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Just a place for the odd thoughts, updates, and the detritus of my mind that doesn't belong on social media.

Posted: Sep 4th, 7:46am

GNAT Core — A simple gamebook rules system

Over the past year, I've been workimg hard on the development of GNAT CORE, a simple (but hopefully comprehensive) rule set for writing adventure Gamebooks (of the Choose Your Own Adventure/Fighting Fantasy style).

What is GNAT

GNAT (it's not an acronym, just one in a series of insect-related titles I developed a few decades back) attempts to provide rules for playing COYA books the way I like to play them — quick, few dice rolls, and a very minimal focus on combat. It emphasises collecting items as opposed to agonising over inventory choices, resolves most fights in one or two rolls, and has built-in mechanisms for carrying characters, equipment, and keywords, from game to game.

The other thing I was trying to achieve was a ruleset that other people could easily use, and adapt, for their own games. For that reason the GNAT core rules are covered by a CC-BY-SA 4.0 license, so that others can take them, use them, and modify them, while also being covered by the same license.

The World of Paldoria

GNAT is setting-agnostic, though the default skill list and magic rules are definitely aimed at a fantasy world, but I actaully originally developed it for my own line of game books, set in the world of Paldoria. Paldoria is a sort of post-magical-apocalypse setting, where the cataclysmic wozard's war already ended some time ago, and the world is full of the ruins left behind. Here's the Paldoria introduction that appears the start of Escape from the Tower of Stars:

Five generations ago, the War of the Wizards devastated Paldoria. Mountains cracked, rivers drowned, cities sank into the sea. The few surviving wizards retreated to their fastnesses and closed their doors against the world outside, leaving the survivors to face the aftermath alone.

One generation ago, when you were still a child, the decrepit sorcerers of Treysham, all but consumed by their decadent excesses, re-opened the doors of their citadel to the outside world. Within a handful o...

Posted: Jun 21st, 8:25am

Clickable imagemaps in Twine

Over on the excellent Twine Discord I see a lot of questions asking for the ability to "click somewhere on an image and go to some passage". This is a job for the HTML element (generally known as an imagemap), which works in many of the main Twine formats (albeit with some different syntax).

Posted: Aug 11th, 4:10am


Just a little bit of website housekeeping today. The W3C says that breadcrumbs should be wrapped with <nav> tags, so wrapped they now are.

The page I linked above Common idioms without dedicated elements is actually a quite interesting list of things that people do all the time in web pages, but for which HTML has no dedicated syntax — including really common things like sub-headings and footnotes. Worth a read if you are web developer.

Posted: Jan 22nd, 9:21am

The Gap

One of the stories appearing in 2018's Night Alphabet is The Gap.

The nameless main character of The Gap is an expert in period restoration. Escaping the disasterous end of a relationship he accepts a job working solo on the rambling Rowlands House, once a private home, later an office, finally abbandoned. While working there he discovers a mysterious gap in the fabric of the house that leads ... somewhere.

At the start of October I accepted a job renovating an abandoned building. It was hard manual labour in an out of the way location, a bleak and lonely estate unused since the sixties, but it suited my mood — it had been three months since Hazel had left me; I was in need of distraction, but not company.

The Gap is a story about loneliness, and isolation — a theme it has in common with many of the other tales in the collection. The main character is alone in his life, and alone in the house, which is, in turn, increasingly alone in the world (I won't spoil the story, but suffice it to say that it focusses on what's inside more than what's going on in the rest of the world). Apart from three words at the start of the story, he never speaks directly to another person. When he considers picking up the phone to report what he's found, he hesitates. He cuts himself off. Later, when he wants to speak to others, it is too late.

I'd like to assure those of you still reading that this abiding theme in the story, and the book as a whole, isn't a reflection of my own loneliness or anything like that, but is something that I associated with the theme of dreams. When you dream, you are alone in your own head. Even if you dream of other people, they are actually just aspects of yourself. The Gap takes this theme still further, what the main character finds within the gap helps to separate him still further from anyone or anything else, because the gap is inside, just like a dream.

It's therefore fitting that the story now appears in [[https://...