Fighting Fantasy

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Oldschool.pngThis article or section is about something oldschool - and awesome.
Make sure your rose-tinted glasses are on nice and tight, and prepare for a lovely walk down nostalgia lane.
The very first book of the series.
Created by Ian Livingstone and the other Steve Jackson (not the one from Texas), Fighting Fantasy is a series of adventure game books from the 1980's. If the names sound familiar, that's normal; these were the same guys who founded Games Workshop.

Unlike a normal boring book you get to make choices in the story as you are the hero. Usually it's either you succeed or you go down the wrong corridor and die. The story does not progress in a linear fashion but rather is divided into a series of numbered sections. Beginning at the first section, the reader chooses an option (e.g. Section 1 to Section 180) which in turn provides an outcome for the decision and advances the story. Usually. What actually happens is most people read all the potential options, and then pick one. This leads to multiple bookmarks and fingers being jammed in the book. . . and ya we know it's basically a dead tree version of a Visual Novel but it has less weeaboo and it's old enough to get grandfathered into the TG canon.

Also, dice are involved, but not really! You're supposed to roll two dice during combat, but no-one ever does. Sometimes you 'have' to roll dice to pick the next option etc. Keeping your thumb on the page where you are and then flipping back if you mess up and die. Sometimes the authors would put in some maths question to make you think and stop the reader from cheating. (done in Return to Firetop Mountain). In one book you even commanded your own personal army and could have them do the fighting for you (Armies of Death).

Awesome illustrations were used to help depict where you were. A variety of books were printed starting with The Warlock of Firetop Mountain more titles followed such as The Forest of Doom and Appointment with F.E.A.R (for which UK comic artist Brian Bolland provided the illustrations).

Apart from single player books, several multi-player roleplay books came out such as the Riddling Reaver and Dungeoneer. Art books such as Out of the Pit with illustrations by Christos Achilleos were released as well. These multi-player versions were amusing to play since the core rules were not changed much between single and multi-player, so your characters could do pretty much whatever the fuck they liked with only the occasional need to roll dice, and, since there are only three characteristics in fighting fantasy, it's very easy to get the hang of.

Some ground rules to stay alive in Fighting Fantasy:

  • If your character ever opens a door and the room doesn't contain a big scary monster, run like hell because it's a trap!
  • never play "Chasms of Malice", it gets to the point where you just start counting how many times your character died instead of counting stamina points. (The current record is 247 deaths before winning.)
  • never fight an elemental.
  • never ever fight an earth elemental.
  • never fight a dragon (obviously) unless you see an obvious way to win, like finding a spell that kills dragons.
  • play "Sorcery!", it's good, and you can play as a wizard who (spoiler alert) can accidentally cast a time travel spell that makes you win if you do roll for it right or become trapped in the time of the dinosaurs etc if you roll for it wrong.
  • play "The Warlock of Firetop Mountain" because it's very much an old-school dungeon crawler and the plot is basically a D&D murderhobo who goes off to kill a nice old man in a dungeon and steal his treasure. Always go east.

Also some computer game versions came out, like Forest of Doom on the ZX Spectrum and DeathTrap Dungeon on the PC and Playstation 1. There was also a mediocre Warlock of Firetop Mountain boardgame. Eventually after exhausting the thesarus and dictionary of cool words to send the readers to, the series (almost completely) stopped. Reprints of the fighting fantasy books have since been issued.

Sorcery is now available in a pretty nice computerised version in iOS and Steam. It even let's you "put your finger in the book" and rewind a decision that you instantly regret. Part 3 turns the game into an open world with a unique time travel mechanic, which is a refreshing change for those who read the original part 3, and Part 4 taketh away your privilege to rewind time so be warned.