Monday, October 24, 2016

Advanced Fighting Fantasy 2 • Re: On Final Entry - Arazma Starwanderer

Advanced Fighting Fantasy 2 • Re: On Final Entry - Arazma Starwanderer

Postponing post to add mysterious narrater which will only be revealed in final chapter of my new campaign


when it says if the heroes have a trinket of his/hers just private mail all the items they have, not just on them, and I will reply.

It is VERY important nobody knows in advance as it will ruin the final chapter......

Statistics: Posted by Ruffnut — Mon Oct 24, 2016 3:08 pm

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October 24, 2016 at 10:05AM

Emily Short: Halloween Selections

Emily Short: Halloween Selections

Wanting to play something Halloween-flavored this week? Can’t wait for the new Ectocomp games to turn up? Here are some suggestions:


Lethophobia (Olivia Wood and Jess Mersky) is a game of haunting and lost memories. This is one of the longer pieces in this set — it took me a couple of hours to play in full.

16 Ways to Kill a Vampire at McDonalds (Abigail Corfman, current IF Comp) is an entertaining, silly vampire-fighting game from the current IF Comp. There are a bunch of different ways to solve the game’s key puzzle (as the title implies): expect to play several times trying out different approaches.

If you’re more in the mood for science fiction-flavored horror, Tentaculon (Ned Vole, current IF Comp) is in the mode of The Axolotl Project: Researchers Do Something Extremely Foolish. I ran into a few rough spots in the implementation, but I liked what you have to do in order to deal with your situation.

Evermore (Adam Whybray and Edgar Allen Poe, current IF Comp) is a choice-based IF based on the works of Edgar Allen Poe. I wouldn’t really call it an adaptation — more pastiche, or medley. But if you feel like your IF lately has been undersupplied with italics and adjectives and exclamation points, this might be just the ticket for you. Also if you’d like to spend more time wandering Mouldering Tombs.

(True story: in sixth grade my teacher put me in a reading group that for some reason spent three months supposedly working on a diorama representation of The Pit and the Pendulum. We never completed it because we never received the promised modeling clay to make the rats. In digital literature, though, you never run out of rat-matter.)

Parser Selections

An Evening at the Ransom Woodingdean House is a Ryan Veeder piece from earlier this year, about a docent in a historic house. It’s quietly, effectively creepy, and asks about our use and appropriation of the past. You could probably call it a ghost story if you chose. Or if you’d rather a more cheery, less scary Veeder piece, I recommend Dial C for Cupcakes, set at a Halloween party.

Open That Vein (Chandler Groover) is a 2015 Ectocomp game, but if you missed it last year, now is a chance to catch up.

Sigil Reader (Field) (verityvirtue, IF Comp currently) lets you explore the scene of mystical law enforcement gone wrong. It’s set in an alternate, magical version of Singapore, and the worldbuilding is good fun.

Three-Card Trick (Chandler Groover, Spring Thing this year) tells the story of a magic trick at a carnival. The trick is miserably simplistic; the magic is… well, I’ll leave it to you to discover. This was one of my favorite Spring Thing pieces this year.


Darkiss! Wrath of the Vampire (Marco Vallerino, multiple chapters) is a series of Italian games about a vampire waking in his tomb and then gathering power to fight his enemies. I previously wrote here about part 1, which was released in English as part of IF Comp 2015. Part 2 is now participating in IF Comp 2016, and is even more over-the-top, set in a hellscape with all kinds of demonic artifacts to collect. Many of the puzzles in Part 2 involve your vampiric ability to shape-shift, and I enjoyed trying these out. If you already played this and you loved the shape-shifting mechanic, try Transfer by Tod Levi from 2000.

The Act of Misdirection (Callico Harrison, 2004). This is an older piece, but if you like the sinister Victorian magicians flavor of Three-Card Trick, you might enjoy this one as well: both pieces put the protagonist in the role of performer of a magic trick the player doesn’t fully understand.

The Ebb and Flow of the Tide (Peter Nepstad, 2006) is a parser adaptation of a piece by Dunsany, and is more melancholy than terrifying. But if your preferred flavor is Gothic, there you go.

