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Tales From The Bird Islands Development




Ulysses
Thu Nov 28 00:21:39 2013
Hi Everyone.
What do you think of this idea:
Isle of the Cyclops was obviously meant to be the first episode of a series. Since the adventure is set on Goi-Han, one island in the archipelago, this raises the intriguing concept of having a number of different adventures, each on a different island. At the end of each adventure, the player can be offered the choice to travel to any of the other islands.
So, who would write these adventures? Well, any volunteers?
If the authors and aspiring authors who frequent this website could each write one adventure, we can join them all together into one grand (ever-growing?) adventure.

Rules to follow would be:
1. Short adventures about the same size as the original, say 100 references.
2. As these are set in the 'Bird Islands" there must be descriptions of birds - lots of birds.
3. The story can't be world-changing given that these are out of the way islands known for nothing other than their bird life.
4. Each story must include an item that is not used in the adventure it first appears in, but can be used by other authors to unlock secret areas on their own island.
5. The original adventure is set in the Fighting Fantasy world, so the new adventures must also be in that world and use the standard FF rules.
6. The new adventures must use the same playable characters as the original.

So who wants to write a gamebook set in the Bird Islands?
Of course the webmaster needs to like and support this idea if they are to be adapted for online play (gamebooks would of course be subject to the normal restrictions).
Yes, I do like this idea, and will try and make online versions of the result.

Tammy
Thu Nov 28 01:51:55 2013
Sounds interesting but I would need a pdf version of an adventure to be more familiar with what I am supposed to do. I'd need maps and general info if you're looking for 100 ref external game. I died in combat playing Isle Of the Cyclops so I really have no idea what it's about. And it's kind of strange this coincidence because I have three books literally on birds.
The PDF version is here. As for what it's about, the title is pretty explanatory, but the broader concept is that rather than a specific adventure or storyline, the gamebook presents a world to explore. Like Fabled Lands apparently.

As Ulysses says, there isn't really much information about the Bird Islands around. Maybe there's more at Titan Rebuilding but it's also possible that Isle Of The Cyclops contains everything there is to know on the subject. One thing that springs to mind is that they are in the Old World (ie Sorcery!) so that may have a bearing on what they should be like.

Ulysses
Thu Nov 28 02:28:36 2013
I should have said up to 100 refs. It could certainly be shorter. There are islands of all sizes, so there can be adventures of all sizes too. Since each adventure is separate, you don't really need to be familiar with much from the original story except the character profiles. Information about the world can be found online, but there isn't much about the Bird Islands, so you can do whatever you want re: island design, although the climate seems to be tropical.

Yaztromo
Thu Nov 28 03:16:04 2013
Great idea, Ulysses!
You can count e in!
We'll need a bit of co-ordination, however, for example wrt the special objects.
In the Island of Cyclops there is the option of going to the port and boarding on a ship: we may want to start from there and add a connection there...
There are two ways out of Isle Of The Cyclops in the original. If you pay for passage to Sempura you go to The Valley Of Bones which Andrew Wright had at least started on (see further up this thread). If you leave in your own vessel you go to Sea Lords Of The Archipelago. However, I would recommend not worrying about the connections at this stage, that will be relatively straightforward to do later. It would be better to concentrate on the destination to begin with.

Yazromo
Thu Nov 28 03:23:01 2013
In this game, you have to press every time the "fight" option after each round, even if you are not given the "flee" option (or any other alternative option.
Maybe it makes sense to have all the fights automatically completed (i.e. all the rounds fought out until one dies) or allowing other options to choose between a round and the next.
It's something that's on the list to be done. For now, the reason these fights don't complete automatically is because there's stuff going on behind the scenes.

Yaztromo
Thu Nov 28 03:27:43 2013
Here it is:

"The wharf is a barnacle-encrusted structure that lurches haphazardly out in the bay. There is a tumbledown hut here, advertising passage to the western isle of Sempura. Meanwhile, fishermen of Han are unloading wicker baskets of scuttling purple crabs from red-sailed catamarans and, further out, a larger galleon or two roll gently at anchor with the tide."

