So the special edition sets of The Druids Of Pneuma have started finding their way into their new owners hands. Let’s take a look at a couple of things that make them so special.
1) It’s not branded with the LIG logos. We get to enjoy Malcolm Barter’s art The Bella Mort without the monofett LIG crest across the top. No ISBN or blurb either.
2) It’s a hardback. One of only 35 in existence. Okay, 36 if you include the proof copy. There will never be anymore made, making them rarer than a Magehunter lol.
3) Some text has been removed. If you are a follower of the Literally Immersive Gamebooks page on Facebook, or backed at a Walraven level, you will no what something is when you find it which may be important. Otherwise, your quest may get a little stifled.
4) There is a credit list, and write up about how the book took a quarter of a century to get from my head to its published form.
5) They’re all signed. You’re welcome 😜 Paperbacks will be available on Amazon next week.
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.
Hey hey! Today I endeavour to finish off the second rewrite of The Druids Of Pneuma. What a nightmare last hundred refs it has been. With plot holes and cross links galore having to have been ironed out, it isn’t any wonder Puffin rebuked 19 year old gamebook writers. Anyway, I think I have come up with a lovely story, or peril and woe, action and adventure, monsters and magic.
Upon completion it shall be shown to three trustees for preliminary perusal, and the wonderful Mike Tenebrae will be briefed on internal illustrations. I have come up with a plan for limited Kickstarter rewards, which people will be able to get a special edition hardback or paperback as well as other goodies. Whether or not that funds, the book will be available on Amazon shortly after the Kickstarter ends. I’m guessing it’ll be a couple of pounds more than the first two Literally Immersive Gamebooks as its over twice as long at 410 references.
Of all the book projects I am ever likely to do, this is probably the most personal to me, and a product of my 19 year old self and 44 year old self combined. There’s that number again! It will also contain a couple of Easter eggs here and there. A 25 year old work is about to come alive. And with a cover by Malcolm Barter, binding me to the Fighting Fantasy series I love and grew up with. This is a dream come true. I’ll be at the Fighting Fantasy Beero tonight, if you cannot make it I wish you all a merry Yuletide break and happy New Year.
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 😁👍
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.
Last year the Warlock in all his mighty wisdom created a “How Fighting Fantasy Are You” checklist on the official website. I ranked rather high at 57 but knew I could do better. I can now proudly announce I stand at 64, having forked out a small fortune, taken a couple of liberties and painfully mutilated my body in order to achieve this goal.
Best of it all is I can possibly get to 66 . But at least now I can rest assured this is one quest I’ve succeeded in. Thanks to everyone who helped.
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
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.