Still not enough? Here are some past Halloween recommendation lists.

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October 24, 2016 at 07:04AM

The Caverns of Kalte – Attempt 1, Part 6

The Caverns of Kalte – Attempt 1, Part 6

Aside : I reject any criticism of a spotty posting schedule, because yesterday my foot was, to be blunt :


The moral of the story is, when walking out to your car on the day of (1) your daughter’s school fete and (2) your business partner’s 60th birthday party, don’t slip and break the 5th metatarsal of your left foot.

Well, at least I can enjoy the fact that the Australian health system means that I got (1) Consult (2) X-ray (3) Moon boot (4) Crutches (5) Specialist opinion, for the grand total price of $53.00.

Back to Lone Wolf.

I’ve emerged into a massive hall covered with ‘animal tracks and bones’, while also seeing that the northern wall is a completely smooth granite wall, which is clearly one of the outer walls of the Ikaya ice fortress!  I’ve made it!  And by made it, I mean reached the REAL tricky part of the adventure!  I might even make it back to the Cardonal before it sails off and abandons me!

Project Aon link – Ikaya entrance

I spy a door which is the apparent (!) entrance to Ikaya, and can either dash towards it or pause to examine the floor.  Taking my time is always preferable, so I check out the floor, because at the rate I’m going, I’ll probably find the super-weapon necessary to capture and immobilise Vonotar!

I find a Diamond (note the capital ‘D’, I guess) and pocket it, because even a Kai Guardian has an eye for the precious stones.


Oooh – shiny!

As I reach the door (to Ikaya), in a moment that is (let’s face it) a carbon copy of the encounter in Lord of the Rings which takes place at the entrance to the mines of Moria, the ice crystals around the room rise up and crystallize into some kind of ice serpent that seems to want to introduce its teeth to my throat!

I could evade the creature and try to rush towards the door, but what fun would that be!?

I rather elect to fight the ‘Crystal Frostwyrm’.

Project Aon link – Crystal Frostwyrm

Crystal Frostwyrm : CS – 15, E 30

Lone Wolf : CS : 27, E : 22

I defeat this beast without losing any Endurance, and then note that, after it dies, it melts away until nothing is left but an Ornate Silver Key (!).  I try to keep it (the Key, not the Frostwyrm), but it is apparently acidic, and I lose 1 (!!) whole point of Endurance before I can stow it as a Special Item.

I now turn my attention to the door.  It has no apparent way of forcing entry, save and except for a receptacle in the shape of a triangle!!


I quickly shove my Blue Stone triangle into the gap, and the door immediately opens (to a gap of about three feet) before closing again.  Luckily, I take the opportunity of, not only dashing through the gap, but retrieving my Blue Stone Triangle.

Short post but, you know, crippled and all that.


Base Stats : CS : 17, E : 20, GC 14

Modified Stats : CS : 27, E : 22

Weapons : Sommerswerd (+8 CS), Mace

Backpack : Meal (x5), Healing Potion (+3 E), Laumspur Portion (+5 E), Laumspur Potion (+4E)

Special Items : Map, Crystal Star, Shield (+2 CS), Sommerswerd, Padded Waistcoat (+2 E), Blue Stone Triangle Pendant, Diamond, Ornate Special Key

Kai Rank : Guardian

Kai Disciplines : Camouflage, Animal Kinship, Tracking, Hunting, Sixth Sense, Healing, Mind Over Matter

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October 24, 2016 at 05:01AM

Master of Chaos playthrough

Master of Chaos playthrough

(You can follow Justin McCormack on Facebook and Twitter. You can also support Justin on Patreon and receive exclusive content. Justin is the author of two bestselling novels, a collection of horror stories - "Hush!: A Horror Anthology", and the young adult coming-of-age comedy "Diary of a gay teenage zombie".)

Written by Keith Martin, artwork by David Gallagher

So, Masters of Chaos. Here we go, this should be interesting!

