Gamebook store

Monday, 3 August 2015

We'd like to thank...


The Kickstarter to fund The Serpent King's Domain has closed to the accompaniment of tickertape, fanfare and the popping of champagne corks. Although the campaign was run by Megara Entertainment, not by me and Jamie, naturally we're delighted to see that there's still life in that series we created two decades ago. And there are some people we need to thank for that.

First Mikael Louys, founder of Megara Entertainment, who has been a champion for the Fabled Lands series for many years. Mikael isn't just the prime mover of Megara and the guy who nagged us until we agreed to do it, though. He also now has the hard work of typesetting, printing and shipping out all those books. If you've seen any of Megara's collector's edition hardbacks you'll appreciate that they take quite a bit of set-up, and that's all down to Mikael. It's no exaggeration to say that without his energy and enthusiasm, this Kickstarter would never have happened. So a big thank you, Mikael!

Thanks also to Richard S Hetley, who has planned and run the Kickstarter campaign as well as catching typos and keeping everybody calm and civil to each other through the fraught times of bitten nails, torn hair and clacking worry-beads. I have always admired Richard, but never more so than in the last month. His ability to remain courteous, good-tempered, professional and insightful, often in extremely trying circumstances, has won the respect of the whole creative team. If you want to hire Richard to run your own Kickstarter, or for his skills as an editor of books and games, go right ahead - you'll never regret it. Just leave him some time free to work with us, won't you?


Then there are our artists, Kevin Jenkins and Russ Nicholson. When we relaunched the Fabled Lands series a few years ago, we asked Kevin about reproducing his magnificent cover paintings. He was right in the middle of work on a motion picture (possibly Thor: The Dark World - see picture above) but he spent a precious weekend getting the paintings out of the loft, remounting them, and photographing them for us. When we offered payment, Kev wouldn't hear of it. A world-class talent and a thorough gentleman into the bargain.

And Russ, of course, is really the third member of the Fabled Lands creative core team. It's inconceivable that there could be a new FL book without Russ to bring the scenes to life visually in his fluid, characterful and imaginative style. Bear in mind that any Kickstarter for a print book has only a very narrow "profit margin", so Megara can't afford to have as many illustrations as in the original Pan Macmillan books of the 1990s, but thanks to Russ for clearing his schedule in order to produce a new batch of dazzling pictures and maps.

At the head of all of those guys, Paul Gresty is the one who actually has to write the book. He's doing that for next to nothing (that imaginary profit margin again) and he already wrote the demo for free. Writers often have to labour for nothing but a thank you, and sometimes not even that. So huge thanks, Paul - we know that the Fabled Lands is in safe hands with you.


And naturally we also want to thank everybody who actually pledged to make the campaign a success. But out of all those wonderful folks I particularly want to tip my hat to Gavin Orpin (who backed The Frankenstein Wars KS that we did with Cubus Games recently) and Ella Jennings, who gave freely of her time to advise the Megara team on how to turn their publicity machine up to eleven.

No time to rest now, though. As one door closes, another swings open - and already the Kickstarter for The Good, the Bad and the Undead by Ashton Saylor and Jamie Thomson is shooting towards its target. Check out the demo here. And in case you're wondering: yes, of course there will be a Kickstarter for the eighth FL book, The Lone and Level Sands. That campaign won't be run by Megara Entertainment, though, because they're going to have their hands full with a series of Kickstarters involving one of the top names in '80s gamebooks. (I don't think I can say who it is yet, but you'll be amazed.) We wish them well, and Fabled Lands LLP will be retaining the team of Paul, Russ, Kevin and Richard to launch our own Kickstarter for FL8 as soon as FL7 is out in paperback.

Illustrations by Fabled Lands cover artist Kevin Jenkins

28 comments:

  1. And what can we say but "thank you, Dave"? Don't downplay your importance for the book: your words will be in there if we can manage them, too, and absolutely your ideas already are. I came to appreciate Fabled Lands more than ever during this campaign, and I'm glad we all get to work with you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're too kind, Richard. I just see my job as nagging Jamie :-)

      Delete
  2. Thanks to Dave and Jamie too.
    I hope this is the beginning for a bright future for Fabled Lands.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Ikaros. Really this whole experience has been to show the power of FL fandom. It's been a joint effort but now the Fabled Lands is opening up again.

      Delete
  3. I'll endorse that Dave; this Kickstarter, and the WotT one before it were excellently run with regular compelling updates, so Richard's efforts are definitely noticed and appreciated (not all Kickstarter campaigns are so blessed).

