Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Let The Gamebooks Begin!!

I am the Warden!!

As regular readers may know, my current project is a gamebook adventure for the Adventurer solo RPG titled Fires Across the Plains. It turns out there's a whole slew of fellow crafters plugging away at their keyboards as well, as announced on the Adventure Games Guild (yon publisher) site over the weekend. Plus a couple more announced Monday morning. That makes a total of ten (10) gamebooks scheduled release in 2013, an impressive tally for something just starting out.

If you're an aspiring freelance designer as well and haven't considered submitting something for this line, it's a great opportunity and solid tool to display not only your adventure design skills, but fiction writing as well. In other words, you're not limited to just read-aloud text blocks to get cah-razy with da text. I'm currently half way through Fires and truly enjoying the entire process to the point that I may consider trying another one if the audience shows even a little appreciation. (If the reviews and comments indicate my need to return to my old career, I won't bother gamebook fans any more. That's my risk and a sign I need to take a step back and tackle those issues. I was actually being sarcastic when I first wrote this, but now I'm considering it a real possibility. What can I say? I'm Canadian and modesty is a national sport up here.)

Half-Breed Haven

One of the cool aspects of this project is working with Shane Garvey again after all these years. He's the original publisher for Emerald Press and gave me my first opportunity to write a d20 supplement back when that system went nuclear. That was ten years ago and here we are again, except now more experienced in our own ways. To put it simply, I've discovered some of Shane's QUERP books at the Comic Book Shoppe in Ottawa... and he's Australian. I haven't even found any of my books in Canadian stores, that's how well he's done since we last parted.

After tweaking the original concept of barbarians (as they were featured in another product), we went with half-breeds as one of the opposing sides in the building war with the Emerald Knights. (Side note: Emerald Knights was the name of an old website Shane ran around the same time as he started Emerald Press and I adored the reference when it randomly popped in my head.) The thing about half-breeds is that the core Adventurer rulebook (at least, it's current draft) did not provide any half-breed races or character options. Half-elves, half-orcs, even half-giants, or any of the standard fare. Not because they're not allowed, just not yet available. Until now.

This allowed me to define the original interpretation of Adventurer half-breeds for the system and its world in a way that would influence Fires' story. I've always loved the idea of half-breeds receiving the bottom end of the boot in life and cast aside as bastards, revolving reminders of wars, raids, and other nasty events. Never mind many of these breeds were conceived willingly and amicably by their parents (though I think it's safe to say half-orcs may not have that in common in with half-elves), the stereotype pictured all half-breeds as inferior people. They struggle to get by and remain in peace, yet trouble always seems to find them and many have been outcast or sentenced for crimes they did not commit simply because it's easier to accuse a half-breed outsider than a full-bred citizen.

And so we have the Hundaar, a tribe of refugee half-breeds from around the world taking solace in the woods (no name as of yet) where the King's Road winds through this vast, rocky forest. In addition to some of the usual expectations already mentioned, I've even thrown in half-goblins for fun.

There's a bonus: because every half-breed possibility requires stats for the gamebook, there will be guidelines for creating a Hundaar character. At the moment, I'm only looking at stats, but would also love to thrown in some flavour text for "playing" a half-breed in Adventurer. (It's not as simple as your average RPG because there's no true roleplaying going on in gamebooks. Incorporating anything of significance in the final book remains a bonus option at the moment; the focus remains with finishing the actual game.

It's very cool to be in such a position so early on in a product line's lifespan. This is exactly why I would highly recommend any aspiring freelancers to check out details on the Adventure Games Guild site and send in a proposal when the opportunity arises again.