I’ve made a satisfying amount of progress in recent months, writing new sections and editing / overhauling existing text in need of minor improvement or fundamental changes, and I’ve also created several new location maps and other illustrations of varied complexity. Additionally, some new rules have now been clarified (Vol.2 contains many situational special rules, especially for combat), and the overall gameplay balance and consistency across the different pathways has been improved. The book currently features 311,000 words / 1920 sections, and there is still a sizeable quantity of unwritten encounters and events to add before it’ll be finished.

Stop for a rest, a drink, or to engage with locals at The Blood & Rum in Karraq.

Above is a preview section of a new illustrated map for the quiet village of Karraq, which is located 13 miles to the north-east of Caelen. Although only a small settlement, there are a few interesting events to become involved in here, including a battle that could result in serious personal loss.

In Karraq you can: explore the steep-faced chasm and its cavern containing a well; purchase quality merchandise from Khaffersan’s Store; enter the forested area known as Grimmens’ Playground, where it is said that these diminutive spirits are often seen; visit The Lady in Memani’s attractive garden; or stop at The Blood & Rum tavern to meet a few of its patrons – some of these individuals may even choose to be friendly to a passing stranger.

New year, new content

Despite surgery and ongoing health issues, and moving again to another town, I’ve continued to work on Volume Two when able, writing and illustrating various smaller pieces to complement the main adventure. Recently completed is ‘A Strange Tale from Lukerm’s Tavern’ – a short illustrated story added as a bonus to the back of the book. In it a lean man named Aeyric tells the tale of the luckless Ehmul Vaunarr to a traveller resting at Lukerm’s Tavern in the coastal town of Thern; thought-provoking in nature, this piece expands Quahnarren’s lore and history regarding unusual spirits and otherworldly happenings often unseen.

A deadly dual threat to assist against multiple opponents

I’ve also completed the illustration for one of the new RARE items available in Volume Two (see above). The slim Twin Knives of the Silver Moon offer the player enhanced opportunities during battle, increasing inflicted damage and therefore your chances of success, while restricting the abilities of some opponents. Manufactured by unknown skilled craftsmen in the employ of the Silver Moon – a mysterious order of elite and deadly fighters – these thirteen-inch curved steel knives feature cutting edges that flatten at the tip, a silver-capped handle carved from the bone of a Bathouk, and the tang features an engraving of the order’s waxing crescent moon symbol.

Czech version of Volume One released

Much delayed, Mytago’s softcover edition of BtMM Volume One was finally released in June, and can be purchased from their website with an additional printed colour map, bookmark and sticker. It was quite a long journey to reach this point, so it’s nice to see it completed, and to now have BtMM available in another language.

A full-colour softcover that incorporates all elements of the English version

I was also featured in a lengthy interview on the publisher’s website to promote the book’s release. I’ve added an English version of this conversation to the gamebook section of this site, as it contains some information about my creative processes and influences, and explains elements of Quahnarren that have not previously been shared elsewhere.

The long road to Liust

Slow but steady progress continues on BtMM Vol.2 as I finish writing the latter sections of the adventure. The book currently consists of 1800 sections / 290,000 words, however, I will be deleting and/or rewriting numerous sections where I’ve added too much content while devising events featuring complex choices. I’ll also be completing a thorough review of the incomplete text before beginning to write the conclusion in Liust, as this is the first point since the morning after departing Balquis where all pathways will converge, so it’s a logical place to pause and check for critical mistakes, and make needed improvements or adjustments while they’re still easily fixed.

At the moment I’m working on an illustrated map for a small settlement named Karraq, and have recently created a map for the quiet village of Vantohr (small preview shown above) – both are located south of the Morning Mountains, surrounded by plentiful fields and forest.

Although only a small settlement of farmers and other tradespeople, Vantohr provides many desirable goods and services for passing travellers, and offers a secure place to rest or stay overnight. The village also contains offices for Warden Vharssen, and barracks for her mounted guards. Stern and efficient, the Warden is widely respected due to her low tolerance for selfishness, deception and any unlawful activities.

New promotional video

Having spent a considerable amount of time late last year and earlier this year defining numerous aspects of the greater world of Quahnarren, I then decided to create a new video that collates some of this new content together with a sizeable selection of seen and unseen colour illustrations. The result of this project is The World of Quahnarren: a visual presentation that provides some insight about the nature of Quahnarren, promoting the type of experiences readers may encounter during my interactive adventures.

Beyond the Morning Mountains, Volume Two currently consists of 1443 sections / 239,000 words, with quite a few more still to be added. This second book already contains a wide variety of gameplay, with a lot of complex choices, ongoing consequences due to choices made, and several highly challenging encounters that will test even the bravest adventurer.

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.

Adventurer’s Guide now LIVE!