For more than twenty years the Chronicles of Arborell has been a growing source of interactive gamebook fiction and for the past nine years the home of the Windhammer Prize, the largest gamebook related literature competition in the world today. At its foundation the Chronicles is a gamebook series but one that has, over time, grown to include a diverse collection of associated materials. In conjunction with the gamebooks these documents give form to the long history of Arborell and allow a reader to explore any part of it they wish, as they wish.
New travellers within this world will no doubt be confronted by the huge amount of material that is available. More than forty titles are currently available to download and the first question to be answered must be, where to begin? The answers lies with the first core gamebook, Windhammer. There can be found the story of Halokim Vesh, and within its pages a good understanding of the world of Arborell and its many characters and conflicts. There you can make a start. Where you go from there is your choice.
It can be said that what sets gamebooks apart from other forms of literature is the ability of the reader to influence the progress of a story. Within their pages a reader can decide how they want to proceed, and in doing so change the fate of the characters they play. What sets the Chronicles apart from most other gamebook series is that you can not only influence the destiny of the characters you play, but also explore the culture, mythologies and histories of all the protagonists whether they be Man or Oera'dim. Both sides of this world are laid open for exploration using novels, novellas, collections of mythological stories, fully functional fantasy languages, table-top roleplaying games, wargames, and a multitude of short micro-gamebook adventures. All are available to a traveller who decides to make the journey, and it is a journey not yet complete. More than eighty titles are planned, all playing their part in unveiling the story of Arborell. I hope you will take the journey with me.
What follows below is an explanation of the main components of the Chronicles of Arborell that are currently complete or under development. Much more awaits for the future but for the moment the following will suffice.
The Chronicles of Arborell is a wide-ranging interactive fantasy that will ultimately include more than 80 individual titles. When complete this series will encompass:
- 18 gamebooks,
- a series of full-length novels and novellas,
- supplementary documentation including fighting systems, almanacs, atlases and role-playing sourcebooks,
- the Torchlight card-based role-playing system,
- an extensive catalogue of two-page microgamebooks,
- a number of fully functional fantasy languages,
- a large collection of mythologies and other historical documents,
- a series of table-top strategy wargames and campaign settings.
Most stand alone as individual titles, but all come together as one to take the reader on an epic journey through the long history of Arborell. At this time more than forty of these titles are available, with the remainder to be completed in the coming years. How these different books and documents fit together can be found within the "Finding your way" flowchart and its associated Series Synopsis. The following information will provide some insight into the nature of the Chronicles for new Travellers.
The Core Gamebooks
All of the titles in this series are founded upon three core gamebooks. These three books, Windhammer, Earth and Stone, and The Jotun War chronicle the adventures of Halokim Vesh, a Dwarvendim thief, as he is used by the Powers of his world to save the Four Nations of Men from destruction. Against the dangers of the Dragon Windhammer, the malevolence of the Shadowch, or the sinister machinations of the Clavern'sigh, Halokim must draw from his own courage, and the hidden magic of his world, to bring unity between Man and Oera'dim. Only with this accomplished can all rally against a far greater danger, one that none can withstand alone.
These core gamebooks are the foundation of the Chronicles and it is around them that the world of Arborell is built. A range of associated novels and gamebooks give insight into the main characters and events that have shaped the world that you must travel through, and in the mythologies and histories of the Oera'dim and the Nations of Men can be found the reasons for the malice and distrust that has triggered the many wars endured by all. There is much that can be discovered here, you need only begin your journey.
The Chronicles Companion Series
The Chronicles Companion Series is a range of associated novellas that tell the stories of characters and events that have shaped the world within which you must travel. In the course of your adventures you will meet many characters and be told of great events that have changed the histories of the Four Nations and of the Kraals of the Oera'dim. The Companion Series tells these stories from the perspective of the characters themselves, and gives the reader the opportunity to delve as deeply as they may wish into the background of each gamebook adventure.
