Gamebook store

Friday, 1 January 2016

The year in view


From time to time we get queries about various projects of Fabled Lands Publishing, so it struck me that a good way to kick off 2016 would be with an overview of all those projects and if/when they're going to see the light of day. Happy New Year, by the way.

The big triumph of 2015 was the Kickstarter for Fabled Lands book 7: The Serpent King's Domain. Currently this is being written by Paul Gresty and illustrated by Russ Nicholson. When it's ready (spring or early summer, if I have to guess) Megara Entertainment will release a hardcover edition, and Fabled Lands Publishing will follow up with the paperback.

A lot of people ask me about Blood Sword 5: The Walls of Spyte. I'm on record as saying that tonally and plot-wise it doesn't fit with the rest of the series, but that isn't the reason for the delay in re-releasing it. I found while flowcharting the book that there are a lot of sections with pretty garbled logic, so all that needs to be fixed. Not least of the errata is in section 62, where a placeholder "XX" was left in the text (it should read "100") but there are other sections that only make sense when re-flowcharted. Even so, if it were only that then the book would be out in a few weeks but there's also an Augean stable of typesetting and picture-scanning to be handled. It's not a spare time job and Fabled Lands Publishing doesn't have the resources to pay for the work right now. So put that one in the category of "to be released - no date set" and if you can find a pirated PDF, grab it with my blessing. In fact, what do you know - here's one.

Then there's Falcon. The first book, Renegade Lord, didn't sell like hot cakes, or even lukewarm cakes, so the rest of the series is definitely on the back burner. Don't expect those in 2016.

Some people have noticed that when we republished the Golden Dragon series, The Eye of the Dragon was missing. One possible plan for that is to rejig it as a Fabled Lands Quest, as we did with Keep of the Lich Lord. But it's a big pile of work doing that - not just editing, flowcharting, artwork, proofing, but converting the whole thing to the FL game system. Also on the back burner, therefore.

Dragon Warriors reverts to me and Oliver Johnson in November, at which point I'd like to get it available on Amazon. If I can get the rights to the new books, I can upload the PDFs to Createspace right away - hell, I could do it in the next half hour and still have time to make a cup of tea - and the books would be on sale on Amazon a week later. As it is, we don't know who will end up owning all the new material such as Frazer Payne's "Darkness Before Dawn" scenario, so you might just see a re-release of the original six paperbacks.

Those are all the plans for now - such as they are - but we also have a new Dirk Lloyd book coming out, along with more DL adventures in The Phoenix comic, and an entirely new book series by Jamie with the working title A Shadow on the Heart. Plenty to look forward to, then - and if plans change (as they always do) you'll read it here first.

40 comments:

  1. Crying shame Falcon isn't selling Dave. Re reading different gamebooks recently circa 30 years on, they're about the best I would say (out of the ones I kept). I will pick up Bloodsword, Fabled Lands and Virtual Reality/Critical IF again to see how they fare in comparison. Why the name Critical IF by the way? Also, any particular reason why Bloodsword 5 was so different? So many questions! Happy New Year. Andy

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    1. Happy New Year, Andy, and keep the questions coming! I liked the Falcon books myself (the one I read anyway) and it seems unjust that they were so overshadowed by Way of the Tiger. Critical IF... I'm not really sure, other than liking the sound. When we were intending to co-publish with Osprey (see earlier posts) they wanted to call the series Infinite IF. As for Blood Sword 5 - well, I wrote three quarters of book 1 and all of books 2-4, so it's not surprising that book 5 would turn out different since Oliver was due to write it. And then to top it off, Oliver couldn't finish the work and Jamie had to pinch-hit with a chunk that could be fitted in anywhere - and he hadn't read the others. Actually, I don't think Oliver had either. Anyway, because of that it ended up as a DnD style gamebook, all random encounters with orcs and dragons telling jokes - quite different from the series up to that point. Still, it is what it is, and anyone who enjoys a non-serious dungeon bash will like it.