Currently, in the Isle of Cyclops this opion leads nowhere, but we may want to change it and link to a number of islands interconnected!

Yaztromo
Thu Nov 28 03:29:25 2013
The Isle of the Cyclops is a 50 sections adventure.

Ulysses
Thu Nov 28 03:32:42 2013
@Yaztromo

Yes, I was imagining that when you are going to leave the island, you have the options to visit any of the available islands (adventures that have been written), so the list would grow over time.
One interesting element about Isle of the Cyclops is that you can leave the island anytime. I think this should be retained in the subsequent adventures so you can 'quit' an island at any time and come back later. The only time you couldn't revisit an island is if you have successfully completed the adventure there.
I think we can coordinate whatever we need to coordinate through this Guestbook. Also, I think it's ok for an item to be used in multiple places, although one use is better.
I forgot to mention that we would need to keep the same currency: talons, across the islands to allow you to transport your money between adventures.
If it all goes online here, there may be an issue with transporting items between adventures, which while it has and can be done before in the WWGB saga, I suspect it would need to be minimal. Therefore items would need to be defined as 'special' or 'dispensable' with only the special items being carried between adventures.
Anyway, we can discuss all this for a few weeks before putting pen to paper.
Transporting items between adventures is fine, but of course any mobile item must be added to all the adventures. The potential problem is ending up with too many items in total (for the way the software is written). The same principle applies to states of play : for example, if you've agreed to kill the Cyclops, this information needs to be stored even when you leave the island.

Anyway, I will cross that bridge when I come to it, for now I would just ask that writers direct their creativity more towards descriptions, plots and encounters rather than superfluous items where possible.

Ulysses
Thu Nov 28 03:35:41 2013
@Yaztromo

Yes, I checked after writing my post and saw that IotC is only 50, but I think 100 works as a upper limit. We can have everything from densely populated islands (50 - 100 refs) to mere atolls (perhaps having only 10-20 references).
Andrew Wright likes to cram as much as possible into each reference. Most other authors probably would take 100 references to write Isle Of The Cyclops.

pi4t
Thu Nov 28 11:32:18 2013
I don't see why you shouldn't be able to return to a 'completed' island, especially if we're going for a fabled realms style game. Besides, that implies that every island must have one (and only one) 'main' quest, and nothing else. Even IotC doesn't have that: suppose you want to return to pick up another blessing, or something from the market?

I'm also not altogether convinced that it should always be the same characters, but I'll let that slide. We might want some kind of adventure to cover sea travel between the islands, too, but that would probably wait until we had some more idea of what islands there are. We could then adjust sections where you set out on your own ship to take you to the 'sea' adventure, which could then take you to other islands depending on the routes you took.

Incidentally, the player should be seen to gain something from completing an adventure on an island. In IotC they get a ship of their own, thus allowing them to travel where they want without paying for transport, so that's fine. There should generally be some form of reward, though, as there's always an element of risk and difficulty with an adventure. That would also mean we could, later on, make some adventures more difficult on the basis that the player's gained more rewards: be that armour, weaponry, money to spend on equipment, or the like. I'd be cautious about including items which grant instant kills, though, like one of the items you can get from the cyclops: it could be used to kill another powerful boss, which would be rather overpowered.

