Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My Adventure Begins Here

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.

For 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!