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‘Premium’ print edition withdrawn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 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.

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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!

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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.

Update on Volume Two of Beyond the Morning Mountains

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.

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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.

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BtMM Volume Two: January update

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.

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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.

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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:

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Also, I added two new items to different sections of the site not too long ago.

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December update and art preview

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As 2015 comes to a close, progress continues on Volume One of Beyond the Morning Mountains and its upcoming release is within sight! All writing is complete, the time-consuming editing and checking process is now done, and plenty of illustrations have been finished.

Above you can see a partial preview of a few new illustrations. The total of images to feature in Volume One has continued to rise throughout the development period as I balance the book’s visual presentation, creating the level of content I believe the project demands. As of now, the book will feature a total of 45 full-page illustrations – a significant increase over my initial aim of just 25!

100,000+ words

Bathouk

Volume One of Beyond the Morning Mountains has recently passed 100,000 words! There’s been plenty of good progress as this first part of your journey to Liust nears completion; including a few new illustrations (preview of the dangerous Bathouk shown above) and the creation of a new wrap-around cover design for this ongoing gamebook series. My revised word count of 110,000 is also likely to be exceeded before the adventure is finished, so there really is a wealth of included content – and therefore gameplay options – for all Quahnarren adventurers to discover.

Objects and Artefacts

Qadhul statue