Here are six Advanced Fighting Fantasy character sheets of Magic the Gathering creatures. Three of them are common creatures and so I have built them from scratch. The other three are legendary creatures and so I have given them 750 experience points worth of skills, spells and abilities on top of their starting stats. I have used my conversion table and have tried to stick faithfully to it, but it doesn’t work with toughness – stamina conversions.
Here ability revolves around finding other legends so I have her skills in leadership, con and etiquette. She is also an accomplished ship’s captain and scout so I have given her sea lore, awareness and world lore. To see the character sheet, click here.
His ability revolves around countering spells, so I have put most of his points into magic and spells that either directly disrupt other wizards’ spellcasting (such as counterspell) or indirectly (such as tongue twister, pucker and restrain). The stamina was a problem here. In AFF, you start with a stamina of 8, which translates to a toughness of 2, so I lowered it in return for 15 extra experience points. To see the character sheet, click here.
I have given him a high skill (which would reflect his power) and combat reflexes (which reflects his haste). His damage dealing ability is reflected in his sorcery spells. I can imagine Kamahl using ZAP and HOT on his enemies while smiting them with his sword. I think his low toughness can be explained by the fact that he is using his stamina draining spells on his opponents. To see the character sheet, click here.
I have given this creature the knighted talent (obviously) and given him the skills that 14th century knights would learn. His conversion was pretty straightforward. Another stamina problem, which I ignored in this case. To see the character sheet, click here.
Another straightforward conversion where I make him a cleric with the healing power. Another stamina problem, which I ignored in this case. To see the character sheet, click here.
Since these warriors are unblockable, I gave them sneak, hide and locks skills. Since they are pirates, I gave them sea lore and fishing skills. Another stamina problem, which I ignored in this case. To see the character sheet, click here.
In Magic the Gathering, you summon creatures and cast spells with mana and you get the mana from lands. There are five basic lands in Magic the Gathering, but there are many other lands that have other utilities as well as producing mana. Here are ten places that I would like to visit as an adventurer.
First, I’ll start up with a real life place, the Library of Alexandria. This magnificent place once apparently had a volume of every book ever written at the time. It would be amazing to walk through the corridors lined with scrolls and books and uncover all of the great secrets locked within. Places like this are usually needed to advanced the plot in gamebooks, usually as a means for fining how to kill the big villain. For example, Codex Mortis may come in handy in Night of the Necromancer and joining the Wizards’ College in Fabled Lands allows you to gain a lot of knowledge about your travels. However, as the mechanics of this card suggest, you need to have a certain level of knowledge to make use of the knowledge stored here. An illiterate barbarian would get nothing from this place.
A good adventurer always needs to prepare and this is generally where they find the food and equipment they need for their travels. Of course, you will need some money to get started and in terms of value, you generally end up on the losing end. After all, merchants need to make a profit to survive. However, you can’t cross a desert and break into a treasure laden tomb with silver coins. The important thing is what you do with the items you have obtained.
When you have obtained your new equipment, you could do worse than to break into this vault and loot it. In this story, the cabal rule a city and raise hordes of treasure by hosting arena battles. This money has all been raised through corruption and bloodshed.
The ground is full of treasures. If you return from a quest with some gems or precious metals, then you may start a huge rush as miners and opportunists seek to share in your success. This may lead to the expansion of civilisation.
There are also treasures in the far flung corners of the world. If you discover a ruin, there is no knowing what lost treasures you might uncover. It could be art beyond price or a powerful magical item, its means of construction having been lost in time. Of course, that might be a bad thing…
The ground is not the only place that hides treasures. The sea is home to many cities, sunken ships and caves which could hide treasure beyond measure. Of course, you need to find a way to explore the depths without drowning.
Some great treasures are not physical. Exploration and discovery is a good enough reason for some to face the unknown dangers of the world on a quest and it may lead to a place beyond your wildest dreams.
