Although I’m still slowed by frequent periods of ill health, steady progress continues to be made on Volume Two of Beyond the Morning Mountains. I’ve currently written just over 122,000 words, and anticipate that this concluding book will likely feature 200k+ words / 1200+ sections when complete.
This is a sizeable increase over Volume One, partly due to my desire to expand the amount of available content for any single playthrough, and partly because the first book ends before the full adventure has reached its halfway point. The city of Balquis was simply a natural stopping point during the journey, as not long after travelling south from there players will have multiple directions to choose from, making it impossible to neatly break the complete adventure anywhere substantially closer to an even divide in travel distance.
The above image shows part of a flowchart for an encounter sequence in Volume Two. I create these diagrams for sections that contain a lot of choices linked to items, prior knowledge or other character-specific conditions. If I don’t sketch such sequences out carefully I can’t ensure that everything is correct once such complexity is involved.
Doing this also helps me to identify where efficiencies can be made regarding the total use of sections, and to note where it’s necessary to detail specific information for players who’ve triggered a situational variation. They look a little like an electrical diagram, as they often flow oddly across the page, especially when sections need to link to others not nearby, so I use either indirect lines or many different symbols.
Here’s a little something that I’ve been working on this year. For those of you who are serious about your gamebook collecting, I’m now offering a Beyond the Morning Mountains Supporter Pack for Volume One, incorporating membership in the Quahnarren Adventurers’ Guild, which includes a personal members card, a signed bookplate, and a QAG sticker.
The books are also offered in two print qualities: ‘Standard’ and ‘Premium’ (superior premium paper with high-quality colour), which will hopefully provide better presentation options and price points for purchasers to choose from. Note that although ‘Premium’ colour is a visibly better product, featuring improved colour depth and vibrancy on better stock, the ‘Standard’ quality is still decent, being equivalent to other Print-on-Demand products such as the original printed version of BtMM.
Additionally, this Second Edition features a few extra pages for the included RARE items, yet the softcover is now cheaper than the original print (previously offered elsewhere), which was several dollars more expensive. Along with other small design and content adjustments and enhancements, this updated version of Volume One offers excellent value for all the adventuring it contains.
Mytago, a small publisher from the Czech Republic specialising in RPGs and gamebooks, will translate and publish Beyond the Morning Mountains for Czech speaking territories. They intend to print both volumes as full-colour hardbacks using my artwork, and this agreement caused me to consider how to best deal with the RARE items, which were available in English as an additional PDF purchase.
I’ve since made the decision to incorporate the RARE items into all versions of the books, so they are now included for free. However, using them must come with some sort of cost as they enhance the character’s skills and abilities beyond a normal level. Players wishing to use a RARE item will now be required to alter their starting health and amount of coins, so there’s an immediate decision to be made regarding overall health, wealth and abilities – and their impact upon the game’s difficulty – before beginning an adventure.
This Second Edition also features an illustrated Character Record with space provided to note a RARE item, an updated map of Quahnarren, and revised location maps for Ustahm and Balquis.
The upcoming Volume Two of Beyond the Morning Mountains will feature a lengthy bonus section detailing each of the 60 major cities and minor towns that are shown on the map of Quahnarren. These short descriptions will reveal a little of each settlement’s fascinating history and significant events, describe its notable landmarks and places of interest, and identify important persons or colourful local characters.
Part of this content will then also be added to the upcoming Adventurer’s Guide – an online encyclopedia summarising the who, what and where of Quahnarren. I still have a large number of entries and illustrations to complete before the Guide is ready to go live, but it is coming along quite nicely so far, and its development is assisting with my ongoing world-building and the planning of events during the later stages of the second book.
Ongoing health issues have restricted my ability to complete BtMM Vol.2 in an acceptable timeframe, however, the creation process continues to slowly move forward and the adventure currently consists of approximately 98,000 words. I’m expecting that this second gamebook will be longer than the first (greater than 1,000 sections), although the length won’t be resolved until I’ve reached a later point, closer to Liust, where I’ll finalise my desired player options and determine exactly how many sections are required to conclude the narrative as I wish. The delivery of the completed book may be seriously and frustratingly delayed, yet it’s shaping up to be a very entertaining, varied and at times challenging piece of interactive fiction.