The storyline is as standard as they come for Fighting Fantasy adventures. An evil wizard is causing some chaos (maybe he's the master of the chaos, you could say?) and I have to go and kick him a bit with my Mighty Boot. There's a handful of variations on the sheet, namely that I have the option to select a few specialist skills for my character. I choose Acute Hearing, Climbing, and Move Silently, assuming that these will be the ones that are most likely to be the ones that will prevent instant unavoidable death sections.

The game also has a notoriety score, which measures how alert the city guards are to the devastation that your character will surely leave in his wake. Evidently the author is quite familiar with my roleplay group, then.

The adventure begins with a mage telling you that you're being sent off to stop the evil wizard, because he has nicked their ancient staff of power. The mage is so keen that you maintain a discrete profile that the only help me can offer is two gold coins, and passage on a rather unpleasant boat. And by 'passage', I mean that he arranges for you to be captured by the captain of a slaving ship and chained to the rowing party. I'm not even kidding here. Honestly, the first section reads less like you're on a covert mission to save the world, and more like you just lost a really unfortunate bet.

In all seriousness though, I like the idea of starting the adventure as an oarsman on a slave galley, it's very Conan. Might have worked better for you to learn of the adventure as you progress, rather than this convoluted idea of the mage's. But nevertheless, it isn't long before the crew of the ship get tired of my attempts to stir up a revolution and take over the ship, so I'm promptly fed to the sharks.

Restart the game? Restart the game.

This time I decide to keep my head down and avoid trouble - but when the ship is attacked by a kraken, I save the captain's life by beating the tentacled monstrocity away with my ball-and-chain. In gratitude, the captain orders that I no longer be fed food that gradually reduces my stamina points each time I eat any. You have no idea how grateful I am that the crew are no longer poisoning my meals - so grateful that I'm almost tempted to resist the urge to steal one of the lifeboats and row away to freedom. Almost. But I steal it anyway.

I row my way to the nearby city, and in traditional fantasy adventure fashion, head right for the grimiest pub I can find, only to find that it has actually been turned into a trendy wine bar. I sit around sipping wine, feeling vaguely less than adventure-ish, until I catch sight of a couple of vagabonds who are sneaking out through the kitchen. I follow them, only to be attacked for no apparent reason. I quickly dispatch one of them, but the second takes a hostage. I manage to rescue the hostage, but the book informs me that I'm feeling too tired to interrogate the hostage, so I instead go to bed. All in all, it's been a confusing day.

The next day turns even stranger. I buy a mongoose from a rather unusual gentleman at the market, only to discover that it's a talking mongoose called Jesper. Fearing that I've tragically acquired a comedy sidekick, I'm desperate to get rid of the demonic spawn of darkness that is the talking mongoose. However he is determined to stick by my side, and eventually leads me into what is euphemistically called 'the entertainment district' of the city. The mongoose insists on doing some backflips for a crowd of onlookers, and then informs me that there is a lady moongoose he wishes to visit before we leave the city.

With my comedy sidekick away getting freaky mongoose sex on, I manage to overhear the two people that I killed the night before as they are conspiring their plans. This is, of course, impossible. I can either put it down to a problem in editing for the book, or time travel. I ignore this, and instead go on to have various adventures across the city.

By the time I am done with my escapades, I am left with very little knowledge about the evil wizard. But I do have a considerable amount of gold, the cutlass of the captain of the ship that I had fled, and a camel. Content with my camel, I ride it off into the golden sands of the desert, my trusty talking mongoose by my side. This is all very weird.

It's roughly about this point in the adventure that the game begins to hate me. As we ride through the desert, I am attacked during the night by a hideously mutated orc, who I beat down. I show mercy on the creature, and he tells me the story of how he was kidnapped from his happy little orc village and turned into a mutant by the evil wizard. I'm so touched by this story that I leave him in the middle of the desert and go on my way.

Over the course of the next few sections, my stamina points go into abject freefall, with my provisions quickly turning rancid in the hot air. Without a magic ring of endurance, I am soon losing more stamina points than my remaining provisions can heal, and it's not before long that I am attacked by something called a chaos manticore. The creature flies up and shoots barbs at me, killing my camel in the process! No! That camel was just like a camel to me!

