The Forlorn Fable of Fabled Lands

Over on Bit-Tech, chilli-loving young Joe Martin is embarking on an epic quest to document the far corners of the British games industry. He’s thrown up quite the gem for today’s instalment: a hefty look at Eidos’ unrealised MMO adaptation of the Fabled Lands choose-your-own-adventure books. (There’s a PC port of them here). A fascinating tale, both in terms of where the game itself was going, and as a reveal of the painful flipside to that early-2000s era of hyper-creative development. For every Giants: Citizen Kabuto or Sacrifice, there’s probably a dozen crash’n’burn cases like this.

Fancy a quick quote? “The Fabled Lands MMO might have had an incredibly advanced AI that acted as a digital gamesmaster. Hypothetically, this ‘AI God’ would have tailored the experience for each player, beefing up quests to meet skill levels – a technology that was likely beyond reach at that time.” Now, go read the rest.


  1. Lenny says:

    Fabled Lands is GOD DAMN AMAZING, but I don’t think any game – especially an MMO – can really replicate what was great about it. Actually I’m just amazed anyone else has even heard of these books.

  2. Joe Martin says:

    I do like chilli…

  3. Real Horrorshow says:

    I miss art like that.

    • Alastayr says:

      Why did I buy all those old, horribly written R.A.Salvatore books? The cover art…

  4. Klaus says:

    What the hell is the guard doing in the back? Lazy bast.

  5. SturmCRF says:

    I loved these books when they came out, real shame the series stopped halfway through. I remember sending relatives on hopeless errands to obsucre book shops to find part 7-12 before accepting the fact that they physically didn’t exist. The continuous, sandbox Fighting Fantasy style epic they were going for would have been quite something if they’d been able to finish it.

    • Cigol says:

      I had the same problems (obviously) but with no internet access and bookshops none the wiser it was so frustrating. Was such a good series, I would still rush out and buy them today if they ever got around to completing it.

  6. Wulf says:

    Anecdote time!

    Okay, my favourite Choose Your Own Adventure books at the time were the Fighting Fantasy books, those were great to immerse oneself with, and they had so many different settings, fantasy, outer space, alien dimensions, horror, post-apocalyptic worlds, FF had it all! They also had a truly wonderful RP-lite rules system for the battles involved, that only needed *gasp!* one die.

    Though my best memory of Fighting Fantasy was when a friend realised they could be used for mad libs, a little mad libbing resulted in one book changing from “A woman wearing chainmail bursts into the room with a loaded crossbow!” to “A Moomin wearing nothing salsas into the room with a loaded banana!”.

    Good times.

    I miss FF books, shame the Fighting Fantasy games have been so shit.

  7. Tom O'Bedlam says:

    I loved this series when I was wee and since my discovering the PC port a year or two ago I’ve now played every possible story in the books. I remember being about 9 and writing Harper Collins a very nice letter asking them if they could please send me a letter when the 8th book came out. They apologised and told me that the series had been axed, but sent me a trilogy of bloody awful books about someone surviving in the wilds of canada with just a hatchet.

    I wish someone could persuade Dave Morrison to finish them…

    (also, lots of love for the Court of Hidden Faces cover art up there, that was my favourite book by a long way. I think when I was 8 I went to a school literature fancy dress day as Lord Jadhak)

    • Tom O'Bedlam says:

      Morris not Morrison

    • Tom O'Bedlam says:

      Just read the article and I’m really excited by the prospect of a fabled lands iphone game. I wonder if they’ll add extra bits into it if it sells well?

  8. Harlander says:

    I like the Java implementation a lot – it even supports the classic childhood technique of keeping your finger on a page as you go to the next one, and turning back if you don’t like what happens, and re-doing rolls until you get the result you want :D

  9. bill says:

    Why are we still waiting for that AI gamesmaster???
    I’ve been waiting for him to show up for years, but we still just have linear quests.

    Never heard of this series, but I did love final fantasy at the time. Need more FF games btw…

  10. Zerotonine says:

    I can’t believe that I haven’t heard of this series, and I was a massive gamebook reader when I was a kid, from Choose Your Own Adventure, the time travel spin-off CYOA books, Fighting Fantasy to Lone Wolf. I had tons of them, I would borrow them from the local library and every so often my mum would buy me one, good times.

    Looks like a great series, the app looks nice, something to do during lunch breaks – just gotta make sure I hide the screen at work so I’m not ridiculed :).

  11. tba says:

    I still have 1-6 on my bookshelf. I patiently wait for 7-12.

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