With that said, I'd be happy to write one or two adventures. Perhaps a more densely populated island, which is covered by a small town? We should probably collaborate on what each of us is doing, so we don't end up writing adventures which are too similar. (It's happened before, even in professional games like Neverwinter Nights 2 apparently!)
As far as I'm concerned, the online version would definitely use the same four characters, but it's up to the individual authors what they want to do in the text version. Similarly, I am liable to strip out or simplify any unnecessary or awkward to implement items. If you consider 'Swiftstinger' too powerful then you could simply introduce an enemy that can only realistically be beaten by using it, so it then becomes a plot point instead of an imbalance.

pi4t
Thu Nov 28 11:42:12 2013
I really need to learn not to post on this guestbook until I'm sure I'm ready. I've just remembered that I had some thoughts some time ago about what 'The Valley of Bones' could be. I'd imagine the island being reasonably large, and separated into two separate colonies reachable only by sea, due to some creature (a manticore?) which was hunting and eating anyone who entered the valley separating the islands. The player's task, obviously, would be to slay that manticore, and gain access to its hoard of items it had taken from villagers and previous adventurers.

Ulysses
Thu Nov 28 12:07:00 2013
@pi4t

Returning to the same location is fine, I would just want to avoid being able to play the same adventure or quest again. It could just be left up to individual authors to write in revisit options, with some areas such as the port town being accessible even if the main quest on the island has been completed. If an island has multiple quests available, I would suggest that the author needs to write the story accordingly, allowing for multiple visits without it becoming clumsy.

The reason for sticking with the same four characters is based on the supposition that Isle of the Cyclops would form the entry point for the network of adventures. While this doesn't need to be the case, being able to create additional characters could lead to chaos.
The four characters already represent the standard RPG classes of cleric, thief, wizard and warrior and I suspect that any new characters are just going to be variations of these.

Ulysses
Thu Nov 28 12:33:47 2013
If we are going to collaborate on this project I suppose we should also consider whether we do in fact want to base it off Isle of the Cyclops. I wasn't aware that Andrew Wright already had some connecting stories. We could start afresh with a generic character in an undefined world, shift the technological scale to include steampower and gunpowder if we wanted to make it a little different. We could define a background to create consistency (I.e. Currency, myths, distant political powers), then expand from there

Thoughts?
Andrew Wright planned some connecting stories, but I don't believe he actually wrote them. I've emailed him about this, so hopefully we will find out. To be honest, I think your original plan was a sensible one, and having the setting be a collection of islands even makes a virtue of the fact that there will be quite a range of writing styles. Attempting to define a whole new background by committee runs the risk of talking for ages and producing nothing. There are probably those who would enjoy that process, and that's fine, but I don't think it would result in any gamebooks. It's up to you though obviously.

duffmeister
Thu Nov 28 18:47:55 2013
All the ideas for adding a series to 'Isle of the Cyclops' sound very interesting. I'd love to have a go at joining in and doing an island. The archipelago setting is great for this kind of free-wandering exploration. That said I suppose it would depend what Andrew Wright thought of the idea, though I think it shows how much his work's appreciated that it's generated interest in other gamebooks set in the Bird Islands. I don't know about anyone else but I always got a vibe of Goi-Han and its surrounding islands being something akin to Titan's analog for Polynesia, with the same boating setting and a similar backdrop of culture and folklore. It makes for a much more exciting setting than the standard Medieval Europe setting favoured by so much fantasy.

D-L-T
Thu Nov 28 21:42:23 2013
@Ulysses: I'd be interesting in trying my hand at adventure book writing, if you're serious about this project.

Ulysses
Thu Nov 28 22:07:46 2013
So it looks like we have a few willing authors.

Perhaps we can each post a brief descriptions of our prospective gamebook including:
-Setting
-Story outline
-The special object for others to use

This is just to avoid any similarities or major contradictions, and to coordinate who should include what special object in their own story.
So we should all be prepared to modify our ideas once we see what everyone is planning.

(Don't forget the birds! They're called the Bird Islands for a reason!)

