Friday 22 December 2017

The Second Swordsman - Who is the Hero?

It's Gamebook Friday again, which means there's just time for one more of Malcolm Garcia's  Second Swordsman posts before Christmas.

This time he considers a trio of adventures in which YOU may be the Hero, but YOU don't actually know who YOU are!

The Second Swordsman - Who is the Hero?

By Malcolm Garcia

In most FIGHTING FANTASY adventures, YOU start as a seasoned adventurer, setting out on an epic quest to save the world from an evil scourge or to find a horde of treasure beyond your wildest dreams. But there are a handful of books in which YOU do not even know who YOU are when YOU begin your journey.

Talisman of Death has YOU transported from Earth to the world of Orb. Through this mysterious process YOU acquire swordsmanship skills previously unknown, but which will be necessary if YOU are to succeed in the task given to YOU by some deities to save the world from Death itself. In Black Vein Prophecy, which is the first FIGHTING FANTASY novel I’ve yet read where there is zero background, YOU awaken in a tomb not knowing who or where YOU are, and YOU acquire your SKILL, STAMINA and LUCK scores via a series of trials. Where Black Vein was short on background, in Creature of Havoc there was an abundance of history to read before starting the adventure. But this is all irrelevant as YOU don’t know who, where or even what YOU are.

None of these three adventures where YOU start off as an unknown were written by the same author. Talisman was penned by Jamie Thomson and Mark Smith, who would go on to write Sword of the Samurai. Black Vein was written by Paul Mason and Steve Williams, who also wrote Slaves of the Abyss and The Riddling Reaver. And Creature was the product of Steve Jackson – his final book in the FIGHTING FANTASY series. In a 2011 poll of FIGHTING FANTASY readers, Creature ranked number five – previously  the highest rated books I’ve attempted using the Second Swordsman process were House of Hell (also by Steve Jackson) and Deathtrap Dungeon – ranked six and seven and respectively.

Deliberately choosing every second option meant that Talisman of Death lived up to its name. After establishing some decent SKILL, STAMINA and LUCK scores, and buoyed by my possession of ten meals and a STAMINA-restoring potion, I started my adventure, not unusually, in a subterranean vault. Within a few choices I had been given the eponymous talisman and tasked with keeping it from the clutches of the minions of Death. But then within another few options I had made the foolish decision to charge into a group of Dark Elves, who swiftly captured me and took me to their evil master. Thusly I had failed within just a handful of choices of the start (although not doing as badly as in Island of the Lizard King), having undergone no LUCK tests or fought any creatures.

In Black Vein, the Second Swordsman process enabled me to escape the tomb that was collapsing around me in the beginning, along the way not being sure whether what I was seeing was real, or a hallucination. When I reached the ruins of the city above I remained unsure about my reality after encountering a talking horse and, obviously freaked out by this encounter, choosing the second option meant I decided the best way to get away from the city was to launch myself into the ocean using a catapult. Because I’d acquired a poor LUCK score when underground, I failed a LUCK test and lost some STAMINA when I hit the water. But I was then rescued by a ship, the Captain of which somehow knew about a dead body I’d found in the tomb at the start. My confusion only increased when I had to fight a crazy man who was floating on the sea in an inflatable zorb-like ball – which would unfortunately turn out to be the last time I had a fight.

Soon I went ashore with the Captain, who I then bizarrely chose to betray to some travelling bandits. Being bandits, they robbed me and left me tied to a tree. For the rest of the adventure, choosing the second option made me ignore several opportunities to interact with the locals and my aimless wandering was soon mercifully put to an end by some suspicious locals who had me jailed and executed. Through all of my choices in Black Vein I never really got an idea of what I supposed to be doing; somewhat akin to my earlier misadventures in Demons of the Deep and Spectral Stalkers.

Creature started promisingly enough with what has to be the most comprehensive, but also instantly redundant, background story of how the Necromancer Zharradan Marr came to be. I then gained consciousness and proceeded to kill and munch my way through the dungeon where I’d been put, for reasons as yet unknown. Yes, munch. It turns out that whoever/whatever I am has a hankering for hobbit meat. Sating this appetite was helped by the new rule that if I rolled a double for my attack strength I instantly killed my opponent – even if their attack strength was greater in that round. Because it’s not too hard to roll a double, I knocked off five of my nine adversaries this way.

