Turn to 400! - Let's Play Solo RPG Gamebooks & TTRPGs!

pyxistyx wrote:

OMG. I love this idea!

They can have a different guest actor per book - Jackanory style

(For those of you not in your 40s and from the UK)

pyxistyx wrote:
pyxistyx wrote:

OMG. I love this idea!

They can have a different guest actor per book - Jackanory style

(For those of you not in your 40s and from the UK)

Never heard of it, but it seems like basically the same idea!

Also, I do like Eddie Marsan. I know him best from the Sherlock films, but also as Mr. Norell. Shame there was only ever one series for Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell. Marsan was so good in that!

I only know Jackanory because of Blur’s “Country House.”

There with you Pyxi

Right then. Stuck inside, isolated. That sounds like a good time dust of the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks.

Usually when i do this i try going through them in order and getting bored because of how often i've played through the early books, so this time i'm going to just grab one at random off the shelf (which ended up being Temple of Terror).

Going to see (a) how many attempts it takes to win and (b) if i can produce a nice map out of it and (c) if there are any cool encounters i can steal for D&D

Got my faux study/thunderstorm ambience on in the background and my D6's warmed up from D&D earlier...lets' do this!

Bubblefuzz wrote:

There with you Pyxi

I still have vivid memories of watching Mayall read that when it was on post-school telly.

Temple of Terror

Jessamine Farrow had too much rhythm and was devoured by a Giant Sandworm.

Nia the Lucky failed to live up to her name when her flying eagle is killed by a random Pterodactyl and she plummets to death.

Attempt 3: SARLACCED
Kym Whispers has far too long to practice her mukbang ASMR whilst being slowly digested in the belly of a Sand Snapper.

Seramadia Inawenys only had time to pronounce her name once before falling to her doom in the same Pterodactyl ambush as Nia.

Tinielle is swalled by the sandsnapper. And to make matters worse she f*cking HATES Mukbang ASMR.

This book is hard y'all

So far my stolen D&D ideas consist of...

> Sealed wax clay pot containing poisonous trap in side an untrapped treasure chest. Nice little gotcha for greedy rogues.
> A monster made up of hundreds of swirling, razor sharp edged shells
> The Sand snapper (a desert alligator with sticky tendrils)

observations so far : There's a really dumb design choice here in a fight between an (allied) giant eagle and a pterodactyl. The first reason i've died so much is because of that fight, since it doesn't matter what YOUR stats are, you don't get a say in the battle (aside from doing a quick action before-hand to bring the fight down to a more even level, though the dino still has a point advantage in it's skill score).
The fight plays out the same each time with mostly equal stats, and if the eagle dies, it's insta-death for you since you're riding on it. VERY annoying.

The SECOND big reason, really, is the Giant Sandworm which is a ridiculous 10 skill, 20 stamina beast that you're encountering not 1/3 of the way through the book. And it's a bottle-neck as well since whichever route you take to this point requires battling through this beast to continue. Unless you have a high skill score, the RNG is stacked WAY against you in this fight. It's an odd choice - stats like that are usually reserved for an end boss.

Anyway - getting much further in this most recent game (Thanks to a high skill score). Will try to beat it tomorrow at some point if i get a spare minute

Day 2 of Temple of Terror

Got MUCH further this time, but alas, another loss..

Crazy Eyes Palmyra was overwhelmed by a greater number of cultists after getting deep into the temple complex.

pyxistyx wrote:

observations so far : There's a really dumb design choice here

Going back to many "classics" of all kinds of gaming, it's interesting to see how we've progressed (or at least changed) in our ideas about good game design.

Yep. There's another problem with this book as well, which is it's central "gotcha" gimmick which, on paper is a nice reversal of the "you need to find X objects in order to properly win the game which was a big thing with the early books (e.g. needing the three correct keys in Warlock).

Specifically, the spectre of death is haunting the second half of the adventure, and as you explore you uncover the letters of the word "DEATH" one at a time. If you ever find all five letters then you are instantly killed.

Except...once you know where one of the letter are, this basically becomes totally obsolete, (although you still take 4 stamina damage per revalation) because you can just skip that and the never have to worry about that particular insta-kill event ever again.

That said, with a bit of tweaking to make it less instantly lethal and a bit more thematic to whatever the setting is...it's another thing i can steal for D&D

pyxistyx wrote:

Yep. There's another problem with this book as well, which is it's central "gotcha" gimmick which, on paper is a nice reversal of the "you need to find X objects in order to properly win the game which was a big thing with the early books (e.g. needing the three correct keys in Warlock).

Specifically, the spectre of death is haunting the second half of the adventure, and as you explore you uncover the letters of the word "DEATH" one at a time. If you ever find all five letters then you are instantly killed.

Except...once you know where one of the letter are, this basically becomes totally obsolete, (although you still take 4 stamina damage per revalation) because you can just skip that and the never have to worry about that particular insta-kill event ever again.

That said, with a bit of tweaking to make it less instantly lethal and a bit more thematic to whatever the setting is...it's another thing i can steal for D&D

The 'collect X items' thing always bothered me, because the Fighting Fantasy book structures almost never allowed for back-tracking to revisit areas. If I recall, Forest of Doom had you go back to the start if you got to the end without both pieces of the macguffin you needed, but Deathtrap Dungeon killed you if you reached the gnome without the requisite gems.

The Grailquest ones did seem more circular. You also invariably had the "here's a map with numbered sections on it and some rules for navigating between them. Have at it!" bit that was novel to me when I first encountered it.

Yeah, nature of the beast i think. It's hard to write something that loops back on itself without getting complicated about "what if the player has already done X or killed Y". There are usually small self contained loops in FF books but i don't recall anywhere were they try anything more complicated - though to be fair i barely remember a lot of the later books.

The DestinyQuest books are more modern and they take a far more video-gamey approach to it (you get a map with locations to pick from, colour coded by difficulty, and then you tackle each "quest" separately in whatever order you like. It's a bit more mechanical in nature (very MMO structure, with loot drops and equipment slots) but still quite fun. That's another one i need to go back and play more of.

