So a couple of days ago I received the proof bound of my latest gamebook , The Druids Of Pneuma – the third title in my Literally Immersive Gamebooks series. There are 36 of these hardback copies in existence, all taken by a backer of this grand project. They have 410 sizzling references to look forward to with artwork by Fighting Fantasy illustrator Malcolm Barter, Mike Tenebrae on internals, and Pat O’Neill on fillers. The book will officially launch after these special hardback editions are posted off, and be available on Amazon in late May.
Oliver McNeil, creator of The Storymaster’s Tales, invited myself and other gaming fan Helen Donovan, to take part in a live cam session of his latest game named Hotel Lovecraft. Thankfully my inferior internet allowed me to stay the duration, and what an incredible time we had.
The game differs tremendously from previous successes, Weirding Woods and Dracodeep Dungeon. While it is still card/book/dice based, the setup differs in that you are not building a map like in the aforementioned, but playing 6 levels (floors) of a creepy hotel based heavily with a feel of the titular name’s works. The chilling atmosphere when you explore each room is started with an accompanying soundscape and narration at the start of each scenario as usual. This works to great effect, creating a real sense of intensity and dread like in such games as the Room app series. The intensity grows tenfold as you get nearer the end of the game, say, the final two floors, where the end is in sight but you are scrambling round trying to complete your objective or avoid falling foul of any terrors out to suck you stat points away.
Even though Helen and I were the only two players, the six levels of five rooms kept the game going for two hours in total. She got away. I died in the last location. Because of her as it ultimately turned out, yet we’d been working together perfectly well until the final location. Women! 😄
Even though this game differs to Oliver’s others, it isn’t a far flung effort being traditionally easy to pick up and more importantly, great great fun. This will be the third ten on ten Oliver McNeil game when I score it on BGG. Thanks for all the fun, laughs, and games you bring to the world Mr McNeil. Originally crowdfunded on Kickstarter, you can order a late backer copy if you CLICK HERE.
So with International Gamebook Day over, I have taken stock of people’s advice to give my gamebooks a series name. If you have been among the first to buy me debut book, you will have an extremely rare copy if they take off, as all books now will sport the Literally Immersive Gamebooks logo as seen in this pic.
I’d like to thank Mr David Tobin for my first Amazon review, and what a corker it is. Also, I can take this opportunity to tell everyone that Literally Immersive #2 is well underway, and I hope to have it available by Halloween, which will be fitting for a Horror adventure.
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!!
There have been countless depictions of vampires throughout time, differing from culture to culture and watered down even more by the film and book industry. So what have I learned about it if we was to discover vampires actually existed as depicted in lore? What intolerances do they have, which tools can help me? Can an atheist protect themself?
Silver. There is a belief that silver exists on both the material and spiritual world which gave rise to the use of silver weapons being effective against vampires. This has many a time been stressed solid silver, the electroplated stuff being ineffective. I’m not sure why… it’s still silver isn’t it? Maybe it needs to be in purest form to hurt the impure? It seems to some cultures just the touch of silver is efficient enough to scorch a vampire, thus a knife or silver bullet, through the heart or not, have been depicted countless times.
Stakes. This is a sure way to rid yourself of a vampire if you can get close enough. Staking it through the heart will stop it from rising again. It is thought by some the stake needs to stay in place, for if it is removed the vampire may rise again. Your best stake material will be wood given its availability , preferably hawthorn but oak and ash are also popular. (It is thought Jesus’ crown of thorns was made of hawthorn. Some religions claim he wasn’t put on a cross either but a torture stake.) The majority of lore accepts any wood will do. A few may suggest a mis-aimed stake may still harm the creature but not destroy it. A silver spike will have the same effect, and iron is thought to follow suit as well given this metal’s link to the fae, but has been rather forgotten in lore after silver.
Garlic There are many blood loving parasites out there and quite a few are said to be repelled by garlic not only because of its strong flavour but also its unmistakable strong scent. With a vampire having heightened senses including smell, it is quite believable that garlic will stifle those extra strong senses, weakening the creature maybe to a point of suffocation. Some sources have suggested it’s touch is harmful as well in the same way a Holy symbol would be. Given how easy it is to obtain, surely it can’t hurt having a piece to hand. Garlic is also usually stuffed into the mouths of decapitated vampires as an extra precaution to prevent it rising again.