So there I am, struggling to survive, impaled by manticore barbs, stuck in a life-or-death struggle with the manticore. I manage to kill it, with only two remaining stamina points left. I then promptly die from exhaustion, because I don't have that bloody magic ring.

Masters of Chaos isn't an especially difficult adventure, and it's laid out very nicely. In fact, it reminds me quite a lot of Bloodbones in how the city section of the adventure is laid out. I really can't fault that part. It plays smoothly enough, although at the end of the day it feels very generic and you wind up wishing that the clues that I feel you're meant to acquire in the city are more readily telegraphed. The difficulty spike I came across is no doubt mitigated a lot with more careful item selection whilst shopping, but without any significant indication that the ring of endurance was in any way important, it's all a bit of a gamble.

(You can follow Justin McCormack on Facebook and Twitter. You can also support Justin on Patreon and receive exclusive content. Justin is the author of two bestselling novels, a collection of horror stories - "Hush!: A Horror Anthology", and the young adult coming-of-age comedy "Diary of a gay teenage zombie".)

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October 24, 2016 at 04:29AM



Hey guys, I've got a special annoucement that I'd love to let you in on: I just joined Patreon!

In case you’re wondering, Patreon is a simple way for my fans to contribute to my writing career every month, and get great rewards in return. such as advanced previews of my Fighting Fantasy blog posts, exclusive short stories and much more!

Go checkout

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October 24, 2016 at 04:24AM

Thought for the Day

Thought for the Day

Neil Gaiman on writers being asked where they get our ideas from:

"In the beginning, I used to tell people the not very funny answers, the flip ones: 'From the Idea-of-the-Month Club,' I'd say, or 'From a little ideas shop in Bognor Regis,' 'From a dusty old book full of ideas in my basement,' or even 'From Pete Atkins.' (The last is slightly esoteric, and may need a little explanation. Pete Atkins is a screenwriter and novelist friend of mine, and we decided a while ago that when asked, I would say that I got them from him, and he'd say he got them from me. It seemed to make sense at the time.)

Then I got tired of the not very funny answers, and these days I tell people the truth:

'I make them up,' I tell them. 'Out of my head.' 

People don't like this answer. I don't know why not. They look unhappy, as if I'm trying to slip a fast one past them. As if there's a huge secret, and, for reasons of my own, I'm not telling them how it's done."

For Fighting Fantazine,Gamebook blogs
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October 24, 2016 at 02:00AM

Sunday, October 23, 2016

IFComp News: A bit of Rule 4 clarification

IFComp News: A bit of Rule 4 clarification

I see folks on forums and elsewhere still a little confused about the intent of this year’s modified author rule 4, the one replacing IFComp’s earlier forbidding of all public comp-talk among authors with a more specific admonition against authors telling judges how to vote.

I worded the new rule that way that I did with the intent of preventing both of the following undesirable situations:

  1. Authors making direct and overt public appeals to judges, literally instructing them on specific ratings to assign and why. Bluntly, any variant of “If you enjoy and want to support my work, please remember to give this game a 10!” (Or even just “Please give me a 10!”)

  2. Authors doing anything else besides the previous that more resembles someone campaigning to win an election, or someone making a sales pitch, more than someone entered into an arts competition.

So far, no competitor has come close to conflicting with my intent with this rule, at least not anywhere I can see. Yes, this year some authors have linked to reviews, or have assented to interviews for news stories about IFComp. One could make an argument that these actions violate the current rule 4, asserting that promoting any “good press” one’s work receives is tantamount to telling judges “As you can see, other people like my game, and therefore you too should give it a high rating.”

But to my mind that strict reading leads directly to “Come to think of it, authors should really just not speak about their games at all, since anything they say might influence judge opinion,” and that did indeed describe the rule in question as it stood between 1997 and 2015. We already know that IFComp works fine under such a rule, and this year’s experiment means to determine if it works at least as well without it.

We’re halfway through the judging period now, and I fully intend to see it through while continuing to allow authors the freedom to speak that the modified rule gives them. I have both faith and evidence that this year’s authors understand the rule’s intent just fine, and more to the point that 2016’s IFComp judges understand the rules that apply to them, too.

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October 23, 2016 at 05:02PM