Writing an Open-World Gamebook Using Random Tables
Gamebooks Publishing Random Tables Fighting Fantasy

Writing an Open-World Gamebook Using Random Tables

Duncan Thomson

My next major project is writing and publishing an open-world gamebook!

Gamebooks Old, Gamebooks New

My first experience with gaming was probably Caverns of the Snow Witch, one of the the Fighting Fantasy titles. I was hooked after my first character died soon after crossing an ice bridge, killed by a mammoth. And a lifetime of gaming continued.

Then last year I discovered more gamebooks, Many Gamebooks. Among them were Fabled Lands, my first exposure to open-world gamebooks, where you can go from book to book like an open sandbox.

And onwards to try Legendary Kingdoms, Steam Highwayman and others.

Many gamebooks are by British authors, and are an intersection between solo gaming and British fantasy.

Publishing a Gamebook

And so wrote a draft last November, and enjoyed the experience. As I'm already publishing for games with random tables, publishing a gamebook isn't such a large test.

The first one will be a digital-only gamebook, a test for mechanics, layout, the writing and trying out some concepts. The eventual series I really want to write is set in a fantasy westcountry, in a similar situation to the Romans withdrawing around 410 AD.

But my first gamebook, will be more limited in scope, maybe expanded into it's own open-world series. I know there will be a town, some wilderness and a ruin / dungeon to explore.

And random tables, lots of random tables.

Gamebook Random Tables

Random tables for a gamebook can provide variety and simulation of various systems.

I'm hoping to use them for some of...

  • Weather
  • Random Encounters
  • Events
  • Treasure Finds
  • Carousing
  • Minor Items
  • Portents
  • Parts of Character Generation
  • Customising Foes

And anything else I can think of where it makes sense or will enhance the overall experience.

Finishing Up

What would you use random tables for in a gamebook or open-world gamebook?

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