Tuesday 13 November 2012

The Grimoire Thing Just Gets Weirder

A few posts ago I wrote about "Grimoire: Heralds of the Winged Exemplar".  This is a rather mythical game amongst RPG aficionados because, as I said then, it has reputedly been in development for the past 17 years.  Its story (which is long and strange) is irreversibly entangled with that of its creator Cleveland Mark Blakemore (who might not be long but sure is strange.)

I probably don't have the space to fully cover that story here but I can give you the basics.  Cleve has stated that he started developing Grimoire as a direct consequence of his experiences working for an Australian company in the mid 90s, who Sir-Tech had asked to make a follow up to their seminal game Wizardry 7: Crusaders of the Dark Savant.  This game was supposedly called "Stones of Arnhem" and he described a project full of incompetents, run by an Australian actor Max Phipps (he was in Mad Max 2, here he is),

which devolved into a total mess and was eventually canned by Sir-Tech before anything meaningful was created (but not before they wasted $250,000.)

Cleve makes some, frankly, pretty unbelievable claims about this time in his life (most of which don't bear to be repeated here) and he describes a number of the monsters created for the game, which were mostly based around aboriginal mythology or creatures from the outback, but which also included "the rectum gobbler" and something he christened "the penisaurus".  His version of events paints a damning picture of a project team out of control and completely disconnected from the Sirotek brothers at Sir-Tech.  He details an almost Kurtzian situation, with the leaders heading off on their own doomed jaunts into the creative jungle and nobody (except him) able to tell them that having monsters based on reproductive organs was not necessarily a great idea.  He says that he eventually had to quit the project as it was having a deleterious effect on his mental health, the scars of which he still bears today.

The problem was... no reference to Stones of Arnhem existed on the web (apart from Cleve's own words, and a comment on one website from somebody who purported to be his erstwhile partner, Michael Shamgar) so people found it difficult to believe him.  Add in to this that Cleve's online persona is often extremely offensive, totally unconcerned with the niceties of political correctness (or common politeness) and will say that stuff is true which appears to bend the rules of reality itself (for example that he killed all those Mexicans with the jawbone of an ass during the LA Riots, or whatever that story was.)  He's been trolling gaming sites since the early days and has annoyed or exhausted countless numbers of people.

So you can imagine the reaction when he fronts up with "Oh yeah, by the way guys, did you know there was almost a follow up to Wizardry 7 that was being made in Australia and had dick monsters in it, and transsexual furries killing each other and shit?  And I was, like, the lead programmer on it and spent all my waking hours trying to save it, but it never got made because the project manager got taken into a sanitarium, and hey, have I told you about the time I got hit by a truck but survived cos of my titanium skeleton?"

I mean we've all encountered them; people who make stuff up, who turn themselves into something they're not and try to counteract some kind of deep-seated inadequacy in their very heart by sticking lies up on the internet.  Come on!  This is some kind of bizarre joke isn't it?  A Penisaurus?  Rectum gobbler?  These are just the rantings of a disgruntled, delusional lunatic, a madman, don't pay any attention to it, it's obviously completely untr....



Turns out that Cleve might have a point after all.  Because, in a completely bizarre turn of events, somebody has turned up AT JUST THE RIGHT TIME to provide him with at least partial corroboration.  An ebay user with the "name" of "hotalibl" says that he bought the remains of Sir-Tech, including all of their documentation, sealed games, artworks and so on.  He's even put 50 lots of it up on ebay, with another 50 to go up next week. (Click the link above to see the list.)

Amongst commonplace items like sealed first editions of different games, signed artwork and design documents the auctions include such gems as the letter canning the Stones of Arnhem project

and um... Cleve's resignation letter....

Of course I should probably make it almost legally clear that this doesn't mean that any of Cleve's other claims are in any way true, but you know, that picture does kind of fit his description, sort of almost exactly, and there's a lot of evidence there that "Stones of Arnhem" existed and that he worked on it before resigning and, if that's true, then... well maybe it's best if we don't think about what that might imply...

Oh and, while we're here, Grimoire has a new pitch video as its resolution has been updated.  Demo due end of this month.  Apparently.  The Indiegogo campaign is still running.

Further Reading:
If you want to read the full story go here (be aware it is 50+ pages.)

A demo of the game was released in February 2013 - read about it here


  1. This is probably the most awesome moment in the history of gaming.

  2. I can't believe somebody paid that much for some of this stuff. Incredible. Codex built up the hysteria before it launched.

  3. Stones of Arnhem WAS going to be Wizardry 8. Cleve Blakemore WAS brought on halfway though development to help with the programming. Pretty much everything else he claims, certainly with regard myself and the late Max Phipps, is utter bullshit.

    Phil Moore

    1. Hi Mr Moore,

      Thanks! There are always 2 sides to every story. If you ever want to write down your memories of working on Arnhem then I promise I'll publish them here.... It would be good to get somebody else's perspective.


    2. Notice no specifics on anything. Wouldn't hold my breath for his account.