The Ancient history of Lords of Midnight and Doomdark’s Revenge

Nov 27, 2020

Despite the fact that both “The Lords of Midnight” and “Doomdark’s Revenge” were written by Mike Singleton over 35 years ago, an eternity in computer and video game history, the odd surprise can still be thrown up and a little more of the history around the games revealed.

You’ll be aware of the genesis of my Lords of Midnight novelisation (if not read here) and how a novel was originally promised to the first person to win the game and provide evidence of so doing – by printing out their adventure on paper and sending it in by post… there was no internet in those days. That story is a bit of a legend in its own right. However, in the last few weeks, I’ve been privileged enough to get in contact with some of the individuals who were involved at the time, allowing me to shed a little more light onto this ancient history of times long past… or 1984 as we like to call it!

The first ancient artefact unearthed was a letter from the “Beyond Robot” (Beyond Software – the original publisher of the games) to a competition entrant, thanking them for their entry, but informing them that they had sadly not been the first to submit a winning entry…

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Picture courtesy of Stewart Beatt

Following on shortly after this was an example of one of those entry competitions… a record of the game printed out on thermal paper. The ZX Printer of the time (and many of its rivals) didn’t use the common 9 pin or 24 pin dot-matrix affair, hammering against a coated ribbon to create text on ordinary paper, but rather used heat transfer onto a special roll of thermal paper to produce the text and images. The ZX Printer was affectionate known as the “Bog Roll Printer” for reasons which are fairly obvious. 😉

The infamous ZX Printer

The entries for the Lords of Midnight and Doomdarks’ Revenge competitions thus looked like this, faded with the passing decades, but a valuable keepsake regardless. (Keep Scrolling!)

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Image courtesy of Richard H Harris

As is now widely known, the winner of the Lords of Midnight competition was supposed to have the prize of their specific adventures being immortalised in a novel. That prize was never delivered and we still don’t know precisely what happened in lieu of the book – which I eventually wrote 35 years later! However, for Doomdark’s Revenge, the winning prize was instead going to be a set of bespoke metal miniatures representing the characters depicted in Doomdark’s Revenge.

Until November 2020, nothing had been heard of these miniatures until a conversation on Twitter (bless Twitter for all its indirect contributions to Midnight and the Icemark!) caught the eye of the original winner of Doomdark’s Revenge, who still has those miniatures, alongside the winning printout of the game where the “Watchwords of Midnight” were revealed.

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Image courtesy of Richard H Harris
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Image courtesy of Richard H Harris
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Image Courtesy of Richard H Harris

These miniatures have not been seen before as far as I know, but it’s good to know that the original winner still owns them and plans to cherish them for the future!

Here are some close up of the figures – give them a chance to load on slower connections, all images courtesy of Richard H Harris – https://twitter.com/TelecomGuru. to whom I’ve very grateful for permission to reproduce them on this blog.

Luxor the Moonprince
Morkin the Free
Rorthron the Wise
Tarithel the Fey
Shareth the Heartstealer

It’s been fantastic to see these miniatures after all those years and close out a little bit of the history of Doomdark’s Revenge in the process. The novel is still being written, with the 100k mark having recently been passed. The sky brightens in the east once more across the snows of Midnight and Icemark. Dawn cannot be far away!

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Farewell to 2020, but more is coming in 2021!
Finally, a progress report!

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