Gamebook store

Wednesday 2 February 2011

Not your father's gamebooks

Are gamebooks making a comeback? As regular readers of this blog will know, I'm more inclined towards the possibilities of e-gamebooks than print, but every so often something comes along to remind me that embracing the future doesn't have to mean booting out the best of the past. This month it's Destiny Quest, an impressive new gamebook series from author Michael J Ward.

When I say this series takes its inspiration from computer role-playing games, I mean that as high praise. The reader chooses locations from the map, which dispenses with the need for lots of bespoke linking paragraphs while also hinting at upcoming quests. The game system is uncluttered, modern and simple, with considerable thought put into the range of character types you might want to play.

Most of all, the Destiny Quest series bears the mark of having been created by someone with real passion for the genre. Just browse around the Destiny Quest website for a few minutes and you'll see what I mean. There is masses of stuff there to show how Michael Ward is building an immersive world. The only thing that could stop him from creating the next-gen successor to Fabled Lands is if Blizzard snap him up to work on WoW.

Destiny Quest book one is available from Amazon and WHSmith in Britain. The US price tag seems a little steep at$15.51, but if it gets good sales then maybe future books will be cheaper. There are plans for a Kindle edition too. It's not iPad but at least it's digital.


  1. Wow. Thanks for pointing this out, that really is something to keep an eye out for. Is there any mention as to whether the series would have continuous character development from book to book? This, in my mind, is a prerequisite for anything that might aspire to be "the next-gen successor" to FL!

    My biggest concern about borrowing so much from the modern videogame RPG surrounds the ability to balance such a sophisticated system. I hope it's been playtested to death, because there are no 'patches' in the gamebook world. (Well, ok, there are new editions, which get updated occasionally as you've proved. But not often!)

    Regardless, this looks more and more like an automatic purchase for me. I notice the amazon page already refers potential buyers to the new FL books as other things they might like to consider (or is that tailored to each user?)...
    Perhaps if the series is a resounding success it will help a generation of RPG videogamers make the associated leap to Fabled Lands. I do hope so.

  2. I brought up Destiny Quest to the FL crew, but only Dave can describe this in a proper way :)

    Oh, and I received this email regarding Dragon Warriors:

    We are currently having a sale on our entire Dragon Warriors range, and with
    each book being priced at the same rate as the PDFs (50% or more off from
    their original price!), you can pick up some serious bargains.

    You can see the entire range here;

    From the revised core rulebook to the latest supplement, fill the holes in
    your collection, or take advantage of the Ultimate Bundle, and pick up all
    seven books for just $79.99!

    Matthew Sprange
    Mongoose Publishing
    Tel: +44 (0)1793 434488 Fax:+44 (0)1793 497999 Mob: +44 (0)7891 624298

  3. I hate e-gamebooks but I love real books. So I will definitely buy this one. It's out of stock at Amazon in the UK at the moment so apparently it's very popular. Good, because we need more NEW books rather then endless reprints of old stuff.


  4. Bert,

    If you're interested in getting it sooner rather than later, and are a sucker for extras like myself, you can get the collector's set with signed copy of the book here:

    I hasten to point out that these come directly from the author, not some anonymous eBay seller! :)

  5. James,

    thanks for the suggestion. I did see it but that's an extra 12 euro for international shipping (I'm in the Netherlands), so the total cost is almost 24 euro. That's a bit steep. I ordered a copy from Amazon in Germany for 12 euro including shipping. Hopefully some kind soul will post a jpg of the random loot card from the goodiebag so I can print it and keep it with my book.

    I'm really looking forward to it. It sounds like an exciting new type of gamebook.


  6. Bert, I suspect the reason Amazon is flagging it as OOS is that the DQ books are set up as print on demand. We did that with the new edition FL books and it means that Amazon may not actually have any stock as such - a copy is printed whenever an order comes in.

    When you've got your copy and given it a thorough playest, be sure to go back and put a review on Amazon. Reviews help a book's sales like nothing else, though other things like Listmania help too. See:

  7. Fabulous news! I'm another old-school gamer who prefers printed material so this is doubly good news on the back of the recent FL re-issues. Long may this kind of thing continue!

    If only we could see a brand new gamebook series set in the Lands of Legend...

