Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fabled Lands Role-Playing Game (Part 1)

I've been meaning to post about Greywood Publishing's Fabled Lands Role-Playing Game, by Shane Garvey and Jamie Wallis, for some time. Stuart Lloyd has beaten me to it though, and his excellent review can be found here. Instead then, I thought I'd post an example of character creation and a sample combat to give you some flavour as to how the game actually works.

Character Generation

1. Background. There are 7 choices: Academic, Commoner, Criminal, Fey-Blooded, Military, Noble and Primitive. Each has their own special rules.

Rather than choose, I roll a d8 (with an 8 being a re-roll). I rolled a 6. My character is a Noble. This means my character starts with an additional 100 Shards in currency!

2. Description. While you could presumably develop your character's own description, there are also a series of tables helping you decide things such as Height, Build, Age, Personality (both Good and Bad Traits), Eye Colour, Hair Colour, Distinguishing Features, Birthplace, and Name.

I break out more dice and begin rolling:

Height: I roll a 6. My Noble is very tall (6'7" to 7"), and gets a +1 on jumping tests, and a -1 on hiding tests.

Weight: I roll a 5. My Noble has a Large Frame, and gets +1 Stamina and -1 Thievery.

Age: I roll a 4. My Noble is Mature (30-35 years old), and gains 1 level in a Lore skill.

Good Traits (Personality): My Noble is Helpful.

Bad Traits (Personality): My Noble is a Liar!

Eye Colour: Black

Hair Colour: Red

Distinguishing Features: Disfigured by Pox-marks!

Birthplace: Sokara

Name: Shagar

3. Ability Values. You need to roll 8 dice and distribute the results among the following Abilities: Charisma, Combat, Intelligence, Magic, Muscle, Sanctity, Scouting and Thievery. If the total of all the dice rolled is 20 or less, you may roll again.

I roll the following scores: 1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 4, 4 and 5. Given my character's large size, I figure I'm heading towards a warrior type, so I assign the values as follows:

Charisma: 4
Combat: 5
Intelligence: 3
Magic: 1
Muscle: 4
Sanctity: 2
Scouting: 4
Thievery: 1

(The Large Frame penalty for Thievery cannot reduce it below 1, so I'm okay there as long as I never have to do any thieving!)

4. Stamina Value. Stamina is an indication of how much damage your character can take before dying. To generate it, you roll a d6 and add 6.

I roll 4, and add 6, plus a further 1 for my Noble's Large Frame. My Noble has a Stamina of 11.

5. Profession. There are eight professions in the Fabled Lands RPG: Barbarian, Druid, Mage, Priest, Rogue, Troubadour, Warrior and Wayfarer. To choose one of the professions you need to have a score of 5 or more in the profession's Primary Ability, and 2 or more in their Secondary Abilities. Each profession also has rules on what Weapons, Armour and Skills they can choose as well as a choice of one special Power.

Given their ability scores, my Noble has to be a Warrior. They start with one skill level in Lore (warfare), and for their Power, I choose Blademaster which allows one 'super-strike' per quest.

Here's where it gets tricky. There's no mention of whether my character gets any other starting Skills, or how many Shards they start with, or even what starting equipment they have. Going through the equipment lists, I decide to award my Noble the following:
  • A Sword (Combat +2)
  • Leather armour (Defence +1)
  • A Shield (Defence +1)
  • A Lantern
  • A Rope
  • A Water flask
All this adds up to 735 Shards, which seems a trifle excessive. I decide to reduce my Noble's starting cash to 0.

That was fun! In the next post I'll summarise my character and run them through some combat from the sample quest Lair of the Ratmen and see how they fare!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Return to Titan!

Titan - the Fighting Fantasy world, by Steve Luxton
[click to enlarge!]

Steve Luxton has sent me another amazing map of the Fighting Fantasy world of Titan which you can see above. I think this map is virtually finalised in terms of land alignment, and you can see on the left that there's now a key for all the major settlements of the three continents of Titan.

There's a few corrections to be made, but the next step is to consider whether there needs to be any more information or settlements added to this map. After that, we can probably look at discussing some of the individual continental maps of Allansia, Khul and the Old World.

Comments welcome!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Iron Maiden versus Gamebooks

Could there be a better gateway to Metal than Iron Maiden? Not to mention as a musical accompaniment to gamebook playing and dungeon delving? You've got a blistering twin lead guitar attack from Dave Murray and Adrian Smith, accompanied by the operatic tenor of Bruce Dickinson as he wails about mystical themes that rival anything in Spinal Tap's back catalogue. Add the tight rhythm section of band-founder Steve Harris' self-taught bass power chords and Nicko McBrain's drum assault, and you have the classic template for wholesome heavy metal goodness.

