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Psyche - Gamebooks Reborn

What We Discovered While Playtesting

The first book we tried was Ian and Clive Bailey's 1920's horror gamebook, Where the Shadows Stalk. Rather unfortunately we quickly discovered that the gamebook had a rather psychotic attitude towards its reader, facing us with an unavoidable adversary with identical statistics to our character without the damage we had already accrued in the few steps before this encounter. This meant that we died six times in a row before we finally made it to the next section, nearly dead, on the seventh attempt. Whilst we still had fun arguing with each other over the competence of our dice rolling, and blaming our respective Game Job holders, it did limit our ability to discuss and argue which choices to make.

With this said, their second gamebook, Terrors Out of Time, was far more balanced and made for a far more entertaining adventure.

The Fighting Fantasy and Lone Wolf series in general tend to have a good balance, and many more individual gamebooks and series besides.

One final discovery made whilst play-testing was that Language was the most challenging role to play. This may seem surprising given the level of reading, argument and debate involved in the game. It was helpful to look into the descriptions within the book deeply, and use ambiguities in meaning as the basis of argument, but depending upon the nature of the game decision this role requires most work to play strictly. Of course, it does not have to be played strictly necessarily.

Stop Press: The most recent playtesting has been with one of J. H. Brennan's excellent and humorous Grail Quest books. These seems to offer a far wider range of choices, covering more opportunities for differing interpretations from the various ways of knowing than most gamebooks. There are also a wider range of game tasks requiring more from each game job than in other series. I would strongly recommend these books for any player of Psyche.

Stop Press 19-05-12: A suggestion from a friend for another mode of play - Unbalanced Play. This might need to be added as an addendum to the rules or incorporated in future editions (Say, as Level Zero B - Unbalanced Play). In short, in this version not all the Ways of Knowing cards are dealt out in games with fewer than four players. This leads to an unbalanced character, with all the fun and games associated with such a state of mind.

As more individual books are tested and reported on I will attempt to update this page.