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.
So the fabulous Olly McNeil (pictured here with the equally fit and young virile one) has brought out his third tabletop game after an uber successful Kickstarter funding. The Storymasters Tales – Weirding Woods.
Jam with Olly McNeil, the games creator.
So how did the game bear up? Restricted by time due to two under 3y.o’s, we had to wait for an alloted window to turn up. Tonight we opened the box, familiarised with the rules and to keep it simple my Mrs, Victoria, played solo and I was storyteller. She created a character called Gladys who was a witch. I chose the Night Of The Dead storyline as I’m a Romero fan lol.
We soon picked up the gist of the game, it’s easiness being in not having too many stats to worry over. The cards for the game are beautifully illustrated and help conjure up an atmosphere. Each turn, Vic took a card and I read out the plot, at one point she was very happy to have purchased a dog from a trader. She then proceeded to choose one of four options and Gladys the Witch was swiftly torn to shreds by a dreaded Blood Wolf only a few turns in. (If only she had a squeaky tennis ball)
Just swigging some mead between FATE rolls.
As a player of D&D back in the 80s, Vics only gripe with the game is there are only four options per plot. She wanted to stay their, craft arrows, set snares, etc so I had to say it wasn’t a saga of a game to that scale. Nonetheless she still loves it so we had another go. It was meant to be my go but as Vic was felled so soon I gave her another chance. Same quest, different character. This time, a Soldier called Bwian. She did much better this time but still fell foul of a monster. This time the Devil himself. (fancy fighting him… duh?).
All in all we have become rather attached to this game after only a couple of goes and will be swapping rolls tomorrow night so I get to play. Well recommended, easy to pick up, and beautifully presented. The only thing I’d say is add a wee slip case or rubber band for the card deck.
Remember how excellent some gamebooks actually were back in the 80s? The ones with mostly fresh ideas that we couldn’t wait for the release of? This is also a very impacting game book based largely on brainwork as there are no combat systems. Typically, this is everything Choose You Own Adventure should have been. Creepy, paced, atmospheric and relies heavily on cerebral skill to get you through. It literally doesn’t need dice or card systems to work whereby the aforementioned CYOA were dreadfully easy.
Set within the confines of a creepy hospital (that’s enough to shit some people up alone), you awaken in a very surreal version of your world. You realise quite early on some lunatic (liking it already) is stalking you to chop you up like other victims. These turn out to be witches and the author has cleverly interlaced witch folklore into the story, with the looney taking different body parts from each in order to gain special powers. But things take a turn for the worse when you discover a higher power in control of this seemingly willing slave. All throughout the adventure you feel everything is being manipulated around you from room to room, and you don’t know what random and usually gory thing is going to happen next.
All the classic Fighting Fantasy esque conundrums are here, from riddles and letter codes (like in Ian Livingstone’s Deathtrap Dungeon) , to cryptic deciphering and numbered items (Steve Jackson’s Creature Of Havoc perhaps). It’s even 400 references long. For a first gamebook from Victoria Hancox, this is an excellent debut. She has certainly drawn from her familiarities with gamebooks and experiences which have added backbone to the game and I have also been in contact with Victoria and begged that she’ll write another. She replied to me and… I’m not going to say the answer 😜.
This is what many modern gamebooks should be like, and if you like the Horror gamebooks like me… it should be the very next book you buy.
Attempts.. 6 🙂
*proudly became the first known player to complete it successfully according to the author.
September has seen the release of Fighting Fantasy game book Assassins Of Allansia by the Guv himself, Ian Livingstone.
Assassins Of Allansia
I recently picked up my hardback copy of the book at the Fighting Fantasy Fest 3 from the authors son, Jack. I mentioned my weirdo number 44, and asked if that copy was available as all 400 copies were numbered. He dug it out for me also mentioning it’s Ian’s weirdo number as well. Nice. Anyway Ian signed it later on with a personal message.
So, with all that aside… what do i think to this entry in the popular gamebook series?
It’s a lovely adventure to come back after the series sending up that was Gates Of Death and the fair but fatally flawed Port Of Peril. I’m old school FF and thus have noticed that this and especially Gates seem to have alternative lore to the Fighting Fantasy book many of us have read. The DECAYER in Assassins for example, is nothing like the undead looking creature inked by Tim Sell in Out Of The Pit. SEE HERE. We are also getting Earth christian names now, like Florence, Henry and Samuel. This isn’t detrimental to the book in itself but it is a thorn in an old school fans side. Makes it feel like there’s a dimension crack and reality is seeping into our beloved Titan. Hold on, 20GPs to stay on a dangerous island for how long? You can find that just bumming around for a day.
The art by Robert Ball is somewhat nicer than Vlado Krizans and given Scholastic seem to avoid the more detailed illustrations of yesteryear in favour for dummied down jagged angular repro’s I finally feel a sense of actually being on Titan again. Not much, just a bit.
I think we need to stop comparing what FF was and accept it is going to be different now a bit like any other series reboot. (Doctor Who, James Bond etc). Definitely a Livingstone book. Youll know what that means after a couple of nights on the island. The story itself is packed full of dangers and the Guv has gone out of his way to make you not want to try things out in case it causes stat penalties. Also, you could call this FF5and a half as it takes place between City Of Thieves and Deathtrap Dungeon. Not to mention an appearance of a familiar much loved character from one of them…and I dont mean Azzur or Sukumvit.
Overall, if we brush away the old school cobwebs and altering Titan lore, this is the best since the Scholastic FF revival. I hope more come out like this rather than the previous couple.
For about 23 years now I have been toying with the idea of getting tattoo’s based on the amazing illustrations from the Fighting Fantasy game book series. Well this month I finally went beserk. Starting off with the Iain McCaig filler illustration of the villainous Zanbar Bone from the book City Of Thieves.
Fighting fantasy Zanbar Bone City of Thieves
The tattooist did such an amazing job barely three weeks later I nuked some credit and had two more done. The first being Martin McKenna’s unused filler intended for FF40, Dead Of Night. Puffin rejected it though because of the religious iconography. Cowards.
Fighting fantasy dead of night
The next would be John Blanches filler from the Sorcery series which I simply call sun-orc. Sorcery was the epic four book Fighting Fantasy quest which introduced me to the entire series.