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Author Topic: Gamebooks  (Read 16561 times)

Funt Solo

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #495 on: 06 September, 2022, 08:36:47 PM »
So I have just looked at You Are the Hero, Jonathan Green's 2014 book about the Fighting Fantasy franchise, and on page 106 there is a brief interview with the authors of Way of the Tiger in which they explain why and how the series ended.

"Our publishers Hodder and Stoughton originally had signed for seven books but they cancelled the last in a fit of pique, which is why Inferno! ends so unsatisfactorily -- they re-wrote the end themselves to kill the series. The story here is that the then CEO of Hodder, Eddie Bell, left to become CEO of Harper Collins ... He took us with him so that we could write the DuelMaster series for Harper Collins and Hodder revoked the contract for Book #7 in revenge. They said it was for commercial reasons, but the series was still successful and reprinting."

What fuckers!

That is really interesting. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.
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Richard

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #496 on: 07 September, 2022, 12:47:47 AM »
I've only got Crystal of Storms handy, but it says all the text and art is copyright Ian and Steve despite not being written by them.
Well that would explain it, and it does seem unfair.

Barrington Boots

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #497 on: 07 September, 2022, 08:57:05 AM »
I have the had a look at Night of The Necromancer and Bloodbones, both published by Wizard, and both of them are text copyright Steve and Ian as well although in those the art copyright is to the respective artists. I guess this was something that came in after the Puffins and yeah, might explain why there's not been many new authors going forward..
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Richard

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #498 on: 07 September, 2022, 01:47:35 PM »
Quote
Is You Are The Hero worth getting btw?

It's alright. There is plenty of info, a lot of which I didn't already know, and lots of illustrations including a wide selection of maps from the books. (That was handy for me as one of my gamebooks was missing its map.) There's a brief description of every single FF book, which prompted me to buy a couple.

Richard

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #499 on: 07 September, 2022, 08:09:29 PM »
Secrets of Salamonis

by Steve Jackson "with Jonathan Green" and Tazio Bettin


As this is a brand new book, I will avoid spoilers and just give my first impressions rather than a playthrough.

First of all, the art is glorious! Our own Tazio Bettin provides some beautiful and detailed black and white line art, and in particular there is a fantastic image of a unicorn opposite paragraph 321. He also did a colour front cover illustration (although it's a bit darker than the version on his website). Frankly this book is worth getting for the art alone! It's a real return to form for the FF franchise after the childish art of the previous Scholastic editions.

There is nice shiny gold leaf on the front cover.

Steve Jackson is credited on the cover as the sole writer, but on the title page it adds in a smaller font "with Jonathan Green." It's not clear how much each author contributed, but I don't really mind as they have both authored some of my favourite FF books.

The rules are mostly your standard FF rules, but with some modifications. Firstly, there is a list of seven special skills which you can acquire as the adventure unfolds. Secondly, you have to keep track of which day of the week it is, as this can affect what happens from time to time. Thirdly, you don't role dice for your stats but they are assigned to you, and they are 6 skill, 12 stamina, and 6 luck. The reason for this is not explained in the rules, but becomes apparent fairly early on once the adventure begins -- your character begins the book as a child! (This is an idea last used in The Crimson Tide in 1992.)

Not a very young child this time, rather a teenager who has just left home and set off to the big city to begin a career as a young adventurer. You have to gain experience and learn new skills before you can join the Adventurers' Guild, and this requires money, of which you have none, having been robbed on the way to Salamonis. So you have to start by finding gainful employment, legal or illegal. Once you have earned a few coins, you can then begin to meet people who can teach you the tricks of the trade: armed combat, unarmed combat, magic spells, fraud and thievery!

Fourthly, there is a new stat called "Amonour" (a word first used in Jackson's excellent novel The Trolltooth Wars), which is basically a measure of your fame, experience and honour. You gain these points for gaining experience or for doing the right thing, and lose them for being a dick. There later comes a point in the adventure when the number of Amonour points you have picked up determines how much you may increase your initial skill, stamina and luck by. You get to choose which stats to assign your new points to. (I had six, and I added them all to my skill score.)

After that, you then begin going on proper quests. Citizens of Salamonis go to the Adventurers' Guild to ask for assistance for one thing or another, and you can choose which quests to go on, for gold. Once you come back from your first quest, you can then go to the market and buy useful stuff, including provisions (but you also have some encounters with the tax-collector).

