Friday, 7 February 2020

The Crown of Kings - 35 years of magic

2020 marks the 35th anniversary of the publication of The Crown of Kings, the fourth and concluding adventure of Steve Jackson's seminal Sorcery! series.

Jackson conceived the epic gamebook experiment after holidaying in Nepal, and several of the settlements that appear in The Shamutanti Hills, the first book in the quartet, are named after actual villages he came across on a five day trek he undertook from the city of Pokhara.

The Shamutanti Hills concludes with the hero - the Analander - battling the Manticore that has appeared on the cover of every edition of the book ever published. The second book in the series, KharĂ© – Cityport of Traps, charts the hero’s challenging journey through the titular city to the spell-locked Northern Gate, through which he has to pass to continue the quest for the Crown of Kings.

The Seven Serpents, the third book in the series, takes the hero across the inhospitable Baklands – a treacherous wilderness of deserts, forests, and swamps – and a vast lake, as the Analander attempts to hunt down and do away with the Archmage’s assassin-agents of the title, seven deadly and magical serpents. And in The Crown of Kings, the hero has to climb through the Xamen Peaks to the Mampang Fortress, and then battle his way through the Archmage’s lair.

The Crown of Kings was a whopping 800 references in length - a record yet to be broken by any other Fighting Fantasy gamebook) – was a suitably epic finale to Sorcery! series, and featured one of the most memorable (and clever) denouements of any adventure ever published, not to mention encounters with a god-headed Hydra and entire societies of birdmen and she-satyrs.

When Jackson talks about the Sorcery! series, he does so, understandably, with great fondness. When pressed on the subject of which of the gamebooks he has written are his favourites, he cites two: “Warlock because it was the first. And Sorcery! because it was the most complex. Creating a four-part adventure in which your actions in Book 2 might affect your choices in Book 4 was a real challenge. Also making sure they were all good adventures in their own right; you didn’t need to have completed Sorcery 1 to play Sorcery 2. I was very proud of Sorcery!

Of course, in more recent years, the Sorcery! series has been turned into a series of apps by inkle studios, as well as a multi-player role-playing campaign published by Arion Games, while the first two parts of the Analander's momentous quest are now in print again, courtesy of Scholastic Books.


Friday, 24 January 2020

Delving into Deathtrap Dungeon

With the release of Branching Narrative's Deathtrap Dungeon: The Interactive Video Adventure this week, there are now more ways than ever to take on Baron Sukumvit's devious maze of misery.

If you're up to undertaking an epic quest, there's Nomad Games' Deathtrap Dungeon Trilogy, which is now available for the Nintendo Switch.

Like to game on the move? Then Tin Man Games' adaptation is for you.

If you're in the mood to simply listen to the story, rather than interact with the dungeon yourself, then there's the Fighting Fantasy audio drama Deathtrap Dungeon: The Last Champion, by David N. Smith.

Like it old school? Then there's this magical tome.

And tickets are still available for The StoryMaster's Tales Deathtrap Dungeon LIVE, which is happening at this year's UK Games Expo in Birmingham.

So, do you fancy taking a walk this weekend... through Deathtrap Dungeon?

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Deathtrap Dungeon: The Interactive Video Adventure released today on Steam!

It's the day that many of you have been waiting for, especially if you got to play the demo at Fighting Fantasy Fest 3 last year. Branching Narrative's Deathtrap Dungeon: The Interactive Video Adventure is released on Steam today!

Deathtrap Dungeon: The Interactive Video Adventure is an interactive video realisation of Ian Livingstone's multi-million selling classic gamebook, featuring homegrown Hollywood star Eddie Marsan (Fast & Furious: Hobbes & Shaw, Deadpool 2, Atomic Blonde) as the Narrator.

You can visit the Branching Narrative website here, and download the game from Steam here. Why not let us know what you think of Deathtrap Dungeon: The Interactive Video Adventure in the comments below.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Appreciate a Dragon Day

Dragons have long been a staple of fantasy games and fiction, and that is as true of Fighting Fantasy gamebooks as it is of any other popular fantasy setting.

Today is #AppreciateADragonDay and there are certainly plenty of dragons to appreciate in Fighting Fantasy, from  Russ Nicholson's Dragon in the first ever FF gamebook, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, and Chris Achilleos's 'Dragonspell' cover for Titan - The Fighting Fantasy World...

... through to Robert Ball's reimagined White Dragon from the Scholastic edition of Ian Livingstone's seminal Caverns of the Snow Witch, and Stephen Lavis's Brimstone Dragon from Steve Jackson's The Tasks of Tantalon...

... not to mention Tony Hough's 'Night Dragon' and Martin McKenna's 'Eye of the Dragon'.

So which Fighting Fantasy Dragon will you be appreciating this #AppreciateADragonDay?