Deciding what to do in Creature was not always possible by using the Second Swordsman process, because at the start of the adventure several of your choices are selected on the basis of random dice rolls. But once I gained more control over my own fate, I rewarded this by making some foolish decisions, such as provoking a Giant Hornet and falling into a trap pit. I then got lost in a series of the dungeon’s dead ends and brought about my own doom by attacking a poorly constructed tunnel.

Excluding Talisman, which was an abject failure when just choosing the second option, these adventures started promisingly – I enjoyed the process in Black Vein whereby YOU establish your SKILL, STAMINA and LUCK scores, and being a brutal killing machine in Creature was a refreshing change from the pressure of always having to try and save the world. But a series of poor choices in both of these adventures soon caught up with me, and my failures were rather anticlimactic. Next time I’ll hopefully learn who I was in Black Vein or get out of the dungeon in Creature, if only to devour some more hobbits – I never seemed to get full no matter how many I ate!

Thank you and Happy Christmas to Malcolm, for his latest Second Swordsman blog post. Which titles will he be tackling in the New Year? You're just have to logon to to find out!

And remember, if you have any suggestions for items for the official Fighting Fantasy blog don't forget to get in touch via

Friday 15 December 2017

Your Christmas Shopping sorted, courtesy of Fighting Fantasy!

There are only 9 shopping days left until Christmas, and you're wondering either...
(a) What do I get the gamebook fan in my life?
(b) What shall I buy for myself for somebody else to give me for Christmas?

Well, have no fear, all your Christmas shopping solutions are here!

How about the graphic novel collection of Ian Livingstone's FREEWAY FIGHTER, written by Andi Ewington, with art by Simon Coleby, colours by Len O'Grady, and letters by Jim Campbell, available now from Titan Comics?

And if graphic novels are your thing, don't forget that Steve Jackson's The Trolltooth Wars, by PJ Montgomery and Gavin Mitchell, is also available now.

Perhaps you like your adventures more auditory. If so, then check out FoxYason's Fighting Fantasy audio drama, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain: The Hero's Quest.

But if you like your FF adventures old school, then you should definitely check out Scholastic Books' new editions of various classic FF gamebooks, along with Ian Livingstone's newest title, The Port of Peril.

For the gamebook buffs and art lovers out there, there are currently two volumes in Jonathan Green's YOU ARE THE HERO series.

And there are the new licensed Fighting Fantasy ARUs from All Rolled Up!

But probably the ultimate gift for any FF fan, is the new book coming from Unbound, DICE MEN: Games Workshop 1975 to 1985, written by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone with Jamie Thomson, about the early history of Games Workshop, without which there wouldn't have been any Fighting Fantasy gamebooks!

Rewards include signed, limited editions hardbacks, reproductions of Games Workshop’s newsletter Owl and Weasel No.1 signed by Ian and Steve, signed gamebooks, and even lunch with the authors. So don't delay, pledge today, for that ultimate Christmas gift!

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Tin Man Games announce Fighting Fantasy Classics!

First there was The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, then Fighting Fantasy Legends, and now Fighting Fantasy Classic will be coming your way in 2018.

Tin Man Games have announced that they will be releasing a classic gamebook version of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, along with The Citadel of Chaos and City of Thieves, as part of Fighting Fantasy Classics, a digital library app for iOS, Android, PC and Mac, that the company have been developing.

The original FF adventures are being converted to a digital gamebook format. Combat and SKILL rolls will be resolved by rolling realistic 3D dice, and the famous Adventure Sheet, normally found at the front of the books, functions in the game via an autofill system.

The library will debut early 2018 and will feature Fighting Fantasy titles previously released by Tin Man Games, including Bloodbones, Caverns of the Snow Witch, Island of the Lizard King and The Forest of Doom, along with new adaptations previously unseen in Tin Man’s gamebook engine, which will include Deathtrap Dungeon, Sword of the Samurai and Creature of Havoc.

Fighting Fantasy Classics will be available to download in February 2018 for iOS and Android. It will also be available on PC and Mac via Steam a few months later.

To find out more, follow this link.

Monday 4 December 2017

Dice Men: The History of Games Workshop Unbound!

Some exciting news broke at Dragonmeet over the weekend. If you haven't already heard, Unbound will be publishing a new book about the early years of Games Workshop.