  8. Actually, the Destiny Quest books aren't print-on-demand, they have to be shipped from the publisher first, and will be available next week, according to the author.

  9. Your right Mike, the Destiny Quest website says that the books are expected next week from the publisher (I missed that, thought they were already sold-out) so they're not print-on-demand. Which is good, because the cover of POD books always curls when warm. And they don't smell as good as normal printed books...


  10. Print on demand typically uses digital printing, whereas a run of 1000 copies or more is likely to be produced with offset printing. As for the smell, Bert, that's most likely the paper stock used rather than the print process per se. With an iPad you would not get the unpleasant smell. Also (like bow ties) iPads are cool :)

  11. Speaking of smell, the US magazine GameFan smells awfully strange. It's unanimous as well, as forum-goers have mentioned it also.

    It probably depends on the printing company, as most books smell the same, but books from Neo-Tech Publishing smell like vanilla (well, the "library editons" do) Their smaller 200-350 page books with higher-quality paper stock. Their average books are at least 900+ (most being 1100-1200 pages!!!) Well, enough of my print ramblings :)

    Keep purchasing the Fabled Lands reprints, as The War-Torn Kingdom is selling exceptionally well, but the others are trailing behind a bit. FL for the win!

  12. Speaking of digital, would the FL team be keen to put together a digital magazine with bonus material, including mini-gamebooks, FL bonus locations with instructions on how to connect them to the main titles (similar to the Unbounded Ocean fan expansion, only umm....... not like that expansion at all), Art from Russ, etc. It could be quarterly or something if time doesn't permit.

    This could potentially bring more funding to complete the series quicker, as you wouldn't have to ship anything, thus bringing you close to 100% profit. It will also give the fans a glimpse into what the bottom half of the series would be like, due to the mini (or full) FL expansions. I gave you suggestions on companies that include e-commerce tools, and are cheap and reliable.

    Cheers! - Mike -

  13. I'd certainly like to see some FL fanzines, Mike. Dragon Warriors has Ordo Draconis, which is (or used to be) released in PDF form.

    Some 20 years ago I published an occasional Tekumel 'zine, each issue taking me about 3-4 weeks, and charged just enough to break even on costs. Of course, it could only be said to break even if I didn't count the cost of my time!

    Vanilla? Mmm...

  14. Did you see the Destinyquest book is #2 on Amazon. Only it is #2 in
    > Books > Sports, Hobbies & Games > Other Sports > Snooker.
    Yes, snooker??? How did Amazon get that so wrong? What next, Wartorn Kingdom #1 in Cookery?

  15. You COULD sell quick individual FL expansions, maybe 50 sections a piece, such as the proposed Devil's Peak expansion mentioned on the Yahoo Group in the past. They will sell quickly, proving to FL LLC that there is interest. Sales of FL proper will continue at a steady pace, buoyed by the digital expansion sales. I'm not saying that the digital expansions should take up tons of time or have any illustrations, but there really shouldn't be too much risk (if any) if you give a couple of quick expansions a shot). The fan-written Unbounded Ocean expansion came with a quick guide detailing which War-Torn Kingdom paragraphs linked there. Granted, it was primarily comical (6 pages, plus an added "fear" score, character classes with reversed stats and even a joke paragraph reference that you can't reach), but it proves that it definitely possible

    If an e-commerce site from or costs too much, set up multiple digital distributors at places such as Drive Thru RPG, the more places the books and hypothetical digital expansions are sold, the better.

  16. Dave, when I mentioned the smell of real books I of course meant they smell good! It's the smell of a valuable possession, the smell of success so to speak :-)

    Mike, what a great idea! I second the idea of a fan magazine with "FL expansion packs". This will certainly enhance sale of the FL books and make owning them more fun. If it's digital it has to be free of course, it'll be a cold day in hell before I pay for a pdf.

    We could do free extensions in the Yahoo group (I'll check out Unbounded Ocean). Dave, would there be legal issues associated with this?


  17. Bert, I do know what you mean. I always like to breathe in the aroma of a book before I start to read :)

    As far as I know there are no legal issues with fanzines as long as they are not geared up as a professional for-profit enterprise, sold on Amazon, etc.

    Jamie and I would welcome any FL fan projects like the expansion packs - and, when the Greywood RPG appears, hopefully an FL equivalent to DW's Ordo Draconis too.