Beautiful landscapes do not have to be tropical paradises teeming with life. There is also much beauty to be found in the snow capped mountains and the tundra as you can see in Tower of Destruction and The Caverns of Kalte. Of course, these inhospitable places are full of dangers. Beyond the obvious dangers of cold, avalanches and snow blindness, there are many snow monsters. It would be wise not to anger the local population either as they will probably be pretty tough to survive out there.
One reason to explore inhospitable areas is that you may find the remains of great civilisations and unearth their treasures and knowledge. I would love to see such an ancient temple. As an adventurer, you may also end up in such a temple to stop some evil cult from raising a powerful creature.
Finally, there may be great wonders to be seen in the centre of a world rather than just on the surface. Descending into a simple cave may lead to a place full of magic and strange creatures.
As well as the basic lands, these are the places that I would like to visit the most. Adventure takes you to many strange and beautiful places and these ten are only the start of the adventure.
|Everything but the
|Bob was prepared for
|Comes with fairy lights.|
When I attack, I have the chance of finding and new land and I can select a creature that can block me, or, if I decide to not be blocked, I can draw a card and deal 2 damage to target creature or player, putting my opponent on a 2 turn clock (4 first strike damage, 4 regular damage, 2 damage from the Sword of Fire and Ice). Nice. I can’t be killed by anything other than sacrifice effects or non targeted effects that remove me from the game.
What equipment would you like to use?
Everyone cheats in gamebooks. It’s just so easy.
|How was he supposed to know about the boulder?|
“Oh, really, I’m dead after opening that nondescript door. I guess I’ll just pop right back to the previous paragraph and open the other one.”
“I’ve fought this combat four times now and lost. I’m just gonna pretend I beat this Razaak guy.”
How many times has that thought, with minor variations, rattle around in our heads? And how many times do we act on them? If it’s me then the answer to both questions is ‘All the time.’
Do we feel guilty about this. I mean, surely it’s cheating isn’t it? We’re not playing by the rules.
Well, I’ve decided to throw away my guilt and tell the world that ‘cheating’ in gamebooks is more than OK – it should be encouraged.
First of all, lets look at cheating. What do people cheat at? They cheat at games, they cheat on their partners, they cheat on exams, they can cheat themselves if they are trying to keep up with an exercise regime or diet. All of these things have something in common – the person is trying to maintain a level of behaviour in order to keep someone happy or make someone else’s life better (everyone has to abide by the same rules to make the game work, stay faithful to keep their partners happy, get a mark that reflects their ability on an exam or they will end up in over their head at some point and stick to their regime if they want to stay fit).
However, with a gamebook, it’s just you and the book. And the book doesn’t care about what you do
with it. Sure, the author might care, but they’re not there and they will probably never find out what you are doing with their book. So, if your die ‘tips over’ onto a 6 when you roll for skill, you haven’t upset anyone. You’re happy because you have a skill of 12 and there’s no one else around to mind. And will it affect you badly in the long term, because you cheated then? No, it doesn’t. You’re not playing a gamebook to get fit, you’re playing it for entertainment purposes. If you have a skill of 12, you’re probably going to be more entertained because that skill 10 wyvern that just ambushed you about 20 paragraphs in won’t kill you off before your adventure has even begun.
Who cares if you read all the paragraphs in numerical order or every paragraph ending in 5? If that’s what makes you happy, that’s what you can do.
|There’s a reason why Brad Pitt’s face is blocking your
view to Edward Norton’s face in this scene.
I regularly don’t approach books and films in the way that they are intended – I like to know everything that is going on in them before I read or see them. I like to read the last pages of a book before the first. Why? Because if I know what is going on, I can appreciate the other aspects of the book or the film, such as how it leads up to the ending (which is an interesting puzzle in itself), the description, the characters, the jokes. I don’t have to spend ages focusing on where the plot is going.
