Discovering DestinyQuest- A Guest Post by Michael J. Ward

Released last week, Destiny Quest: The Legion of Shadow is the first in a new series of gamebooks. Imagine Fighting Fantasy mixed up with a dose of World of Warcraft, with a strong storyline and great writing, and you’ll have a rough idea of what the series is all about! Michael J. Ward self-published the first book in the series to great acclaim, and all this week we’ll be showcasing interviews with some of the bloggers and reviewers who picked up on that initial limited release. The Gollancz edition has a bunch of bonus quests, new material, better equipment and other surprises, so even if you think you know The Legion of Shadow you’ll be in for a treat!

Discovering DestinyQuest- A Guest Post by Michael J. Ward

I’ve been blessed over the course of the past year, to have had so much support and interest in DestinyQuest from bloggers, gamers and readers. It was their support that helped to make my self-published dream into a mainstream success – and that’s why I’m here now, with one of theUK’s top Sci-fi and fantasy publishers, Gollancz.

The first book in the series, The Legion of Shadow, was re-released by Gollancz last week. It has a sexy new cover, expanded colour section and extra quests and goodies that did not appear in my previous edition. Consider it a special edition (although sadly, I was unable to add a director’s commentary. Maybe next time…)

To celebrate the book’s launch, I thought it would be appropriate to ask those bloggers and gamers who helped DQ to get where it is today to share some of their experiences of playing a brand new and exciting gamebook.

First up is Stuart Lloyd, who was one of the first bloggers to do an extensive review of DestinyQuest. His website is a treasure trove of articles, interviews and reviews, covering the whole gamut of gamebooks – both amateur and professional. He’s also been incredibly proactive in spreading the good word about DestinyQuest. So, who better to kickstart this series of blogs than the man himself? Over to you, Stuart…


1. How did you first hear about DestinyQuest and what convinced you to give it a try?

I’m not entirely sure when I first heard about DestinyQuest.  It was in the blogosphere somewhere, perhaps from Realm of Zhu.  The fact that it was a new gamebook convinced me to buy it.  I rejoiced to see a new gamebook on the market.


2. What makes DestinyQuest different to other gamebooks you have read/played?

DestinyQuest has huge potential for exploration, experimentation and variety.  Most early gamebooks can be very linear, give limited options to the player and have a purely chance based combat system.

DestinyQuest allows you to pick a location to visit from its excellent colour maps.  You can choose which quests to accomplish and which order you will attempt them in.

Combat in DestinyQuest involves dice rolling but you also get many special abilities which allow you to manipulate the combat in your favour.  Each combat round also involves options.  Do I use a particular power or do I save it for later?  Should I use my charm ability to reroll my die to see if I hit or wait for a better roll?

On top of the choices in combat, you are also given the option of which loot to collect.  I love collecting powerful items and DestinyQuest really spoils us for choice by giving us two or three magical items to choose from with every victory in combat.

On top of the items, you choose one of three paths for your hero (warrior, rogue, wizard) and then you have several options for career choices depending on your path. As a warrior, for example, you could become a gladiator, berserker and cavalier.

No two games of DestinyQuest will be the same either due to the roll of the dice or your own choices.

On top of all that, I enjoyed looking for all the references in DestinyQuest from the fairy tale stories to the names of people and items (for example, boots called Logan’s runners and a leader of a pickpocket gang called Fargin).  That’s a fun side game to play.


3. Can you tell us about your DQ hero? 

When I chose my path, I quickly chose to be a rogue.  Why?  A rogue’s speciality stat is speed and speed is the stat that allows you to win rounds and hit your opponent.  This was probably a tactic instilled in me by Fighting Fantasy where you have to get your skill score as high as possible.

Once I had discovered it, I immediately went for the pickpocket career as I wanted to grab all of the great items instead of just the choice of one.  I enjoy getting extra gold too.  It is not essential in DestinyQuest, but it is a good bonus.

At first, I tried to maximise my speed and then brawn and magic in equal measure.  When I realised that it didn’t work, I ditched the magic boosting items and tried to increase my brawn.  Then I got to a stage where I was hitting but not inflicting enough damage on my opponents, so I had to sacrifice some speed for brawn and carry some elixirs of speed.


4. What are your favourite DQ combat strategies?

If I don’t have any better items, I always try to have items with the charm ability as it is always useful to be able to reroll when you get a 1 for your attack speed.  The charm ability works like a trojan.

The webbed ability and its friends are also very useful (they reduce the number of dice your opponent rolls). These abilities are invaluable for getting in strikes. I also enjoy damage increasing abilities such as deep wound and gut ripper.

I use a lot of abilities in the first round of combat if I see no benefit of holding them back such as cat’s speed and fortitude.  I enjoy items with the thorns and bleed abilities as this way, I know I’m inflicting at least 1 point of damage per round and making some progress, even if I am fighting something with over 100 health.  Most of the time, I would go for an item that boosts my stats rather than an item with a fancy ability as the fancy ability would only work once.

Potions can also be lifesavers and I always make sure that I’ve got some healing potions or elixirs of swiftness to break a deadlock.


5. What is your favourite item of loot and why?

You get some pretty sweet items in the final confrontation such as the Orb stinger, a dagger with a shock ability that lets you turn an opponent’s armour against them.  The Nightwalker armour set is also awesome for rogues.


6. What advice would you give to new DQ players?

At the very beginning focus on either brawn or magic and definitely on speed.  If you can keep your speed 2 points above your opponent’s and be able to deal a reasonable amount of damage to them then you shouldn’t have too much difficulty.  It’s better to specialise and build on dealing a lot of damage.  You will be able to overcome most challenges this way.

You will probably die a lot, but don’t worry about that because you have the Captain Scarlet ability to come back to life, so in this game, getting killed is a learning experience.  You could stock up on potions to help you in the first instance or search for new items or careers if an opponent really exploits weaknesses in your strategy.

Doing the quests and challenges in their proper order also helps.  Don’t overstretch yourself.  If an opponent’s speed is above yours by 3 or more then run away and try something easier or find a way to boost your speed score.


7. In a sound bite, why should readers give DestinyQuest: The Legion of Shadow a try – even if they’ve never picked up a gamebook before?

It has a story better than most novels and a gripping, well balanced game system – meaning that once you pick it up you will not be able to put it down.

DestinyQuest: The Legion of Shadow is available in hardbacklarge format paperback and eBook from mid-June. For more information on the DestinyQuest series, visit