Monday, November 22, 2010

News Filter: Return to the Fabled Lands

  • One of the most fascinating gamebook series is returning this Christmas. Fabled Lands, by Dave Morris and Jamie Thompson, has been out of print for years. Through the wonders of eBay, I was able to pick up the full series that was originally released between 1995 and 1996. But picking up the series now involves a little luck and a lot of money. At least, it did.

  • Fabled Lands is not your typical gamebook series. Instead of telling a branching path narrative like the Fighting Fantasy or Lone Wolf, Fabled Lands presents the reader with a world to explore and sets you out to find fame and fortune on your own. In a way, it feels like playing a Bethesda CRPG or an MMO. You wander the world, find quests, and perform heroic deeds. Through the clever use of check boxes and keywords, the book reacts to the actions you have taken. So, for instance, if you assassinate the king, you are given a keyword that allows you to accept the reward for that quest as well as prevents you from finding the king if you return to his stronghold. This style had a effect on my own gamebook with its hub-and-spoke design. (You'll see pretty soon.)

  • Each of the six books in the series details a different land in the world. There are hooks between each book that allow you to travel between them, so your character carries over from story to story assuming you survive. If you are not inquisitive, it is easy to tour the world and not see much action. But if you are bold, there is something to do almost everywhere. You just have to look.

  • The authors usually suggest starting with book three, Over the Blood-Dark Sea, since you start with a third level character and have access to all of the other books quickly. On the other hand, I prefer to start with the first, The War-Torn Kingdom. That book has more of a classic setting and feels a little more forgiving than some of the others. Plus, I like the idea of starting small and building from there.

  • One of the most exciting things about the books returning to print is that, depending on sales, there is a chance they may be able to finish the series. There were a total of twelve books planned, with some keywords and hooks in place to travel between them, but only six were produced. I'm looking forward to seeing the new editions, as well as the new supplemental books. And I'm dreaming of traveling to distant lands that have only been hinted at so far.

© 2010 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.


  1. Interesting. I had never heard of those. Sound like they were really pushing the limits of what a game book can do.

  2. These are new to me, but sound awesome!

  3. @ Yeebo - They didn't get much play in the US. They released the first two book under the title "Quest", but I never saw them myself.

    @ Blue Kae - Awesome is the right word. You might want to check them out when they are rereleased.

    Okay, I just want you to buy them so there's a better chance the latter books get written. But they're still good.

  4. First book is up on Amazon:

  5. @ Blue Kae - Nice find. But not just that one. The first four are all up now. :)

  6. So they are! And pre-ordered. Book 1 has been shipped, looking forward to adding it to my to-read pile.