The above band lineup should give you a hint about my bias towards what I consider classic Iron Maiden, and indeed leads to our problem for today: How to compile a decent Iron Maiden mix-tape? Two straight-up rules make the process easier:
  1. No songs from Iron Maiden or Killers. Paul Di Anno is a great singer and early Iron Maiden is fabulously punk-rock, but it just sounds weird alongside their classic epic material which is what we want to focus on here. Perhaps another mix tape, Iron Maiden: The Early Years, should be compiled?
  2. No songs beyond Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. That's the last album I listened to before I traitorously abandoned metal in favour of cooler soundscapes. There may well be excellent material on their more recent albums, and one of these days I may even do some research on this, but not right now.
This gives us a solid sequence of six great albums: The Number of the Beast, Piece of Mind, Powerslave, Live After Death, Somewhere In Time and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. There are still problems however!
  1. Too many good songs! There's eight songs on Somewhere In Time alone that I'd be happy to listen to on any Iron Maiden mix tape.
  2. The songs are too long! Most of the short songs are on the first two albums, and we've already culled those from the selection.
So we need to start thinking themes. If we're wandering the catacombs beneath Firetop Mountain battling the minions of Zagor the Warlock, we want an appropriate soundtrack of epic fantasy. This means ditching any references to Napoleonic soldiers, fighter plane pilots and futuristic cyborg assassins (which we could of course stick on another mix tape), leaving us with...

The Iron Maiden Mystical Metal Mix (c90, 2011, Bangkok)

Side A
The Number of the Beast
Sea of Madness
Flight of Icarus
Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
Hallowed Be Thy Name

Side B
Still Life
To Tame A Land
Children of the Damned
Rime of the Ancient Mariner (from Live After Death)
Alexander the Great
The Clairvoyant

Ninety minutes of fantasy metal awesomeness!

Finally, mention has to go to Derek Riggs whose amazing artwork of Eddie the Head for their various singles, albums and tour posters is basically synonymous with Iron Maiden. I've attached two of my favourite illustrations of his to this post, and to print out and use as covers for the mix tape.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Fighting Fantazine Issue 6

Cover by Michael Wolmarans

Fighting Fantazine issue 6 came out a while back, when I was unfortunately busy, but if you didn't get it then, get it now! Editor Alex Ballingall has done another amazing job with the Fighting Fantasy fan magazine, and among the 92 pages of the latest issue, you can find:
  • Amazing front and back cover art by debut artist Michael Wolmarans.
  • An interview with Leo Hartas, the artist who illustrated many classic maps and pictures for Fighting Fantasy, Golden Dragon, and Virtual Reality gamebook adventures.
  • An interview with Steve Luxton, who penned some of the definitive maps of Fighting Fantasy in Titan - The Fighting Fantasy World.
  • Escape from the Sorcerer - a 200 paragraph Fighting Fantasy adventure written by Sunil Prasannan and illustrated by Michael Wolmarans. I've had a good look at this one and it's very intriguing!
  • Guillermo Parades gives us the latest rundown on gamebook happenings in Omens and Auguries.
  • The Fact of Fiction: Alex Ballingall enters The Warlock of Firetop Mountain - the book that started it all - in a desperate search for the truth!
  • Part 2 of the Fighting Fantazine survey. Good to see Brett "Jediboyy" Schofield getting ranked #1 for Favourite Fan Art, for his illustrations for Shrine of the Salamander, which itself placed second in the Favourite Feature so far category.
  • Chapter 2 of Ian Brocklehurst's fan fiction: Aelous Raven and the Wrath of the Sea-Witch.
  • Out of the Pit returns! This time it stars four hideous beasts from my Shrine of the Salamander adventure.
  • Ian Brocklehurst begins a new feature entitled The Magic Quest about how Fighting Fantasy became our gateway drug of choice.
  • Part 4 of Ed Jolley's brilliant series: Everything I Really Need To Know I Learnt From Reading Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks.
  • Chronicle of Heroes: Adrian Young takes us through the classic Advanced Fighting Fantasy adventure A Shadow Over Blacksand.
  • The start of a new review column: The Arcane Archive.
  • Jamies Fry looks at foreign print editions of Fighting Fantasy.
  • Last, but certainly not least, Dan Satherly strolls through The Forest of Doom.
Phew! As you can see, it's packed with Fighting Fantasy and gamebook goodness, and you can grab a copy of it here! 

Also, Alex runs the actual Fighting Fantazine blog here!

The Mud Dragon!
(by me (Andrew Wright, 2011))

Friday, July 1, 2011

Beastmen of Bangkok

Minotaurs in red and blue suits

I've said before that this blog is supposedly apolitical. However, we're about to have an election over here in Thailand, site of Fantasy Gamebook HQ, and over the past month or more the residents of Bangkok have been treated to an onslaught of campaign posters, some dull and some, as you can see, completely freaky.

The Yellow Shirts, or Peoples' Alliance for Democracy, realising that they cannot capture the popular mandate, have elected for a 'Vote No' campaign, reasoning that all politicians, presumably themselves excluded, are corrupt carpet-baggers who should be kept away from parliament at all costs.

