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Holdfast gamebook: a few initial thoughts

Graham Hart

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It was a while before I got my hands on the physical copy of Holdfast, and I've only just started reading it properly, and glancing down the list of topics it's obvious that many members here will be way ahead of me; but still, a few initial thoughts...


Bigger is better for this type of gamebook. It is an epic achievement.


However, if Holdfast were to be picked up by a commercial publisher, I think the introductory rules section might need to be rewritten. I have no problem with the level of complexity (epic rules for an epic gamebook), but there seemed to be a little too much that I had to work out for myself. I could foresee that putting someone off who wasn't already committed to reading the book.


So, for example, in reading the combat rules I promptly find reference to a Results Table, which doesn't exist in the book. It becomes apparent that it refers to the bookmark, but that has no key for the symbols. Eventually I find it in the form of the Combat Table in the Campaign Guide. The introduction also mentions a Combat Sheet, which doesn't seem to exist, but I assume that would just have been for noting down the stats relevant to each combat, which I can do on any scrap of paper.


I progress, start the adventure, and get to section 251. Leadership gives "+1 Morale": should Morale have a space on the Character Sheet? The introduction mentions that it otherwise starts at 0, so it's obviously a stat to be recorded.


Anyway, I potter on, and my first fight is at section 92. I get through it, with Claw and Attack coming up as Actions in each round. The significance of the Claw and my opponent's special attack is described in the introduction, which is clear enough; for my attack I use my right fist, which causes "+2 Damage" (according to Appendix 7, which the introduction doesn't mention), presumably knocking two points off my opponent's Defence score.


It might have been a good idea as well to define what a "slot" is; it evidently refers to the categories on the character sheet of items either worn or held at any moment (i.e. not in the backpack), with "1H" standing for "one hand" (left or right) and "2H" standing for "both hands", but again this was something I had to work out. Maybe this terminology is familiar to readers with a roleplaying background.


I shall raise any further issues as I encounter them. I would be interested to know if anyone else had to think about these points.

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