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    2. I've spent the last day of my Christmas holiday skimming through your older blogs Dave. About ten times I thought of a question to ask or an opinion to offer, only to find it already covered in a later blog or comments section (D'oh!). So at least you don't now have to retread old ground as per Bloodsword above, on why WOTT ended abruptly, are there WOTT special editions planned (D'oh again!), why you haven't read LOTR, what other works do you rate (I also like REH Conan), what do you consider the best of your gamebooks, and so on. I thought your version of early chapters of TWSOTG were very interesting by the way. I'll leave that there! The Dirkest Hour would have been a great title for a TDL book. On the Falcon theme, not that it sounds like you'll be getting to book 6 anyway, but if you do, I would implore you not to change the ending, which was downbeat, but superbly ironic. Would these books and WOTT be remembered as well if everyone had lived happily ever after and/or become king of the world? With the exception of Blade Runner the film, I can't think of a piece of work in any medium that merited the changes. Of which, BR was changed to a downbeat, superbly ironic ending, which I suppose both challenges and validates my point! I was going to ask why you display Jack Vance books on the site, but again I found your post which explains. It's a few years too late, but just to say, although I only ever read Araminta Station and its sequels, they were very enjoyable. I'll perhaps take a closer look at his works at some point, but I don't read too much these days and have still got most of Richard Matheson's to go through! My only actual direct question, was that you in the Doctor Who/Daleks photo from the post several year ago? I was flagging a bit at that point so I may have read it incorrectly! Sorry, gone on a bit there. Still, you did say keep them coming! Also, that covers 5 years of blogs so not too onerous I hope. Thanks for the excellent blogs and enjoyable afternoon.

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    3. I ought to make a book out of some of those old blog posts. Well, Andy, I can assure you I wouldn't change the ending of Falcon book 6. Partly because it's Jamie's and Mark's copyright anyway, but also because I like a downbeat ending myself - as you might guess from Heart of Ice, Blood Sword, Dragon Warriors... and the second Knightmare novel, if you should ever come across that.

      As for the Daleks post - you mean the one on the Mirabilis blog? That was me circa 1965, though funnily enough I'm a dead spit for my godson Inigo Hartas when he was that age. (Leo, I never touched your wife, honest!)

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    4. Heh Heh! Thanks Dave. As much as I liked your Mirabilis work, I've never been on that blog. You also posted it here at some point. I bet you lived off that at school for a good few days! Anyone ever thought of doing Doctor Who Gamebooks, or do they exist and I missed them? Given your comments on Bloodsword 5, maybe that is the one other piece of work that does warrant the Blade Runner treatment! All the best

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    5. If you're talking about the Dalek post on this blog, Andy, that's a photo of William Hartnell, not me! I think there were Doctor Who gamebooks, though I can't say I ever saw one. I did help playtest the Doctor Who RPG, however, in which I played both the First Doctor and a Cyberleader. That was designed by my friend Ian Marsh, erstwhile editor of White Dwarf.

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    6. Oh, I thought you were Dalek One stage right?! Sorry, had assumed you had met Bill Hartnell and was the lad next to him. That'll teach me to skip through so quickly. I had you down as more Patrick Troughton anyway! Have found your Mirabilis post. Still a great story nevertheless. No wonder you took up storytelling. Will post some more reviews on Amazon when I get around to re reading Bloodsword and Critical IF. Might also put a few Renegade Lords in the basket as birthday presents. :)

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    7. The "lad" next to William Hartnell was the Doctor's granddaughter Susan, lol. Thanks in advance for those reviews!

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    8. Whoops! I think I'll just sign off by saying it was the end of a long week before I dig my hole any deeper!

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    9. I agree that it's a shame that the Falcon book has not been more
      successful: for me Falcon is definitely in the top tier of gamebook series.

      Andy, in the UK there were a number of CYOA books based on Doctor Who
      published in the mid-1980s, and another batch with the 10th and 11th Doctors published around 2007-2010. There were two gamebooks published by FASA in the US, again in the mid-1980s, linked to their role-playing game (which pre-dates the Ian Marsh one that Dave mentions, and of course the current Cubicle 7 RPG). The FASA books were extremely difficult to find in the UK. I read one of them, Doctor Who and the Vortex Crystal, and I remember it being a relatively successful gamebook.

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    10. Thanks Mr Axon. I had assumed someone must have cashed in at some point but couldn't find them anywhere. I did have some of the novels and all of the DVDs at one point, although I evidently nodded off several times during the Hartnell years! Andy

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  2. What? No Lone and Level Sands? I am disappoint. Get cracking already!! And have a happy new year!

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    1. Snag is, Tim, we can hardly do a Kickstarter for Lone and Level Sands before the backers of The Serpent King's Domain have got their copies. But maybe you'll see that on the horizon by the time we're wishing each other happy 2017.

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  3. I can live with Walls of Spyte being delayed until it turns out the way you like it, Dave. And it's a shame that Renegade Lord didn't do well, but some of these books just have that "niche nostalgia market" tag over them and I guess we can call ourselves lucky to have seen at least the first book in reprint. Sure there are a lot of people who'd pay a lot to get their hands on book 6, but hey, they should know they'd have to buy the other books, even if they already have their 80's copies! As for me, I'm guilty myself for not buying this reprint of Renegade Lord... yet.

    Around Christmas I was in a bookstore and I saw that Jamie's Dark Lord has received an Italian translation! I prefer to buy books in their original language if I can read it, so I didn't buy the book, but congrats to Jamie! Every translation is a chance to enlarge your audience.

