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Friday 14 June 2024

Growing up in the heart of the Vulcanverse

If you've seen any of the recent posts, you already know that Vulcanverse is a solo role-playing game set in an open world, meaning that you can play the gamebooks in any order, coming back to earlier books whenever you travel to the region they cover. Instead of a single storyline there are virtually unlimited adventures. 

Although it's nominally the fifth and last in the series, Workshop of the Gods is a good place to begin your adventures. You’ll have the advantage of having grown up in the city, so you’ll be familiar with the streets and landmarks, and also there are characters who will task you with quests right from the start. Not only that, they'll give you some hints to help you on your way.

Any one book in the series is enough to get started, as in Fabled Lands, and other books allow you to explore more of the Vulcanverse. You will keep the same adventuring persona throughout the books – starting out as a novice but gradually gaining in power, wealth, prestige and experience throughout the series.

OK, why don't we run through the rules and then you can try it for yourself by launching into the first part of the adventure...

Your Adventure Sheet lists everything you’ll need to keep track of while playing. There's an online Adventure Sheet you can use, but don’t fill it in yet. That will happen as you begin your adventure.

You have four attributes whose values typically range from −1 to +2 as you’re starting out. You will discover your attribute scores as you play. The attributes are:

  • CHARM: Your understanding of people and their motives. 
  • GRACE: How agile, supple and quick you are. 
  • INGENUITY: Cunning and reasoning, and your ability to think on your feet. 
  • STRENGTH:  Physical might and endurance.

The maximum possible innate score in an attribute is +5. If you are at maximum and are told to add to your score, it has no effect.

Items that augment attributes
There are items you can acquire that boost your attributes while you have them. These are:

You can only use the bonus from one such item at a time. So if you had a laurel wreath that gives CHARM +1 and a golden lyre that gives CHARM +2, you’d only get the CHARM bonus from the latter. Similarly, two laurel wreaths still only give you a +1. 

An item can augment your attribute score above the innate limit of +5. If you have a STRENGTH score of +5 and you possess an iron spear, your total STRENGTH bonus when making a roll counts as +7.

Making an attribute roll
Attribute rolls are made to see if you succeed at a task. These are rolls of two dice with a difficulty that you must equal or beat to succeed. For instance, you might be told: ‘Make a STRENGTH roll at difficulty 7’. You roll two dice, add your STRENGTH score (including the modifiers for any one possession that boosts STRENGTH) and to succeed you need to get 7 or more.

Example: You are at the bottom of a cliff. To climb it you need to make a GRACE roll at difficulty 5. You roll two dice and score 4. Your GRACE attribute is −1 but luckily you have winged sandals which give a +2 GRACE bonus, so your modified GRACE is +1, just enough to make the roll a success.

A roll of double 6 (‘boxcars’) is always a success regardless of difficulty. A roll of double 1 (‘snake eyes’) is always a failure regardless of modifiers.

The Adventure Sheet has a box labelled Wound. This is unticked at the start of the adventure. From time to time you may be asked to put a tick in it. You only have one Wound tick at a time; if you’re asked to tick the box when it is already ticked, you don’t add another. While the Wound box is ticked you have injuries, and must deduct 1 from any attribute roll until the box is unticked. 

If you have an item such as tincture of healing that allows you to untick the Wound box, you cannot use it to avoid taking a wound, only to remove a wound after you have taken it. So if you do take a wound, apply any effects listed and when you turn to the next section you can then use the item to heal.

You begin with no scars, but may acquire them from lasting injuries or from returning from the afterlife. Scars are a mixed blessing. Many people will shun you because of them, but others will admire or fear you more.

Possessions are always marked in bold text, like this: iron spear. If you come across an item marked like this you can pick it up and add it to your list of possessions.

You can carry up to twenty possessions at a time. If you come across an item you want when already at your limit, you’ll have to discard something to make room. There are places in the Vulcanverse where you can leave possessions and come back for them later.

You can carry any sum of money (measured in a coinage called pyr). You’ll discover as you play whether you have any money to start off with.

Glory starts at 0 but will grow as you perform deeds that increase your renown. With high Glory you will be recognized as a hero and given more respect by those you meet.

There is a list of codewords at the back of each book. Sometimes you will be told you have acquired a codeword. When this happens, put a tick in the box next to that codeword. If you later lose the codeword, erase the tick.

Titles record the achievements you have earned, marking you as the champion of a city, protector of a temple, admiral of a fleet, or even a monarch. You will be told when you acquire a title.

If you fail an attribute roll, you can use up a blessing to roll the dice again. You can only do that once per roll, so you cannot use a second blessing to get another reroll if the first one fails.

You can have up to three blessings at a time. You start the adventure with no blessings. Usually the place to get blessings is at a shrine or temple, but you may find other opportunities to acquire them.

As you travel the Vulcanverse, you will sometimes meet people who are willing to journey with you. You can have one companion at a time. When you pick up a new companion you must remove your current companion, if any, from the Companion box. You can also part company with a companion at any time just by deleting their name from the box. You do not have a companion at the start of the adventure. 

You’ll use this box from time to time to keep track of where you are. You will be told when to use it. Whenever you are told to record an entry number in your Current Location box, first delete any number that was already there.

Want to try the intro sequence for yourself? It covers your childhood in Vulcan City, generating your character according to the life choices you make, so by the end of it you're ready to set out on your adventures. You can download that demo here.


  1. I have been asked about one of the character generation options in the demo. In section 739 you are told, "If you wish, you can adjust any one of your attributes by +1 and adjust another by −1."

    That means: choose one attribute and increase it by 1, then choose another and reduce it by 1. That's it. You don't get to keep doing it as many times as you like. (I think players who remember the scroll room in Battlepits of Krarth might have got confused there.)