Oh ALSO, forgot to say that this book ALSO has the "collect x objects to win" mechanic AS WELL as the other mechanic i mentioned above. So...that's fun

Day 3 of Temple of Terror

Nimamru was paralyzed by a poisonous floating eye with too much time on it's spines.
Two of Four locations of the maguffiin objects located for future reference though.

Tyrian wrote:

The 'collect X items' thing always bothered me, because the Fighting Fantasy book structures almost never allowed for back-tracking to revisit areas. If I recall, Forest of Doom had you go back to the start if you got to the end without both pieces of the macguffin you needed, but Deathtrap Dungeon killed you if you reached the gnome without the requisite gems.

The Grailquest ones did seem more circular. You also invariably had the "here's a map with numbered sections on it and some rules for navigating between them. Have at it!" bit that was novel to me when I first encountered it.

I remember as kids, my brothers and I completely mapping out, on paper, one of the Fighting Fantasy books because it required you to have 2 items/encounters to survive the end, but the only way to do it was to go down one particular path that let you backtrack and revisit the other early branch that you skipped. Unfortunately I do not know what book this was.

FINALLY beaten Temple of Terror. Yeesh. This thing.

Ok, so. Positive things about this book...

- Good creature variety. Not just in types of creatures but also in special abilities that they have. There are a fair few with special gimmicks to liven up the usual bland RNG combat of FF books. (e.g. a creature that will do an extra 1 point of stamina damage per round if you roll 1-3 on an extra dice). So that's good.

- Good use of the setting in the first half of the book. Lots of Allansia staples show up (Stonebridge, Darkwood Forest, Yaztromo, Port Blacksand, etc). It also ties into the

Negative things...

- But there's too many creatures in general. For a book where there is a lot of instant death traps and you require to find five (5) maguffins in order to win in the end (one of which requires you to have collected a very specific item early in the adventure, by walking into an obvious trap that you'd otherwise avoid)...it gets be be a huge slog repeatedly working through a lot of these fights. There are occasionally items that you can use to bypass a fight entirely, but that generally involves purchasing the items at a specific trader - and if you go the CORRECT route at the start of the game, you only really have enough money for one or two of those items.

- The dungeon is not particularly interesting. It's got a vague desert temple theme to it but its all linear generic rooms and corridors, with a little bit of stereotypical arabian flavour in the last area. Bit disappointing.

- The aforementioned maguffins are RIDICULOUS in this book.


In order to win the game you need to have five dragon statuettes that you find hidden around the temple.
The most obscure of these, requires that you
(a) pick the correct route of two options at the start of the book.
(b) walk into the aforementioned ambush to collect item A
(c) trade item A with a gnome in the temple who you can quite easily miss.
The rest aren't too bad, you can generally figure out their locations through exploration a couple of times.
BUT to win, you ALSO need to avoid finding all the letters of DEATH, AND still have the sandworm tooth you get from a fight 1/3 of the way through. (and there are several instances where you have the option to use the tooth in various ways, destroying it in the process).

aaaaanyway. One book down

That's Livingstone for ya. What a jerk.

OK. So.

There was a ton (like...a TON) of solo pen and paper storytelling games added to that recent itch.io charity bundle and it go me really interested in trying something along those lines out. So i decided to have a stab at playing Ironsworn.

For those that don't know, it is a solo (or cooperative) TTRPG in which you use oracles and your own best judgement to tell the story of the Ironlands and your character within it. I'm still not...100% clear on every aspect of the rules, but i'm treating this as a test game to figure all of that out.

First up, you establish the details of your particular version of the Ironsworn world...Either choosing from some example options or making up your own. I've done a mix of both...



The Old World -- The cataclysm hit without warning, and most of us were lost in that first fateful night. The star from the sky burned our lands, broke our cities and left ruin and death in its fiery wake. But the worst was the corruption that followed. Chewing away at the healthy land like a cancer, leaving an invisible sickness in it's wake that cause all life to wither and wane. We had little choice but to flee, escaping aboard anything that could float. The few who survived the disastrous voyage found themselves in a new land. Fresh, fertile, and clean of corruption... though not without it's own dangers..

Iron -- We learned that another star had fallen in these lands, long ago. But instead of sickness and ruin, it brought with it Star forged Black Iron. Seeded throughout the continent in rich, plentiful veins. Some say it carries a curse, others that it is a gift from a long forgotten god. Either way, it has meant the difference between life and death for the settlers of this land.

Legacies -- Before the Ironlanders, before even the firstborn, another people lived here. They live here still, in a way. Ghosts haunt these lands, roaming the bizarre, dangerous ruins of ancient citadels and towns. Few who venture into these unfathomable places are ever seen again...though the treasures of this old world provide a constant temptation for the risktaker.

Communities --We have used our time in this place well, and spread some distance. Our towns and villages connect via relatively safe, well traveled roads, and trade between the Firstborn is, mostly, on good terms. Even so, much of the land remains dangerous and untamed. And many attempts to settle further west have ended in failure. Whether from roaming bandits, the undead Legacy, or other, stranger things.

Leaders -- Each of our communities has an overseer, a leader picked democratically serving for four seasons, a circlet of star black iron marking their authority. Though independent, they have been known to come together in times of need to cooperate against some larger threat or project, though these time are increasingly rare. Bickering and scheming is rife among the overseers and their supporters.

Defence -- The Iron wardens are our soldiers, guards and militia. They serve their communities at the overseers' prudence - standing sentry, patrolling surrounding lands and organizing defenses in times of crisis. Most have strong ties to their community. Others, called free wardens, are wandering mercenaries who hire on to serve a community or protect caravans.

Mysticism -- Magic courses through these lands, born of the star forged black iron and seeded into the very earth, air and waters of this place. The power is there for those who wish to risk it...though few are strong enough of will to use it for very long without being consumed by its power.

