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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
A revised version of the map of Quahnarren was recently uploaded to the site, abandoning the ‘parchment’ style of the original. Now featuring greater contrast in colour and tone, the landmass is much darker, and a more colourful blue has been implemented for the water, with added shoreline ripples and an increased glow to provide better delineation. I’ve also added a border and numerous small details, switched the pathways to a more visible dashed style, and subtly altered the topography around Liust to better represent the bay and river found there. A full version of the updated map is available to view at the Map of Quahnarren page.
‘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.
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.
The pandemic of 2020 has already caused numerous issues and great suffering for many people, so the ongoing delays to the proofing process for my updated Second Edition of Volume One were nowhere near as problematic as what others have experienced, yet were still immensely frustrating as time endlessly dragged on. Finally, after six months of corrections, postal delays, lost proofs and more waiting, full-colour printed copies of Beyond the Morning Mountains are once again available from DriveThruRPG – now in both soft- and hardcover.
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.