Dice or no dice?

My memory of gamebooks growing up split the interactive fiction world into two. There were the “real” gamebooks where you had stats and rolled dice to determine outcomes, and there were the childish gamebooks, where you didn’t.

I really appreciated randomness on gamebooks, because it turned it from “just” a story with multiple paths into a simulation. Crossing that rickety rope bridge over a ridiculously deep crevasse is risky! Sometimes, a good decision might get you out of a tough scrape and on other occasions it may just be down to the place your hands land as you swing your arms round.

Of course, gamebooks involving randomness tend to end up necessitating cheating, the frustration of every gamebook reader. Why should I die while fighting this creature when a 2 instead of a 6 would have stopped me from dying?

I’ve now become quite fond of gamebooks that do away with dice and instead add little puzzles and hidden sections that reward good note taking, and yet I can’t help myself appreciating the depth that stats add.

Take the example of crossing the rickety bridge. You might be faced with the choice to cross that way or avoid it altogether, which will take longer but is safer. I like the idea that your choices should have consequences, and even with the simplest system that additional risk gives you a real chance of risk vs reward.

HOWEVER…I’m equally aware that risk inspires cheating, and so I’m dropping the odd secret narrative and side quest into the sequel to The Altimer that intentionally set you up for failure and then reward you (indirectly) for accepting it.

Everything is very draft at the moment, but as of right now it is looking like the only way to get to the end will be to fail a couple of pivotal rolls throughout, thereby rewarding those who stick to the rules.

What are your thoughts?