It’s basically like I’m watching Fight Club the second time round (and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, stop reading this immediately and watch Fight Club twice before you go back to your cave).
Gamebook people have caught on with this. Early Tin Man games versions of their apps did not haveJon Green’s Fighting Fantasy books from the 90s with the ones from the 00s, you will find out that they are less hard, because, as Jon said once, that his motives became less about beating the cheats and more with entertaining people.
options to heal or go back to previous paragraphs, but they quickly worked out that it is what gamebook people want. If you compare
In a funny way, if loopholes are too obvious, then it kind of destroys the desire to exploit them. For example, I found a really cool way to level grind in Fabled Lands. I would play as a warrior, complete some easy quest, and, when I was established, I would buy a boat, get the best crew I could and sail up and down.
|It is a big and beautiful world.|
The reason being that, eventually I would be attacked by pirates. Since I was a warrior, I could roll 3 dice instead of 2 to fight the pirates off, increasing my chance of a decisive victory, which would lead to lots of loot and also an increase in rank, which would make it even more likely for me to do the same thing next time I encountered some pirates. However, people would not consider that fair, and anyway, it is a pretty boring thing to do, especially when you have a whole world of wonders to explore. Doing it would make exploring more boring as you would easily win every combat you came across. It would take all the tension away.
So go ahead – flick through the book, fudge dice rolls, pretend you have items when you don’t, give
yourself a few more life points and use that five fingered bookmark like it’s going out of fashion (so if you’re playing Crypt of the Sorcerer, you might as well just read paragraph 400) – It’s not hurting anyone, so if it makes your experience richer, then cheat away!
I don’t remember where I first came across the Conan RPG, but it was the RPG that really opened up my
mind to the idea of a world where magic is not just a tool for flinging fireballs, there does not have to be a clear definition between good and evil and heroes do not have to be world saving noble warriors and wizards who all work together well.
I did not know anything about Conan or Lovecraft at the time, so it really opened up my eyes to a new world.
The game uses the D20 system, but most classes are combat oriented with the scholar being the only magic using class (though not all scholars have to become magic users) and magic being quite limited – there are few spells and most of them come with a heavy cost, such as human sacrifice, demonic pacts, allowing yourself to be brainwashed by a cult or corruption of the caster until they become possessed by a demon. Magic is not the flash bang type either – there are offensive spells but they do things like draw the heart out of someone’s body.
While I think sticking the D20 system onto it wasn’t perfect (it seems more apparent to me that the mechanics of a game should fit the flavour and sticking a generic system onto it loses some of the flavour. Engel is another example, where the German version used something that sounds way cooler than D20),
the Conan RPG really opened me up to other genres of writing and other ways to play an RPG.
It seems that the Conan RPG is not for sale any more, but you could probably find it second hand from somewhere.
Gamebooks run on giving a player choices to take and then telling them what the consequences of
|Unless its this which door choice,
where it’s best to change your mind.
those choices are and there is a fine art to getting the choices and the consequences right. If the consequences to your choices cannot be predicted (the which door choice), then it might get frustrating, especially if one or more of the choices leads to sudden death. However, if all of the options have consequences that are logical and easy to predict, and one of the consequences is better than the other(s) then there is no real choice, as this essay states. However, I get annoyed if something that should be done reasonably to me is not an option as it makes me think that the author has not thought the options through.
|And you’ve just lost. THE GAME!|
|If you see this, you can’t learn magic.|
Engel was a game that I found in Waterstones, but, unfortunately, I did not buy the book. I do, however
have the pdf. The illustrations are gorgeous although the font of the text sometimes makes it a bit hard to read.
The setting, however, is excellently detailed and very imaginative.
Engel is set in a post-apocalyptic real world where everything has gone wrong – lands have been flooded, pillars of fire stalk the Earth annihilating everything in their way and hostile insectoid creatures called the Dreamseed are constantly invading and threatening what remains of humanity.
