Gamebook store

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Eye of Heroes

Eye of Heroes was a Fabled Lands PC game designed by Steve Bristow and Will Doyle, formerly of Black Cactus Games. The reason you never heard of it is that, in notable contrast to the way that novels, movies and creator-owned comics are originated, game publishers don't usually buy NIH designs. So Eye of Heroes remains only a blueprint. But while looking through the design spec I found a bunch of great characters that Steve and Will had come up with, many with intriguing historical details that I assume they worked out with Jamie. So I'm going to run some of those over the next week. First, the one-sheet that tells you what the game's about. Incidentally, I said it was intended as a PC game but I'll bet it'd work pretty well on today's smart phones... Hmm, might have to dust it off!

Fabled Lands: Eye of Heroes

“Fabled Lands: Eye of Heroes” was planned as a turn-based strategy PC game steeped in the mythology of the Fabled Lands game books. Eye of Heroes tells the story of a young Sokaran farmhand who travels the Fabled Lands in search of the souls of six long-dead heroes.

Each of the game’s levels would be played out across a colourful isometric battle map. Each unit in the party has a reserve of action points (AP) that are expended to move, attack, deploy special powers or interact with the environment. You and the computer player take turns to move your units, with each side moving any or all of their units in a single turn. AP can even be saved as “Opportunity” to interrupt your opponent’s turn with your own actions.

Eye of Heroes gameplay also includes “Distraction” - all units rotate automatically to face what they perceive as their greatest threat, even during their opponent’s turn. Combat rewards attacking to the flank or to the rear, so players must carefully coordinate their party’s attacks to counter and exploit the enemy’s ever-changing facing.

Each soul you rescue is stored within the Eye of Heroes: a magical jewel set into the pommel of your adventurer’s ancestral sword. You can call upon the Eye to summon the ghosts of six heroes to your side, but only for a short time. Each ghost needs Soulfire to take material form, and the Eye only holds so much. In order to boost your reservoirs of Soulfire you must drive your ancestral blade into the corpses of the evil dead.

Each hero conforms to one of the game book professions: Warrior, Mage, Wayfarer, Priest, Rogue and Troubadour, and each has their own unique powers. Players must spend their Soulfire wisely in order to triumph over the traps, monsters and puzzles resident on each level.

Between levels you’ll have the opportunity to mould your adventurer into a real hero.

The heroes of the Eye represent the pinnacle of each class, whereas your adventurer is something of a Jack-of-all-Trades. Although weak in comparison to his allies, you can draw upon the wisdom of the Eye to learn new powers. Concentrate on one class and your hero will ultimately match the abilities of one of his party members. Spread his Heroism between all six classes to develop a varied arsenal of powers that combine close and ranged combat, healing, magic, and trickery.

Each of the locations in Eye of Heroes draws inspiration from one of the game-books. As the series ran short after six books, fans will finally get to see something of the realms that were still to come: the steaming jungles of Ankon-Konu, the Desert of Bones, mythical Chrysoprais, ancient Atticala, the metropolis of Dangor and the Underworld itself.

Each battle map depicts a single adventure location, depicted in scale to your units. The first six locations detail the final resting places of the six heroes: the objective here is to find their bones and acquire their souls. Each enemy type conforms to one of the six classes: for example, the Manbeasts of Nerech use Warrior powers, whereas the snivelling Ratmen exploit the powers of the Wayfarer. The bones of each hero are watched over by monsters that conform to their class - before you can take advantage of the class for yourself you must witness its powers in combat.

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