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Whatever Happened to Faerie Wood?

Sometime in the mid-1990s, we ground to a halt. I’m sure there were lots of reasons.

One of the frustrations that I remember from that time was that I felt that I needed Garry, but he didn’t really need me: he could write rules and supplements, and produce illustrations for them, while I could only write the games themselves. If the artwork wasn’t forthcoming, there could be no more books – and I wanted there to be more. Looking back, it seems terribly immature to have been keeping score, but in a sense I was. I wanted to be the author of more Faerie Wood material.

Of the supplements we’d produced, I was the author of just one and a half (the one being ‘Goblins!’, while the half is ‘Airy Faeries’ which appeared as half of a double booklet, along with Garry’s ‘Bagpipe Blues’). Garry had also created ‘Bowls!’ / ‘The Starwood Tree’ (another double booklet), and The Garden Snatchers.

Although the limitation was frustrating, it wasn’t the reason I had to give up on the books: that was down to the supply of artwork. I had edited and typeset Garry’s ‘The Ghost of Gwinbosch Castle’ but after the cover itself no further illustrations were forthcoming. I finalised the maps of the castle (engineering and architectural drawing I can do…) but I couldn’t produce ‘classic’ Faerie Wood illustrations, and without pictures there could be no new books. There were a lot of adventures that might have been published, but something had changed. Perhaps our living hundreds of miles apart had finally had an effect: significantly, I don’t recall what was going on in Garry’s life at that time. There may well have been good reasons to call a halt, but since I was no longer close at hand I couldn’t know them – and as we entered our mid-twenties it was quite natural that there were other things afoot.

Cover detail from The Ghost of Gwinbosch Castle

Previously unseen: the Ghost of Gwinbosch Castle

By 1995 I’d be a homeowner, I’d be engaged (disastrously, as it turned out) and I’d be working on a PhD. There were lots of reasons not to create Faerie Wood material. No doubt Garry could write a list of his own.

One reason for the supply of pictures running out I can guess at: new artistic media to be explored. I recall that at this time Garry had largely ceased to be interested in line drawings of the kind that we had relied on for Faerie Wood. If you look at the artwork for ‘Airy Faeries’ you can see that a new style is used: I was expecting more of the same, but Garry was branching out. New styles, and new interests.

Detail from the village map in Airy Faeries.

Detail from the village map in Airy Faeries.

Alistair was given a (in fact, the) print copy of the Game Master chapters (sans illustrations) and ran a game or two, but playing in those marked the end of my Faerie Wood experience. I continued to be very proud of what we had done, to the extent of showing the Players’ Book to prospective employers… but no more books would be completed, and we were almost at the end of the creative journey.

There remain about seven unpublished Faerie Wood supplements (being imprecise, because it depends upon your own standards in terms of quality and completeness) that reside on this computer, and its ancestors. Coming up in the next instalment, therefore: a sneak peak at some of the unfinished symphonies of Faerie Wood. 

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