Flash Fiction Month 2020, Day 8
“Feep feep!” blurted the Road Racer, a creature legally distinct from whatever cartoon bird you may be thinking of (but for the record, yes, it is that one).
The Dingo gave no reply.
“I said ‘Feep feep!’” repeated the Road Racer.
“I heard you the first time,” the Dingo explained. “But I’ve kind of got my own thing going on here.”
“Oh yeah?” The Road Racer took a step closer. “What is that?”
“It’s a soft shell meal deal from Outback Taco.”
“Planning to use that as bait in one of your crazy contraptions then? I’ve gotta say, it’s quite a step up from birdseed.”
“It’s not for you,” said the Dingo, through a mouthful of succulent ground beef. “Not everything is about you.” Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2020, Day 4
Challenge #2: Write a story that revolves around an ancient artefact and takes place over the course of a weekend. It must also include a hymn and a character with delusions of grandeur.
For three days California James had trekked through the unforgiving jungle. He had faced snakes. He had faced scorpions. Also when he had initially got off the plane on Friday, he had stopped into a pub outside the airport and been horrified to discover that the mens’ room there had one of those guys who extorts money out of you in exchange for using the sink. It was hardly the deadliest encounter of his long and varied career as an archaeologist, but it was up there with the most annoying. The main thing to take away from all of this would be that even before he clambered to the top of the ziggurat and approached its vast wooden doors, it had been one hell of a weekend.
He set his hands against the planks. They yielded inwards only ever so slightly, clanking as though bolted from the other side. They definitely wouldn’t open, anyhow.
A small panel slid open and a pair of wrinkled eyes peered out.
“Those who seek the grail’s power,” announced the guardian of the temple, “must recite a hymn to enter.”
“Ah.” Despite having an extremely religious Scottish dad who sounded suspiciously like James Bond, California James wasn’t sure he knew any hymns off the top of his head. “Does that ‘penitent man may pass’ thing count as a hymn?”
“I don’t even know what that is.” Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2020, Day 3
The minotaur roared menacingly, the noise resounding from the labyrinth walls. It shifted its weight from foot to foot, a seasoned fighter nimble despite great size. It hefted its axe in great clawed hands.
It roared again. It also bobbed about on the spot some more. It looked pleadingly at the knight in front of it, stuffing his face with bread.
“Come on, mate,” said the mage. “We haven’t got all day.”
“I’m sorry!” snapped the knight, through a mouthful of crumbs. “I’m down to forty-seven health points, okay? If I don’t finish this, that monster’s going to kill me on the next hit.”
“I’m not saying don’t eat it! I’m just saying, maybe chew at a less leisurely pace.”
“It’s a whole loaf of bread! And it’s crusty! And in case you haven’t noticed, I’ve just been gored by a minotaur! It doesn’t exactly put you in the mood for a hearty snack.”
“My action bar’s filled back up,” announced the bard.
“All our action bars have filled back up!” The mage put his face in his hands. “We’ve been standing here watching Sir Buttface hork down bread for at least a full two minutes.”
“Hey!” The knight sprayed a bunch of bread fragments right onto the mage’s robes. “There’s no need for name-calling!”
“That is literally your name, though,” the bard pointed out.
“Is it?” Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2020, Day 1
“In ocean wet, in briny deep, when evil’s near I shall not sleep!”
“Aaah!” yelled the first mate of the Reel McCoy. “Take my wallet, just don’t stab me!”
“What?” asked the fish-tailed lady who’d just flopped aboard. She lowered her trident.
“I don’t have much cash on me because we’re in the middle of the sea and there’s nowhere to spend it, but there’s a loyalty card for Molly’s Chippie in there and it only needs two more stamps!”
“What?” asked the mermaid again.
He got out his wallet and slid out the card. “The ink got kind of wet when I was in the dinghy, but Molly’s nice. She’ll honour it anyway. That’s a free sausage and chips! I mean, you’ll still have to have to buy two more meal deals to qualify but the change in my pocket should get you most of the way there!”
“Okay.” The mermaid used her trident to lever herself upright against the guard rail. “First of all, I’m not here to mug you.” Continue reading
The 25th Interactive Fiction Competition is now over, and the results are in! Girth Loinhammer and the Quest for the Unsee Elixir came 33rd in the end, which may not be a Top Ten result but I’m still pretty happy with. There were 82 entries altogether so that’s very much in the top half of the rankings, and apparently high enough to score a small cash prize and possibly some other stuff. (IFComp is pretty generous when it comes to runners-up: if you’re on the fence about submitting something in 2020, I highly recommend giving it a go.)