Religion -- There is conflict between the worshipers of the gods of the old world, and the gods of this new one. Those who abandoned the old gods after the cataclysm, cling to the whispering voices of this place. Many are drawn west, never to be seen again. Those that remain faithful to the old ways are less and less every day, but become more zealous as their numbers diminish, and physical confrontations grow all the more common an occurrence.

Firstborn -- The firstborn are also not native to these lands, though they did arrive here long before we did. The elves of the deep forests and giants of the hills tolerate and trade with us, for now. And through them and the tales of their first few years in this place, we have learned to deeply fear the haunted old places of the world...

Beasts -- Monsters stalk the wild areas of the Ironlands. Outlandish creatures the likes of which we'd never seen before. Though distant from our settled lands, occasionally one will wander too close, and requires action, though mostly they tend to stick to the wilder, unsettled areas of these lands.

Horrors -- The dead do not rest in the Ironlands. The ghosts of the ancient peoples of this place draw the living dead for companionship, and the more lives they claim, the greater their numbers swell.

Then you build your character...Which consists of some basic stats, up to three bonds (relationships with people and places) and your main "goal" for the character (as well as an instigating event that sets them off on a road to adventure!)...

- Quick and agile, good with a bow (Edge 2)
- Independent, aloof, not particularly sociable, uncomfortable in groups (Heart 1)
- physically weak, small frame, poor constitution. not great in a melee (Iron 1)
- Stealthy, prefers to hide in the shadows and fight tactically, few see her coming before it's too late (Shadow 3)
- an excellent scout, her knowledge retention and observation skills are well formed (Wits 2)

Lyra is a young (19) hunter helping to provide game for her home village of Highmoor, a sleepy but sturdy little outpost perched on a cliff, overlooking the only safe trade route between the Hinterlands and the Havens. She and her sister Mai were taken in by the village at a very young age, with only the barest memory of their mothers who, they were told, left them here to be safe before disappearing deep into the Hinterlands and Tempest hills...never to be seen again. Lyra still wonders where they are, and one day hopes to travel north herself to find out. Mai on the other hand, hates her parents for abandoning them here, and has become a free warden, spending as little time at home as possible. With a rift forming between the two, Lyra wonders why she is even sticking around here anymore.

Background Vow: Find out what happened to my parents.
Lyra's mothers went missing while travelling north, deep into the Hinterlands, towards the Veiled Mountains. She desperately wants to trace their path, and discover what happened to them and find out why they abandoned her in Highmoor, and has vowed to one day seek them out, alone if need be. This she swore in secret on a protruding vein of Star Forged Black Iron called 'the hound' , after the distinctive shadow it casts with the noon-day sun, knowing full well that the people of Highmoor who sheltered her in youth would not permit such folly.

Inciting Incident : Mai has not returned from her most recent excursion, escorting a group of merchants from Highmoor down to the Havens town of Stonewick and back again. She's days overdue and is starting to worry, deciding that she need to head out herself and see if she can find out what's happened...

Bond 1 : Mai Ersland, Sister
Lyra's older sister. Free Warden who travels the land guiding travellers from the Hinterland to the Havens and back again safely. Lyra doesn't have the best relationship with her after the disappearance of their parents. She is jealous of Mai who she sees as having escape her responsibilities to the village leaving her stuck behind, leading to tensions between them.

Bond 2 : Highmoor
on the border of Hinterlands and Havens
Home village. Small walled settlement perched on cliffs overlooking the common trade route between the hinterland and the havens. Rugged and sturdy, often fights off bandit and beast attacks from the north.

Bond 3 : Corvus (Companion)
Corvus is a raven that just seemed to adopt Lyra, and the two have been inseparable on her many hunting trips. She can't quite explain it, but she has an almost supernatural bond with the creature, who has warned her about dangers and opportunities in equal measures over the years.

You also pick three assets to start the game with....

Assets: She is an ARCHER, with a faithful RAVEN COMPANION named Corvus, whom she shares some unspoken connection with. She is also a skilled IMPROVISER, relying on wits rather than brawn to surmount problems.

Next up... we begin!

THE JOURNEY TO STONEWICK (Rating : Troublesome)

Worried about her sister, Lyra goes to the Overseer of Highmoor to request permission to head south through the valley pass and look for her sister. Giliana, the elderly leader of the settlement tends to be overbearing and overprotective of the two sisters so she expects her request to be refused, however she hopes that she can convince them of the pressing need to find out what has happened to mai and the overdue traders.

To Lyra's surprise, Giliana readily agrees. There are no other scouts or hunters to spare right now, and Lyra's skills as a huntswoman have not gone unnoticed by the elders. Besides...it's her sister. Lyra is officially charged with finding her sister and the trade caravan she was escorting, returning with them as soon as she can.
Lyra leans in and kisses the band of cold black iron worn around the overseer's brow - swearing on the star metal to complete this task.

The Pass to Stonewick.
WEAK HIT (reach a waypoint, lose 1 supply) +3 progress
The journey began well but quickly became bogged down when the heavens opened up and turned the cold rocky pass into a rain-slicked hell. Soaking Lyra through to the skin and spoiling some of her supplies. Stopping briefly under a hooked overhanging rock, she considers her next move.

She decides to take this opportunity to have Corvus do a little scouting on her behalf while she tries to salvage her belongings. Offering the last of her rations for today to the bird in the hope that he'll help.

Corvus is not an idiot. He takes one beady look at the falling rain before training it back on Lyra reproachfully. Guilty at even making the request, she hands over the last non spoilt scraps of her provisions for the day with a sheepish shrug (-1 supply).
Sighing. She headed back out into the rain, following the gully southwards...

...WEAK HIT (-1 supply, reached waypoint, +3 progress)

Worried that her supplies were running low, Lyra hadn't even noticed she had reached the Echo Falls. A dizzying narrow bridge of stone arched over the semi-circular pit beneath, flanked on it's east side by water-worn grooves, each filled with multiple waterfalls, swollen and dangerous with the storm.

