Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Honour And Glory

This short subject is essentially an exercise in self-discipline. With my two previous adventures to date (both available to download for free from FightingFantasy.com), I never managed to keep within a pre-defined paragraph limit. Nightshade was planned to be 50 (or 75 at the most) sections long and, having exceeded both of these totals, I curtailed it at 100 which is why there are more loose ends to be resolved in Part 2 than I’d originally intended, plus an entire combat mechanic was removed which will appear in Part 2 (probably.) Legacy Of The Vampire was planned as a 150 section gamebook, but I added a few additional bits of flavour and colour to bring some extra elements into play, which is how it finished up being a peculiar 167 paragraphs long.

With Honour And Glory I wanted to prove to myself that I could construct an efficient and uncomplicated gamebook based around one single cameo, in this case a jousting tournament. The mechanics are straightforward, with the rules for jousting being the only system modification to contend with. There is a minor subplot to avoid the game being just a joust and nothing else, but the point is primarily to win the tournament fairly by rolling the dice (!) without resorting to cheating. I have not included any cheat-proofing as this is not an item or information hunt. Elimination from the event is the biggest threat/obstacle and adds historical accuracy to emphasise just how dangerous jousting really was. The inclusion of a Chaos Champion and Darkal Skullsplitter may seem at odds with the idea of regions sending their champions to the event, but these add an element of dread in that you really do need to hope you don’t get drawn against the Chaotic as he is the toughest opponent by a long stretch, plus in a land as perilous as Titan it’s probable that local champions may well be from races that are stronger than humans.

This could have been included as a key moment or diverting aside in a larger adventure, but that would have removed the reasons for its creation. Plus I wanted to see if I could design and write a gamebook from start to finish in just a few days – Roger Corman famously made one of his Poe adaptations in four days flat and Bob Dylan did the same with an LP. Certain liberties had to be taken with the progression from day to day of the NPCs otherwise the sheer number of possible combinations of bouts would have been so complicated that the gamebook would have had to be many many times longer than it is and be taken up mostly with dice rolls to dictate outcomes of fights you aren’t in yourself, but there is still a lot that is randomly decided rather than my arbitrary rulings on who is out and who has made it.

Incidentally, the working title for this offering was Master Of The Tiltyard but it was changed late on to avoid my first three finished gamebooks being alphabetically close to each other (ie (L)egacy Of the Vampire, (M)aster Of The Tiltyard and (N)ightshade) which would be a bit irritating.

It’s not intended to be any kind of masterpiece, but it is something a bit different to my usual plot-driven adventures. Perhaps one day it will be incorporated into a large adventure campaign, but in an edited form otherwise the randomised NPC qualifications will eat up far too many paragraphs. For the moment, here it is in its short form: