Suffering from Kickstarter fatigue yet? I hope not, as we have one more delectable item for your consideration: The Good, The Bad and The Undead, the gamebook that Jamie was scheduled to write under the working title of Undeadwood as part of our abortive deal to co-publish gamebooks with Osprey.
Ashton Saylor went and pulled the stake out of the project's corpse, and working with Jamie he's cooked up a terrifying, action-filled, interactive novel to fill the hot summer nights as insects buzz and burn in the oil lamp and an eerie howl echoes across the prairie.
The project has its own Facebook page and you can jump right in now and play the demo. This is a print gamebook, not an app (though who's to say that won't come later?) and it has some superbly creepy art by the eldritchly talented Callie MacDonell.
Just to whet your appetite, here's a snippet of my early discussion with Jamie about the concept:
Dave: This is quite interesting (probably an Inca myth originally) and avoids the old "vampires as bats" thing. Another way to get around that is to have the vamps take the form of birds. That's quite common in Romanian myth - usually owls (striges) as they're harbingers of doom. But in the Wild West they could be vultures, or maybe sort of vulture-harpy hybrids, all rank with disease. Harpies were notorious fo being disease-ridden.So there you go; that's how we work. A glimpse into the Morris-Thomson creative dynamic. Coming up over the next few weeks, we'll look at how Ashton Saylor took that raw material and crafted it into a new breed of gamebook.
Jamie: Chonchons are flying heads, though... But I like the vampire/bird thing. More Aztec. The Vampire Queen can do that anyway, maybe (turning into a vulture is good), but I think the rest of the vampires are pretty much standard vamps. Maybe they don’t get turned back by crosses and can enter the church, because they’re Native American vamps. Though maybe the usual tools should still work. When the Marshal arrives, perhaps the church has already been set alight, or for a while they get into it, safe for a bit but, it being a wooden church, the vamps set it alight. Or the Professor character does, or a captive human in return for freedom. Anyway, I think it’s important that they appear to be ordinary vamps at first. You know, that’s the trope. Then it gets progressively weirder, which will be cool.
Dave: I guess most of the vampires should just be the standard vampire type, ie essentially fast-moving, more-or-less intelligent zombies that drink blood. And only the "bosses" get to transform into things like vultures. The vulture was a symbol of the Aztec state, wasn't it - a vulture eating a snake, I think. That was their Romulus and Remus symbol. Of course, ripping out victims' hearts rather than sucking blood - that'll be a nicely original touch. The chonchons are odd because in some versions they're flying heads, but other folktales have them more like harpies, ie the head becomes a bird. Freaky stuff. Anyway, we don't have to be straitjacketed by what it says in the myths. We can make up our own weird shit.
Jamie: Should the ordinary vamps rip out people's hearts? At the moment, it’s only the Aztec Vampire Queen. That could work, though. She makes vamps, and because her victims are westerners they become traditional western vamps. Well, eastern relative to the Aztecs, I guess, but you get my meaning. So it should only be the Queen who rips out hearts. We save that for the final showdown; it’ll make her more boss-like and fearsome. Maybe the conquistador does the same. Also, she could have a few vampire Jaguar Knights who are her personal bodyguard, and maybe only they eat hearts.
Dave: Just the Queen, I agree. That's her gimmick for creating vamps. The others aren't - what do they call them? The master mold vamps who can create other "sires"? The other vampires would just be your standard blood-suckery types. Still nasty, though. Her guards could actually be were-types: Eagle or Jaguar Knights who become their totem animal. Maybe she has one of each, those are her Oddjob types, ie secondary bosses before you actually have to face her. Also did we talk about doing something with the idea of flayed skin? There was that Aztec deity, the God of Flayed Skin. So some of the vampires could peel a person, put on their skin, and they would appear like them for a while. Sort of Illusion Master style. There could be some tricks for seeing through it... the skin doesn't sweat or something.