Creating a small settlement

One of the most enjoyable aspects of creating a detailed fantasy setting for interactive fiction is devising intriguing urban locations where the player can interact with various individuals, becoming involved in encounters both mundane and meaningful, and unlike those experienced out in the wild. As the map of Quahnarren only features cities and towns, smaller settlements such as the village of Rafhalon (map section previewed below) wait to be discovered when adventuring in my world. These are places of possibility where storylines can be enhanced, usable items bought and sold, advantageous knowledge gained, and additional world-building details can easily be provided to expand the player’s understanding of how people live and work in organised communities.

Rafhalon is also the first settlement in BtMM to use a hub-style game structure for players to access exploration options. Each numbered location is linked to a text section – simply select that option and you’ll be transported there without the usual travel text, ready to meet characters, explore, provide assistance, or sell/buy items. Additionally, I’ve also incorporated a time allocation to limit the duration of your stay; this leads to player-determined choices as to which available options are most important or interesting, and adds extra replay value for future journeys, ensuring that even those following the same path will still experience much that is new. Several of the choices in Rafhalon are directly linked to knowledge unearthed during your adventure, associated with information previously given or TASKS currently incomplete, or are connected to specific items worn or carried, further increasing the range of gameplay opportunities I like to incorporate in my books.

Volume Two currently consists of 196,500 words, with plenty more still to be written. I’m expecting the finished book to contain roughly 50% more content than Volume One – a rather substantial increase that partly explains the ongoing delay in its completion.

Volume Two, and Quahnarren, continue to grow

Good progress continues to be made with the writing of Beyond the Morning Mountains, Volume Two: the book currently consists of 164,000 words / 930 sections, and contains many challenging events and encounters, providing ample interactive opportunities to create a very personal journey.

Updated map of Quahnarren

‘Premium’ print edition withdrawn

DriveThruRPG have unfortunately had to sharply increase their pricing for ‘Premium’ colour books by 40-50%, so that version of BtMM has now been withdrawn from sale. The price of a ‘Standard’ colour book thankfully remains the same.

BtMM Volume Two progress

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.

BtMM Volume One Supporter Pack

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.

Adventurer’s Guide now LIVE!

PRINT EDITIONS NOW AVAILABLE AGAIN!

This updated 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.

NEW EDITIONS OF BtMM VOLUME ONE

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.

Progress on Beyond the Morning Mountains, Volume Two

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.

Print

BtMM Vol.2 XMAS UPDATE

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.

ToQ_illos_2017

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!

Vol2_RG

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.