penned by the great squamous beast himself, Jamie Thomson. This is the first of Fabled Lands LLP's original properties to see the light (or dark) of day and already plans are well-advanced for a TV show, comic book and other fun stuff. Just don't read the Amazon synopsis because it's riddled with spoilers.

Latest news: Freya Hartas, awesomely talented daughter of the famous gamebook illustrator and Mirabilis co-creator, Leo Hartas, has a meeting next week at Hachette, UK publishers of the Dirk Lloyd books. I've seen some of Freya's pictures for the first book and they are amazing. The combination of zany humour and outrageous imagination are very reminiscent of Leo's work, but she has a dark, disturbing touch that's all her own. Check out her other work at Carl Has The Funk.

Friday, 6 May 2011

A universe away from 2000 AD

Crunch was a short-lived magazine for kids published by Scholastic in the mid-1980s. It featured a curious mix of puzzles, riddles, news, an article on sports, a school short story, and an assortment of odd facts deemed by adults to be of interest to children. Plus, in among that lot, "The Island of Illusions", a Golden Dragon gamebook adventure by Oliver Johnson and me, and illustrated by Leo Hartas.

As you can see from the cover there was also a "free" gift: the very first Crunch joke book. Patient: "Doctor, doctor, I keep seeing insects." Doctor: "You'll be all right. It's just a bug that's going round." Hopefully the last Crunch joke book too, then.

I don't know if there are any other copies of the magazine out there. It isn't the sort of thing you'd cherish like, say, Tales of Suspense #86 (Iron Man vs the Mandarin) or TV21 #2 (last remaining Dals encounter their mutated descendants, the Daleks). But it does feature Leo's painting that originally inspired the Rathurbosk Bridge in Legend - scene of many dark intrigues, secret assignations and vertiginous set-piece battles over the last twenty-six years. It was the first location where we playtested DW warlocks. But that's another story.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Cities of Gold & Glory

This just in: the website for the second Fabled Lands app is now live. So you can nip over to the forum there and tell the team at Megara what you want to see more of - or less of - in that and future releases. And while you're at it, if you didn't already pick up your free FL1 soundtrack you can get that from the link on the Megara homepage.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Seth Godin predicts the future of publishing

It's not the kind of thing we normally talk about on the FL blog, but the spate of 4-day weekends in the UK has put me in holiday mood, so here's a real cut-through-the-crap interview with Seth Godin on how digital publishing is going to affect the future of books. Takeaways: "Publishers are obligated, unprepared and mostly uninterested in adapting to a digital future," and, "Adding video, audio and other extras to books, as in the CD-Rom era, is worse than a distraction; it's a dangerous cul-de-sac that will end in tears."

Naturally epublishing interests us at Fabled Lands LLP because digital platforms are clearly a better medium than print where gamebooks are concerned. But, quite apart from the niche area of gamebooks, in the coming decade we're going to see high street bookstore chains disappear, the major publishers shrinking if not going out of business altogether, and a Burgess Shale explosion of innovation in book publishing that will create some marvels and not a few unhappy mistakes.

There's a skim overview of ideas about epublishing on CNN here, but listen to the Seth Godin interview because that's the real eye-opener. Interesting times ahead.