The human race has sunk into some kind of neo-christian facist state where an ageless pope wages war on the Dreemseed and heretics. The backbone of their defence are the Engel – angelic creatures with special powers. However, it is disturbing to find out where these creatures come from (something I won’t say here).
You play an Engel, whose powers are determined based on which one of the five orders of archangels they are a member – Michael (leadership), Uriel (scouting), Gabriel (fighting), Ramiel (knowledge) and Raphael (healing)
The game was originally from Germay and it used a deck of cards to determine the outcomes of decisions. The English version eschewed this for some reason and just chucked in the D20 rules where humans are warriors, experts, aristocrats, commoners, fighters or rogues. To be honest, I think the D20 mechanics are a bit forced and I don’t understand why a straight translation of the original game wouldn’t work (maybe the publishers thought that a D20 system would appeal more than a deck of cards to Englist speakers).
However, it is the setting that makes Engel stand out – there is much for the players to explore, and there are
plenty of enemies to fight. And eventually, they might realise that the pope is not all he’s cracked up to be. That is another great thing about Engel – the twists in the story will make it hard for you to trust anyone as you realise what’s been going on behind the scenes. would you stand against the pope, or would you follow his orders as he is the best hope humanity has against the hordes of Dreamseed?
|This is me.|
I’m a computer game addict. Which is why I don’t play them any more. I used to play games for hours on end and despite the lack of enjoyment, the tiredness, the headaches and the feeling of emptiness I felt after finished them, I would still come back for more.
Eventually, I decided that there were far more good things in my life that I should focus on – my wife, my friends, learning things and creating things of value. They all contributed to a lasting feeling of happiness.
It all started when I was very young and I was visiting my aunty and uncle, who had a computer. This was a big thing for me at the time because the only other computer I had seen was my primary school’s one RM nimbus which could play the game Snake.
Naturally, there was always a big rush to use this amazing machine.
However, this tape based computer that my aunty and uncle owned could play this great game called Tachyon Fighter. I’m no neuroscientist, but I can imagine that the game probably gave the biggest input of information I had ever had – the lights, the colours, the sounds, the need to win. It was hypnotic and it gave me a great rush.
Every time I visited, I would spend most of my time in front of this computer, waiting for several minutes in the hope that the tape would work and load the game properly this time. As time went on, the tape based computer was replaced by an Atari ST with floppy discs and a wider range of games with better graphics and more addictive gameplay.
Then came the day that they upgraded to an Apple Mac. And I got the Atari.
I remember that within ten minutes, I had put a lead in a socket incorrectly and almost broken it. However, it was fixed and that’s when my gameplaying started in earnest.
My uncle had collected all of the ST format magazines which I had read cover to cover before, but then I also got to play every game from the cover discs. I played them all, spending thousands of hours perfecting my game playing skills. Many school holidays would fly by in front of the little green desktop. Sometimes, I would have a platform game day and sometimes I would have an RPG day. I have a bit of an obsessive nature where I want to explore everything to its fullest extent and this made me a sucker for most computer games like the roguelike game Moria.
I had the ST for about three years before it ran down and it was replaced for a really old second hand Atari cartridge console which had games with terrible graphics and simplistic gameplay before that also broke down and I received the Mac in 1999 when my uncle upgraded again.
This computer only had a couple of games, but that’s when there were plenty of games on the internet. I played a game called Archmage and a cute little RPG called Dragon Court. I was definitely showing signs of addictive behaviour. I never had the internet in my home, so I would spend half an hour walking into town, just to use a library or internet cafe computer to play Dragon Court. Then I would have to walk back. I wasted money on an internet cafe if I couldn’t book a free library computer just so I could get access to my game accounts.
I never realised that I was addicted until my final year of university when I would stay up until two in the morning playing Command and Conquer, not realy enjoying it and going through the motions. I had done this before with the game Civilization IV when I was a teenager but I could stay up all night once in a while and it didn’t affect me at school etc. This was affecting my grades and social life at university.
