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A completely unhinged fantasy adventure gamebook. Find the Bastard Elf a place to crash using two dice and your two rock-hard fists!
A completely unhinged fantasy adventure gamebook. Find the Bastard Elf a place to crash using two dice and your two rock-hard fists!
241 backers pledged £4,692 to help bring this project to life.

The Sword of the Bastard Elf

Posted by Hermit Skull (Creator)


The Sword of the Bastard Elf is finally here! Very shortly I'll be emailing out the DriveThruRPG codes for the book, which you can get in one of three formats:

The PDF will cost nothing additional so you may as well add it to your account. It's in full colour and has all the hyperlinks and bookmarks you crave in a modern gamebook. 

 The hardcover (left) is a commanding beast of a book. Weighing over 2kg with a stunning blue cover, it draws the eye to wherever you put it in your bookcase and makes that eye wonder, "why do you own a book about a Bastard Elf?". It's a Book with a capital B. It's nice and I like it, if I say so myself.

 The softcover on the right is in black and white. While not as demanding on your living space as the hardcover, it is still enormous and barely man-portable at well over 1kg. It's for the more old-school gamebook types that want to crease the cover of their books and look at black and white lineart, and maybe colour some things in. Aside from that it contains all the same words and costs a bit over half as much as the other book. It will still terrify smaller gamebooks that you might own.

 Here are the Elfs in comparison to other books:

 Star Bastards was a very large book in its day, but no more!

You'll also receive a code for a print and play version of the card deck. While there's a free item list floating around (here if you want to grab it), this one has the advantage of looking like the cards, so you can print them off and cut them out and you have a cheap deck of cards. If you prefer you can leave them on your computer and use the bookmarks in the PDF to quickly jump around the cards as you find stuff in the book, which is potentially useful and will save thumbing around at the back of your book.

These four codes are coming to you in an email very shortly - if you don't receive it give me a yell on and I'll fix you up. There are two additional codes coming pretty soon - one next week is for the print version of the card deck book (it's the print and play deck, but pre-printed and with a lot of extra info on the back of the cards) and in a week or two you'll also get the code for the actual item cards.

For physical rewards, I now have all the pieces I need, so I'll be packaging them up and getting them out to the backers who have them coming. This will be in backer order and is basically limited by how fast I can crank out badges and certificates and carry things to the post office. Shouldn't take too long, anyway. The stuff might reach you about the same time as the books come from DriveThru, if you order them, give or take a couple days.

If anyone is missing anything - if I've forgotten a reward that we arranged or I've let something slide, please get in touch with me and I'll find some way to make it right. 

Now, the future of the Elf. You might notice the codes don't include things like the DLC, the Bestiary or the art book. The reason for that is: I haven't done them yet for a bunch of reasons. Don't read the next section unless you're interested in a bunch of excuses:


The Bestiary was intended to be a fairly jokey thing that accompanied a far shorter book, but as the book grew the scope of the Bestiary would have had to as well. I simply didn't have time or the energy left to complete this book after completing the Elf, and any attempt to do so would either have killed me or generated something completely unfunny. What I would like to do with the Bestiary is wait until I get some feedback on the Elf and then make the book in response to that. From what I've heard so far some light explanation of the lore, a hints and tips section for getting through to the tougher endings (Elf can be pretty easy but the really good endings are a bastard and a half to get at) and maybe a short choose your own adventure epilogue would be the best bet, but it'll have to wait until I'm not half-dead anyway. So sorry, it's not here yet but it's coming, and you'll get the codes a bit later on.

The DLC is more or less the same thing - I have some solid ideas for it but some of them might tread on a sequel I'm considering. I want to see what people would like and I want to be in a position where I feel like doing it again - in other words I need a rest, so I'm having that first.

