In which I take on a self-imposed quest to write a (unofficial) Fighting Fantasy book.
It’s been roughly a week since my last update on this project, so a timely review of where I’m currently at might be beneficial. At the very least, it’s going to be beneficial to me, because my head is now full of flow charts and paragraph ideas, and the whole concept is feeling a little muddy as a result.
Last time out I had settled on a number of things, mainly relating to the likely mechanics of the gamebook. Alongside the standard Skill, Stamina and Luck traits, there will also be a fourth, Trust. This will form a fundamental part of the experience, because the story will be primarily concerned with the relationship between the main character (ahem, “YOU”) and the being who accompanies them on their quest. There will also be a set of abilities to choose from.
I know what you’re thinking—what book did I pull that adventure sheet from, right? I mean, it’s such a beautiful rendition of that classic Fighting Fantasy staple. Heh heh… yeeeeah, moving on.
Oh, and the gamebook now has a title: Sunset Chasers. That might make a bit more sense later on, but I accept that as it stands my gamebook is sounding very 80s disco-noir.
I think most of those skills are going to be fairly self-explanatory to anyone who has cut their teeth on Fighting Fantasy books, and perhaps they give another indication as to the genre and setting of the story. As usual, the player will get to choose four skills from eight, but in keeping with the core concept of the gamebook they won’t all belong to the player (ahem, “YOU”). The first four (Quick Draw, Ride, Hunting, Bluff) will, but the second set of four (Healing, Vines, Banishment, Illumination) will belong to the ally character. Two from each set should provide the usual breadth of solutions to the quest, whilst also giving the player some control in shaping the abilities and personality of the ally, and thus encourage them to care about her as a result. The names of these will probably be tweaked; at the moment they’re just useful placeholders.
Aside from playing around with adventure sheets, the main focus of my work this week has been in relation to the setting. I wanted a world that lent itself nicely to the concepts of redemption and trust, and a wild west-type setting leapt to the forefront of my mind and refused to budge. It’s also a setting that lends itself quite nicely to road trip adventures, something which I felt would best convey the main themes of the story. I still wanted the world to have a sense of magic though, but maybe for that magic to have been largely forgotten or neglected (or both). I also wanted the ally character to have a connection to that magic.
And so I ended up with:
Centuries ago, the land of Redstone was abundant with magic. But following a series of terrible conflicts, the Lakhoona, guardians of the magic, withdrew the source of their blessing, leaving civilisation to stagnate into struggling settlements and lawless hinterlands. When the current guardian falls from the sky, she hires YOU, an exiled sheriff, to escort her on a quest to re-hide the source of magic from those that would use it for their own gain.
Not a terrible summarising blurb, but it’s still in need of some refinement. It did help focus me during the world and story development phase for sure—I really like the idea of two characters who have to overcome their own prejudices towards each other’s species in order to achieve their goals, and that the rejuvenation of the land also rests on their ability to do so. There’s a world-saving element to the quest, but first and foremost it’s about two characters learning to accept and like each other. And I intend for this to also be mirrored with the antagonists, with the heroes pursued throughout the story by a group with personal reasons for wanting the magic, but with a more traditional ‘big bad’ lurking in the background. Will this be a case of “too many cooks..?” I guess only time will tell.
That’s probably enough of an update for now. I’ve got to bury myself away now and finish fleshing out the world and story and start developing some key scenes and locations. I’ll be back with a more interesting (hopefully) update then.
Until next time, keep gaming!