Work continues on Volume Two of Beyond the Morning Mountains, with some very pleasing progress being made to finalise all of my newly created creatures, monsters & spirits, developing and finishing numerous full-page illustrations, and writing an exciting, challenging gamebook for all lovers of interactive fiction.
Volume Two features a revised and expanded version of the Creature Compendium, which is now 50% larger in content, and features 8 new Creatures (including the highly dangerous ARGOROHR seen above) and 3 new Monsters & Spirits. This means that your chosen path will likely be populated with even greater dangers from the natural and unnatural worlds! Also, the second new illustration previewed here shows what can happen to those who disobey the local authorities – act with good sense on your journey or the noose may be around your own neck!
I’ve plotted an individual scenario from Volume Two to illustrate my preference for choice and consequence (above), showing how the various sections open up new opportunities, directly alter the progress of the narrative, and deliver rewards or penalties depending on the choices you make. This particular event is a forest encounter that features a few tricks and traps, possible combat and a key moral decision.
The creation of content for Volume Two of Beyond the Morning Mountains continues, although my current progress isn’t as advanced as I would wish it to be at this time. Despite this frustration, I’m really happy with the quality of the new material – both written and visual – and feel that I’m producing a lot of entertaining gamebook content.
There are two exciting additions to Volume Two. I’ve now increased the frequency and significance of the RARE items – both existing and new items created for the second volume, offering even more player options and adding extra replay value for the keen adventurer. I’ve also added TASKS. These are single or multi-part activities requiring you to search for hidden items, travel to a particular location or perform a series of actions to trigger a favourable event. Successfully completed TASKS offer a range of bonuses and add increased purpose to your journey.
Above is a preview of a completed illustration of a peculiar middle-aged man named Tulland, and below is a small preview of the map created for the village of Baylorn, which may be the first settlement you visit after leaving Balquis. There will be plenty of new maps in the second book – each one drawn with a different technique to maintain the diverse visual style of my artwork in this series.
With 2017 now well under way I thought it was time to post an update on what’s happening with development of Volume Two of Beyond the Morning Mountains.
The planning process for this second book has been significantly more complex than that of the first, as I am now incorporating all of the found or bought items from Volume One that will be of use and/or importance at some point during the second part of your adventure. This also includes the existing and new RARE items, which will play a much larger role in Volume Two, and offer some unique gameplay options for those carrying specific items in certain places, and for particular encounters. I’ve created the five new RARE items (and illustrated two of them – see the preview below) and am constantly adding further gameplay features around them to make their optional inclusion fully worthwhile.
Volume Two will be quite different to Volume One, especially due to its extensive forest and mountain environments – where many and varied unseen dangers lurk – and also owing to the changeable weather found within this part of Quahnarren. Most players will be tested during their adventure, suffering serious health loss and finding themselves caught in difficult circumstances, and I expect that it should be rather challenging at times!
I’ve added a number of new creatures, monsters and spirits to Volume Two, and some of those listed in Volume One‘s Creature Compendium, that never actually made an appearance, will now emerge from the wilds to make your journey increasingly demanding. I’m currently intending to illustrate everything in the expanded Creature Compendium for Volume Two, however, this will add quite a bit of work to the schedule, so I’ll see if that’s still an achievable aim later on this year.
Below are previews of three new section illustrations, including the agile and aggressive Elluanxa spider, and the two-headed Ghubben (which has already been added to this site’s Creatures page).
I’ve recently completed the design and layout for the town of Liust; your desired destination on the south-eastern coastline. An article describing the history of, and places of interest within this seaside settlement will be included alongside this map in the bonus pages following the adventure. Here’s a small preview of the map:
Also, I added two new items to different sections of the site not too long ago.