I love the fantasy genre. My favourite novels are fantasy, I love computer rpgs in fantasy settings, and my favourite table-top game is Dungeons & Dragons. But before I discovered Dungeons & Dragons, before I even started reading fantasy literature, I found Fighting Fantasy.
those of you who are unfamiliar with the series, here's a brief
run-down. In 1982 Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone (co-founders of
Games Workshop, the company that created Warhammer) published The Warlock of Firetop Mountain through
Penguin Books. It was like a Choose Your Own Adventure book (only not
crap) with the added benefit of dice-rolling for combat and other
situations. In other words, Jackson and Livingstone had fused Choose Your Own Adventure with Dungeons & Dragons, and created the gamebook. The series continued until book 59, with various authors
contributing, and it had something of a revival about a decade ago. The
books sold millions. Millions and millions. I've read that at one
point the top 5 UK best-sellers were all Fighting Fantasy books, though I
can't locate the source now. Needless to say, they were a phenomenon
in the UK, and they were omnipresent here in Australia as well.
My first encounter with them was in my primary school library, which had the first three: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, The Citadel of Chaos and The Forest of Doom. I
played through those with various levels of cheating involved, and the
series remained a constant part of my gaming life for years. They
were my introduction to D&D-style fantasy, and my perception of
that genre is still massively influenced by them.
When the series' 30th anniversary hit in 2012, I hatched a plan to play through all of them one by one. I've completed a lot of them, mostly the earlier ones, but far from all of them. But 2012 came and went, and I never got around to it. Even so, that itch remained. I might have missed the anniversary, but I still want to complete the whole series, and that's where this blog comes in.
My plan is to read each Fighting Fantasy gamebook, starting with book 1 and going all the way to the most recent one, which at last count was Blood of the Zombies by Ian Livingstone (yes, Wizard Books occasionally publishes a new installment). I have but one rule: no cheating. No re-rolling dice, no fingers marking my place in the book to take back a bad decision, and no walkthroughs. I'm going to play every one legit, and record how many attempts it takes me.
There are some other FF play-through blogs out there, if the series takes your fancy. Turnto400 is the funniest of the lot. Fighting Fantasy Project provides more in-depth reviews. Fighting for Your Fantasy
is another that is rather good. Or you could just hang around here and
read my posts. Those blogs tend to do a single attempt at a book
before moving on to the next one. My plan is to stick with one book and
attempt to complete it without cheating before I continue. It sounds
like a good plan, but things could get tedious when I hit a book I'm not
familiar with. And then there's Crypt of the Sorcerer, which could conceivably take me hundreds of tries...
So, onward! Next post, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain!