So here we have it. The sublime Rhianna Pratchett enters the Fighting Fantasy franchise with her adventure Crystal Of Storms, becoming the series’ first female author, and armed with illustrator Eva Eskalinen. So how well did the pair do through the eyes of this age old fanatic of FF? Before I sink my teeth in properly, let’s have a look at the premise. A previously uncharted area of Titan, Pangaria… made up of a cluster of floating islands. Yes, floating! With this being a new area it gives Rhianna free reign to do whatever she likes. Even her own ecosystem of creatures. Clever! And she has introduced technomancy to the world, which has been created by a race of friendly Goblins within the archipelago. This is how the islands float. Don’t bicker, we’ve had friendly ones before, Giblet, Marsh Goblins etc. So one day, one of the floaty islands crystals goes pop, and it drops into the sea, sparking your thirst for adventure. It’s a great idea and I really love Rhi’s writing, comparable to Jonathan Green’s and Ian Livingstone’s. This girl is on fire.
Eva’s art is rather reminiscent of the much panned two-dimensional work of Vlado Krizan. While there is a slight improvement, most of these illustrations belong in a fairytale book for under fives. Sorry, it’s just not a met standard given the rock album cover Gods and Hollywood storyboard artists we had before. But of course, ScholasticUK know what kids like better than the six year olds of the eighties that actually read these religiously for four decades. I could moan all day but what good would it do? This is not to slate Eva or her art, it’s great, but just mismatched to this series which used to leap from the pages and tear your face off. Incidentally, I rather liked the Shark Kin illu, old creations are floating through now. Actually, I remember Jon asking for a reminder of it’s stats in the Facebook group. Superfan Victor Cheng answered like lightening. I’ll bet that’s when it was added to the mix. Speaking of which, there’s a whole lot of JG mechanisms on loan here, from creatures and codewords to settings and humour. The latter of which can sometimes get a little excessive… (you’ll see.) There are several typos – even in the intro heading – but in all fairness typos we’re always rife in the series. A couple of plot hole refs can have you flittering around the same island all day so you need to use some common sense. (investigating smoke for example, and how did I get a gold coin out of nowhere to recharge my wings?) In a place like Pangaria, I would have expected a gazillion Bird Men characters as well. Or how come The Watch members are not this species? Would’ve made sense in a suspended habitat.
All in all, this is a good book and a clever adventure. Whilst is isn’t up there with the series greats and that isn’t an Aakor on the cover, it’s certainly a great debut albeit influenced greatly by Jonathan Green whom mentored the author. Do another one Rhianna, and consult OOTP even more 😁👍
Hello fellow gamebookers. I know I promised an epic gamebook but between kids, decorating and other duties I have been pressed for time. BUT! Fear not good people, for to sate your appetite for Jamness, I have just published a little filler of a book with the most basic of mechanics. If you would like to read more CLICK HERE!!
Fellow Fighting Fantasy fans… Well if I haven’t gone and written my own gamebook! Ok, it isn’t big and it isn’t clever, but it should be great fun on a nostalgic level. Keep your eye open on Amazon from Monday 17th August.
From the rising popular games legend Oliver McNeil, creator of Weirding Woods and Dracodeep Dungeon comes a new avenue of tabletop Horror gaming. Will your stay in Hotel Lovecraft be long…. or will you get lucky? Watch the video and CLICK HERE to get it!!
Several years ago I had the privilege of reading an embryo-stage version of this excellent dungeon crawl adventure by Destiny’s Role gamebook creator Mark Lain, who is now entering it into the series as Book2. Of course, the defining dungeon gamebook would be Ian Livingstone’s Deathtrap Dungeon but this isn’t anything like that. With some extraordinary beasts in it and clever conundrums to appease ones wit, this deviates from the very dark Mistress Of Sorrows into a more sword and sandals style romp. If you would like to back this project on Kickstarter, CLICK HERE
Well it seems the Fighting Fantasy franchise has been completely sold out to ScholasticUK. It’s with deep regret I have to post this as the cover of the brand new Fighting Fantasy adventure. How twee, and how mocking of everything good up to now… and that’s been sparse!
For all those who might say… ‘but these books are now aimed at 5-8 year olds’… screw you! We was also that age when we started collecting and we got the likes of this.
Fighting Fantasy art is one half of the glory, and now its been handed to people who do not know the series nor have the style to suit. While there is every possibility Rhianna (yes, his daughter) has turned out a good story, I strongly believe we will have another Higson-esque adventure that just doesn’t capture the feel of Titan. And hey, another coverstyle. Scholastic ripping completist collectors off once again no doubt to make this ailing experiment with a legendary series a bit of profit. Which begs me to ask once again… I wonder what proportion of the profits come from old school collectors and how much comes from modern youth, not including those who buy them for their kids to relive their own youth? Scholastic have decided to ignore die hard fans once more, and I say fuck them.