This was a good sign, however. She knew there was supposed to be a set of caves set into the cliff face, running behind the waterfalls themselves - often used by travellers of the pass for shelter. Perhaps she could find some trace of Mia or the other travellers here that hasn't already been washed away by the torrential rain?

...WEAK HIT (+1 momentum, success but with a complication)

True enough, scraps from a recently camped party of travellers litter the cave floor. Including a folded piece of notepaper with a crude drawing of a raven on it's surface, held in place beneath a heavy stone. Lyra would recognise her sister's terrible artistic talent a mile away.

She snatched the note, not noticing the shadow that moved across the light of the cave mouth behind her. It took an alarmed CAW! from Corvus to alert her something was wrong. Whirling on the spot, she heard a gruff cry as the raven harassed the stranger that had been sneaking inside the cave mouth.

A grim faced man in rags, a jagged makeshift shiv held in his right hand was advancing on her, murder in his eyes...

Note: I'm still not massively confident that i'm running combat correctly, but i'm running with it

Raider (dangerous)

(ambushed, so uses wits)
alerted by corvus, so I added a +1 bonus to the roll

Prepare to act (take initiative)

Lyra whirls around, alerted by Corvus and sees the bandit raider approaching from the cave mouth, harried by Corvus's fussing. She immediately pulls up her bow and snaps off a shot.

WEAK HIT (lose initiative, +1 harm)
The arrow catches the bandit in the shoulder but doesn't go deep, he growls, wrenching it out,tossing it aside and advances on Lyra. She fumbles for her hunting knife as the menacing figure approaches, losing the initiative to her attacker.

he lunges forward, knife raised...

WEAK HIT (+1 harm)

His knife comes down, digging a deep gash across Lyra's thigh, causing her to shriek in pain, (2 harm).


'PAY THE PRICE' : Something of value is lost or destroyed.

Lyra reeling from the knife wound in her leg loses her balance as the bandit swings a meaty fist around to impact with her jaw, sending her sprawling (2 harm). The note from her sister flies from her hand, vanishing into the torrent of water from one of the waterfalls to the depths below...

ACTION: TURN THE TIDE - Use Corvis to distract and gain initiative.

Corvus launches himself at the raider, throwing him off as the bird scratches and pecks at his eyes, Lyra regains her footing and recovers initiative.

MISS converted to a WEAK HIT (burning momentum)

Lyra grabs a loose rock, bringing it up and cracking it off of the attacker's jaw with a sickening crunch. He staggers backwards, giving her room to quickly pull out her bow and take aim...


Hands trembling, Lyra takes the shot..but it goes wide, whistling past the raider's ear. His grin only gets wider as he barrels towards her again. To make matters worse, there is laughter and voices coming from the entrance of the cave. Multiple voices.

The raider was not alone it seems.

- something of value is lost or destroyed
- a surprising development complicates your quest.

This has to end fast, so Lyra takes a terrible risk. Maneuvering so that the raider is between her and one of the foaming cave openings curtained by the rushing fall water, she charges forward in a tackle...attempting to push the raider off of the waterfall's edge...

The raider is too fast, easily jumping to one side, grabbing at Lyra's leathers and propelling her towards the edge. Gasping, flailing over empty air she topples forwards over the edge. Caught, at the very last minute on something. Looking back in fear, she see's the raider holding on to the end of her hunting bow - a gift from her sister - now the only thing preventing her toppling into the blackness below...

With his free hand, the bandit almost gently reaches out and places his hand over Lyra's, slowly squeezing as hard as he can. "Tha's too nice a weap'n to lose to this abyss i'll wager lass!" His low gravelled voice audible even over the roaring waters. "I reckon i'll be hangin' on t' it fer ya, like".

Lyra's grip fails. Her hand slips, and she vanishes into the dark depths below, her scream of rage drowned out by the torrent...

weak hit. (death desires something of you in exchange for your life)

There is darkness for a long time, and a chill cold that bites down to the bone. Lyra senses the figure before she sees it in the surrounding blackness. A woman...pale skin like alabaster and cold, impassive eyes, cloaked in a robe of black ravens feathers, she raises one arm from beneath her robes, talon-like fingernails pointing off to a distant glowing light. Towards an ancient windmill, standing tall on a lonely hill, the rising Tempest Hills behind it in silhouette.

Words echoes in Lyra's mind.


More of a command than request, but instinctively she realises that she is being given another chance. A means of surviving certain death...if, she accepts the task presented to her.

Weak hit (pass)
Gain "Cursed" status
Gain a new Iron Vow : "Destroy the horror that dwells in an abandoned windmill in the Hinterlands"

..with a rattling gasp, Lyra wakes. Face up, floating in the shallows of a deep underground river. Corvus sits on her chest, looking into her eyes with a mix of concern and curiosity. The bird squawks and waddles to the stone shore as she thrashes, suddenly awake and aware of her situation.

It would appear she is not currently dead, which is certainly what the crippling pain running through her body and the searing burn from the fresh dagger wound on her thigh would suggest. She glances down at her wrist - sporting a black circling tattoo of raven feathers burnt into the flesh. A visible mark of her supernatural bond to the pale woman. Clearly that was no dream.

She commits the image of the lonely windmill, what she can recall of it's location - somewhere in the Hinterlands - and whatever horror lies within, to memory. This had not been part of her plans, but she owed this figure a debt now, and she feared the consequences for breaking this bond far more than whatever must lie within...

For now though, she has bigger problems. A dark network of caves stretches out before her. Badly wounded, without her bow and with little in the way of supplies, she dragged herself out of the shallows of the underground river where she had drifted..and began looking for a way out of this place.

TO BE CONTINUED (As soon as i figure out the rules for "Delves"!)

Holy crap, that is awesome!! Well done and very tempting to inspire me to dive into it myself. I wonder if my kid would be more up for a cooperative venture than she has been for attempts at rpgs in the past (she hasnt wanted anything bad ever to happen to her character, and i'm not a good enough gm to figure out how to still tell a story).

Thanks! I'm still stumbling through the rules, but I'm getting there.