The Complete Blood and Iron
The Blood and Iron novel takes the reader back into the history of Arborell and unlocks the secrets and lore of its ancient inhabitants. You will be an eyewitness to the journeys of Mallen and Tomas Cael as they travel deep into the wastelands of the Hordim, ultimately to discover the true nature of their mortal enemies. This is a tale of adventure and discovery, based on the popular web serial but now complete and available online and in an ebook format.
Song of the Dromannion
The Song of the Dromannion is the story of the first settlers in Arborell, written from the perspective of a refugee of the Old World named Emmers Nahr. Here is the only remaining record of the Last Fleet of the Free Nations. Within its pages can be found the journal of a great voyage, and the tribulations of a people fleeing a malevolent Enemy. This story uncovers the origins of the Four Nations, and in doing so hints at the strength of those that have found their way safely to the new world of Arborell. This journal is now complete and can be read online, or obtained as an HTML download and in a new PDF edition.
Jotun of the West gamebooks
The Jotun of the West interactive series is a new selection of gamebook adventures that introduce to readers the character of Tansen'Delving, a Jotun of the Delving Kraal and an important part of the second core gamebook in the Chronicles of Arborell series - Earth and Stone. Through the four gamebooks planned for this associated mini-series the reader will follow the quests of Tansen as he rises from committed enemy of the Four Nations to Halokim Vesh's ally in his quest to defeat the Shadowch. These stories take the reader to the lands of the Jotun of the West, and deep into the culture of the Jotun themselves. All information regarding this series can be found at the Jotun of the West webpage.
Torchlight Adventures - Quest for the Orncryst
Quest for the Orncryst is the first in a series of role-playing adventures designed using the Torchlight game system. As the first ever card-based gamebook adventure it consists of three main elements; a character generation and combat system drawn from the traditions of gamebooks and interactive fiction; a card-based map creation mode that allows for the generation of unique role-playing settings; and a manual-based set of 200 section references that provide all the information needed to conduct your adventure.
Unlike other gamebook adventures, the Torchlight system allows for an unlimited number of variations to the way the game may be played. No two games will be the same, and each will have their own hardships and challenges to overcome. Quest for the Orncryst includes the new Windhammer character generation rules and combat system, now the standard rule system for all interactive gamebooks in this series.
Torchlight Text Edition
As an expansion of the Torchlight series a Text Edition has been produced for all players who cannot take full advantage of the card-based system that stands at the foundation of this game. The text edition provides all the same functionality whilst providing an unlimited number of dungeon variations, creature encounters, search and trap scenarios, and room environment modifiers. This is a full-featured role-playing setting that includes printable character, combat and mapping sheets and as with the card version is free to download from the Chronicles download page. Quest for the Orncryst can also be played online and can be found here. It is envisaged that all further games produced in this series will have both a card and text version available. An audio tutorial will also be released shortly as a guide to visually impaired players who want to get the most from this new gamebook adventure.
Torchlight Companion - Well of Shadows
The Well of Shadows is a companion gamebook to the Torchlight Adventure Series and is a prequel to the popular Quest for the Orncryst gamebook described above. This interactive PDF adventure tells the story of how the Deep Guild of Das Vallendor found the location of the Orncryst of the Trell'sara and of the mission that uncovered its whereabouts. Well of Shadows is now available as a free PDF download, in HTML format and also to play online.
The Micro-gamebook Collection
An exciting addition to the Chronicles of Arborell can be found in a series of micro-gamebooks now available for download. Currently fifteen titles are available and each focuses on a specific event in the long history of Arborell. All are no longer than two pages but each is a stand-alone gamebook adventure on a micro scale. Presented as PDF documents for easy printing these gamebooks cover a wide range of events and characters and allow a reader to explore aspects of this world that might not otherwise be covered in the larger gamebook series. These gamebooks can be found both as individual titles and in two compilation editions. All individual titles, the Dark Water Omnibus and the Legends of the Deep Guild can be found at the Chronicles download page.
