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Start where you wish and go where you will.  The gamebook world of Fabled Lands is yours to explore.
Start where you wish and go where you will. The gamebook world of Fabled Lands is yours to explore.
513 backers pledged €30,589 to help bring this project to life.

Gameplay video of our demo, plus a word on stretch goals

Posted by Megara Entertainment SARL (Creator)

Welcome to a new week!  Over this weekend, we appear to have kept up a steady stream of newcomers and have passed 200 backers.  We've been trying to thank all of you individually, so if somehow you haven't heard a "hello" then just give us awhile.  Every single person who backs this project matters a great deal to us.

Now, have you seen the downloadable demo?

About that demo

Have you played it already?  Was the word "final" in the filename?  We updated shortly after launch, so take another look!

But are you one who has yet to taste of the game?  Then let me say this: the Fabled Lands series is anything but ordinary.

In a typical fantasy game, the combat-expert classes are the easiest to play and the weapons matter most.  When I played The War-Torn Kingdom, the first book of this series published in the 1990s, I was amazed by the play balance: sure, Combat is a valued Ability . . . if you get into combat.  Charisma, though, saves you from getting into unwinnable fights.  Magic and Sanctity grant you power over mystical forces that can't be survived any other way.  Scouting and Thievery let you complete missions at all.

If you go into this demo expecting to mow down an army of orcs, you won't know what you just played.  The series is about matching your abilities to the challenges.  The demo does a fine job demonstrating the breadth within its small confines.

And is it fun?  Yes, but you don't have to take my word for it!  Watch a "let's play" video by user Patchworth right here, complete with wacky commentary:

He used the "not-final" version of the demo.  Please note that neither format is necessarily the definitive one for our book.

So, any of you going to adopt that voice as your internal narrator?  (He does a terrible British accent, I know.  But he assured me that he also does a terrible American accent, so it balances.)

Stretch goals, huh?

We've funded the project, obviously.  For those of you new to Kickstarter, "stretch goals" are a way for creators to keep funding something meaningful thereafter, like features they REALLY wanted but would have had to cut to keep their budget small.  It's not a built-in piece of Kickstarter programming: it's a promise that "If we (e.g.) double our funding then we will make the book (e.g.) twice as long, add in Character Class X, make a card game version, or whatever."

We, too, can use funds beyond the basic goal: everything goes into the art meter!

Art meter July 13
Art meter July 13

Backers have suggested doing more, like adding 50 or 100 new sections if we get the funds, or promising to do the next book after this one (title: The Lone and Level Sands).

Let me be clear: we ARE talking internally about including something beyond just art.  But here's why we won't go bonkers with stretch goals:

Infinite stretch goals, or stretch goal bloat

It seems the expectation today that successful projects will "stretch" to infinity.

Kickstarter veterans may have noticed a push against promising beyond what a game needs.  Your new videogame was balanced with Y character classes but now you're adding Z more?  Uh, will it still be balanced?  Will it even be the same game that appealed to backers in the first place?

Not to mention that every new promise is a new chance to go over-budget.

In this case, it would be dishonest for us to promise new game sections, because the authors can expand the text as they want!  600 sections is mentioned on the project, but who can say what it will take to explore fully the Feathered Lands?  And if, e.g., 675 is where it stops naturally, then why should we force the authors to write weak content out to 1000?

And we all WANT to do The Lone and Level Sands, but we can't promise to throw thousands of euro at it when we're already dedicating thousands to the present project.

So, to put it simply, we are going to do what we said from the start and bring you The Serpent King's Domain.  It will be the best we can make it.  Your help will make it better in the most direct way we have: by paying for the costliest part of production, the art.

We will discuss art progress and so forth in a Wednesday update, and, as I said, we are looking into other stretch goals.  For now we hope we've made sense.  Thank you for reading, for your understanding, and for your support!

João Passos, Oliver Robertson, and 8 more people like this update.


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    1. Megara Entertainment SARL 11-time creator on

      [Richard S. Hetley] Indeed, you keep mentioning topics that came up during development! Did you see how our project went for The Way of the Tiger? We presented 8 books at once, and people could pledge for however many they wanted with the understanding that they could finish their collection after the project. It turns out that we didn't understand backer psychology: everybody measured the project by the maximum possible cost of 8 books.

