Friday, 30 July 2021

Fighting Fantasy at the UK Games Expo 2021

The UK Games Expo 2021 is taking place all this weekend - from Friday 30th July to Sunday 1st August - at the NEC on the outskirts of Birmingham in the UK and Ian Livingstone is there.

Ian is exhibiting at Stand 2-T95 where he will have the very-hard-to-get-hold-of-hardbacks of Assassins of Allansia for sale. He will also be signing his other Fighting Fantasy gamebooks.

You will find him sandwiched between artist Ralph Horsley and Atlantis Miniatures, producers of the Fighting Fantasy Legends figures.

Click on the image above to enlarge it.

On Friday afternoon, at 5:30pm, Ian will be giving his 'Life is a Game' talk, and on Saturday evening, at 6:00pm, Ian will be leading The Dark Room's John Robertson into the infamous City of Thieves!

If you're attending the UK Games Expo 2021 this weekend, do stop by Stand 2-T95 and say hello.

Monday, 26 July 2021

Return to the Pit with Arion Games paper miniatures for Advanced Fighting Fantasy

Available now from Arion Games is the first set of paper miniatures for Advanced Fighting Fantasy, featuring the creatures from the book Return to the Pit.

This new set of John Kapsalis miniatures includes such delights as the Accursed, the Astral Slayer, the Barrow Guard, the Bone Demon, and the Brain Defiler.

You can pick up the Return to the Pit monster book from Arion Games via DriveThruRPG, along with the whole range of Advanced Fighting Fantasy products.

Friday, 23 July 2021

The Land of the Rising Sun

On your Earthly Plane, the Tokyo Olympics have commenced, having been delayed for a year. Athletes from all over the world have converged on Japan to compete against each other, rather like competitors gather from all over Allansia to brave the dangers of Baron Sukumvit's Deathtrap Dungeon.

Fighting Fantasy has always enjoyed a close connection with Japan. Many adventures have been inspired and influenced by Japanese culture, as well as its myths and legends, not least The Sword of the Samurai. The twentieth book in the original series presented readers with the Fighting Fantasy version of Japan, in the form of the mystical land of Hachiman.

Warlock magazine only lasted for 13 issues in the UK. It was put out in Japan by publishers Shakaishisou Sha under the same name, which in Japanese is written asウォーロック. Established in the December of 1986, it continued until March 1992 during which time 63 issues were published! Starting out as simply a direction translation of the original English language magazine it inevitably ended up developing its own original material which went far beyond articles solely about Fighting Fantasy gamebooks.

ファイティング・ファンタジー was the name given to the Fighting Fantasy series in Japan, which translates simply as ‘Fighting Fantasy’. In 1986, Shakaishisou Sha, the Japanese publishers of the range, arranged a publicity tour for the two co-founders of Fighting Fantasy, and invited Jackson and Livingstone to visit Tokyo to sign copies of their books. Fans turned out in their hundreds.

“Shakaishisou Sha was a small publisher of mainly dry, academic works; sociology and the like,” Jackson explains. “Penguin’s Japanese agent approached them with Fighting Fantasy. It wasn’t their thing at all. But the editor gave a sample of Warlock to his teenage son, who was studying English. The son was so enthusiastic that they signed up a deal. I have no idea what happened to bring the books into the public eye. But suddenly FF was something of a sensation. And Shakaishisou Sha, who would normally sell 5-10,000 copies max of one of their academic books, suddenly found they’d sold 250,000 copies of Warlock! Through Penguin we got them to agree that if they sold two million plus books in Japanese they would invite us over for a publicity tour. They honoured their promise.

“And so it was that in 1986 Ian and I flew to Tokyo and embarked on a memorable publicity tour. On our arrival, our hosts gave us both envelopes which we assumed were itineraries. But later we found they had given us around £1,000 cash each! I suggested this was to pay the hotel and put a limit on our expenses – so they didn’t have to pay for long phone calls back to our families in the UK, but no. As we checked out of the hotel we were told that the company had paid for our rooms already. The cash was simply our ‘pocket money’!”

Shakaishisou Sha even arranged a Fighting Fantasy Day and went so far as to register the names of the co-creators in Kanji (the system of Japanese writing that uses Chinese characters).

Jackson: “First event was a signing at a big bookstore in Tokyo. We arrived to find a queue stretching from our signing table, right across the shop floor and up three flights of stairs. And people had brought us small gifts. Next day was a ‘Fighting Fantasy Convention’. The hall was packed with fans who we spoke to through our interpreter. Then we went on the Bullet train to various other cities for signings, etc. We were overwhelmed by the response to this tour.

Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone on tour in Japan in 1986. (© Ian Livingstone, 1986 and 2021)

“On the Bullet train to Kyoto we asked our editor how our names would appear on the book covers in traditional Japanese. He explained that Western names were not really translatable, but they could be registered in Kanji. It was a bit like the trade mark system. You put some characters together and officially registered them. And from then on they meant something in Kanji. He offered to create Kanji characters that would represent our names. Mine was a combination of three existing characters which translated into ‘Happy Emperor Samurai’ or something like that. Three weeks after we returned home I received a packet from Japan which contained official ink stamps with our Kanji translations, and a few T-shirts with our characters printed on them. The only problem was we couldn’t tell which was which! So for all I know, Ian has three T-shirts with ‘Steve Jackson’ on, and I have the Ian Livingstone ones!”

Only this year, a different Japanese publisher, Group SNE, has re-released several titles in Japanese, with covers featuring the classic artwork from the 1980s. So, 35 years on, it looks like Fighting Fantasy is still big in Japan!

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

More Sværd & Trolddom

Coming soon from Faraos Cigarer are another two titles in the Danish translations of Fighting Fantasy, or Sværd & Trolddom, as the series is called in Denmark.

Can you guess which classic Ian Livingstone titles these two are?

Talking of translated editions of the Fighting Fantasy series, these stone cold classics are now available again in Japan this year, courtesy of Group SNE.