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Thursday, 10 November 2011

Out in the dark there burns a dream

There isn't nearly enough seafaring in fantasy RPGs and gamebooks, considering that tales of intrepid mariners facing a rapid succession of weird and wondrous adventures has been a staple of storytelling since Homer first banged his stick on the floor and told everybody to draw up a chair. Conan and Elric have done their share of nautical adventuring, following in the footsteps - well, the foamy wake - of Sindbad and Ulysses, and we have our modern equivalents in the voyages of the Enterprise, the Marathon and Farscape's Moya.

All of which is mere preamble to the main purpose of this post, which is to give a yo-ho hearty shout-out to Andrew Wright, whose gamebook adventure Sea of Madness just won the 2011 Windhammer Prize. He needs no introduction around these parts, of course, as he is editorial consultant on the Fabled Lands RPG, runs an excellent blog Fantasy Gamebook, and is author of Tin Man Games's Catacombs of the Undercity. Nobody could have deserved the prize more. Well done, Andy!

With its wide-ranging sandboxy structure, Sea of Madness is sure to appeal to Fabled Lands players and you can download it here. And, if your ears can stand it, here's the theme tune. Also be sure to take a look at previous Windhammer winners, including The Bone Dogs by Per Jorner, Al Sander's Raid on Château Fekenstein, and Stuart Lloyd's Sharkbait's Revenge - the last of which offers up lashings of piratical adventure on the high seas, bringing us full circle.


  1. Thanks Dave! I have to be honest and say that Sea of Madness is substantially inspired by both Over the Blood-Dark Sea and Down Among the Dead Men. There's just something about writing gamebook paragraphs that are essentially snippets of coversations between you and your crew that becomes a guilty pleasure. Fave part of Seas of Madness:

    You are sailing away from the city-state of Lopenos.
    ‘Look, Captain! Red herrings!’ says the quartermaster, pointing at a crimson shoal of fish that dart about haphazardly in the water, changing their speed and direction with dazzling irregularity.
    You refrain from drawing comparisons to your current voyage. Where are you heading anyway? West, to the Jungle of T’suf (turn to 85), north, to the Melloskine Marshes (turn to 75), or north-west, into the Sea of Madness (turn to 1)?

    BTW: Blog is Fantasy Gamebook! :-)

  2. Doh - sorry, Andy. As my friend Peter Richardson of Cloud 109 said earlier, this has been a Count Arthur Strong day :-) Anyway, now corrected. I know exactly what you mean about the irresistible lure of captain-&-crew dialogue sections btw.

  3. Thanks for the mention too, Dave. I also have a bit of Down Among the Dead Men in Sharkbait's revenge with a character called Blutz. I agree that there is not enough seafaring in RPGs and gamebooks, especially since pirates are so cool.

  4. Exactly. I was asked in a recent interview on Paper Dragon Ink: "Jedi, Spartan or pirate?" And even in that company, pirate has still got to be the coolest choice.

  5. I have a mirabilis question because I just got my hardback copy of the first book. Will the Spring books be released in hardback at the same time as the paperbacks, because they are bigger and shinier. Think about it.

  6. Hi Wanderer, the Spring books should be out in hardback first. Most people seem to prefer them to the paperback editions, and the extra price is just a couple of dollars, so leading with the hardbacks makes sense.

  7. It does make sense, the hardbacks are great. I am happy to hear this.

  8. Hope you'll be doing us a review on Amazon? Don't make me beg :-)

  9. I did a review on down among the dead men as well. I can't think what to write on those things, it usually ends up a bit of a ramble. Amazon is still processing my mirabilis review.

  10. Amazon sometimes eats reviews, I've found, but I appreciate you taking the time, wanderer, thanks.

  11. I did a DATDM review on (pouncing_panda), although I was a bit critical!

    1. I appreciate all reviews - no publicity is bad publicity!