This is the first drawback of the book, as until you get to that point there aren't many opportunities to restore lost stamina. I lost 2 stamina points -- one sixth of my stamina -- because I tripped on a loose cobblestone, and I couldn't get them back until after I had my first fight, with a creature with a skill of 8. That was my first death! But after surviving my first real quest, I was able to buy plenty of food and also a potion of strength, so I should be alright now.

I still have several interesting-sounding quests to go on. It's not yet clear what the main story of this book is going to be (I assume there will be more to it than just learning to be a proper adventurer), but there is one hint: there is one quest I chose to go on which the Guildmaster wouldn't let me do because I didn't yet have enough Amonour, so perhaps this will turn out to be the big one? There are 480 paragraphs, so there should be plenty left for me to do anyway.

There are several references to places and characters from other books, including Zharaddan Marr and an appearance by Thugruff from The Trolltooth Wars and Creature of Havoc.

I've throughly enjoyed it so far. It's only about £7 on Amazon, so worth a look!

Dark Jimbo

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #500 on: 07 September, 2022, 08:38:17 PM »
Secrets of Salamonis

by Steve Jackson "with Jonathan Green" and Tazio Bettin


I'm so excited about this one (far more so than Shadow of the Giants - sorry Ian!) Those three names on the cover are like a guarantee of quality.
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Barrington Boots

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #501 on: 08 September, 2022, 10:30:10 AM »
Steve Jackson is credited on the cover as the sole writer, but on the title page it adds in a smaller font "with Jonathan Green." It's not clear how much each author contributed, but I don't really mind as they have both authored some of my favourite FF books.

They discussed this at FFF: both said the other did the lions share, but I believe the bulk of the concepts and ideas were from Steve and Jonathan assisted with the structure. It sounds like the book was written quite fast as they mentioned getting together at the start of the year to write it.
I think Steve Jackson would like to do another. He mentioned he liked different settings and always wanted to do a pirate book, until Bloodbones hit that spot.

I'm so excited about this one (far more so than Shadow of the Giants - sorry Ian!) Those three names on the cover are like a guarantee of quality.

Definitely feel the same! Ian's output has not been as strong over the years has it?
Shadow of the Giants seems quite forgiving for IL so far although I've still died lots.
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wedgeski

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #502 on: 08 September, 2022, 10:34:35 AM »
I've throughly enjoyed it so far. It's only about £7 on Amazon, so worth a look!
Totally ordered.

Dark Jimbo

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #503 on: 08 September, 2022, 11:09:25 AM »
Going to save it as a treat for Christmas, I think!
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Barrington Boots

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #504 on: 12 September, 2022, 10:50:26 AM »
Shadow of the Giants

As per Richards Salamonis post, no playthrough as it's brand new.

I've finished this now. I enjoyed it a lot - the writing and tone is atmospheric and fairly lighthearted without being jovial or silly. The plot / villain is a great concept, although the final battle is somewhat anticlimatic, partly because the bulk of the book is a wander through a very characteful town with lots of interesting NPCs and dialogue. There's a good chunk of IL nostalgia in play - you go to Firetop Mountain, the town of Hamelin is quite a City of Thieves-esque, there's bucketloads of useless items you can buy or pick up, you get two companions (one of whom does a classic Mungo in short order) and several other FF books are called back to.

For an IL book the battles are not too difficult, with SK10 being the toughest opponent. There are however a lot of skill and luck checks and heavy penalties available to both. The books conclusion hinges on first a 50/50 choice and then a successful luck check, which I failed twice in a row so Potion of Luck is a must.

It feels a bit on the short side and reasonably linear: it only took me a couple of plays to work out what I needed and where, although finding one crucial item was tricky as getting it required doing something quite out of character for an FF book. You get 10 provisions, which is way too many, although on my first playthrough I lost them all in a river early on. I won't say it's easy, but it wasn't a difficult book.

The art is fantastic throughout, nice plot and it feels balanced - I think had this been released 35 years ago we'd regard it fondly. Definitely the best book from Ian in a while. I'll be tackling Salamonis next!
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Batman's Superior Cousin

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #505 on: 13 September, 2022, 11:44:38 PM »
I can't help but feel that Godpleton's avatar/icon gets more appropriate everyday... - TordelBack
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Dark Jimbo

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #506 on: 15 September, 2022, 01:48:44 PM »
Sorcery! – The Seven Serpents

And we’re back, with the latest part of my Sorcery playthrough! As always, spoilers follow.
Shamutanti Hills
Kharé part I
Kharé part II

The Playthrough – Lower Ishtara
The Baklands. A once-prosperous land of mystics and sorcerors laid waste by magic a hundred years ago. I’ll be the first Analander ever to set foot here – whether I’ll also be the first to cross it remains to be seen. But cross it I must to have any chance of recovering the Crown of Kings from the Archmage of Mampang Fortress.

