Radu has given the ok for me to attempt to put together a Gamebook with Eternal Lands content. Similar to the idea of the 1980s fighting fantasy books, where a reader gets to decide on certain plot elements by choosing to turn to different numbered sections within the book, this will hopefully open up a new aspect for Eternal Lands players...a step back into the retro world of paper, pencil and dice!
So, there were two possible options in regards to the format for the gamebook. I could either follow the box-standard linear plot progression route that most gamebooks have in common, or, in keeping with the spirit of EL, I could attempt to make a more "open world" gamebook.
I'm inclined towards the open world option at this point. So, please forgive the length of this post, since I have had to brainstorm it all down and there is likely to be a mish-mash approach to the construction at this point.
Ok, basic outline is that there will be 14 maps to work with (Seridia). At this point I am going to say that I will stick to 7 for the first book, and save the other 7 for a possible book 2, for which all items/skills are transferable. Of these 7 maps, each one will be tied into developing or training one of 7 different skill types. However, to prevent superpowering on a character, I will be capping the possibilities of skill progression within each book by only allowing a limited number of "skill stones" for using on any of the 7 skills of a players choice. Each map area will have 2 distinctly differing sections, first time run-through and then return visits. First time parts will probably most likely contain linear progression of quests and set themed encounters. Repeat visits will rely on chance random encounters determined by a table of possible mobs. I will also use tables to determine outcomes for success in training a given skill, with the usual die rolls modified by current skill levels to determine outcomes. This allows the player to invest either as a specialist, or allrounder on skills, but they cannot max out on them all, due to insufficient skill stone availability from the market area. Each map area, whether first or repeat trip, will have separate inner areas to explore, sometimes with different results depending again on the random encounter tables. This idea should allow a player to continue building up their wealth and skills whilst allowing return exploration to have alternative encounters within the plot flow. I realise this seems a monumental amount to process but I am not too bad with the old flow charts and logic gates. Yet to decide however, on how to work the combat system side, since it will need to account for skills and/or items.
Skills and quests are not mutually inclusive, they will be kept separate so that a player specialising in one skill area is not unable to complete a map area due to insufficient skill for that area, the area is merely a place that allows training in a given skill if the player desires, but will not hinder progress of the maps exploration otherwise. Thus the first visit will progress linear quest conditions, and allow information to be recorded on a players character sheet, as well as provide key skill information so that subsequent visits can bypass replaying first visit sections, giving page reference info for return trips. These return sections will then give the option of training a skill OR exploring the area further. At the end of either option, a player will then be given a choice of adjoining map areas to travel to. This means that if a player wishes to progress a skill AND explore an area, they will have to return to this specific map area after they have trained the skill then travelled to a different area, which can be put down to the passage of time not allowing both skill progress AND exploration (only so much can be done in one day). So, given this, I think it is safe to assume that each map area will also represent one game day, theoretically, as well. I actually had not thought of timescale until this point, though, so kudos for the questions, it has advanced things for me to think through them.
The 7 areas of skill training will be in Alchemy, Fighting (attack and defence skills), Magic, Crafting, Manufacturing, Potioning, and Summoning. When a player progresses a skill by using up a skill stone on any given one, a roll check is done and compared to an outcome table to see what improvements (either in terms of ability or items) are added for the player. Current skill levels will be taken into account, which means higher rolls will have to be more advantageous, however, a low roll on skills for first time use is probably going to allow a unique improvement on each one, just to ensure all the ONE rollers are not left crying into their mead at the local taverns). Some of the skills will be complementary to using other skills, such as Alchemy will allow the production of essences, which can then be used in both Magic (for spells) and Manufacturing (for creating various metal bars) and crafting (fire/water essences for the crafting of certain magical items). That is an example of how some skills will integrate, or rather, how I hope they will work in the book. However, since it is possible to pursue some skills but not others, it will also be possible to buy ingredients at the market area, so that lacking a complementary skill will not hinder the use of any other skill practice. There will be separate tables for outcomes of training a skill up, and using a skill, so that someone at a given skill level can produce multiple outcome items from a succession of rolls and continually improve their inventory without having to spend skill stones each time. That way, if you don't like the outcome of your skill use, you can try again until you get the item you were after (or several of them, if needed). I will probably have to limit the amount of skill use attempts for any given visit though, to ensure there is still a feel of time passing and only fitting so much into a given day.
Since time can be a factor in the gameplay of this or future gamebooks, as established in previous paragraphs, it is possible to tie in time sensitive questlines, with a count-down to determine success/failure. That might come in handy, or might not be used, but the option is there.
Other than the inclusion of skill created items or magic from training, not yet considered how combat works. Obviously there will probably be combat rounds, so that some form of check is made each time, with damage deducted according to outcomes, and there will no doubt be alterations to checkrolls depending on what items or magic a reader/player uses at the time, (as well as those in use against the player!).
So there we have it. Did I miss anything important?