Up until now, I only purchased new adventures in the Scholastic range. This hideous travesty of a cover sees me divorcing from any modern FF releases that are not from classic talent. It breaks my heart to say this, but everything Scholastic has done to this point apart from Assassins Of Allansia is either fatally flawed or absolute and utter trash, trumped by the modern generation of authors who actually know the genre such as Mark Lain, Victoria Hancox, James Schannep and Dane Barrett to name a few.
Who remembers all those great classic TV programs of the 80s? The Box Of Delights? The Chronicles Of Narnia? Knightmare? The Adventure Game? These were shows that boosted the imaginations of an entire generation, and inspired many. One of those inspired was Mr Oliver McNeil, who has managed to carve himself a career out of said inspirations, creating games, and interactive theatrical performances. Now YOU can join in as he takes the show live online.
Oliver’s latest venture was a hybrid RPG boardgame named The Storymaster’s Tales – Weirding Woods and it’s already became something of a cult hit in the gaming community, with a second game Dracodeep Dungeon currently funding on Kickstarter. However, combining the elements of theatre, game, visual FX and internet you are all able to watch and take part in a LIVE interactive version on his Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/groups/339654010167488/?ref=share
Hosted by Oliver himself alongside other actors and clever puppetry, he brings the Grimm Brothers-esque setting of Weirding Woods to life and you get to explore and take part in subplots as you strive to fulfill your primary mission be it slaying Evil Sorcerer’s or saving the world from a plague of living dead. With an ever expanding land, equipment, foes and treasure, this is a great way to spend time and liven up the pandemic lockdown. If you’d like to take part in one of the upcoming shows, click here and join the group for performance times https://www.facebook.com/groups/339654010167488/?ref=share
Today my dear friend Oliver McNeil launches his new Kickstarter campaign for the sequel to his award winning ( 😉 ) tabletop RPG, The Storymaster’s Tales Weirding Woods. The new adventure sees you as a hero trying to gain glory from the perilous Dracodeep Dungeon. New magic, new monsters and new characters abound in this fantasy Grimm-esque world. Having play-testing it live recently, I can tell you that it has all the makings of another masterpiece like it’s predecessor and it is great to see The Storymaster’s Tales universe expanding with another game in the pipeline even now. If you haven’t gone so yet, check out Mr McNeil’s Kickstarter by clicking this link The StoryMaster’s Tales “Dracodeep Dungeon” Hybrid RPG, via @Kickstarter https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/legendphotography/the-storymasters-tales-dracodeep-dungeon-hybrid-rpg?ref=android_project_share
I’ve done a little bit of proof reading and play testing for Mark Lain in the past, including the mini’s in Destiny’s Role book 0. Book 1 on the other hand is an absolute epic by comparison. Here we have a single adventure a whopping 500 references long with three artists on board, Alan Langford for the gorgeous cover, the ineffable Malcolm Barter on cartography and Mike Tenebrae for the internal illustrations. Having backed this on Kickstarter my likeness has been included in a very prestigious place in the book. Must admit, Mike did exceptionally well as I’m not easy to photograph let alone draw.
Anyway back to the story. The premise is to hunt down and destroy the Redcap and her witchly associates before her power becomes far too strong she can take over the land. And boy is it a tough ride. You need to make sure you get as many objects and provisions as possible as you will be in so many situations where these will be useful, not to mention the combats in Mistress Of Sorrows come thick and fast. You’re surely guaranteed not to complete it first time. I stopped counting at my twelfth death, most of them in fights.
Mark has clearly researched a lot on the subject matter, and evidence of this is none so obvious if you manage to get to Covan. This particular part of the book is my favourite area and the descriptive of events therein has writing in a style suitable enough for a film screenplay. This surpasses the authorship of other gamebook writers that have been in the game for years, just like Victoria Hancox did with Nightshift.
Whilst I managed to complete the quest and slay the Bigbad, she took me with her and I succumbed to her final hex. (So didn’t manage to meet myself lol) I hear a third book is in the works as well, so soon after Mistress Of Sorrows and I’m deliberately holding back credit so I can be part of that Kickstarter also when it comes about. If you don’t own Destiny’s Role books, it’s high time you did as you’re missing out on the cream of modern gamebooks crop. 10/10
I’m proud to announce my good friend and author Mark Lain has launched a follow up to his Destiny’s Role gamebook on Kickstarter. With a colour cover art by the legendary Alan Langford and interior art by modern illustrator Mike Tenebrae, you can help fund this amazing interactive project by CLICKING HERE.