    I'm obviously excited about your intentions for books 8 and beyond (did you mention beyond? No? Well, let me put words in your mouth then), but the pedant in me asks if the format will be the same as the one Megara are using for book 7? I'll already have 4 different formats for the first 7 books (a couple from the original print run, a couple of the new reprints and a couple of Quest, plus the new book 7) so keeping comsistency in books 7+ would be preferred.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you asked that, Mike. OK, the intial paperback edition of book 7 will be the same format as the 2010 reissued books. I'm not sure what format we'll go with for FL8, but ideally we'd offer a hardback (same format as Megara's book 7) *and* a paperback (same format as the Fabled Lands Publishing editions) so backers would have the choice.

      Looking further out, I also want to issue books 7 and 8 in large fomat, 210mm x 250mm, so that anybody who only has the original Pan Macmillan books from the 1990s will be able to complete that collection. Unfortunately we won't be able to do the fold-out cover sheets, but otherwise they'll be the same.

      But also: if KS teaches one thing, it's that we're here to listen. What does everybody want? Hardbacks, regular paperbacks, large format editions, all of the above? Tell us!

      Delete
    2. In an ideal world, for FL alone, I prefer the large format. There's something about seeing the double column sections across large double pages that convey the multitude of adventures to be had. It really shows that this series is unique. So I'd personally purchase the large format editions if a choice were available.

      Outside of FL, I prefer regular paperback. I'm not sure why hardback seems to be the preferred option, at least on KS, although it's probably documented somewhere, but I find them more cumbersome to read. Maybe it's intended to convey a special or collectors edition, but I'd always prefer this to be done in special print treatments (eg. Overgloss, embossing etc.) on paperback.

      Delete
    3. I would love to have the new books in large format, I still have the old copies. I have the new copies as well of course so I may have to get one of each type.

      Delete
    4. See, that just makes me feel guilty. FL followers shouldn't have to be buying multiple versions. I wish the large format had been available from Lightning Source when we reissued those first four books in 2010. The regular paperback size was a necessity then, but I don't know anyone who prefers it.

      Delete
  4. Thanks everyone for all the hard works you put into it! I will starts saving up for next KS, no doubt I got lot of time to do it. :)

    I prefer the same standard as Book 5 and Book 6 (I like the starting character pics at the back). It is much quicker to come to right page and less likely to spoil yourself.

    As someone who lurked in Yahoo Group, I hoped that greyarea13 will be happy about this. :) I hope we can use the Tent from Book 2 and dare I hope, we can use the Fretwork Key and the Uttakin Telescope :) Rather funny reading the Yahoo Group postings with hindsight, :)

    Cheers
    Joe



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've passed those comments on to Paul, Joe, and he assures me that he was already considering uses for the telescope (presumably for book 8) and the fretwork key. He had forgotten about the tent, but now you've set him thinking.

      Delete
    2. Actually, there is a use for the Fretwork Key (in Book 3, par. 642). Although it's not that useful (yet), because you'll need 'Into the Underworld' to continue.

      I always thought a Tent could be very useful in the tropical forests of Ankon Konu, to protect you against mosquitos (etc.) when sleeping.

      Delete
  5. I'll start saving up for Book 8 :) Well done to all concerned, and well done for keeping the dream alive!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I bought 5 of the 6 original large format versions in 1996/1997 (I only obtained Book 3 in that format in 2011, second-hand via Ebay). I've also got the smaller softcover LLP version of book 3, as well as the German version ('Sagaland', with greenish illustrations of a non-Russ but still very talented artist), and I've got PDF versions of all 6 books. And yes, the FLapp version too!

    My favourite format is still the original format. The collection looks like a treasure in my bookcase! The fact that you have a lot of paragraphs on a page means you don't have to flip as many pages, and you don't have to scan the paragraph numbers so well when flipping - in other words, it's easier to get to the next paragraph.

    By the way, I'm very glad the KS campaign made the 30k mark. Colour maps and illustrations can really make a book something special!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Personally I'd rather all the interior illustrations were by Russ. That was in fact the whole point of the Kickstarter from my point of view, as previous posts about KS have explained. And it is great to have the map in colour, but that could have been a Giclée print as an add-on option. The snag with having an interior map in colour is that then the whole interior of the book has to be in colour, and that adds a lot to print costs. We won't be doing that for Fabled Lands 8, is what I'm saying. (Though we will have a colour Giclée print option as an add-on.)

      I agree with you about the original format. When we reissued the first four FL books back in 2010, that wasn't available, but we can do it now via Createspace. So you may get to add treasures to the bookcase!

      Delete
  7. Have any changes been made to the 1990s rules? I can see pros (fix the combat system) and cons (can't transition old character) to doing so.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The latter rather outweighs the former, given that transitioning between books is the whole raison d'etre of the series, so no changes. But I concede that the combat breaks down at higher levels. Really that's why I'd rather have started afresh with a new world, but I'm probably a lone voice there.