As a result they've come up with a brilliant series of posters unflatteringly comparing politicians to a range of hideous beasts. (Personally, I'm feeling a bit sorry for the beasts!) Anyway, on a completely unrelated tangent, these posters offer us an unparalleled glimpse of what real fantasy Beastmen, say from the Fighting Fantasy world of Titan, might actually look like. And so, I give you:

The Beastmen of Bangkok

[SKILL 5 STAMINA 5; 1 Attack; Blowgun (as per Dagger plus Poison) or Club]

A primitive tribe of dog-headed humanoids, BLOGS live only in the depths of the Forest of Fiends in central Allansia. Here they are greatly feared for their practice of head-hunting and preying on human travellers, whose flesh they cook in large cauldrons. Blogs are skilled trackers, moving silently though the trees before using poison darts fired from blowguns to bring down their victims with a minimum of fuss (Livingstone, 1988).

[SKILL 10 STAMINA 10; 2 Attacks; Club and Large Bite]

Rare, if not unknown from Titan, CROCODILE MEN have been recorded haphazardly from other locations (Morris, Gallagher & Bambra, 1986; Bennie, 1990). Primitive carnivorous fiends with a tendency to bite first and digest later, these scaly brutes are usually found living in small clan-groups in the deepest parts of the Swamplands of Silur Cha. Some are known to join the legions of the Lizard Men Empire, but they tend to form their own units of shock troops, often in the company of Mutant Lizard Men, owing to their unpredictable nature. 

[SKILL 8 STAMINA 8; 1 Attack; Spear, Sword or Crossbow]

Unlike more primitive examples from other worlds (e.g. Moldvay, 1981; Morris & Johnson, 2008), the LIZARD MEN of Titan are a terrifying race who rule a sprawling empire centred on the Swamplands of Silur Cha. Their military ingenuity is legendary, as is their slavish devotion to a host of foul deities such as the Demon Prince Ishtra and the Lizard God Suthis Cha. When they finally sack the city of Vymorna following a long siege, then the rest of the southern lands will likely fall to their savage legions and living reptilian war machines (Gascoigne, 1988).

[SKILL 9 STAMINA 9; 2 Attacks; Large Fist, Battle-axe or Club]

The large hairy bull-headed humanoids known as MINOTAURS are found on all three continents of Titan, usually at the heart of an underground labyrinth or a maze-like series of tunnels (Gascoigne & Tamlyn, 1989). Recent studies have indicated the presence of a cow-headed variant from Femphrey, known as the Mooncalf (see Green, 2009), and it may be that buffalo-headed versions of Minotaurs might be found in more tropical climes, such as Arantis and the lands of the Glimmering Sea (as seen above).

[SKILL 7 STAMINA 7; 1 Attack; Club or Dagger]

A recent discovery resembling a man-sized monkey (Green, 2006), MONKEY MEN are believed to originate from the palm-fringed islands that dot the Black Ocean of southern Titan. Little is known of their society and beliefs, but it is thought that they may be related to the Scurrellors of the Cloudhigh Forest of western Khul, and the Wood Reavers of Far Analand (Wright, unpublished).

[SKILL 9 STAMINA 5; 1 Attack, Large Teeth]

Not to be confused with their more powerful Weretiger brethren (Gascoigne, 1985), TIGER MEN have a fairly patchy record from Titan. We do know that Shanzikuul, the Master of Chaos, kept a harem of Tiger Women in his lair beneath the ruined city of Kabesh (Martin, 1990). Also, from the far future of Titan City, the entourage of Marcus Buletta (also known as Dr Macabre the mad surgeon and pharmacist robber), numbers a Tiger Man among its members (Jackson, 1985), from which the above stats have been extrapolated.

This wraps up our pre-election coverage from Bangkok, Thailand. We hope you enjoyed the show and remember:



Bennie, S. (1990). Old Empires. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, Inc.

Gascoigne, M. (1985). Out of the Pit. London: Puffin Books.

Gascoigne, M. (1988). Battleblade Warrior. London: Puffin Books.

Gascoigne, M., & Tamlyn, P. (1989). Dungeoneer: Advanced Fighting Fantasy. London: Puffin Books.

Green, J. (2006). Bloodbones. Cambridge: Wizard Books.

Green, J. (2009). Stormslayer. Cambridge: Wizard Books.

Jackson, S. (1985). Appointment with F.E.A.R. London: Puffin Books.

Livingstone, I. (1988). Armies of Death. London: Puffin Books.

Martin, K. (1990). Master of Chaos. London: Puffin Books.

Moldvay, T. (1981). Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Adventure Game: Basic Rulebook. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR Hobbies, Inc.

Morris, D., & Johnson, O. (2008). Dragon Warriors Bestiary. London: Magnum Opus Press. 

Morris, G., Gallagher, P., & Bambra, J. (1986). Creature Catalogue. Cambridge: TSR UK Ltd.

Wright, A. (2010). The Ascent of Man. Unpublished Fighting Fantazine article.