VERVAYENS ISLE, AND THE TROUBLE IT BRINGS
The TV Tropes website is fascinating. It bills itself as 'The All-Devouring Pop Culture Wiki,' and that's a pretty accurate description. It highlights recurring narrative devices or production approaches across a wide spectrum of media, ceaselessly noting, never judging. Really, take a look at the page for any long-running series, and see how easy it is to lose an hour there.
TV Tropes has long since outgrown its initial TV-only remit. It was on the TV Tropes Fabled Lands page that I first realised how insanely hard it is to achieve the title of Saviour of Vervayens Isle in Over the Blood-Dark Sea. Spoilers for that book from here on in.
To get that title you have to start in Over the Blood-Dark Sea, and roll 10–12 in the opening paragraph when you roll two dice to determine your starting position. And even then, it's not guaranteed. That'll be why none of my Fabled Lands characters, who tend to start out in The War-Torn Kingdom, have ever had that title, then.
Early on in my planning for The Serpent King's Domain, I decided I wanted to incorporate another avenue to Vervayens Isle (it was suggested in the Fabled Lands Facebook group, too). It's a nice little area that, if my own experience is common, almost never gets played through. Surely, any continuity problems would be simple enough to iron out. Something like:
Do you have the title Saviour of Vervayens Isle? If you do, turn to 632. If not, turn to Over the Blood-Dark Sea 151.Easy, right?
Y'see, a problem occurs because it's possible to visit Vervayens Isle without picking up that title. There's an encounter there (spoiler: the gorgons) that should surprise the player, if he or she comes across it. Loop through that more than once, and you lose any sense of continuity. And, the Saviour of Vervayens Isle title aside, there are no codewords, nor even any tick boxes, to check whether you've been to that island before.
Here it helps that the only route to that island comes in paragraph 1 of one of the books. Because this creates a work-around to check that the player hasn't started in Over the Blood-Dark Sea – that is, to check which book the player has started in. If you've played the demo version of The Serpent King's Domain, you may have acquired the codeword Gloom in paragraph 1. So it's a sure bet that, if you have that codeword, you've never visited Vervayens Isle.
Similarly, if you own the more recent republication of The War-Torn Kingdom, you'll have noticed that you obtain the codeword Auric in paragraph 1 of that book. Again, if you have that codeword, it's certain you didn't start out in Over the Blood-Dark Sea. (I'm hesitant to speak for Dave and Jamie, but if you only own the large-format edition of The War-Torn Kingdom, I'd say it's fine to award yourself the codeword Auric for starting out in that book anyway.)
So if during your travels through The Serpent King's Domain you come across a paragraph that says something like this:
If you have the codeword Auric or Gloom, turn to 582. If not, turn to 147.… then it's really checking if you've been to Vervayens Isle. And if you don't have those codewords, but you've never been to Vervayens Isle, feel free to go there with my blessing anyway, even if you're not strictly playing 'by the book'. That's precisely why that paragraph's in there – to permit access to a location that's impossible to reach otherwise.