Cross You’d have to have led a pretty sheltered life to not know of the vampires aversion of crosses or crucifixes. These Holy icons must have featured in 99% of vampire stories, but along the way certain rules have come to light. For example, apparently it’ll only work if you have absolute faith in it. With that, the atheists usually end up becoming vamps meal that night. But this begs the questions “Faith in what exactly? Does it have to be a God? ” The Doctor Who story The Curse Of Fenric featured haemovores which were weakened by faith. A soldier used his army emblem to repel them because of his faith they would defeat the opposition. I have noticed many reference silver crosses. We already know vampires are harmed silver so this is probably a combination of two weapons it one, and once again they are said to burn at the touch of a cross. I recently looked at a chart of religions appearing over time. The second oldest – Wuism – has the first cross symbol associated with it and dates back dozens of millenia before Christianity. It is also a solar cross, a circle surrounding it representing the sun…its light is a vampires greatest threat. In modern Christianity the Celtic cross has this sun integrated into its design. I personally have every faith the sun will rise each morning, so hey atheists it appears we can use a cross of a certain style. It just needs that sun integration. The solar cross is a pagan protective symbol, the four divisions of the sun made by the cross itself representing the four seasons of the year. Suicide victims used to be buried in the center of crossroads to stop them rising as vampires.
Sunlight. The likelihood of catching a vampire out in this way is very slim given it will retreat back to its resting place long before dawn. However direct sunlight is fatal to a vampire, those intense rays of light burning through its every atom turning it to ash, or if very old turning it to dust as its ages crumble to the floor. It is emphasised in moderm vampire mythology that it is the ultraviolet content of sunlight that causes this effect, just like it burns us if we are in it too long. Indeed, in my short story Quasar Zone, a vampire met his end witlessly entering a lazertag arena filled with UV lights and disintegrating infront of the players. I have already covered a few crosses along the religious spectrum have sun symbols blended within them so it is indeed a big hand to non-theists.
Mirrors. This is a fairly modern component in vampire hunting lore. It is said they will cast no relection in a mirror which is a great way to expose them. Mirrors are also said to cause vampires discomfort when looking into them, this may only work when the mirror is silverbacked. Another interesting use is that mirrors can reflect sunlight, so its no wonder they cause panic among the vampire community. This particular method was wonderfully demonstrated in the film Dracula 1973AD in a fight between Van Hellsing and Johnny Alucard.
Plants I already covered the bit on harlic seperately, and also mentioned hawthorn. Wild roses aka Dog Roses are frequented in vampire legend as well. And why not? Thorns are like miniature wooden stakes afterall. The Dog Rose is written to be placed on coffin lids to prevent the vampires from rising at all. It’s also depicted that the touch from the petals will burn vampire skin. Other thorned plants that turn up as a defence against vampire include, buckthorn, blackthorn and aspen holly and linden for more stakes.
Holy Items If you manage to obtain an item blessed by the clergy you are quite armed for facing a vampire. Holy water will act like a strong acid or poison. The touch of consecrated soil (graveyard dirt etc), or even a blessed weapon or item of clothing if you can convince a priest or reverend etc to do so. Holy text such as a bible is supposed to have the same effect as a cross, although I’m guessing the faith must be solely in the associated religion in this case.
Beheading/Fire Our heads contain our minds and as such, our very spirits. Thus the decapitation of a vampire sends its very soul back to rest in the hereafter. Extra precautions usually involve stuffing its mouth with garlic. Some will even go as far as cremation so that everything is burned away. Of course, maybe you’d get lucky enough to set it ablaze while its still active with a flaming torch or molotov cocktail perhaps.
Running Water This weakness has always fascinated me and it’s another one that extends to several unholy creatures. A couple of theories as to why this is a weakness is that running water is purer than the rest, or the biblical stance is that Jesus was baptised in a river taking him closer to God, so no wonder a vamp would go nuts. Rain is sometimes not thought to be enough, rather like silver plated stuff versus solid silver quarm. Vampires cannot pass running water and are supposedly destroyed if immersed in it.
So to round off, this is a subjective topic and we all interpret things in our own ways. But I hope you have enjoyed my little page dedicated to one of our most well known creatures of the night.
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
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.
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.
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.