  18. Anonymous: The Unbounded Ocean expansion pack isn't very good, to be honest, and I'm easy to please. But someone was planning on a full-length Devil's Peak expansion, although I don't know what has become of it. You could ask, as I am sure they don't want me to ask again :) I'm planning to devise a castle system for Book 5, although I'm not even sure when I'll start this.

  19. Destiny Quest has a really nice website. I'd like to see something like it for Fabled Lands!

  20. Well, there is

  21. These new gamebooks are way too expensive for folks like me who live outside the UK. Guess I'd have to pass on them, sigh, as the currency exchange rate is brutal.

  22. I don't understand the complaint about price - those dollar prices look cheap to me.

  23. I can sympathize. The new FL books are on Amazon at $8.99; the Destiny Quest book was priced at over $15 and is now registering as out of print (though that will only be because Amazon US haven't been supplied by the publisher yet).

    But... the DQ book is 440 pages, so a dollar per page calculation puts it about the same value as an FL book. And as it will probably provide at least thirty hours of gameplay (guessing here) that's 50 cents an hour - not a high price to pay, perhaps.

  24. Hi Guys

    First off, a big thank you for your support and interest. I really appreciate it!

    Concerning Amazon US, yes I suspect it is saying 'out of print' because Amazon seems to be having a general 'hissy' fit over stock at the moment (in the UK it is now saying '1 to 2 months'! Not true, I hasten to add, as they should get copies next week).

    In terms of cost, the final book actually weighs in at 534 pages (yes, it is a hefty tome). There is a lot of bang for your buck there in terms of game play. Have you checked out I'm not sure what their shipping rates are like to the US, but might work out cheaper.

  25. Sorry, in re: the above - think are Europe only. :(

  26. Hi Michael - 534 pages?! (Clunk as jaw hits the floor.) I recommend you get Amazon to correct that on their listing asap, because even at a US price of $15 that's still incredible value for money. In fact it'd be good value at $20. If you go through AuthorCentral they should fix it pretty fast.

    Best of luck with the series - and let us know when book 2 is being launched.

  27. To add to that, there is also the downloadable content that extends the game further. ;)

    At the moment it looks set to add an extra 40-60 pages of 'content' to the book, with extra quests and challenges. These are free, so hopefully, people won't be grumbling too much about 'value for money' when it comes to purchasing the book ;P

  28. The book sells for 13 euro at Amazon in Germany, this is including shipping to many countries in the Euro zone. For a 534 page book that's extremely cheap, great value for money! Shipping to the US would double the cost, still a very good deal if you ask me.

    Do note btw that this is up 1 euro since last week when I ordered, so you better be quick before the exchangerate deteriorates even further.

    Downloadable extra's is a great idea! Most of them aren't available just yet, hopefully they'll be up soon.

  29. Bert, give the man a chance to draw a breath :)

    Michael, did you consider splitting the book in two? I only say that because online buyers can't see at a glance how much they're getting for their money, and I would guess online is where most book buying happens nowadays (for RPG type books anyway).

    On your site you mentioned a planned Kindle edition. It might be worth splitting that into two or more parts as I did with the Mirabilis mini-episodes.

  30. Hey, what can I say - I'm a generous guy!

    The book wouldn't really work if it was split up, due to its three act structure. If I had planned that at the start, I would have reworked the story. The book just sort of evolved into the beast that it is.

    The eBook is the full version, because of the above really. To start splitting it up would have involved extra work in terms of the numbering of entries. Maybe for future books that is an option - for now, eBook readers get the value of the full book (although they will need to download and print off the hero sheet and glossary).

    Download content is having a staggered release. I think gamers will have plenty of things to keep them occupied with the main book, before they start baying for more ;-)

  31. For those of you eager to get hold of the book in the US, my publisher - Matador - are shipping to anywhere in the world, and they have very competitive p&p rates.

    There is also a 20% discount off the book (for a limited time), if you order from their site and use the code DQ01.

  32. For those of you who are interested in Destiny Quest, the player versus player rules are now posted in the downloads area.

  33. I was to do the Devils Peak expansion, but it has been left behind, sadly. Pick it up if wanted, ideas I used were Trau games, and winding paths, mazes and puzzles. At the base, was supposed to be some battle of sorts, and in so gaining a new weapon or armour.