Yaztromo
Fri Nov 29 03:38:29 2013
Hummingbirds Island
-Setting: a very heavily forested island where the nature is subtly hostile and its easy to get lost. Only animals and vegetation resent (apparently).
-The forest is a way to have a quiet meditation time for a powerful character in the thickest of the forest. If successful, we'll be teleported away to a small selection of islands.
- Special objects that can be used from other adventures: Lantern (from the Isle of the Cyclops), trunk (adventure still to be written)
- Special objects for others to use: jade statuette of Courga

Does it make (some) sense?
Congratulations on being the first one brave enough to volunteer a plan. The two things that I am wary of here are the teleportation and the trunk, both for artistic rather than technical reasons.

When you say 'a small selection of islands', are these islands also part of your gamebook? Or did you mean that you would be teleported into other gamebooks? If the latter, remember that there is already a means of transportation around the islands : your boat. An alternative to teleportation might be that you find a shrine to the sea god (Hydana again, or similar) in the forest, pray at it, and as a result get safe passage through some dangerous seas later on (and perhaps be able to reach somewhere that you wouldn't be able to otherwise).

As for the trunk, that's a pretty large item. And presumably, since you want to make use of the trunk, the character is potentially going to be dragging a full trunk around everywhere, which seems a little odd to me.

All of this is course just my opinion, you can choose to go along with it or not. I'm only likely to get dictatorial when it comes to the online version.

Ulysses
Fri Nov 29 03:57:21 2013
@Yaztromo

Your second point (about the story) is a bit hard to understand. We don't really need to know the details, though.

If you can provide a more detailed description of the objects, that would be helpful as they will need to be described in the same way by all authors that use them. And just a cautionary note based on what the webmaster said previously: the number of objects that can be transported between islands should be kept to a minimum since they need to be able to appear as objects in every adventure (which means they are there even if the player does not find them). Here, you already have 3 (lantern, trunk and statuette). I would like to suggest that the maximum is two items: one that you need from elsewhere (this is optional BTW), and one that is provided for use elsewhere.

I hope those suggestions are ok. Feel free to rip my own story brief apart when I post it later...
Of course the lantern already exists in Isle Of The Cyclops, so I think that it can be used with a clear conscience. It's after all the sort of generic item that might be useful in many places.

Ulysses
Fri Nov 29 06:39:33 2013
My proposed Bird Islands gamebook outline:

Setting
A large town called Blackmaw with a fortress and a safe harbour on an island (called Blackfort Island) that is otherwise surrounded by high cliffs of dark volcanic stone. The story will take place in the town and the surrounding seas with little occurring in the interior.

Story Outline
The town is currently ruled by a self-styled Baron who has gained a stranglehold on the spice trade and is building a fleet to protect his interests, rapidly becoming despotic. His levying of taxes and his brutal enforcers make him unpopular. Even worse he has recently become an adherent of a religion venerating a savage deity of some sort and has passed laws concerning it, with violators being captured and sacrificed (although people speculate as to whether his faith is genuine or it is just another means of control).
Into all this steps the player who can find various jobs based on who their character is. They can earn money and leave the island again as many times as they want. The main quests on the island are to either: steal the Baron's gold to redistribute or keep; or to free prisoners kept as sacrifices to the savage deity.
Whatever you do, it is possible to become 'Wanted', in which case you risk being captured and sacrificed.

Special items
In the Baron's treasury I'll include any item that another author needs which is made of precious metals and/or jewels.
For the item needed on this island, I would like it to be a lost satchel with a sealed letter asking for help from the Governor of South Analand located in Gummport in light of the Baron's growing despotism and territorial ambitions. The letter has obviously not been delivered, with the messenger being killed enroute.

Tammy
Fri Nov 29 17:09:48 2013
Why not put that letter on a smaller island filled with venomous birds and spiders. The letter is found floating in an acid pool.

I think I'm lost here.
The idea is that the item Ulysses has described should come from another gamebook, written by somebody else. Now that he has described the item, anybody who wants to (you, for example) can post an outline for their gamebook/island and state that they will include it. And, yes, it certainly could be in an acid pool on an island filled with venomous birds and spiders.



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