It never got to the stage where I missed lectures or never came out of my room for days on end, but I could have done a lot better in all fields if I hadn’t been playing computer games.
|NWN: 10% action,
90% trudging back and forth
After my degree, I started training as a teacher, which took up huge amounts of time. However, I still played games. I was now playing and creating maps for Battle for Wesnoth and trying to complete the adventure in Neverwinter Nights.
It was not until I moved in with my girlfriend (now my wife) and I was teaching as a job, that I realised that I had to prioritise my time. I couldn’t do my job well if I was playing Neverwinter Nights for two hours a night, mostly involving level grinding and getting an item in one far corner of the city and transporting it to another far corner of the city in order to get to the next stage.
|She didn’t mind the gaming but it
he went too far when he started
doing a poo at the console.
My girlfriend did not appreciate it either although she is too tolerant to go to extreme lengths. I had to cut something out. All I had to think about was how I felt after saving a game in Neverwinter Nights. I would always think to myself ‘What have I got to show for this? A file with some code in it, a headache and a feeling of tiredness. This is no way to spend your free time.’
Computer games did nothing for me and I had other, more fulfilling things in my life. After a few weeks without computer games, I felt much better and I’ve not wanted to go back.
|I put hours of effort into
getting a picture on a screen.
I find computer games to be a waste of my life. I sunk hours into controlling some graphics on a screen, desperate to see the consequences of my actions.
For the most part, I don’t remember feeling much satisfaction, I just felt a compulsion to ‘get through it’.
However, there was always another level (and if the game had a level editor then I would be on that for hours too), another way of winning, another challenge I could set myself and there were an infinite number of other games to play.
The only way that I would get out of this gaming habit was that if I just said no.
Originally, I intended this post to be an introduction to how certain computer games have given me material for gamebooks, but instead, it was an account of all the hours I wasted playing them when because I couldn’t get away from them. However, I am glad that I wrote about it.
In future posts, I will write about specific computer games and what they have added to my gamebook writing and why gamebooks are better for me than computer games.
There’s a reason why this is number 1. It doesn’t matter how clever you’re being, or how great you’re writing is. It’s all for nothing if it annoys the player. I had a section in Asuria where you get sucked into a maelstrom and pulled into a giant monster. Now, throughout the book, I wanted to give an impression of hopelessness and that winning was impossible, so in this section, I offered two choices – row or swim. however, both choices lead to you being sucked away. There was no functional difference between them. The reason I did this was to make the reader think that they had chosen the ‘wrong’ choice and make them feel like it was hopeless. However, I then thought that if they went back, chose the other choice and realised that there was not difference, then they would have got annoyed. So I got rid of that bit.
I’m referring to point 4 on the terrific article linked above. I wanted Asuria to be a book where you did not have to complete a set path to win and it would be quite forgiving in terms of instant deaths. So there is only 1 section where you need an item or die. And when I wrote it, you had the chance to find 3 different items that would save you. However, when I went back through it, I realised that these 3 items were all at the beginning of the book and that you could go through 2/3 of it with not chance of success only for you to die at the end. It is for this reason that I included a new location towards the end with a new item to help (the bat amulet in case you’re wondering)
This is one thing Dave Morris, author of the Fantastic Heart of Ice, does not like about gamebooks, so when I realised that I had done it in Asuria, I immediately changed it. I had two bits where you could leave Casporur and head back to Orlandes before you finish (one by land and one by sea) and they might be justifiable too (you might have found the simulacra you were looking for and you were charged with the safety of Orlandes, not Casporur after all). However, since I din’t want this to happen, it was an instant death paragraph. However, after the interview, I inserted a combat to both bits where the simulacra you fight warns you that you will be followed wherever you go as a not too subtle message to stick around. After a warning like that, I feel absolved of guilt about anyone who ignores that warning and heads home anyway.