Gamebook store

Friday, 3 March 2017

Expressionist dancing zombies

Leo just sent me the colourized images he's been doing for Megara Entertainment's limited hardcover edition of my second-ever gamebook The Temple of Flame, originally published in the mid-eighties. This picture of undead warriors caught my eye because I'd recently found the original art brief I sent to Leo. I was inspired by Steve Ditko's story "The Spirit of the Thing" in Creepy #9. He showed a corpse coming to life and wresting itself up out of the soil with galvanic convulsions of muscle you could almost feel.


Ditko is of course the master of portraying physicality in a picture - look at those extreme poses Spidey adopts as his momentum flings his limbs in all directions. The horrifying idea of those athletic, almost dance-like, cadaveric spasms stuck with me, so I sketched them for Leo and let him do his thing.


Megara's edition of the book will be shipping soon to the hundred or so Kickstarter backers, and of course the paperback is still available to everyone else.



Another curio from the writing of the book is this map of the catacombs within the pyramid. I remember being horrified when I playtested Oliver Johnson's Lord of Shadow Keep and discovered that he didn't bother with mapping - you might turn right and come into the same room reached by turning left. I think I actually sat down and rejigged the text so that it was consistent, although whether that mattered is another question. I assumed gamebook readers would make a map as they went along, just like a role-player would. What about you? Were you a map-maker or a barnstormer?

24 comments:

  1. Definitely more of a barnstormer, the BFA was always Plan B. :) But we tried to keep line maps so that we could at least find our way out, and occasionally find that secret room. Nice post!
    --Ron--

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Ron. I remember the first ever time I went into a dungeon in a game. I had no idea that it was what we'd be doing for the next few hours, so I didn't even think of making a map. By the time I twigged that it was a *big* underground area, we were already lost. Getting out again was an experience!

      Delete
  2. I never bothered with mapping back in the day, though should have given many of the crazily difficult FF bookd. Or indeed your GD4 Dave; do you have a map for that one in your archives?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The only map for GD4, Michael, was the one I drew when I ran it as a Tekumel scenario (http://fabledlands.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/last-of-golden-dragons.html) and that didn't need detailed maps of any of the building interiors. I assume when I wrote the gamebook I just did it all from memory.

      Delete
  3. Hi Dave, sorry to interrupt the undead interpretive dance troupe, but you asked me to remind you to pitch "Curse of the Godkings" at some point and this talk of gamebooks has just reminded me !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd love to see this done as a Fabled Lands Quest. It could be set in The Plains of Howling Darkness in or around the Peaks of the World. Alternately this could be set in western Ankon-Konu as a preview of The Lone and Level Sands. Heck, I'd like to see it in Chrysoprais or Attilica, too.

      Delete
  4. Jamie does keep saying we should do a Kickstarter. I don't think he's read previous posts on the drawbacks of that, though. If there were a way to do it, I agree it would fit well as a Fabled Lands Quest in western Ankon-Konu.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The Serpent King's Domain was funded August 3, 2015. The now laughably optimistic delivery date was June 2016. Anyone funding anything like this knows that even when they're funded, it's going to take a good long while for them to be written, illustrated, edited and delivered.

    I figure run the thing. Make sure the initial goal is enough to make it worth the while of those involved and set a more realistic delivery date. Like if you run it in May say it might be delivered by March 2019, but no hard promises and it might get done earlier.

    ReplyDelete
  6. If we do a Kickstarter I'm thinking it would have to be for a PDF. The trouble with Kickstarters for physical products is that almost all the money goes on printing and shipping rather than creating the content. But once the PDF was done we could put a print version on sale on Amazon... but would backers feel short-changed by that? I guess there's only one way to find out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know how it would work for Amazon, but Drivethrurpg frequently offers a discount for those who buy the print and pdf versions of a product. Maybe a higher reward could be .pdfs of one or more other Fabled Lands books or one of Keep of the Lich Lord. And included for those who get an extra pdf is a coupon or discount code that can be used toward the purchase of the physical book(s).

      Delete
    2. A discount code would be ideal. Do Amazon (or Createspace) do those? They *ought* to...

      Delete
    3. I just ordered Dr. Strange and there was a point at checkout where I could enter a gift card or promotion code. You'd need to check with Amazon to work out the details, but presumably you could link a discount to a promotion code that backers could use on the physical book. I'd wait to send out that particular reward (the code) until the books are ready to be sold so the code doesn't get spread around the internet. Or not. As long as the book makes money even with the discount, a bunch of people buying it is a good thing. Up to you.

      Delete
    4. It is possible to buy gift cards on Amazon to send to friends, and Amazon runs its own promotions with codes, but I'm not sure whether the publisher of a book can get codes from Amazon that would allow the book to be purchased at a discount. I'll look into that. Our goal would be that the Kickstarter backers could buy the physical book at cost (ie just printing & shipping) having backed the PDF.

      Delete
  7. Or just create it as an app Dave.

    Having said that, I'll always prefer a physical book over a pdf.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Certainly I need to decide which to do, Michael. An app could include a lot more conditional text, micro-choices, etc. I found when I looked at turning my Frankenstein gamebook app into a physical book that I'd need to lose about 80% of it. But I think most of the people who'd back a gamebook Kickstarter would agree with you.

      Delete
  8. I'd prefer a .pdf to an app, because I don't have a machine that can run Apple software. Figure a lot more people have Adobe Reader than have Apple OS. For my part, I'll but the .pdf and the book, using the first to tide me over until the second is available.

    Plus those of us who get the .pdf can act as editors to spot small goofs to get them corrected in the physical book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a very smart idea, John. Also, I realized I can get backers' addresses when they support the PDF, and contact them individually later to provide an at-cost print version.

      Now I just need to find the clear month required to run a KS campaign...

      Delete
    2. You'll probably want to coordinate with Megara or whoever. As I understand it, the idea is to run the KS for FL 8 after FL 7 comes out. You probably don't want a KS for Fabled Lands Quests competing with one for FL 8.

      Delete
    3. FL Quests were only one of the projects on the list Jamie and I made up. Maybe we can fit in something before the campaign for FL8 - though not for a while, as we're currently writing an new gamebook not related to any series or genre we've done before. That's all I'm going to say for now ;-)

      Delete
    4. I'll post about it when I'm allowed to, Mike, but at the moment it's being submitted to publishers so we have to keep it under wraps. I ought to add that it's probably not going to appeal to most Fabled Lands fans - it's not that kind of a gamebook - but there might be a little overlap with people who liked my Frankenstein app.

      Delete
  9. Are we discussing a Kickstarter for Fabled Lands: The Lone and Level Sands? Count me in!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think this thread began as a Kickstarter for Curse of the God Kings, Mike... but Jamie and I made a list of several projects we could do. As for The Lone & Level Sands -- that's Paul Gresty's gig if he wants it. He's earned it with his fantastic work on The Serpent King's Domain.

      Delete