You could maybe have a look at Quest. It's a simplified TTRPG that's a little more kid friendly (if you have a look at the site they just added a short adventure which can be played in a non-fatal manner, which might be a good example to work from).

just as an aside, while i was looking around for videos on how to play Ironsworn, i happened across this person's youtube channel which is entirely focused on solo RPGs. Some good stuff in there!


- quick adjustment from previous update. I realised that The Delve book adds a new "failure" mechanic that i've not been utilising, which adds a counter to track the number of times you fail a roll, which can be used for specific actions when you acquire enough failures.

I also figured that everything to date would have been rather stressful, so i went ahead and applied a point of stress to Lyra for the events of the previous session! (not quite sure if that's how it works but it seemed appropriate)

Also, again...still learning the rules, so i'm expecting to make mistakes as i go!


Badly wounded, and low on supplies, Lyra catches her breath, bandages her wounds as best she can (+2 health, -1 momentum) , trying to ignore the faint tugging sensation pulling her attention in a northerly direction towards somewhere far distant from here. The honeycomb of tunnels that criss-cross the area surrounding the underground river might hold something of use, so she set about searching for anything she could use to resupply her dwindling resources.

A: Resupply

Alas. The caves are bare, and barren. Not even lichen grows here, and it burnt through most of the rest of her light source just to figure that out (-1 supply). Turning her attention to the slick, winding trail that ran parallel with the flowing river, she had little choice but to press on and hope for some means of escape, sticking to the shadows where she could.

Delve the Depths (shadow)
WEAK HIT - Find an Opportunity ("Terrain favours you or you find a hidden path")
take action with +1 bonus and +1 momentum. Not progress action

To her relief, the passage is clear and easy going on her wounded leg, eventually opening out into an expansive grotto, it's domed ceiling barely visible in the gloom and dotted with forests of stalagmites and stalactites.

Oracle : is there edible life here? -- yes
Is it likely to be dangerous? -- no

Pale, luminescent mosses and fungi sprouts from the mottled water-worn pits and cracks in the rocky cavern walls, casting a pale blue glow across the cavern.

A: Resupply
MISS (Pay the price : causes a delay / puts at disadvantage)

Gathering as much as she can, she sates her immediate hunger but the paltry handfuls of plant life are not enough to replenish her supplies much. The exertion causes stress, and she slides down the wall to the knees - events of the last hour or so catching up to her. Falling to the ground, clutching at her head she wonders how everything fell apart so quickly!


Her breathing calms. Memory of that raider's face leering at her as she fell, clutching her sister's gifted bow in his grubby hands. The surge of anger is enough to steel her nerves. She WILL escape this place. And she WILL make that bastard pay. (+3 momentum)

Turning back to the cavern, she begins looking for a means of getting back to the surface.

WEAK HIT ((mark progress and reveal a danger "Denizen protects an ancient secret.")

Deep within this large cavern, Lyra senses movement and ducks to one side, as a shadow passes across in front of a particularly virulent patch of luminous mosses.

Another raider. Good. That means there must be a way out of here.

Dressed in the same scraps of ragged leathers and furs - a woman this time. She hasn’t seen Lyra yet, seemingly engrossed in tracing the intricate carvings and bas reliefs of some sort of stone structure, jutting out of the far wall of the cavern, surrounded by a makeshift camp. Its design is curious. Not something Lyra has ever seen before. But for now, her focus is on the raider...she needs to be disposed of.

Lyra tries to ambush the raider, pulling her hunting knife and stalking closer. trying to strike without warning. She lacked the element of surprise last time, she was not about to squander that advantage THIS time.

A: ENTER THE FRAY (shadow)

..The raider turns, just too late to register the glint of iron, both in the bladed knife, and in the eyes of the wildwoman bearing down on her!

WEAK HIT - +1 hit, lose init

Wheezing, the breath gets knocked out of the bandit as the knife digs itself into her ribcage. The horrible sensation of iron scraping over raw bone and sinew is felt by both parties. Kicking out, the raggedy-haired woman pushes Lyra back, fumbling for and grabbing the club a her belt.

(burn momentum for STRONG HIT) - +1 hit/x2progress, regain initiative

Before the raider can raise the club to counterattack, Lyra is upon her again in her silent rage. Stabbing again, and again with the blade. Thick clarting spurts of blood dull the colours of the cave mosses.

WEAK HIT - +1 hit, lose init

Falling back against the wall of the stone structure, coughing up a bubble of thick, scarlet, the woman spits both ichor and curses at Lyra, who rushes forward to finish her off. Even weakened though, the raider is dangerous. She feints to one, side, catching the edge of the hunting knife with her shoulder, but repositioning for a counter-attack.


WEAK HIT - (Foe is no longer in the fight / "Others won't forget: You are marked for vengence")

Panting, Lyra awaits the counter attack, crouching down ready to lunge under the raised club. But the attack never comes. The club drops limply to the ground, followed by the Raider. Glazed, lifeless eyes reflect the pale blue luminescence of the cave, eerily. Lyra prods at the lifeless woman with her foot once or twice to make certain she is dead. Satisfied by the lack of response, she turns and surveys the strange structure before her...

A clue offers insight or direction

The small structure was perhaps once a temple of the ancient people that once lived in these lands. Though most of its carvings and decorations are long faded, she does find something of note. A twisting, spiralling diagram that - if she’s correct - might just be a map of these tunnels. Something that could direct her back to the surface, or at least direct her to a landmark of note.

Unearth a dire threat or reveal an unwelcome truth that undermines your quest
Pay the price (“It is harmful”)

While studying the map, lyra fails to spot the trip wire. There is a snap, followed by a rush of air as a wooden stake lurches down from the makeshift booby trap. One final last laugh from the dead raider outside no doubt.