The art book - probably will not happen, because when I was originally working on the Elf I expected to draw 20 pictures taking 3-4 days each. What I wound up doing was 100 pictures taking 2/3rds of a day to 1 day each. They work fine as what they are but I think they lose something if they're pulled out of the book. I'm hoping that I can buy you all off by hiring the incredible Tony Hough to draw a picture in the front of the gamebook, which he kindly did.

Finally, and most shamefully, the item locations on the back of the cards: I will not be able to do this, because drawing 180 fully-realised locations for an RPG which I designed would absolutely shatter me, and I have to spare myself. I think the idea is a good one but I'm not an RPG designer, and after working on this book for coming up on two years with every spare hour I had and then some I think that I lack the energy to give this idea the treatment it deserves. I intended to implement this idea in the RPG section of the rules and then realised that the loose nature of the RPG required a map, if that, and that the amount of time and work that would be spent on what would essentially be an overstretched joke would be completely heartbreaking for everyone involved (especially me). The printed card deck book (when it's available next week) is supposed to partially compensate for this, and I hope it's OK.


I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for bearing with me on what has been an unexpectedly long and difficult process. When the campaign started I expected to have a moderately long, 750 section book with 30 or so illustrations. What ended up happening was a 1825 section, 830 page behemoth with 100+ illustrations. When a project increases in scope like this the amount of work increases exponentially: a gamebook of this size is almost an entirely different class of thing than a shorter book. While writing and illustrating the Elf I slept on average 5 hours a night, exceeding 7 hours of sleep maybe a dozen times in the last year (according to my fitbit anyway) and sleeping for less than 2 hours about that many times as well. I lost about 15kg (on purpose, this wasn't a "working myself to death" thing), put my son into nursery, attended his graduation from nursery and worked every second I had free until pretty much now. And I think it was all worth it. As for you - well, I took all your money and made you wait, for which I am incredibly sorry. Despite having made a gamebook before, this was an entirely different monster altogether. I've always thought that the Elf would be my opus, and here it is. A strange, horrible, heavy, rambling thing. Just like this Kickstarter campaign.

I really hope you enjoy this book. Whether you like it or not, please consider leaving a review (the DriveThru page will be public next week and you can access all my titles on, and you'll soon find an Amazon listing for the black and white print version), or you could show it to a friend, or stand around outside in the street yelling about it a bit. I'd really appreciate it. And no matter what, please let me know how you get on in your two-fisted adventure in search of a place to crash.

Until next time,

S. Iacob


H. Skull

Two-Fisted Fantasy

JazzFlight, Mike Vidales, and 7 more people like this update.


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    1. Hermit Skull 3-time creator on

      That was surprisingly fast! For me it was the opposite - I ordered both at the same time and got the colour one nearly a week earlier. Luck of the draw I suppose.

      Well good luck on your adventures, and the exercise regime needed before you start on them.

    2. Missing avatar

      DHB on

      Its here! The paperback version has arrived, i only assume that the hardback version is requiring greater quantity of trees and will therefore be along some time later!

      The book is magnificent, I will have to work on my upper body strength in order to play through it though :-)

    3. Hermit Skull 3-time creator on

      @Oliver the codes will remain valid until about the end of the year. After that if a backer missed out they can always send me a message and I'll generate a personal one use code for them.

    4. Oliver

      Are these codes going to stay valid until the printed cards are available? Shipping costs seem a bit pricey and I want to avoid placing 2 orders.

    5. Hermit Skull 3-time creator on

      @Jeremy Robinson: not sure what happened there, sorry. I sent you a message with the codes.

    6. Missing avatar

      Jeremy Robinson

      I seem to be missing an email as well

    7. Hermit Skull 3-time creator on

      Yeah, you should have. Some of them bounced, maybe yours was one of them. I'll send messages via kickstarter in a few mins with the codes.

    8. Mike0815

      Should we have gotten the email already?

    9. Hermit Skull 3-time creator on

      Good luck! It might be easier just to stack other books on top of the Elf

    10. Michael Reilly

      Just purchased a copy of the colour hardcover. Am currently reinforcing my bookshelf to hold it!