Day 258: Steve Jackson’s Sorcery


As a young teenager many moons ago, I loved Steve Jackson’s Sorcery!. This was a series of four books that was the prolific game designer’s take on Choose Your Own Adventure. After you read a page there were two or more choices that would take your story elsewhere. Choose one and go to the designated page to read the consequences of your action. Repeat until your story ended. It was a swords-and-sorcery tale, which appealed to my D&D-playing tastes at the time.

The best part of Sorcery! was the ability to learn spells and use them during your journey. There was a separate spell book that contained the spells and the codes for these spells. Every so often in your adventure, you would be given a choice of a few codes and had to pick one to cast the correct spell for the given situation.

I remember sitting in my local Vroman’s bookstore reading the spell book, trying to memorize the codes for the spells. It seemed like there were hundreds of spells, so after saving my allowance, I finally bought my own copy of the spell book, which made life much easier. I devoured the first two books of the series before my interest petered out. I bought the third book, but didn’t read it as much as the first two.

My waning interest coincided with my high school years and I’m not sure if I ever finished the third and fourth books. I’m sure they collected dust before being passed on to my brothers then Goodwill or the trash can.

I hadn’t thought about the books in quite some time, when last week I came across a website touting free Android games on Amazon. One was called Sorcery! and it sounded interesting, so I downloaded it to play later. Once the game was downloading I noticed Steve Jackson’s* name. I didn’t make the connection.

But once the title screen appeared, I nearly yelped out loud. I recognized that typeface and thought, No. Way.

I read the introduction and immediately recalled the familiar Shamutanti Hills setting.

Yes. Way.

It was the book I had spent so many hours as a youth reading and re-reading!

It’s been updated for today’s tech-savvy kids. The book is now an app with music, graphics, and a slick, user-friendly interface. Thankfully, it’s still the same wonderful fantasy story.

I have not geeked out on anything this hard in a while. Having Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! on my phone? My 1984 self would have been blown away.

In fact, so is my 2015 self.

*Update (9/16/15): All this time I thought that it was the well-known American game designer Steve Jackson. After I tweeted this post last night, the kind folks at Steve Jackson Games informed me that the Sorcery! author is actually a British game designer. My apologies for the mix-up. 

Day 180: No Offseason

Fantasy Football Is Almost Here

Fantasy Football Is Almost Here

Even with futbol slowly overtaking my love of football, there is still no sport better suited for the fantasy game than the good ol’ NFL (sorry, old-time baseball rotisserie geeks; weekly matchups are 100 times better than accumulating stats over a season). Just as the sports media like to say that there is no offseason in the NFL anymore, the same applies to fantasy football. Player news, injury updates, team breakdowns, and every bit of football minutia is now available via the Internet 24/7/365.

Matthew Berry is a legend in the fantasy football community. He’s known for his ESPN column and he appears on various fantasy football shows and podcasts. He’s also the author of my favorite book on the game, Fantasy Life: The Outrageous, Uplifting, and Heartbreaking World of Fantasy Sports from the Guy Who’s Lived It (my review here).

So, here we are, still in June, and Berry published his first fantasy football column of the year (the first NFL game is September 10th). He’s done this every year for the past decade and it’s a great way for us fantasy geeks to officially begin our offseason planning. It’s a compilation of stats from the previous season, done in a way that will have any fantasy football owner second-guessing themselves on any player or team. Once the NFL news cycle heats up with the first preseason games, we’ll be able to throw away all of the previews, stats, and Berry’s column, in favor of updated previews, stats, and columns.

Once the season is over, though, we’ll all go through the old news and reports we’ve read, trying to find that one tidbit that, depending on our success or failure, confirms that “I knew I should’ve listened to Berry!” or “I can’t believe I listened to Berry!” And before you know it, it’ll be next June and we’ll realize there’s no fantasy football offseason anymore.

Day 129: A Song of Ice and Fire

A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones

I’ve never been into fantasy literature. I couldn’t get into the Lord of the Rings series (although I did love The Hobbit), but I’m re-considering my position. Why? Three words …

Game. Of. Thrones.

I loved season one; I’m halfway through season two and enjoying it as much, if not more. So much, in fact, that I did something silly yesterday: I started reading the first book of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series.

Yes, I’m reading the book that the first season of the TV show was based on while I’m binge-watching the second season. I’ll also be digging up my old unread copies of Fellowship of the Ring, etc. I won’t be buying any collectible swords or looking to play Dungeons & Dragons any time soon, but for now I’m all in for the Seven Kingdoms.