The Kickstarter to fund The Serpent King's Domain, looooong-awaited seventh book in the Fabled Lands series, ends on Monday, August 3, at 22:30 BST, which is 5:30 pm EDT and 2:30 pm PDT, and -- oh well, you've got the internet; here's the world clock for your location. I don't want anyone to miss it, you see.
The campaign hit its basecamp target within a few hours of launch. So is it still worth pledging? Yes indeed, because the artwork costs are included as built-in stretch goals, as explained by Megara's nifty art meter, meaning that as the total amount raised increases there will be more to pay for a widescreen cover by Guardians of the Galaxy concept artist Kevin Jenkins and maps and interior pics by Russ Nicholson.
The video above (if it works - that's the first video I ever uploaded to the blog) is Jamie talking about the things that he associates with the Fabled Lands books. I don't think I need to explain the idea behind Fabled Lands to any regular visitor to this blog, but recently Jamie and I set down our reminiscences about how it came to be. I'll go first:
The players gather around the table. Even as the Coke cans fizz and the bag of tortilla chips is being popped open, somebody looks at the map and says, ‘I hear there’s an abandoned fortress out on the tidal flats.’Jamie adds:
The referee consults the rulebooks. ‘Many claim it’s the stronghold of the legendary hero Hrugga – though that’s surely just a myth.’
Plans are made. Ships bought and outfitted. One of the players has the sea captain skill, and he plots a course. Another considers the supplies the party will need. Soon they’re ready to set out on a new expedition. And all because one of the players happened to spot the symbol for ruins in a corner of the map.
So go our Tekumel or Legend role-playing sessions. But most gamebooks spring from a different tradition of gaming in which an old man runs into a tavern and the players are spoon-fed the evening’s adventure. That was never for us. Jamie and I wanted to create a gamebook series that reflected our own role-playing games, where a player could arrive in a town and choose from dozens of adventures, or sometimes be flung into one by accident. Where the player could pick their own goals, go wherever they wanted, and be whatever type of adventurer they chose. Fabled Lands is the nearest thing to Jamie’s and my style of role-playing short of us coming to your house and running a game for you.
When you create a character in the Fabled Lands, you’re setting out on a saga that will be unique to you. Maybe you’ll face brutal foes on distant savage shores. Maybe you’ll become an initiate of a temple. You could become a student of magic and travel the world in search of secrets and power. You could be caught at sea by slavers and escape to lead a rebellion. You might become embroiled in civil war – on either side – or merely turn a profit by trading goods while the war rages on. It’s a whole life story that you’re creating there. And by the way, this was ten years before Fable!
And I worked on Fable 3, writing storylines and dialogue etc. But even then, just a few years ago, you could see that Fable wasn't really a sandbox game. Sure, there were loads of sidequests and stuff, but the main storyline was the thing. And there weren't places to go that didn't take you on the main plot.
Not like the Fabled Lands books. I like to call them 'a computer role-playing game without a computer'. Except they're more sandboxy than most CRPGs. The Fabled Lands books are much more Fallout 3 or Skyrim than they are Dragon Age or Baldur's Gate for instance - in fact, even more so. There is no over-arching mega plot for the Fabled Lands. Sure, some big quests involving the overthrow of kingdoms and so on, but all these are entirely optional.
You just 'live' in the world.
You can do that in Skyrim or Elite Dangerous or Fallout 3, but it's pretty hard to avoid the main storyline in those games. (Well, except Elite; that's the nearest to a true sandbox but it suffers from having to do the same old stuff over and over.)
The Fabled Lands though - they're the only place you can 'live' in that's a book and not a multi-million pound computer game. What you see and feel, how you visualize the people and places - it's your imagination that puts that together, not someone else's.