(take 1 damage, press on)

Not willing to linger here too long for fear of more traps, or being discovered by the raider's friends, Lyra retreats out of the small temple, and with the image of the map committed to memory, starts to look for a way out of this place again…

Weak Hit - mark progress

Weak Hit - mark progress and find an opportunity
“A clue offers insight and direction”

Footprints! The twisting rising tunnels of the cavern change in structure, and the floor becomes littered with dirt and debris from the surface. The faintest of footprints in the dirt betray what must surely be the way out of this place! Lyra follows them eagerly, carefully… listening for trouble.

A: LOCATE YOUR OBJECTIVE (“the way out”) - 8 progress
WEAK HIT (locate objective but face an unforeseen hazard or complication)
Oracle - is the exit guarded [likely]? (yes)

Blinding light greets Lyra as the low oval of a cave mouth reveals the welcome sight of the slate-grey Ironlands sky beyond. As she advances towards the opening, she is alerted to voices, and ducks back against the cave wall. Guards. Two of them, chattering away by the mouth of the cave. Cursing her luck under her breath, she settles into the shadows and looks for an opportunity to sneak past them…


There! An opening.

One guard moves over to a cluttered table positioned close to the entrance, gesturing to the dice on the table and barking a challenge at the first. The other grunts in acknowledgement, moving over to take his place opposite. In that split second while both their backs are turned, neither see the bloody, haggard young huntress slipping through the opening into the harsh cool mid-day light of the Havens…

Weak, weary but alive, Lyra moves away from the cave mouth as quickly as she dares, heading towards the drifting smoke plumes of the settlement she can see in the distance. The town of Stonewick, where she hopes beyond hope her sister is waiting for her…


OPPORTUNITY (+1 to next move now / +1 momentum / opportunity)

On her way towards the town, lyra passes through a grove of yew trees. Finding a suitably sturdy, shapely branch, she fashions a crude bow using her knowledge of archery and hunting skills. It’s not much, and it probably wont hold for very long, but it’s something.

Shortly after that, she reaches the outskirts of Stonewick…

Stumbling into the sleepy town, wounded, hungry and exhausted, she seeks out assistance, near collapsing in the main square.

MISS (Pay the price : “A New Danger or Foe is revealed”)

No-one comes to her aid. Strange. Glancing about she realises that there is nobody around. The streets are deserted. Baskets of goods dropped to the ground. Signs of struggle. Voices put her back on alert, and she ducks into a side ally

...and her heart sinks as she sees more of the savage raiders that dogged her journey here coming out from one of the homes. Scrappy armour streaked in crimson.

Oracle : Did Lyra duck out of the way in time to avoid being spotted (Likely) -- Yes

Ducking back into the alleyway further. Lyra considered her next step. She was in no condition to fight a village full of these beasts...but perhaps that son of a goat who left her for dead is here somewhere with her bow? And what of her sister? She had to find out more, but first, she was in dire need of treating her wounds before they became infected..

MISS - pay the price / “it forces you to act against your best intentions”

She strikes a nerve as she tries to tighten the makeshift bandage against her wounds. Surprised at the sudden rush of blinding pain, she involuntarily shrieks out loud.

Oracle : Was she heard by raiders? - [likely] : YUP

Shouts from somewhere nearby, and running footsteps coming towards the alleyway. Limping, Lyra squeezes against the wall, holds her breath and pushes her will out towards Corvus, perched on the roof of the building opposite. It’s a long shot, but…

A: FACE DANGER (Deception, with Corvus’s help) - Shadow, +1
STRONG HIT , +2 momentum

Suspicious heads push into the alleyway, but they are distracted by the CAWING of Corvus, a shrieking, higher tone than his usual gravelly barks...almost perfectly mimicking the shriek Lyra let loose mere moments earlier. Not daring to even breath, she heard the two bandits taunt the bird for a few moments. One even throws a pebble to try to dislodge it.

It lands at her feet. Far too close for comfort.

Bored and laughing at their mistake, the figures withdraw. A door slams somewhere nearby. Lyra breathes a sigh of relief.

Continuing like this alone is going to get her killed. She needs to find out what’s going on. Slowly, carefully she makes her way to a cottage at the far end of the alley, across a seemingly deserted street. She needs more information to go on…

WEAK HIT (Burning Momentum)
The info complicates your quest or introduces a new danger.

Lyra sneaks into the cottage unseen. Scanning for trouble but finding the building empty she relaxes a little. A cursory search reveals little to go on - a half eaten meal, disturbed furniture and...a few spots of blood. Definitely signs of a struggle. She…

There was a CREAK from next to the bed at the opposite side of the room. Flicking her hunting knife out of her boot, she slowly advanced and peered round the side...into the eyes of…

Character Gen
Name - Serene
Role - Herder
Goal - Resolve A Dispute
Descriptor - Old

An elderly woman in a herder’s smock, trembling against the floorboards. She almost cries out when Lyra approaches. The huntress holds her hands out in a gesture of peace, then puts her finger to her lips.

“Shh, old mother. It’s ok...i’m a... friend, i guess. What has happened here!?”

Serene, the herder takes several minutes to compose herself. Explaining through trembling lips that the raiders came in the night from the west, leading heavy metal caged carts. Hitting the town while their Wardens slept. Most were killed, the rest were captured and rounded up. Loaded onto the carts and taken back west, towards the Deep Wilds.

Oracle : Did Serene see lyra’s sister? [50/50] Yes:
If yes - Was she loaded on to the carts [50/50] No

In the confusion, Serene hid here, under the bed. She had been visiting a friend, attempting to apologise for an immature slight - such a silly thing to worry about now with all this. But it probably saved her from the same fate. The raiders overlooked her, dragging her friend away screaming. When she dared stick her head out to see what was happening she saw him being loaded on to one of the carts, along with the town’s Overseer and others.

Lyra described her sister to Serene, hoping that she was not amongst those on the cart.

“No. I remember her, yes, but she avoided that fate. I saw her leaving the town, a handful of others behind. The others she sent south. She went in the same direction as the raiders...following the carts I think. Foolish girl. She should have hidden, like me…”

Wincing. Lyra sits down on the bed. Alive then. That's a relief. But still very much in need of help, she'd wager. She grimaces, and looks down at her blood-soaked bandages.