    Happy new year everyone!

    - Efrem Orizzonte

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    1. Happy New Year, Efrem. Yes, Dark Lord has proved very popular in Italy - and in Germany, France, Spain, and lots of other places. We're currently in talks about a movie version, which is a long shot but would be nice if it comes off.

      Even better than Dark Lord (I think) are the Wrong Side of the Galaxy books, which combine quirky humour with wondrously imaginative sci-fi and scorchingly paced action. I highly recommend those.

      Maybe we should have started the Falcon reprints with book 6. I didn't know that was the rare one. Really, all those gamebooks appeal to the nostalgia crowd, and if they didn't see a series first time round then they're not interested in the reprints. The only book to buck that trend has been Heart of Ice, which sells pretty well to new readers.

      As for Walls of Spyte - if and when it appears, it's just going to be the original version as conceived and written by Oliver - with Jamie's help, of course. Probably I would have written it very differently myself, but that was in another country (the past) and besides, the universe is destroyed.

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  4. I'm such a dummy I always thought the XX was a reference to a hidden clue that I'd never been able to find. I'm not sure if I feel better or worse now I know the truth.

    And happy new year to all Fabled Landers.

    MikeH

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    1. I don't know why it wasn't handled with code words, or simply by asking if the reader had all three (?) pieces. Adding up numbers seems like an anti-cheat device, but who's going to suddenly start cheating in the fifth book, and in any case why shouldn't they? (I even gave the okay to cheating in an earlier book, come to that.) But I can't ask Oliver as he won't remember why he did it that way now.

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    2. After cheating my way to the correct paragraph, it became apparent that the 'XX' should have been a '100'.

      I always thought that was a devious combination of algebra and Roman numerals ('XX' = '10 x 10').

      Or... maybe it really was that?

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    3. IIRC all the rod segments were numbered XX in the proofs, the idea being to fill in the correct numbers later. But Oliver thought I was doing it, Jamie thought Oliver was doing it, etc.

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  5. Seems I can no longer go by Name/ID on this, so just for the record, this is Michael Cohen and I've greatly enjoyed your replies to my comments in the past. A question:
    What is the story with Dragon Warriors? It was released by a new company as a revised and expanded edition, but that's going away?

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    1. I found the same so perhaps Blogspot have changed the way they handle online personas. Either that or it's an embargo on Michaels.

      Space Assassin was a memorable jaunt wasn't it?

      MikeH

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    2. Michael C - there was a fabulous new edition of Dragon Warriors by James Wallis's Magnum Opus Press a few years back. Unfortunately it didn't make enough money to justify the beautiful production James was doing, at least not once the Fabled Lands agent got involved and tried to ramp up the royalty rate. The result of that was that Magnum Opus handed over the licence to a group called Serpent King Games. The royalty didn't increase, there were no more new books, and sales fell off a cliff - and I learned that I should never have put the rights into the hands of FL LLP and its agent. Too late. Anyway, the Magnum Opus books are still available - sort of - as PDFs on DriveThruRPG. I'd like to get them on sale on Amazon using their Createspace POD service, but Serpent King Games haven't been able to do that as they need to fill in some forms for the IRS first. We're now hoping that will happen before November.

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    3. Michael H - maybe it's a Blogspot thing. I'll look into it. I did remove the ability to post anonymously as we were getting multiple Anonymouses reply to each other - and in Latin, to boot. So maybe that also affected the Name/ID option.

      Space Assassin - I haven't heard of that, but it sounds like it'd be what it says on the tin.

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    4. Space Assassin was one of the earlier Fighting Fantasy books, and maybe the second sci-fi FF book in the series. It's pretty close to Talisman of Death in the Fighting Fantasy sequence; I guess they must have come out around the same time. There's a lot of enmity for it in the Fighting Fantasy Facebook groups, but I really liked it. Fun with blasters and bombs that create microscopic black holes. Plus a bonus mini-game about driving round in a tank that I played a bunch of times without bothering with the rest of the book.

      I'm also having problems leaving comments. If you can re-enable the Name/ID option that'd be fantastic. I suppose it's not too annoying to have to sign in through my Google account - but I'm reluctant to generate more metadata for the all-consuming Google machine.

      (Who's paranoid? Me? Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they're not watching me...)

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    5. Space Assassin is indeed a very apt title. The only thing it doesn't convey is the downright weirdness that several areas of the story have. The reason I mentioned it was because the original poster used the name of the ship as his persona name.

      Paul, yes it was the second FF sci-fi adventure after the equally derided Starship Traveller.