      (Thank goodness for the soft launch, because a number of people prepared their wallet for the cost and backed us thereafter anyway. Surely a number refused. But that's another lesson learned.)

      So you'll notice how you can't pledge for other books on our current campaign page, and we don't even call the book by its number. We want to give a complete experience in one book. This will be good for newcomers, of course, who don't necessarily want to buy the others; and we acknowledge that classic fan interest will vary between our collector's version and any future softcover version.

      Again, for the future, everything is still wide open.

    2. Graham Hart on

      @Teamski: I agree that one factor that the creators of this campaign might have considered (and presumably did), not only for this campaign but also with a view forward towards possible future campaigns, is the physical format(s) of the book that might best incentivise potential backers. I can't address that question because I haven't done any market research and I wasn't presuming to represent anyone other than myself, and of course I am heavily biased in one respect: I have been waiting for this book for almost 20 years, which makes its publication a sufficiently major event that its arrival, at last, as a good-quality hardback seems entirely appropriate (to me).

    3. Teamski

      @Graham Hart - The issue is how many people are willing to pay $40 a book in a series of 12 books, much less 7? That is what concerns me. RPG's usually have players buy maybe 2-3 hardcovers max to enjoy the experience. This one is different. I hope that the series continues to focus on the paperbacks with the hardcovers available to the hardcore players. I am really liking the ring spiral idea and when I get mine done, I can furnish photos.


    4. Graham Hart on

      I have a great deal of sympathy with those complaining “But this book won’t match the format of the others!” I like to see a series of books lining up with matching volumes on the shelf; for example, I think it was very important that Mantikore carefully preserved the look of the Lone Wolf Collector’s Editions when they took the series over from Mongoose. However, the history of the Fabled Lands series is such that I already have multiple editions: the originals from the 1990s, the recent paperback reissues, and the Megara hardback collector’s edition of FL1. I live in hope that, one day, all twelve books will be available in the same edition, and ideally this would be hardback (which always feels to me how “proper” books should be) and with Russ Nicholson artwork. Well, at the moment only “Serpent King’s Domain” is going to have those specifications, so I shall take it while it’s available and then wait to see what happens in the years to come. Really my immediate concern is just to see the book in print. I would guess there is a decent chance that a paperback edition to match the reissues will eventually appear.

    5. Megara Entertainment SARL 11-time creator on

      [Richard S. Hetley] Ah, now that is another question, and one we've been asked since we started doing Kickstarter projects (three projects ago . . . ). Yes, a hardback version is expensive. Exactly! So if we want to do a collector's edition at all, we need to fund it FIRST.

      As I discussed with someone during the soft launch, it's like comic book collection in reverse. With comic books, tons of people will say "ehh . . . I don't want to buy the individual issues, I'll just wait until they release the collection." But if you don't support the creators during their journey, the funding isn't there for the later version.

      So we're trying to make the biggest "splash" possible and get the best product out right now, and then the art benefits can trickle down to other versions later. Fund the art; the art will be there for anyone's softcover version in the future.

      We've done it before! And thanks for your support.

    6. Missing avatar

      Ed Hughes on

      I'd also rather have it in paperback, just for the sake of uniformity with the other volumes. The manufacturing savings could go to the art and future books.

    7. Teamski

      @creator - That said, it IS cheaper to produce a paperback than a $40 hardcover that only matches two other books in the series. I now have the 6 books in paperback (thanks to this project just from learning about the series in the first place) and this 7th book will tower above the others on the bookshelf. I plan on getting the other books spiralbound as it makes reading and rolling a lot easier. Perhaps that may be a way to go in another kickstarter...... I would love to see the series on to completion, and I think that the way there is selling more books rather than selling less and having to pay additional production costs. Just my 2 cents.


    8. Megara Entertainment SARL 11-time creator on

      [Richard S. Hetley] I see where you're going in one half of that, but the other half I'd want to address more. The phrase "over-produced" was used twice just now: when that sort of thing gets repeated too much, it becomes a perceived truth. And as you'll know if you scroll up to this project update . . . every fiber of our being is opposed to over-producing the book!

      As has come up in other discussion here, we're trying to raise this project closer and closer to the standard of the other books. In fact, if we were to fill out the art meter as currently stated, we'd still have the least-illustrated Fabled Lands book in history by more than half.

