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.