  2. If I remember correctly in The first 4 Vulcanverse Books you can only have 12 possessions on you

    Am I remembering wrong? or did you increase the number of possessions you can carry due to how many quest items their are in the series as a whole and in Book 5 in particular?

    1. The limit was twelve possessions in Fabled Lands, but in Vulcanverse it has always been twenty. There is at least one item that allows you to carry unlimited possessions, but I won't say more to avoid spoilers.

    2. Thanks, I must have been getting the possession limit of Fabled Lands and Vulcanverse mixed up, every 1 makes mistakes

    3. In Fabled Lands you're just some random person who wanders around doing stuff. You become special solely through your own effort. But in the Vulcanverse you are the Chosen Champion of the Gods, so you can carry more random crap.

    4. That's true... But are you chosen in advance, or do you qualify as the champion of the age because you've completed the labours?

    5. @ Dave Morris Given that you're regularly and automatically resurrected (most of the time) when your character dies even before you complete the labours, I'm guessing chosen in advance.

    6. Makes sense. Of course, being the chosen one of a Greek god is a bit like being picked as kamikaze pilot of the month.

    7. "Good news, Chosen Pilot of the Gods, now you can commit "suicide by ship" a bunch of times in our service!"

  3. As an inconsistency within the series, someone was asking me why you don't get healed if you're resurrected in Hades. In all the other books, if you are wounded when killed then when you come back to life you get to untick the Wound box and get a scar in its place. I'm guessing that Jamie wanted Hades to feel more dangerous than the other realms (and he did include a bunch of items that cure injury in that book) but it could just be that he hadn't read the rules.

    1. Given some other stuff (Spider Swamp Permadeath) I figure Jaime wasn't completely clear on the rules at the start. Still, I'm fine with "Death is a little meaner in the Underworld" too.

  4. Mr Morris, how may I contact you? Thank you.

    1. Hi Stanley, any email to Jamie (see sidebar) should reach me too. Alternatively I'm on (Twitter, that is) as @RealDaveMorris.


  5. Mr Morris, I received this reply:

    This message was created automatically by mail delivery software.

    A message that you sent could not be delivered to one or more of its recipients. This is a permanent error. The following address(es) failed:
    LMTP error after RCPT TO::
    552 5.2.2 Mailbox is full / Blocks limit exceeded / Inode limit exceeded

    1. Don't worry about that, Stanley. As it says in the sidebar: "You may get a bounceback message but Jamie should still receive the email."

    2. Yes, I can confirm that I have seen your message. Your conversion of the Sage and Enchanter to DW stats is really interesting. Why not send it to the guys at Red Ruin Publishing? It would make a great article for Casket of Fays.

  6. Thank you, Mr Morris. I will reach out to Red Ruin Publishing.

    1. Let me know what they say, Stanley. If they don't have space for the conversions in Casket of Fays then (with your permission, of course) I'd happily run them here on the blog. But they will reach more Dragon Warriors players via Red Ruin.

  7. Thank you, Mr Morris. That would be greatly appreciated.

    1. I should be thanking you, Stanley. It will make for a great post. Do you want to talk to the Red Ruin guys first, in case they want to put it in Casket of Fays, or shall I just press ahead with the blog post?

    2. Mr Morris, with some valuable assistance from Lee, we have polished it up and it will be published in Casket of Fays at some point in the future. I will send you a copy for your blog - should you still wish to have it posted here as well. Thank you so very much for the interest shown and advice given. It is greatly appreciated.

    3. Thanks, Stan. I had scheduled it for posting here next week, but I don't want to steal Casket of Fays' thunder, so I'll pull it for now and mention it again when the issue is published.

  8. Dear, Mr. Morris, I have begun the Vulcanverse with the last book, as you suggested, and I'm completely stuck. Apart from the quests that are post in the walls of the towers, I can do very few things, except trading and buying some things in the market. I have no glory at all, no companions, and I can't get that rightful heir title for getting the mansion. I'm just going round in circles trying to do something, but never have the necessary codewords or the glory, or whatever. I think that I have to go to Arcadia or to Notus to get some of the things I need for playing the book, am I right? Or am I missing something? I really need some help here, Mr. Morris, so thank you in advance.

    1. Hi Fawman. You're right, you can't achieve much just in Vulcan City. Workshop of the Gods is a good book to begin in, but it's not self-contained. The Vulcanverse series is one connected adventure, and you need to travel back and forth between the books to find companions and items that you'll need.

    2. Book 5 is an okay place to start. It can give you a slight "heads up" on a couple of important quests. The main advantage of starting in Book 5 is that you're a native of Vulcan City so you begin play with the ability to "fast travel" to various locations in that city. The main disadvantage is that your PC will potentially start out a little weaker. In Book 5 depending on your choices, you can get a max of +1 to an Attribute or a +1 to Glory. In any of the other books, you can begin with a max of +2 to an Attribute (or +1s in two different Attributes) or +1 to an Attribute and +1 to Glory.

      For my money the being a VC native is mildly over-rated. Vulcan City isn't like Fabled Lands with random encounters in a bunch of places. So you could start play in another book, go to Vulcan City and just walk all around the place to effectively be in the same position as a native. The only thing you'd "miss" is a couple of bits from being a true native (having a family/home there).

    3. I think the main advantage of starting in Book 5 is those mentors -- though even someone from another region can encounter them. Of course, there's no point in getting the mentors to advise you on quests in Notus or Arcadia if you don't have other books so you can travel there. Vulcanverse is very different from Fabled Lands, where each book is pretty much its own set of adventures with just a few multi-region quests.