The range of responses from the judges is interesting: the game attracted more votes than most (I’m guessing because people saw the title, thought “Haha what?” and clicked it), and managed to snag every possible score from one to ten. It didn’t divide opinion enough to earn me the Golden Banana of Discord (which, as you can imagine, I really really would have liked to win), but clearly there were at least a few people out there with strong feelings about it, and quite a few more who got a chuckle out of it. For something I hammered together in about a week, I think that’s a pretty good response.
I’ll be aiming to produce a slightly more ambitious version of the game in the not too distant future, which I’ll hopefully make available as an actual printed gamebook. There should also be an ebook, an online version, and probably a mobile app.
Girth Loinhammer and the Quest for the Unsee Elixir got a mention in Part 2 of The Short Game‘s IFComp 2019 podcast! (That bit starts at 00:39:27 if you want to skip ahead.)
It’s great to see the game reaching people in any form – this being my first time entering IFComp, I’ve been pleasantly surprised just how many players have already given it a go – but it’s especially nice for it to be so well received!
If you haven’t yet played Unsee Elixir, this might be a nice little lead-in to it, and if you haven’t got involved in IFComp at all, it the podcast as a whole might point you towards some good ones to try. You’ve got until November 15th, you only need to rate five to be a judge for the event, and naturally it’s easier to manage that number in that time if you throw a few short ones into the mix. For an introduction to the entire event (and a few more games), do check out Part 1 of their IFComp podcast as well.
Since Girth Loinhammer’s Most Exponential Adventure will be returning to EGX next week, I thought it was about time I uploaded the audio from its appearance at EGX Rezzed back in April.
If you’d like to catch Exponential Adventure at the main EGX event, it’ll be running from 13:00 to 13:45 on Friday the 18th of November. Even if you’re not there in person, the Fringe Theatre schedule suggests that you should be able to catch it streaming live on the official EGX YouTube channel, so you can still enjoy my live interactive* theatre thingy from the comfort of your own home!
*Unfortunately you can’t actually interact with it over the internet.** You’ll only be able to have a hand in the story if you’re there in the ExCeL centre.
**I guess technically you could still yell at your computer screen, but I won’t be able to hear you. Also, you’ll probably get some funny looks from anyone who can hear you. Especially if you’re in a library.
I had big plans to enter IFComp this year with a big fancy sci-fi game, but they were pretty much scuppered by a perfect storm of things getting in the way: I got called up for jury service again (making me the only person I know who’s done it twice), I snagged some extra freelance work, and EGX accepted my Fringe Theatre panel (also making me the only person I know who’s done it twice).
Since that plan went out the window, I came up with a new one:
It’s exactly what it looks like.
The scenario is going to be pretty familiar if you played Girth Loinhammer’s Most Exponential Adventure: Girth Loinhammer (Dungeon Lord) is unsatisfied with the public perception of his seriously evil dungeon, but this time – more than that – he’s traumatised by a certain something he was unfortunate enough to witness during its day-to-day operation. A certain something he wishes to unsee. Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 29
There was a rattle of chains as a counterweight dropped from the ceiling. Adonis Orcbane found himself suddenly dangling by both ankles, caught in a fiendish snare. His sword slipped from its scabbard and clattered to the ground. Focusing every ounce of his indomitable will, Adonis stretched his arm out as far as he could, trying to reclaim it. His gauntleted fingers just barely brushed the hilt, and…
…a thigh-high boot kicked it deftly out of reach.
“You were a fool to trespass in my domain,” said the villain who had appeared, “for I am Zhargla the Malicious, and tales of my cruelty are told across the land!”
Zhargla paced about the room a bit, partly because it looked really freakin’ cool and partly because her captive was slowly spinning round and it was really awkward trying to have a conversation with someone while they gradually turned farther and farther away from you.
“Those tales,” said Adonis Orcbane, through gritted teeth, “are precisely why I came.”
“Mmmmmmm… Then I shall be sure not to disappoint.”
Zhargla the Malicious stepped over to the low table that held her many diabolical implements.
“Perhaps the Lash of Ghkharkhak can beat some of that hubris out of you. Or maybe a few days on the Rack of Gzhou.”
“I’ll never bow to you, foul despot!” cried the paladin, the effect only somewhat diminished by the fact that he was now facing away from her again. Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 22
“Is there a doctor on board? Anybody?”
The flight attendant looked around, absolutely dreading having to follow that question up. There was no response.
“Okay. Then, does anyone…um…does anyone know how to fly a plane?”
The cabin erupted into mass screaming. This was exactly the response she’d been hoping to avoid. She ducked back into the cockpit and locked the door, just for a chance to think through what the heck to do now.
“What is it?” asked a woman who’d inexplicably turned up in there. “What’s wrong?”
“Aaaaaah!” screamed the flight attendant. Right now the main thing that was wrong was that the aircraft seemed to have gained a passenger mid-flight. Continue reading