Gamebook store

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Worlds of IF

I've been dropping enough hints that it will hardly come as a surprise to learn that the Fabled Lands LLP gamebook back catalogue (which includes Blood Sword, Way of the Tiger, Virtual Reality, Falcon and Golden Dragon) is the secret third strand in the new Osprey Adventures imprint.

The Critical IF series will comprise new versions of classic gamebooks by me, Jamie, Oliver Johnson and Mark Smith, alongside new titles such as the Wild West fantasy Undeadwood which Jamie will be getting back to as soon as he's finished writing Dark Lord book 3, our new kids' SF series Starship Captain, and a few other things.

The books will be released in both print and ebook editions, the latter being fully interactive. So the sections are not only hyperlinked, but your hit points are automatically updated, skills and codewords checked, and so on. It's a miracle of technology (what passes for a miracle in the ebook world, at any rate) courtesy of the master coders at Spirit Entertainment, who are also developing the new Fabled Lands apps. You knew that. I know you knew that.

We'll be launching in the spring with Heart of Ice, Down Among the Dead Men, Necklace of Skulls, Avenger, Assassin and Once Upon a Time in Arabia. Oh, that last one? That's Twist of Fate as was, finally blessed with a title I approve of.

These aren't the covers you'll see on the finished books. These are just mock-ups (courtesy of Pieter Bruegel and Maxfield Parrish) I did so as to have some working copies by my side while editing and revising the manuscripts. Osprey have their artists working on all-new covers, maps and interior fillers.

To whet your appetite, I'll leave you with links to Per Jorner's comprehensive, no-holds-barred reviews of Necklace of SkullsHeart of Ice and Down Among the Dead Men, and Mrs Giggles' reviews of Assassin! and Avenger! There, I even put the exclamation marks in this time.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Casual games

When I originally conceived my interactive version of Frankenstein, I didn't think of it as a game at all. Yet gamification is now an element of all media, and of course I drew on my 15+ years' experience as a game designer to structure and write the book. So I shouldn't have been surprised to see it nominated for Game of the Year 2012 on Where casual gameplay once meant family fun on the Wii, now it could just as easily involve getting drawn into a narrative in a novel, TV show or ARG. Gameplay is getting to be the sixth element of story - after plot, theme, character, setting and style, that is.

If you want to vote for Frankenstein, there's the link. (And don't forget to tick the Game of the Year box at the top first.) There are a bunch of other great games and/or interactive stories there too. Expect the boundaries to get ever fuzzier from here on in.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Get ready for Osprey Adventures

My own role-playing campaigns are frequently set in historical periods rather than outright fantasy settings. The research is half the fun, and usually the first place I'll look is Osprey's military books, a series I started collecting as a board wargamer. In the last couple of years Osprey have woken up to the overlap between wargamers, roleplayers, history buffs and SF readers, leading them to buy up punky sci-fi imprint Angry Robot. And now they're launching a couple of new series under their Osprey Adventures imprint.

Myths and Legends (quoting from the 2013 Osprey Books catalogue now) "examines the great stories that have echoed down through time and have helped to shape our cultures. Each title in the series focuses on a specific legendary figure, such as King Arthur, or upon a collection of myths, like dragon-slayers, and presents their story in a straightforward, entertaining style. Alongside the narrative is factual information about the history behind the stories and how these legends developed and changed over time. The books also contain Osprey’s usual array of illustrative material, including specially commissioned artwork plates."

This is actually almost word for word a concept that Jamie and I came up with fifteen years ago. We called it Legendary Sourcepacks (previously discussed here) and spent the better part of a year pitching it to publishers. In hindsight we would have had more success if (a) we hadn't started with medieval Japan, (b) had waited at least a decade, and (c) approached Osprey first! But every cloud has a silver lining, and the way it turned out we don't have to write the books, we can collect them instead.

The other series that's launching Osprey Adventures is Dark Osprey. These are titles such as The Nazi Occult:
"In the dark dungeons beneath Nazi Germany, teams of occult experts delved into ancient and forbidden lore, searching for lost secrets of power. Ordered by Hitler to discover new weapons that could be unleashed on his enemies, the occultists experimented with dark magics, mystical artifacts, and creatures thought only to exist in nightmare. This book tells the complete history of the Nazi occult programs, from their foundations in Hitler’s early esoteric studies and the quests for the Ark of the Covenant, the Spear of Destiny, and the Holy Grail, through their experiments with lycanthropes and zero-point energy. It also includes sections on the shadow war fought in the dying days of the Reich as the Nazis sought to stave off defeat through pacts with diabolic entities, attempts to preserve the Fuhrer’s brain, and the deployment of the strange flying saucers that battled to save the final Nazi stronghold in the Antarctic.  For years, the Allied governments worked to keep this information from reaching the public, and sought to discredit those few who dared to seek the truth. Now, using a combination of photography and artwork reconstructions, the true story of the most secret battles of World War II can finally be told."
Now, even in a fantasy, it's not really feasible for the Nazis, who were the batty New Agers of their era, to have got within a million miles of investigating zero-point energy, having kicked all the good quantum physicists out of Germany in the mid-thirties. But the other stuff sounds coherent and should fuel an alternate WW2 role-playing campaign if you like Hellboy or Iron Sky.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Sought is good, but giv'n unsought is better

It's the last day of Christmas (officially, sunset on January 5, which is of course the evening of Twelfth Day by old reckoning) and I thought there ought to be a final gift to mark its passing. So...

In case you want to compare the original White Dwarf version of Castle of Lost Souls with the book (which was sixth in my and Oliver Johnson's Golden Dragon series) you can pick up a PDF version here. I'm issuing this under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs licence. In other words, share it around all you like but please don't take my name off it.

For completists, there's also a non-profit print version available from Lulu. It doesn't have fancy typography or anything but - hey, non-profit, meaning you only pay what Lulu charges to print it.

Okay, better get my decorations taken down and eat that last turkey sandwich. The diet starts tomorrow!