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    6. Just a comment on the Serpent King edition of 'Dragon Warriors'... most of the books are now available as Print on Demand from DriveThruRPG as well as just PDFs and there have been a couple of new books - besides the Players Book which was started under Magnum Opus, two new scenarios have been released (The Millers Tale and The Knights Tale. There are two more adventures that - to the best of my knowledge - are largely complete but I've no idea if they will actually be released before the licence reverts in November. I hope so - I wrote one of them - and writing stuff for Dragon Warriors was a childhood dream!

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    7. And superb scenarios they are too, Shaun. I'm still hopeful that SKG will get the books onto Amazon via Createspace too, as I'm sure it's a little bit bigger market than DriveThruRPG, but I do appreciate that there's no money to be made (as James found out) so the future of the game is entirely dependent on labour-of-love work like yours. Anyway, if/when it's on Amazon I will buy and review the Players Book at last!

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  6. Just had to post that it's an absolute shame Falcon hasn't sold well, it is a superb series and I've just bought it on Amazon. I know one more doesn't make much difference but hey it all helps right?

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    1. We're grateful for every sale and every review, Clive. And who knows - if it picks up we might yet get around to republishing the rest of the series.

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  7. That's rather disappointing news. Bloodsword 5's been on my list since I got 1-4 as a present in 2014. I got the reissued Golden Dragon books early in 2015 and was hoping the 6th book would be reprinted as well. And I bought Falcon 1 not too long after I saw it, and have been hoping for more books in that series, too. Basically everything I've been watching is on the back burner. :( The only good news here for me is the Fabled Lands 7, which I backed in the Kickstarter and thus knew was coming and that I'd get a copy. Knowing where we stand is good, but unfortunately, it looks like 2016 won't be a good year for growing my gamebook collection.

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    1. No, and sorry about that, James. The problem is that Fabled Lands Publishing makes a loss on our gamebooks, whose publication is heavily subsidised by novels like Dark Lord and The Wrong Side of the Galaxy. We will continue to re-release gamebooks when we can, but they don't sell enough copies to justify as a business priority. I imagine the fellows running Serpent King Games feel the same way about Dragon Warriors.

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    2. Thanks for the reply. I understand that there are reasons for the decisions and that the company has to do what's in its best interest. If products don't sell well, there's not much incentive to make more. After all, it's hard to justify catering to what's kind of a niche audience.

      I guess I just didn't expect the reissues that there seemed to be so many of the last few years to slow down already. However, that may not be a bad thing overall -- maybe I'll finally find time to read more of the gamebooks I already own. And there are some new books coming from Kickstart campaigns I backed: Fabled Lands book 7, as already noted, and The Midnight Legion book 1, with that series' books 2-3 supposed to follow some months afterwards.

      And in case I haven't said it in other comments around here, I do really appreciate that you're reissuing gamebooks at all. A lot of these series I either didn't know about or missed the first time around. I wouldn't own Fabled Lands, Bloodsword, Critical IF, Golden Dragon, Falcon, or Way of the Tiger if it weren't for your reissues, and that's a good number of books. So I am glad you're releasing gamebooks again; even if there's not a constant flow, I should be able to get more of them sooner or later, and that is good to know. Hopefully next year will be better for gamebook reissues.

      Thanks again.

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    3. Actually you've touched on something interesting there, James. Few people are buying gamebooks now, but I suspect even fewer are reading them. What sales there are are mostly fuelled by the collector market. I can understand that - I often buy collections of Silver Age comics that I haven't (yet) got around to re-reading.

      To sound a note of hope, though: gamebooks are still selling, just not in print form. Paul Gresty's excellent Metahuman Inc is big success from Choice of Games. We have plans to release a Kindle version of The War-Torn Kingdom with the help of Amazon. If the FL list could sustain itself as ebooks or apps, that could subsidize the print books. Fingers crossed.

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  8. I actually bought Falcon 1 as soon as I heard it had been re-released. It really brought back a lot of memories. I did, however, die on my initial reading - I had my head crushed like a grape by a cyborg!

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    1. Ah, such an old skool demise!

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    2. It was hilariously awesome. I do recall that a lot of the appeal of FALCON for me was not only the brilliant sci-fi time travel setting, but also the wonderfully written, adult death scenes.

      One of the favourites that I recall happened in a later book (can't remember which one!) where you can kill a knight on a battlefield. You stick your sword into his throat, and the paragraph describes the chap dying, "frothing blood into the darkness of his helmet".

      That image has haunted me to this day!

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  9. Which is the better gamebook in terms of open world adventuring money gathering leveling up and fighting?

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    1. I need more. Pretty much the only open world gamebooks I know of are the Fabled Lands series, but which are you comparing and what are your criteria?

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    2. Fabled Lands, of course! Haha!

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