Dice Men: Games Workshop the Early Years 1975 to 1985 is co-authored by Steve Jackson, Ian Livingstone and Jamie Thomson. Steve and Ian need no introduction, and Jamie Thomson will be best known to Fighting Fantasy fans as the co-author of Talisman of Death, Sword of the Samurai and The Keep of the Lich-Lord, but he was also an employee of Games Workshop in those early days.

We've already had the history of FF gamebooks by Jonathan Green, which currently runs to two volumes and which touched on the foundation of Games Workshop, but Dice Men will explore that seminal time in much greater detail. It will take the form of a full colour, highly illustrated hardback over 300 pages long, A4 (210mm x 297mm) printed on 140gsm gloss art stock, with colour printed endpapers and a bookmark ribbon.

To find out more about this very special book, and to pledge your support to the project, follow this link.

Friday 1 December 2017

Fighting Fantasy at Dragonmeet 2017

Celebrate 35 years of Fighting Fantasy gamebooks at Dragonmeet this Saturday, 2nd December.

Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, the co-creators of the world's most popular gamebook series, will be giving a talk, to mark this incredible milestone, at 1:00pm.

Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks
by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone
1982 - 2017

The day-long event runs from 10:00am until midnight, and Fighting Fantasy historian Jonathan Green will also be there, selling copies of YOU ARE THE HERO Parts 1 and 2.

Not only that, but Fox Yason Audio (producers of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain audio drama) will also be in attendance.

If you're attending the event, remember to stop by stands K5, K6 and K7 and say hello.

Click to enlarge

Monday 27 November 2017

Freeway Fighter signing at Forbidden Planet

Fighting Fantasy co-creator Ian Livingstone, legendary SF&F artist Jim Burns, and comic book artist Simon Coleby were at Forbidden Planet on Saturday to sign copies of Ian Livingstone's FREEWAY FIGHTER - the limited edition comic book series from Titan Comics - written by Andi Ewington and drawn by Simon Coleby, with colours by Len O'Grady and lettering by Jim Campbell - which has now been collected as a paperback graphic novel.

The new Ian Livingstone's FREEWAY FIGHTER looking resplendent within its Jim Burns cover.

Signed book plates.

Some very limited edition giclee prints of Jim Burns' cover art for Freeway Fighter.

It wasn't just Ian Livingstone's FREEWAY FIGHTER that was on sale and available for signing at Forbidden Planet on Saturday!

Fans gather to meet the guests and have their treasures signed.

Jim Burns, Ian Livingstone and Simon Coleby ready to sign!

The signing session gets under way.

It was great to see fans who discovered Freeway Fighter and Fighting Fantasy when they were young introducing the next generation of children to the wonders of interactive gamebooks and graphic novels.

Forbidden Planet also had a limited of number of copies of Jim Burns' artwork collection Hyperluminal on sale on the day, which Jim was also happy to sign.

Special thanks to Fighting Fantasy stalwart James Aukett for the photographs, and if you weren't able to make it to Forbidden Planet at the weekend, Ian Livingstone will be appearing at Dragonmeet this Saturday, 2nd December, where he will be giving a talk about Fighting Fantasy and his hopes for the future of the series.

Saturday 25 November 2017

Freeway Fighter signing at Forbidden Planet today!

If you're in London tomorrow, why not stop by the Forbidden Planet Megastore on Shaftesbury Avenue, between 1pm and 2pm, where Ian Livingstone, Jim Burns and Simon Coleby will be signing copies of the collected trade paperback of Titan Comics' Ian Livingstone's FREEWAY FIGHTER?

Ian will also be signing any other Fighting Fantasy merchandise you care to take along to the event.

Friday 17 November 2017

The Second Swordsman - 'Keep Your Blade Ready and Luke Sharp!'

This Gamebook Friday it's time for the eleventh entry in Malcolm Garcia's ongoing Second Swordsman series of posts, in which he undertakes classic Fighting Fantasy adventures by only ever selecting the second choice of any list of options.

This week, how will he get on using this process with the works of FF author Luke Sharp?

The Second Swordsman - 'Keep Your Blade Ready and Luke Sharp!'