“I don’t suppose you are any good at binding a wound?” She says to the Herdswoman…
Risking scaring the woman even more, she ...exaggerates the possibilities of what might happen were she not. That her wounds would make it ...harder for her to save the old woman... should they be discovered..

A: COMPEL (lie/swindle)
MISS (refuse or make a demand that costs you greatly)

...Sadly the old woman is more shrewd than her emotional state would let on. “Get me out of here to safely, THEN i’ll see about fixing your leg up, how ‘bout that, eh”

Lyra falls back on the bed. Frustrated. Mind racing. A whole town picked up and carted off to who knows what horrendous fate. And her sister chasing close behind. Or perhaps even caught up herself now.

Though she couldn’t exactly talk

...after all, she was going to follow right along after them herself, wasn’t she?

“Ok old woman...gather anything you’ll need. We’re getting out of here.”

...but first, she needed to see a man about a certain Bow....

Dang! This is too fun! Even if i'm not doing things 100% correct


A: COMPEL (Serene to follow) - charm

Serene nervously agrees to follow, but asks something in return. Help her recover a valuable heirloom from her own cottage before the wilders get their hands on it. Lyra rolls her eyes.

"We don’t have time for this".

Stubbornly, Serene refuses to leave without that promise. Lyra reluctantly agrees, but refuses to be bound by that promise on Iron...too much could go wrong, and she had the sinking feeling that this woman was going to be the death of her.

The two of them leave, heading for the old woman’s cottage across town…

- STRONG HIT (Opportunity - “an aspect of the history of nature of this place is revealed”

Stonewick is a traders colony, and lyra and serene happen to find themselves passing through a corner of the market not yet picked clean by the raiders. She takes this opportunity to look for supplies and equipment of use…

WEAK HIT (+2 supply, -2 momentum)

Relieved to finally replenish her supplies. Lyra recovers fresh food, and even manages to scavenge up some bandages and healing tinctures, as well as other travelling gear. If she has to head west, towards the Deep Wilds, she might as well be prepared...

WEAK HIT (mark progress and reveal a danger)
Blocked or guarded path

Serene’s cottage was located at the far side of the town's central market. Between them and it, however, was a burly, bearded raider, picking away at discarded fruit from a market stall with a wicked looking dagger.

Oracle - does he see Lyra? (50/50) - Yes

The figure glances up at just the wrong moment, a wide grin forming on his face. Giggling madly under his breath at some private joke, he advances…

Oracle - does he yell for backup? (Unlikely) - No

Confident in his ability to deal with an elder and a teenager, the raider sees no need to call for help. Lyra has no choice but to face him head-on. Lyra hoped that would be his undoing.

- MISS (pay the price) / foe has initiative
“the current situation worsens”

The wilder flexes his rippling muscles...close up, he looks far more dangerous than he first appears… (increased the creature difficulty by 1)

CLASH (at range) +edge
WEAK HIT - 1 hit, pay the price. Foe still has initiative

The sentry rushes forward faster than lyra can react, knife vanishing into her chest before she can even react. Searing white pain blinds her for a moment, and looking down, all she can see is the gnarled hilt of the crude, jagged blade slick with fresh red.

ENDURE HARM - Health reduced to 0

Roll on FACE DEATH table
-- Opportunity!

...Lyra blacks out to the screams of Serene, who she sees rushing away from the scene, the raider in pursuit, laughing maniacally. She has apparently been forgotten and assumed dead, but that really feels like it's not far from being the truth.

When she briefly wakes, she doesn’t know how long she’s lain there but the sky is darkening to dusk, and fresh blood cakes the front of her armour where the dagger struck in a thick, clotted pool. "Lodged in a rib", she thinks to herself. "must have missed a vital organ by mere millimetres".

Gasping, weak and wounded, she digs the blade free, cupping a hand over the wound as she stumbles into a shadowed corner to rest.

Darkness comes again, and she drifts off into a painful torpor.

* * *

She dreams that her head rests on the lap of that cold, porcelain-skinned figure, wings of silky black raven feathers curled around her for protection. Black taloned hands stroke at her hair gently. A sense of mild, motherly reproach filling her mind, as the mysterious woman wonders if she shouldn’t rescind her deal, and claim Lyra for herself as she had intended the first time she brushed this close to death, rather than watch her suffer more on her journey.

But...one more chance to prove herself, she thinks.

Else she will have to find another champion.

* * *


It’s around midnight when Lyra wakes.

Good. The darkness will help her move around easier.

Stumbling to her feet, bloodied and weak, she uses some of the supplies gathered from the market to treat her wounds. Bandages of course, but also those healing tinctures and creams have managed to stop the bleeding. Even helping with the deep gash on her thigh, now tingling pleasantly with application of the antiseptic ointment. (+2 health)

Once again no longer at deaths door..she continues on her way. She briefly wonders if Serene made it. Guiltily she suspects she did not.

She should leave here. Get the hells out before things get any worse. Either find help, or chase after her sister…

WEAK HIT - Mark progress and find an opportunity…
“You locate an interesting or helpful object”

Son. Of. A. Goat.

It’s him.

The bastard that pushed Lyra off of the waterfall.

Fondling her bow in a way that makes her skin crawl. She’ll have to be sure to wash it as soon as she pries it from his cold, dead hands. He seems to be alone, on the outskirts of town, humming some tuneless melody with a mug of stolen ale in one hand and her bow in the other.

Weak as she is...this is a fight she intends to win.

Raising her makeshift yew bow, praying she's as skilled a bowyer as she thinks she is, she advances in shadow and moves to get a better shot.


STRONG HIT - +2 momentum / gain initiative

STRIKE (from range)
WEAK HIT (+harm / lose initiative)

THUNK. The wilder sprays a mouthful of ale into the air as the arrow pierces his shoulder-blade. Gasping, he twists around, seeing only the haggard, snarling face of a madwoman glaring back at him. Dropping the bow, he draws a short-sword of rotten-looking iron from his belt and advances.. “Y...yell regret that wench! Y...oh!”