      Delete
    2. No need for significant changes or a new world, just maybe some tweaks fir later books. Get Paul onto it, I'm sure he has plenty of free time. :)

      Delete
    3. Have you seen the fan-made Book 9? The author (who isn't me) made up some house rules for the combat that kinda made sense.

      Delete
    4. I'm not sure that I know that one, but I'll recommend to Paul that he takes a look at it.

      Delete
    5. I think we're talking about Sarven McLinton, who wrote 'The Isle of a Thousand Spires', consisting of 770 sections. If you Google his name and "Fabled Lands", you can find at least one website containing his book.
      I've copied the relevant house rule for you (I suppose I'm not violating any copyrights here):

      House Rule 2 – Defence Values for Heroic Characters
      Three problems arise when there is no cap for defence bonuses from very high COMBAT scores and Rank. First, the COMBAT scores of opponents in higher level adventures (books 7 through 12) must rise to impossibly high values to compete with powerful characters, making adventuring for beginning characters a frustrating experience. Second, with such high COMBAT scores to compete with phenomenal Defence values, the result of the roll of two attack dice becomes insignificant, and often two characters will be unable to damage each other regardless of the roll. Last, the importance of wearing armour is belittled, and its benefits to a powerful adventurer become trivial. In order to avoid these problems whilst maintaining a good level of fun and challenge for higher level characters, I employ the following house rule:

      The maximum bonus to Defence from a character’s COMBAT is 12. Whether it is a character with 9 COMBAT and a +5 sword or a character with 12 COMBAT a +8 white sword and a potion of strength, they will all receive 12 to their Defence. They will of course still benefit from a high COMBAT score when attacking and damaging opponents.

      The maximum bonus to Defence from a character’s Rank is also 12. Whether the character is 16th Rank or 11th Rank with a ring of ultimate power, the most they will both add to Defence is 12.

      A 12th Rank character with 12 COMBAT will have a Defence of 24 without equipment, which is still a very high value. With this plateau, the importance of armour, blessings and equipment is maintained forcing later books to issue every opponent with 50 COMBAT. As a clarification, the jade defender grants its additional +3 Defence from the COMBAT bonus over the maximum 12 COMBAT rule. In essence, to a character with 12 COMBAT it grants a constant +6 Defence bonus.

      Defence values are also affected by one constant bonus and one temporary bonus rule. Thus, a character can receive +9 Defence from heavy plate and a blessing of ‘Defence through Faith’. However, a character cannot wear a regal helm, vulcanium mail and wield a magic shield and a jade defender for a +26 Defence bonus! Only the item with the highest constant bonus applies. The same goes for transient sources of Defence bonus. If you have a ring of defence +4 (three uses) and a blessing of ‘Defence through Faith’ you must choose which one to use as multiple temporary bonuses are not cumulative.

      Delete
    6. Thanks, Kilian - and Sarven. Sounds sensible to me.

      Delete
  8. I can't believe I missed this! When do you think the book will be available at Amazon et. al?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Russ and Kevin and Paul actually have to do the work now, so it won't happen overnight. At a guess, we'd be looking at next spring at the earliest. I'd rather allow the KS backers to receive their copies first, and give Megara some time to sell copies of the hardcover edition exclusively before the pb goes on sale.

      Delete
  9. Not only that, but all the passages with recurring "Rank Up" opportunities should be turned into a one time only. Same for attribute leveling. Book 2 of the series is perhaps one of the worst offenders on that regard.

    That will help maintain the risk/reward.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds sensible to me. Apart from anything else, it doesn't feel quite right to repeat exactly the same experiences and get a rank increase both times. Each lesson can only be learned once.

      Delete
  10. oh my god dave morris you have no idea how long ive tried to remember what this series of books was called, i used to have it when i was younger, i still cant believe ive finally found it!, how can i get my hands on all 12 fabled lands books in large format, i was going to buy on amazon but they seem to just have small versions? plz plz plz email me at christopher-morris9@sky.com and yea cool we have same surname ha ha ha plz email me where i can buy the big versions otherwise i will jus thave to make do with small ones ha ha totally awesome series long live fabled lands!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mr Morris - well, you might be able to find the original large format editions on Amazon. Just keep scrolling down. Here's one:

      http://www.amazon.com/Plains-Howling-Darkness-Fabled-Lands/dp/0330341731

      There are just 6 books so far, but when book 7 comes out next year we'll probably do both large format and regular pb format versions to satisfy all collectors.

      Delete