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[Early concepts] Brave the Book / Blade in the Book - In-hand book(mark) games

Turn any book into a solo dungeon descent.
This bookmark is being held captive by monsters in the book! Rescue it by defeating the monsters with your (s)words.

PnP File (2.5" x 8.5" Standard Bookmark)

The front and back of the bookmark.

Think you are brave enough to pull the mighty Lionheart from a book? Turn any book into a solo test of your luck, skill, and bravery!

PnP File (2" x 7.25" Standard Bookmark)

Prototyping and playtesting a new combat system based around heroes:


This is my latest distraction

This is my latest distraction away from my bigger games!

This started as a fun concept of trying to use old books as game components. My original idea involves a random deck of event cards that interact with the book's text.

Then, BGG recently started an in-hand design contest, so I shifted my focus to also making a game that was portable along with the book and played solely in-hand.

What you see here is still VERY early in development (day 2), and barely scratches the surface of the potential interactions and gaming experience these types of games could have with old books. But, I wanted to post this blog to start the discussion.

These are very fast and simple push-your-luck games. I am working on adding a little more strategy and replayability into the game (see last picture in OP).

Great Concept!

I think this concept is fantastic! Very simple, but with a lot of possibilities to explore.

1) The instructions (from pic 1) say to "choose a value that will act as your speed and strength this turn." However, from the last posted pic, it looks like if I'm a level 1 Warrior, I start with a speed of 1 and a strength of 2. Has the choose your speed and strength option changed? (It seems too arbitrary to me to choose your values, I like being restricted by class better.)

2) If I'm the Warrior, as I understand it, I will turn one page and use the first two words to spell either Orc or Imp from that monster card. Do I choose which monster BEFORE I turn the page? Or do I succeed if I spell EITHER Orc or Imp from the first two words?

3) If I succeed, do I gain a Warrior level as well as collect the Genie boon for my next round?

4) If I fail, can I turn one page and pick the first two words to try to spell a different monster from my first try? (If I tried and failed at Orc, can I then choose Imp - or do I have to stick with my first monster I chose until I defeat it - which seems more thematic?)

5) Have you considered ways for the different classes to team up? Or is it one class per run?

6) Have you considered an adventure/exploration aspect in which you can visit various locations or tackle various challenges based on speed and strength?

7) Have you considered letting the monsters fight back, hitting for a number of pages? Then allowing players, via item or spell, to heal back those pages?

Again, pretty cool stuff to explore here! I'll be interested to see where you take this.


Fair warning, the last

Fair warning, the last picture is the least developed (were talking <2 hours) variant of my game. Posted it to show that I am trying multiple mechanisms and systems.

Picking your values is what drives the PYL mechanic of the game. The values you saw on the heroes are bonuses. So if pick “10” and my warrior has 3 strength, I’ll be able to use letters from the first 13 words that turn.

As it plays out now, you choose the monster you want to face first before the combat resolves.

You only level up by spelling out those specific key words on the warrior card. I thought about adding level up to defeats but there’s already treasure incentives tied to that so kept that as separate systems.

I have thought about synergies and combos, but haven’t actively worked on it yet.

Yes! Right now, failing to spell out a monster name is a natural penalty, but I like the idea of losing more pages on a fail!! Will implement that in some forms. Also yes, a potion will restore some pages!!

I’m actually really excited

I’m actually really excited by another tweak to the fire game coming out soon. That is a happy medium between my simplest and most complex variants. Stay tuned!

Local Book Store Vibe

I could totally see these as a promotional or courtesy bookmark provided by a local bookstore. During the past couple years I would purchase books online, then pick them up in person at a Friendly Neighborhood Bookstore. Every time I did that, the last step of the hand-off was to drop a store-branded bookmark in the front of the book, then give it to me.

Seems like a natural fit for a non-chain bookshop, and makes them stand out in a good way.

This is another clever, "why-didn't-I-think-of-that" project of yours, Gregg. Keep up the excellent work!

The only DOWNSIDE to this is...

That MOST bookstores want to give "bookmarks" with THEIR Bookstore information. It's like a business card... They give the "bookmark" FREE as a way to advertise their place of business.

Now I'm not saying that it is not a clever use of a medium. I'm just saying that most bookstores would not use this for their store. Even IF they could give it away FREE.

