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The Lone Wolf fantasy gamebooks raised a generation of gamers.  After 30 years on his shelf, Gary Chalk has a surprise for us.
The Lone Wolf fantasy gamebooks raised a generation of gamers. After 30 years on his shelf, Gary Chalk has a surprise for us.
404 backers pledged $36,000 to help bring this project to life.

Planned expansion (read: stretch goals)

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Welcome to a new week!  The project kept more momentum over this weekend than the one before, thanks in no small part to folks mentioning us in Gary-Chalk-related communities across the internet.  We'd like to thank Talisman Island:

http://www.talismanisland.com

. . . And Cry Havoc Fan:

http://www.cryhavocfan.org

. . . Who shared the word with people who knew Gary's other projects from years past.  Welcome to new backers!  Now, this update is going to get particularly long . . .

What the project could become

We've mentioned stretch goals before.  The basic game includes: the Sommlending army, a group of humans from Sommerlund where the Kai Lords live; and the Giaks, the grey-skinned descendents of slaves bred to construct the Darklord city in the poisonous and volcanic wastes they call home.

More jaded gamers might say "those are goblins or orcs, no need to call them something special."  Well, those who've played the gamebooks (all 28 are available for free on Project Aon) know that this world doesn't FEEL like typical fantasy.  We recently added this tidbit to our project page:

"In those books, heroes weren't championed by 'fighters' and 'magic-users'--no, they called on monks and border rangers.  There was a shocking minimum of green dragons, green-skinned goblins, and trolls with green blood that regenerated for no clear reason--instead there were shapeshifters, dark knights, and ships of drowned sailors that rose in undeath."

We hope to start from the basic game put forth by Gary Chalk and, with your support, expand it to cover the breadth of that amazing world.

Here's how we'd start:

Stretch goals as of now
Stretch goals as of now

$30,000 - Basic funding goal.  As you'd expect.

$35,000 - Alternate regiment art.  Here we'd take a moment to ensure the core set represents as rich a world as it can.  If you've played the print-and-play demo, you've seen the small note that figures come in groups of four.  But the core set has eight of each: e.g. eight Giak Halberdiers.  With this funding, Gary would draw a "variant design" to split the armies into two regiments: e.g., four Giak Halberdiers would be from the Gorakim regiment, "The Animals," and four from the Kaggazheg regiment, "Fire-dogs" (both with the same stats).  Who are these people?  Read about them on Project Aon in The Magnamund Companion!  (The graphic above shows sketches from Gary for alternate Standard Bearers: recall the core set description says there will be two per side.)

$42,500 - Dwarves of Bor expansion.  New playing pieces!  All figure expansions include the pieces, plastic stands, and any needed Play Sheet, and one copy would be shipped for free to each backer with a game set or figure pack.  (Then they'd be available for sale after the project.)  The Dwarves of Bor are ancient allies of Sommerlund, and the only group to wield the arquebus.  Basically, these folks:

Left, illustration from original gamebook series; right, incomplete playing piece art
Left, illustration from original gamebook series; right, incomplete playing piece art

I noted 25 to 30 playing pieces, which represents three groups of eight soldiers and however many leaders Gary needs to create a good force.

$50,000 - Drakkarim expansion.  More new playing pieces, and you saw these folks in a previous update.  They are a major part of the armies of the Darklords, and are human but are slighty better at combat and slightly worse at firing than the Sommlending.

$60,000 - Precious Things.  Our first major game expansion!  Per Gary:

A sheet of square push-out counters that are just slightly smaller than the map squares.  Each one represents a smallish object that can be picked up by a single figure.  The most important is the fabled Sommerswerd found by Lone Wolf, useful for killing the Helghast on the Monsters of Magnamund sheet.  Other magical weapons with more limited powers can also be included, along with magic potions, scrolls, spell books, chests of treasure and so on.

In addition a small leaflet will be provided, listing the power or value of each object and how to use them in a game.  To pick up an object a playing piece is merely stood over the counter, which moves with the playing piece as it carries it around.

These objects really expand the game to an adventure level, with troops being able to pillage buildings or rob fleeing refugees.  Wizards can gain new spells in the course of a battle and heroes can find magic weapons in tombs or retrieve them from the bodies of the dead.

What's the "Sommerswerd"?  This thing:

Illustrations from original gamebook series
Illustrations from original gamebook series

You may be thinking "that's a basic game mechanic; why isn't it in the core set?"  The answer is simple: because it doesn't exist yet.  Unlike what has been playtested at Indiecon, this hasn't been designed, illustrated, or balanced.  That's how planned expansion works: we designers hope against hope that our subsequent ideas fit well with the original and are popular with gamers.  So if you like it, then great!  Please tell us in the comments!  Once we can afford to do so we'll jump right on this development.

Afterward

What comes after those stretch goals?  And what was that "Monsters of Magnamund" thing?  Well, those all go together.  Eventually we intend to include, per Gary, "the bat-winged Kraan used by the Darklords armies.  In addition, the humanoid Helghast and Vordak.  These are definitely needed to give the game the real flavour of the books."

Remember I'd shown off four out of five signed print options (here and here)?  The Vordak and Kraan are displayed in the remaining one:

Left, illustration from original gamebook series; right, $100 game set and signed print level
Left, illustration from original gamebook series; right, $100 game set and signed print level

The Vordak is a lieutenant of the Darklords with a skeletal body formed around a crystal of power.  The Kraan is a flying mount, also dangerous on its own, and their aerial assault is what destroyed the Kai Monastery.  I don't have any playing pieces to show off because, well, they're waiting for our first major expansion!

The Helghast is a fan favorite.  It is an undead shapeshifter; sometimes it looks like a human, sometimes it looks like this:

Illustrations from original gamebook series
Illustrations from original gamebook series

These creatures are supreme assassins, inhumanly strong, capable of using magic AND tearing your mind apart with their Mindforce, AND they are immune to all nonmagical damage.  Understandably, the latter property makes them pointless for a board game unless magic weapons are available--thus they are ideal content once we hit that major expansion.

I hope you find all this as fascinating as I do, because this is where we hope to go!  We won't get there without your help, so please: pledge what you can, consider our various add-ons, and share the project with your friends, on forums, and on social media!

Other projects you may enjoy

These projects each have something of interest, and each could use more backers too.

Weather Zen.  This videogame is described in part as tower defence, in part as puzzle, and in part as quite a lot of things, really.  But the key is that your main concern is the weather: whereas in other games you need to predict your opponent's next move, here you're quite literally trying to predict the weather to survive.  And there's something that just feels good about having a bird companion as a game mechanic.

RUNECAST - A Game of Dice and Destiny.  Here we're on to a card game, in this case a cooperative one: all players are unified against Loki, the ever-popular Norse god, in an effort to postpone Ragnarok.  As per often, this one catches my eye with fantastic art, but it also has what seems to be a fast-playing battle system with a variety of things to (battles, abilities, et cetera) that should work wonderfully with a group of friends.

. . . If you've followed along this whole update, then hi there!  I hope it was entertaining.  Again, please help us spread the word about our project, and we'll see you next update!

Graeme Rigg and Cato Vandrare like this update.

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