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.

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.

Volume One of ‘Beyond the Morning Mountains’ turns to 400

An important milestone has just been reached: the layout of Volume One has now been completed, and with the guidance of the gamebook gods to help it finally emerge in finished form, the overall page count has arrived at that most significant of all numbers – 400!

Four illustrations still remain to be completed, and the links are not yet set, but the progress made recently means that I’m now rapidly reaching the finish line. The layout process has been quite lengthy, as I’ve reread the book again and updated a few written sections that didn’t exactly capture the moment that I had envisaged, and I’ve subsequently then picked up a few minor errors, various typos and general inconsistencies that had frustratingly avoided detection until now.

December update and art preview

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!

Volume One of Beyond the Morning Mountains written!

My first Tales of Quahnarren gamebook has now been written. Volume One of Beyond the Morning Mountains consists of 1000 sections and over 145,000 words, growing from what was originally planned as a ‘large’ project to an absolute behemoth – and it’s only half of the full adventure!

From the initial conception for a gamebook series, I was always prepared to simply write what I wanted, without technical or creative constraints hampering my ideas or plot lines. Volume One has steadfastly refused to be hobbled or simplified, repeatedly increasing in scope and detail as the writing process continued to evolve naturally. I’m really pleased with the construction of the finished text, as the opportunities for exploring this ancient land of Quahnarren are plentiful, engaging and often brutally dangerous.

Now I just have to complete the proofreading, editing and play testing; illustrate the remaining colour images; renumber all the sections; finish setting the page layout; create the hyperlinks for the pdf version; and check, check, check again. So, only a few more tasks before completion …