Finding your way
At this point it can be seen that the Chronicles of Arborell is a story made of many parts. To help readers navigate the different series and supplementary documents a flowchart has been produced to show how each of the books encompassed by the Chronicles are connected. Because of the number of books that are to be produced it has been designed as a guide for readers on titles available, titles currently under development, and titles planned for the future. A more detailed description of each title represented in the flowchart can be found at the series synopsis page. If you have any questions regarding this chart please do not hesitate to contact me through my email address.
The Northern Reaches of Arborell - Year of Settlement 947
A note for Visually Impaired readers
Over time I have been attempting to improve access to the Chronicles for readers who use screen reading software. This has meant that there are now text versions of some maps, timelines and the "finding your way" flowchart. With most of the website I am attempting to have alt-text available for all graphics that have any type of text content. If the alt-text of a graphic is available you need only move to the graphic to have the text content displayed. This introductory page itself is provided in a wholly text format here and as I continue this endeavour I would be interested in any ideas readers may have to improve access to all the Chronicles.
- The Western Ranges of Arborell -
- The Northern Frontier -
- The East Coast of Kalborea -
What are Gamebooks?
A gamebook is a work of interactive fiction that allows the reader to make choices about the path they wish to take within a story. Unlike most novels there are many ways in which the story can be completed, and many different circumstances that can be experienced along the way. It is essentially up to the reader to make a success of the adventure they undertake. To read such gamebooks the same way as you would a normal novel will make little sense. The nature of adventure gamebooks is such that you must jump from section to section depending on the choices you make, the traps or creatures that confront you, and what you have experienced previously in your journey.
To successfully complete one of these books usually takes a number of attempts. An adventure gamebook requires the reader to be mindful of what they find during their quest and where they have trod before.
To complete these books and get the most from them take heed of the following:
- Read the rules thoroughly.
- Complete the character sheet before you start and maintain a record of what you find along the way.
- Read all the introductory information, it will give you considerable information about the land you are about to journey through and provide hints as to what you may encounter.
- Consider carefully all the options given.
- Enjoy your quest, you may not make it the first time but you can be assured that there is more than one way to complete it.
If you have never read a gamebook before then the ability to travel different paths and to encounter new situations on your journey can be a very novel experience indeed. For those of us who enjoy gamebooks a story is almost never read only once. There are simply too many things to do and too much to explore. The books that make up this series have been designed with this outcome in mind. A reader may read and re-read the story, finding a different way each time, and in doing so explore a larger world than may at first be apparent.
Where to Begin
The stories that constitute the Chronicles of Arborell span a wide range of time and settings, each documenting a small part of a much larger tale that encompasses both the history and mythology of the world of Arborell. Where you begin to take your journey is a choice left to yourself as the reader. As mentioned before the best place to start is with the first core gamebook, Windhammer. Within this adventure can be found the foundations of an understanding of this world and serves well as a point from which a reader can then spread outwards to encounter the other characters and events that make the quests of Halokim Vesh so important. Much of the Chronicles has been completed, but much remains yet to be uncovered. Both the finding your way flowchart, and the series synopsis page can provide additional information that will help you on your chosen path.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of producing this series is the excellent comments (both constructive and critical) that I receive from readers all over the world. The great strength of being an independent author is the ease with which a book can be altered and improved, and the feedback given by readers has been invaluable in enhancing the quality of these books. If you find anything about the series that requires comment (again both constructive or critical) please do not hesitate to do so. Comments can be sent using this email address or by visiting the official Chronicles of Arborell yahoo group or our new Facebook group. Every email is read and all comments or suggestions are considered in the ongoing development of this interactive fantasy series.
Want to know more about gamebooks? Here are some excellent blogs worth visiting.
Lloyd of Gamebooks
An excellent blog written by Stuart Lloyd and updated on a regular basis. Covers topics from gamebook writing to reviews and information on other gamebook series. Even covers the Windhammer Prize and general info regarding the Chronicles of Arborell. A great read and one well recommended.
Lone Tiger Gamebooks
This is a newly created blog that will be covering gamebooks and gamebook series that include amateur gamebooks and other titles not usually reviewed in the wider media. Written by Stuart Lloyd and Andrew Wright, both Windhammer Prize award winners, this blog covers gamebooks as I like them and is certainly recommended.