After the cramped confines of Kharé, the blighted wastes of the Baklands seem impossibly vast and empty. A legion of eyes seem to crawl across me as I march through the unending waste, without cover of any sort – like all the world’s spiders erupting beneath my clothes from ten thousand hidden eggs. How can my mission possibly remain a secret, if I have to cross leagues of this kind of country? I never thought I’d pine for the fetid and urine-soaked alleyways of the Cityport of Traps, but… Kharé almost feels like home. At least it had people. What does this hellscape have…?



Nighthawks, that’s what. Five of the bastards, dive-bombing me from the skies, raking with their talons. I’ve got nowhere to hide, nowhere to run for, no help to call on. This could get sticky… I’m saved by the unexpected intervention of an invisible(!) Goldcrest Eagle, emissary from the King of Analand. Once the nighthawks have been seen off, the eagle delivers a message; my mission is discovered by the Seven Serpents, most trusted servants of the Archmage, hurrying through the Baklands even now to snitch on me; and I should seek out Shadrack the hermit for help.

To cut to the chase, I eventually find Shadrack at his home in Fishtail Rock after tramping the bleak Baklands for a bit; and he seems to exist in a little pocket out of time. Once he appears the barren ground is full of rich, verdant grass; there are trees and bushes waving in the breeze, and even the rock formations are bigger and less eroded than they were just moments ago. He fills me in on the Serpents; they were created from the heads of a hydra fought and killed by the Archmage long ago; but, hating to see such awesome power depart from the world, he breathed life back into the seven skulls, giving each an elemental affinity – from this derives their incredible power, but also a unique weakness. If I can find out what these are, I might just have a chance to defeat them…



This time-displaced area of the Baklands is teeming with the mystics that used to live here before the blight. Besides Shadrack, I meet a young mystic called Elthera, and we play my first game of swindlestones since the gaming halls of Vlada, back in Kharé. Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhh… The quiet roll and click of the dice, the heady anticipation of the reveal, the endorphin rush of a successful bluff… It feels like coming home. (Look, I’m ready to admit that I may have a problem, but – cold turkey isn’t for me. So maybe I can use my journey across the Baklands to ease gradually back on how much I play, instead). Up in the hills is a sorceress called Bria who teaches me about counterspells, and a spell called SSS, that will allow me to wring secrets from the Seven Serpents against their will.



Heading north, I return to a single, strange tower. I passed by when looking for Shadrack, but there was no obvious way up the sheer stone walls. Now, however, ivy climbs all over it, and it’s a simple matter to hoist my way up. At the summit is a massive brass – well, it looks like a telescope – but whatever part of the landscape I train it on seems to be sent back in time by the gentle blue light. [How this mechanic worked in the original book, I can’t begin to guess, but sweeping the tower across the map and watching things change is great fun.] Desert becomes grassland, dustbowl becomes forest… and some tumbled ruins standing above an uncrossable gully become a stone bridge across a roaring river. So with the path now opened before me, I climb back down from the tower, and cross into…

Upper Ishtara
My first encounter here is a caravan train of Black Elves, circled defensively for the coming night. They’re guardedly hospitable, once I confirm I have gold to spend, and let me wander around their camp. I sit down at the campfire to cook some raw fish that I found, before it starts to go bad, and get talking to a woman of indeterminate age. I do my best to answer her many questions while telling her as little as possible of my real intentions. I play some swindlestones with another elf (Aaaaaahhhhh…), letting him win the last game of three when I sense the mood getting a little ugly. With this many swords at his back, I can’t afford for him to think I was hustling him. He mentions their merchant, Ooloh, so my next stop is his caravan. Ooloh is more than happy to greet me – trade can’t be too good out here. His caravan is a veritable Aladdin’s cave of treasures, but I’m doing quite well in terms of rations and arms, so it’s mainly magical items that I’m interested in. I pay 16 gold for a Crystal Orb, (so that I can cast FAR, and see into the future), and the same again for a Brass Pendant. This little beauty allows me to cast NAP, a sleeping spell, and this is precisely what I do… on Ooloh.