Which brings me to my second (2nd) point: bookstore "bookmarks" are FREE.

How are you going to expect to make any sales when your competition is offered free of charge. Aside from the business card information, you are competing with a product that is offered at no cost to the consumer.

Maybe IF bookstores were specialized or a Game Store had books such as Final Fantasy or some featured Dungeon & Dragon books (like the Dragonlance Saga)... Then maybe some of this would be possible.

But two things stop this from happening:

1. Bookstores sell all kinds of book not just Fantasy or D&D.

2. Game Stores don't carry ANY books even if it could be D&D or Fighting Fantasy.

The bottom line (to me) is that there is no market for the idea. However clever the game that comes with the bookmarks, I honestly feel like there are no bookstores that would try to SELL this bookmark... Because they give theirs away FREE of charge and that's for self-promotion.

BUT as to the cleverness... It is original. Some genuine feedback about the concept (and not its marketability) ... I see the pulling upwards of the bookmark as a weakness of this design. The more you tug upwards the less the bookmark is held together by the book. To mitigate this ... I would do the following:

A> Have two opposing directions of FIVE (5) sets of monster. What I mean is that there are five (5) per direction. If you flip 180 degrees you get the other five (5) in that opposing direction. And maybe you can add a Boss to the second direction.

B> Have no instructions on the PLAY side (no treasure reference). Have all the hints and instructions on the opposite side. That also should save space.

That's it for me for now... You've got to work on making the bookmark(s) more marketable and maybe some small sales income. Best!

Note #1: What I mean is for $0.50 they can bundle two (2) additional bookmarks with your adventure game on them. It's got to be relatively inexpensive and a quick-buy (impulse buy) at the cash register. Maybe someone notices "What are these???" and that starts up a conversation about the game ... And maybe turns into a $0.50 sale.

But I HONESTLY think that this concept is way too "cheap" as a medium. Like I said, nothing against the cleverness. I'm just re-iterating on how challenging it will be to promote and publish this concept.

Best @JewellGames!

Wait a second when it comes to CLEVERNESS...

I'm just referring to the INVERTING (180 Degree rotation). If you remove the Treasure hint (at the top) and streamline this a bit... I see more cleverness in the concept (I'm not advocating to trying to pitch this concept ... Just on merit of the design alone, this is more exploratory of an effort...)

If you have FIVE (5) Monster on the Top portion... And then YOU ROTATE the bookmark 180 degrees and get FIVE (5) ADDITIONAL Monsters, this means that the bookmark doesn't lose it's function.

Or is it you need another bookmark because that's what the whole purpose is...

IDK... You'd need to RE-WORK it and have a few considerations such as:

1. The Bookmark stays on WHATEVER page ... I mean it's a BOOKMARK, it MUST DO it's FUNCTION! The cleverness about the speed and strength... Need some re-work.

2. You can go FORWARDS or BACKWORDS as much as you like on ONE TRY ... But each battle BRINGS you BACK TO WHATEVER page your were at...

3. If you can manage this... It could be a MORE clever bookmark game.

Again not poo-poo-ing on your concept. I'm just discussion some of the good and weaker points of the design. And what I conclude is that the BOOKMARK needs to REMAIN AT THE SAME PAGE (performing it's function as a bookmark).

If you get this done, rotating the bookmark from like Level 1-5 and then 6-10 (with a final boss - maybe which is different per bookmark) could add something cool and clever you can play while PAUSING your READING! Because that is what most people DO with BOOKS. They read them. And your fancy-shmancy bookmark game NEEDS to satisfy that purpose FIRST before being a game.

Again just giving you an honest impression on what to focus on ... And how to work to improve the concept. And ROTATING ENSURES that no more than 50% of the bookmark is ever OUT OF THE BOOK. That's very important because it PRESERVES the bookmarks PRIMARY purpose...

Cheers @JewellGames.

Here are some of my EARLY thoughts...

You have three (3) chances (and three Monsters per level) and the Boss only one (1)...

The idea is sort of like this:

A> You choose one Monster and it has a Value 1 to 99. The Boss offers ONLY one Value and it's the only Monster to beat (making it a bit harder).