“Me.” Lyra replies through gritted teeth. The man advances…

CLASH (at range, so Wit)
+ harm, gain initiative
Plus find an opening, +1 harm.

The fool walked right into Lyra's trap. Her position means she can predict the approach he’d take to get to her. See the opening he leaves in his defences as he clambers over that one...particular...box….

Just like hunting a really, REALLY stupid deer.

The second arrow takes out his knee, sending him sprawling to the ground, howling at the shattering of cartilage and tissue. Lyra wonders for a moment if there are others close by who hear him cry out. Right now she doesn’t particularly care. She notches an arrow for one more attack.

STRONG HIT / Opportunity.

“Before I kill you” she calmly speaks. The tremulous anger in her voice well hidden. “Where are you taking the townsfolk”.

COMPEL (Threaten)
WEAK HIT (they do what you want but ask something in return)

“Gah...let...let me walk away from here and i’ll tell ya. Swear it. Swear it on iron, like. It weren’t nothing personal, like. Nothing personal… You let me go and i’ll take you there mesself. My word on it!”

Lyra pauses for a heartbeat.

The third arrow hits the marauder in the chest, right where the dagger had pierce her own a few hours earlier.

Only, it’s a few millimetres to the left.


The fourth arrow pierces his eye, with enough power to crack through the skull, it’s pointed tip jutting out the back of his head. He slumps to the ground, quite dead.

Lyra coldly steps over him, collects her bow, and walks away, as Corvus silently drops from the sky to land on her shoulder...


Se turns west, towards the Deep Wilds, following her sister.

I think i'm going to move this to it's own thread, just so i don't keep clogging up this one with my ramblings.
This is too fun though, if you're into TTRPGs but can't get a group together, or you just like having some sort of structure to do some creative writing around, Ironsworn is WELL worth checking out!

ok, future updates will be here, should ANYONE be even remotely interested in keeping up with it

Goshdamn, how did I not discover this thread until now?

I hope this is still THE place for discussing all gamebooks. I was mainly brought up on the Fighting Fantasy series with a couple of the Lone Wolf books under my belt, although my memory of those are extra hazy.

I have some thoughts...but I shall return!

please do! i've been too tied up with stuff to do much more here (or with my ironsworn game) but always glad to see this rise to the top

I'm probably going to end up talking about a bunch of the digital renditions of these gamebooks. I hope it's not too much a derailment.

I think I knew how it started recently. I was looking at the D&D rulebooks my friend gifted to me two birthdays ago and thought to myself, "gee, maybe I should dig into those" and very quickly followed by "aaaand, what would be the purpose of learning a tabletop RPG at this time, of all times?"

I still plan on reading more of the Player's Rulebook. I even picked it up and flipped through a bunch of pages yesterday!

Maybe a day later I received another Apple App Store list of recommended titles and among the games mentioned in the e-mail was Fighting Fantasy Classics. I downloaded it and promptly began playing Bloodbones. It's just... alright. It made me remember that I did try out the Classics launcher on Steam a year ago and was so bummed out that all the old classics from my youth were locked behind a paywall.

It also reminded me that I had bounced off of the rather excellent digital tabletop miniature adaptation of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain. I promptly reinstalled that, along with the Tin Man Games' standalone version of The Forest of Doom. I'm just resampling bits and pieces of these digital gamebooks and it's really taking me back.

I discovered the original Fighting Fantasy books from the public library when I was in elementary school. What a revelation this was! I got a couple of my less geeky friends into playing them for a hot minute. We all fell off of playing them pretty soon although I did keep collecting them and they were actually a great comfort to me in the early days of being a junior in highschool. So yeah as a 13-year old in 8th grade I would still walk out to the local bookshop regularly on weekends, obviously with nothing better to do, and check on what new FF books had come in.

In 9th grade I wrangled a disparate group of friends to come to my house after school for an attempt at running a Dungeoneer campaign. That maybe lasted a couple hours and was a comprehensive failure.

Besides the nostalgia, I think the most appealing thing about the gamebooks was the survivalist, dungeon-crawling aspect of it that's been partially captured by roguelikes and Soulsbourne-style games in our modern times. Many of these FF gamebooks are super unforgiving. Take a wrong turn: death. Didn't find or buy an important item earlier in the campaign: death. Heaven forbid you roll a SKILL score of 9 or less and still decide to embark on your quest: yeah you gonna die real soon. But then you would replay from the beginning with a fresh character (provided weren't shamelessly analog save scumming or fudging dice rolls) with knowledge of what you had experienced before and give it another whirl. That sense of adventure and... intimacy with the a singular design vision... without the need for willing friends with time on their hands. Well, it captured something that even the best RPG video games at the time could not.

As for Fighting Fantasy, I always wish they added more complexity to their core rules. The fighting mechanics could get really boring and really relied on you rolling a high Skill stat right off the bat. While it was a streamlined system for solo adventures, I continued to be disappointed with how little it changed when they expanded into their tabletop RPG books like Dungeoneer. In a way, maybe I should be careful what I wish for. @pyxistyx: this Ironsworn game is probably what my pre-teen self wished Fighting Fantasy would become but it actually looks like too much. Sometimes simplicity and elegance wins the day. But yeah, if I had a dollar for everytime I wished Fighting Fantasy would incorporate a damage table for weapons or take into account things like armor. Many of the gamebooks did do things like, oh you picked up a special shield, give yourself a free reroll the next time you're hit and want to Test your Luck to reduce damage. Very simple stuff like that.

I still have dozens of these books stored away in a closet at my parent's townhouse. Just a big row of those lime green book spines collecting dust. Now I wish I had stored them in a box with some silica gel packets. They've been sitting in that closet doing nothing for at least 10 years. Good memories!

Now I think I have to fire up Firetop Mountain. They really did a great job with that Kickstarter! I can only hope they decide to do a version for Deathtrap Dungeon or the Sorcery! series.