      For this reason we will present on Wednesday another step in the plan. It should enable us to get a lot closer a lot more efficiently.

      And then we can focus on other matters, such as that persistent (and universal) interest in the remainder of the series!

      Then in response to Fitheach: This sort of "programmed book" does lend itself to comparisons. I'm trying to contact everyone I can, certainly; the website is one that's helped with multiple projects. If you have personal connections, then by all means go for it! We'd also be glad to receive more suggestions, perhaps over messaging.

    9. Teamski

      I agree with Ed. I would rather see the rest of the books than one over-produced one.


    10. Missing avatar

      Ed Hughes on

      I can't speak for everybody, but I think most fans would agree that they'd ultimately like to see books 7-12, and so I'd like to take the long view. Rather than see book 7 become excessively over-produced, I'd like to see any surplus funds go toward the next book in the series.

      Maybe a way to do this would be to set the funding goal for a theoretical future kickstarter for book 8 at the same level as you have for book 7, and have stretch goals for this campaign for a commensurate reduction in the funding goal for the book 8 project.

      This way, you don't commit yourself to something that loses money, but you increase the chances of seeing the other books, as well as building hype for the next book.

    11. Teamski

      That HAS to be Jack Black!


    12. Fitheach on

      With regards to promotion I would look into computer gaming circles as Fabled Lands seems a perfect match. No idea how you'd manage that maybe contact the folks at Rock Paper Shotgun or the like.

      For the general project I'd say everything sounds fine and if you get more than you need pay the author etc. more for their work, as encouragement for staying around for the next one.

    13. Megara Entertainment SARL 11-time creator on

      [Richard S. Hetley] Thank you for your support, and also for demonstrating just how much love people have for this style of literature. I feel it's worth this level of analysis.

      I see what you mean about the ability to add more content. In this case, I wasn't trying to suggest so much that it was the same as a novel with a "natural" length; instead, that despite how easy it is to add more areas and events, the authors still would reach a "natural" end of everything that fit in the setting.

      For instance, have you seen the reference to spiders hidden in the demo? Certainly, then, there will be spiders in the game. But just now, in e-mail conversation we bumped into the idea that a "spider theme" may be in use in too many places, making some content redundant. The book cannot be extended further in that direction because "spiders in a jungle" are already explored fully.

      There will come a point when the authors can't add any more without repeating themselves. A hypothetical future book would revitalize this: The Lone and Level Sands would be nearby in terms of geography, but would be different in many other ways, lending to new creativity.

      Therefore, like I said, we want to do another release, and we feel this is a more logical route to go than merely to add more sections to the existing one. We just can't promise it yet.

      Thanks again!

    14. Graham Hart on

      My own bias is in favour of text over illustrations, *but*, as I have expressed it on another forum, my opinion now, for what it’s worth, and given a greater appreciation for what the Art Meter represents, is that the ultimate goal of art funding should be to make this book fully consistent in appearance with the other books in the series; that is, it should ideally be illustrated to the same extent, with the same range and frequency of illustrations (and by the same artist, of course). This funding campaign was always presented as serving to provide the artwork, and so from that point of view, it seems justifiable only to consider extending the section-count once the optimal art content has been funded. In any case, the authors should not be “forced” to do anything.

      That said…

      I would take issue with you on one point, even though I can hardly speak against any argument that Messrs Gresty, Morris, and Thomson might make: I am not convinced that there is a “natural” length for a Fabled Lands gamebook. Any story in any medium of fiction I would agree *does* have a natural length and is only artificially extended to its detriment, but in written fiction I think that the Fabled Lands-type format of open-world exploration is unique because it has no predetermined story, and the more choices that are presented to the reader, the more quests that can be undertaken, the more world that there is to explore, the richer the experience is. It is, in other words, a unique form of literature in which more is almost automatically better.

      I say “almost” because I guess the principal challenge in any extension would be to ensure that the book remained balanced between the different professions and that it would not be possible for the reader’s character to become excessively wealthy and powerful from this one book alone, and you would also be setting a precedent for the remaining books. Nevertheless, I did always hope that FL 7–12, as the more advanced and exotic half of the series, might be at least a little greater in length, and I think that extending the section-count is something that should seriously be considered, subject to author enthusiasm, in the event that you can first secure all the art funding that you would want.