B> You choose to EITHER go FORWARDS or BACKWORDS. Being more advanced in a book opens up going BACKWORDS but at the same time can limit the going FORWARDS option too... Interesting strategy and mechanic there.

C> You perform the STRENGTH check as you would normally (from the start of the page you have switched to).

D> You have one (1) TRY per Monster to spell its name.

E> If you cannot SPELL any of the three (3) Monsters, you lose the game! And you need to wait until you read MORE of the ACTUAL BOOK to vary the experience.

See in this type of ruleset, what you are doing is encouraging PLAY but at the SAME TIME, you are encouraging READING more of the book before giving it another TRY!

Please feel free to use, adapt or ignore these ideas... I'm just working with the confines of YOUR design to SOLIDIFY something that adds definite purpose to your "Adventure Bookmark" concept.

Best @JewellGames!

Your CLASS additional bookmarks

I really didn't look at them... But maybe they affect what PARAGRAPH you start on... Add a PAGE modifier (like a RETRY) ... If you cannot on Page 50, Paragraph 3 ... Allow ONE (1) Retry by adding +5 Pages. For example. That would be a STRENTGH bonus (for say the Warrior Class).

The Wizard Class could have something like if you have "3" (a Stat) "E" you can use that as a LETTER bonus/wildcard... Meaning you have +1 ANY Letter to help spell your Monster's name.

Clever things like that...

Unfortunately you didn't explain HOW your CLASS bookmark work (and that is fine too...) I'm sure maybe something that I suggest may stick and you may find it interesting. If not that's fine too... Like I said, this is ONLY feedback.

I understand it is your design, these are ideas that you may use freely, adapt or ignore. I just wanted to offer you my own perspective on the medium more than anything...

Thanks for all the feedback!

Thanks for all the feedback! I like the idea of keeping the bookmark in place of the position but concerned it would fall out easily (since you normally remove it while reading). I guess my original intent and thinking was a bookmark that could be used as normal sure, but meant to give old books a new purpose.

Funny enough this is the first time ever a publisher reached out to me, especially this early in development (seeing one of my posts on Reddit) and showed real interest, asking my intentions and saying they wanted to work together.

I told them I was still refining the idea and to reconvene in January.

I like the forwards or backward direction, but would someone want to read ahead if it’s a new book? How exactly did your concept work with monster values 1 to 99 and strength of words? So a 99 monster also means I get 99 words to spell out its name?

Always be open to discussing your design

JewellGames wrote:
Funny enough this is the first time ever a publisher reached out to me, especially this early in development (seeing one of my posts on Reddit) and showed real interest, asking my intentions and saying they wanted to work together.

I told them I was still refining the idea and to reconvene in January.

Hmm... I hope this was NOT a mistake. If ANYONE is interested, I would JUMP on the opportunity. Otherwise that publisher may move on and no longer find your concept interesting! Anyways you do understand that IF you are going to be published, the publisher will make the design their OWN. Meaning they may change the name of the game, the esthetics (layouts, fonts, icons, etc.) and even the game itself.

Publishing through a publisher is much different than self-publishing.

Again, I hope this particular publisher has sufficient interest that they will be willing to re-discuss the concept in January. But usually they move on to other games and you may have lost your chance to get them involved. Notice I say "may have lost"... Because you need to "strike when the iron is hot".

I do hope that this particular publisher is willing to reconnect in January ... It's a good time, New Year, new projects, new financing, etc. So it may have not been a bad decision.

Best of success with this concept!

One other thought

Glad to see you are getting so much feedback and already have an interested publisher!

One other thought I had was Equipment cards: Wands, swords, staves, etc. could allow you to manipulate the words on the page you use. For example, using a (low level) sword could let you skip two or three letter words if they are amongst the first word block you encounter, thus giving the player a higher chance to utilize words with more letters in them. Wands might allow you to choose to use the first words on the page, or the last words on the page reading backwards, and so on. Shields and armor might let you guard against turning so many pages.

But I can absolutely see this being marketable on kickstarter, in retail, at conventions, etc. Whenever I've checked out at a bookstore, sure they have their own bookmarks, but there is usually a display of fancier bookmarks sitting at the counter for sale. That's just one place where your product could sell.

Keep up the good work!

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blog | by Dr. Radut