Whether karmic justice or Courga’s displeasure, everything now goes spectacularly wrong. Knowing I don’t have long I snatch a few things off the shelves – a Hewing Axe and a bag of vittles, as it turns out. One of Ooloh’s guards sticks his head into the caravan at exactly the wrong moment, just as I’m stuffing the vittles in my backpack. ‘Did you pay for that?’ he barks, which is, after all, a fair enough question. I try to brazen it out. ‘Of course.’ Surprisingly, he seems convinced, but that’s when he realises Ooloh is snoring contentedly. Something is clearly not right here, and he starts to come into the caravan as I mention Ooloh complaining of plague symptoms just before he fell asleep. The guard pales, and backs out again. I’ve pushed my luck far enough here, so I make my exit. I seem to have gotten away with it when three figures accost me on the edge of the campsite – it’s the woman I was talking to by the fire, with two other elves at her back. I knew I didn’t like the strange look in her eyes when she was asking me exactly how much gold I had…



One of her companions comes at me, fists swinging, and there’s no time to draw my sword – I have to meet him the same way. By the time he’s been knocked on his back, the woman’s coming at me with blade in hand. I take care of her, too – although I’m a pint or two of blood lighter for it! Thank Courga, the last of the Three Stooges decides better of it, and runs. A hasty search of the bodies bags me 10 gold pieces and a new cloth skullcap – but it’s now too late to get away! Dozens of black elves surround me, and drag me back to the caravans. I don’t know if it’s for tricking Ooloh or killing their own, but at the command of their chieftan they begin to ready a mighty human-sized wooden cross, fitted with leather straps – this cannot be good. A desperate cast of ZIP teleports me sideways through space, behind one of the caravans, and while the elves panic, I flee out into the desert. Phew!

Trudging east toward the mountains, I share a hunk of black bread with a dwarf by the unlikely name of Mist, an emigree from Dwarftown in Kharé. He seems to think there’s something ominous and unfriendly up in the hills behind him. A serpent…? Then I cross paths with an enchantress called Dintainta, apparently known as ‘The Sham’. Hang on just a minute…! The name rings a bell – it’s one I was told to seek out by the ghost of Shinva, Fifth Noble of Kharé, in his riddle about a Sleepless Ram (which meant exactly nothing to me at the time). Dintainta explains that the Ram is one of the Archmage’s servants, and tells me how best to defeat it. I’m not ungrateful, but Mampang Fortress is still some way off – I’m much more interested in her tips to defeat the Moon and Fire Serpents… Onwards, up into the Baddu-Bak Ridge, and I meet some absolute joker who gets his larks pretending to be a Death Wraith and carving up innocent travellers. He says he learnt the illusion spell from a dying sorceress who headed on into the Forest of Snatta, the other side of the Ridge. I force him to give me a brass chakram and a vial of yellow powder before sending him on his way with a boot heel up his arse. (This supposedly barren land isn’t half full of people…!)



Suddenly the stars are snuffed out. A hissing sound begins to echo all around the rocks, and a second, massive moon rises in the sky. Then it uncoils itself, and the Moon Serpent is revealed! Wide wings seem to stretch from horizon to horizon, its eyes two shimmering yellow orbs full of malice. I use my new SSS spell to wring some secrets from it; it reluctantly confirms that the Water Serpent is waiting for me at Lake Ilkala, and suggests I find Fenestra the Sorceress – before adding that it hopes she dies before I do. No more talk; I can feel the serpent spell about to fail, so I launch a fireball. Scales and feathers fall everywhere, and the monster writhes and shrieks. Then I close with my sword, and send it to the Great Vivarium in the sky.

One down, six to go.

The Verdict
More great stuff. I was wondering how on earth a whole adventure was going to be wrung out of a desolate and empty wilderness; it all ‘clicks’ together with the Past Light tower. Such a great mechanic – I love how time is used in this game.

The Seven Serpents are a great idea for an enemy – can’t wait to cross swords with them!
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Dark Jimbo

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #507 on: 15 September, 2022, 02:12:44 PM »
Needless to say, that was just part 1!
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Richard

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #508 on: 15 September, 2022, 05:43:32 PM »
What a great write-up! Looking forward to the rest of it.

Barrington Boots

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #509 on: 16 September, 2022, 09:39:50 AM »
Fantastic write-up, and very much appreciating you posting some of the art too! Really enjoyed this.

Also, re. BSC's Lone Wolf post - I've been thinking about getting the first couple of these for the Gary Chalk art alone, but I still have so many FF books to go through first...

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