By Malcolm Garcia

Although his first FIGHTING FANTASY adventure was the sci-fi themed Star Strider, for his other three books Luke Sharp would exclusively explore the southwestern corner of Khul. In both Chasms of Malice and Daggers of Darkness YOU are an heir to a kingdom, but to claim what is yours YOU must confront the foul forces that would take over. While in Fangs of Fury YOU are a soldier who is sent on a mission to reignite the magical flames that defend your kingdom and prevent the evil enchanter Jaxartes from taking over southern Khul. In all three YOU are sent on your way by the wizard Astragal and your last view of him in both Chasms and Fangs is him sending YOU down a hole in the ground.

In all three of these adventures following the Second Swordsman process (of arbitrarily choosing every second option) resulted in universal failure. I variously suffered an instant death due a poor choice, had another instant death from a roll of the dice, and was killed in combat.

I started each adventure with fairly good SKILL, STAMINA and LUCK scores; however, I found that I only tested my LUCK twice – once in both Chasms and Daggers. Each adventure also provided me with a good supply of provisions and two had the return of the magical potion (which I haven’t seen since trying Phantoms of Fear). I chose the STAMINA potion (the second option) in both Fangs and Daggers. While Chasms had no such potion option, it did give me a magical cat that could restore my LUCK and assist me a total of nine times.

Both Fangs and Daggers had some additional game dynamics that added a layer of complexity. In Fangs YOU are racing the clock with an instant death promised if the 14 walls of the Citadel are breached. And in Daggers YOU are racing the clock with an instant death promised if poison from a wound inflicted by an enchanted dagger spreads throughout your body. Daggers also adds to your quest the possibility of collecting a half dozen medallions that will allow YOU to cheat a death-in-combat (for a price).

All three of Sharp’s adventures had me being overpowered by various gangs of locals. In both Chasms and Fangs the Second Swordsman process resulted in me being captured within a few choices of starting. Sharp could have used these occasions to instantly kill me, but he didn’t. In Chasms I manage to escape my jailers, thanks to a sympathetic blacksmith. And in Fangs I was on the brink of being executed when I was rescued by a mysterious stranger who butchered my captors and probably would have been better suited to completing the adventure. In Daggers I wasn’t imprisoned until later in the adventure, but what this story had in abundance was the opportunity to be surrounded and automatically surrender. This happened four times which would have been annoying, but it never led to something bad happening straight away.

Unlike the last episode of the Second Swordsman, in all three of Sharp’s Titan-based adventures, I was able to test my blade. In Chasms my first enemy was one of the seven Khuddam, the ‘big bads’ of the book. With a SKILL of 10 she was one of the toughest first encounters I’ve ever had (only the Fog Wyvern from Legend of Zagor and the Mammoth from Caverns of the Snow Witch had the same SKILL) and she took off nearly two thirds of my STAMINA before I beat her. In Daggers I fought a total of eight creatures, all of whom were mercifully weaker, and in half of the battles I lost no STAMINA at all. In Fangs I only fought six enemies, three of which died without inflicting a scratch on me, but the last, the Bodyguard Knight, killed me. She only had a SKILL of 8, which is the equal-lowest skilled creature to defeat me (the other being the Fighting Slave from Trial of Champions), but I had poorly managed my STAMINA in the lead up to this fight and I died for want of eating just one more meal.

My death in Chasms was much more anti-climactic. After defeating Khuddam Friankara, I fled and paused for a moment, only to be surrounded by a gang of orcs who weren’t as understanding as the groups who caught me in Daggers. And in Daggers I finally fell victim to a random roll of the dice and was killed by a spike trap. If I have one issue with Daggers, it is that there are too many of these ‘tests’ where the outcome is not influenced by your LUCK or SKILL. Not only did one of these kill me, but I lost several STAMINA points from similar, earlier, trials.

Overall I enjoyed Sharp’s world of southwestern Khul, especially in Fangs and Daggers as the books gave the sense of moving through a world inhabited by a large number of NPCs who have their own missions and motivations. I would have liked to have eaten more in Fangs (so I would have survived that particular fight) and to have had the opportunity to use the magical cat in Chasms. It’s not every FIGHTING FANTASY adventure where YOU get to bring along a pet!

Thank you once again to Malcolm, for his latest Second Swordsman blog post. If you have any suggestions for items for the official Fighting Fantasy blog don't forget to get in touch via

Friday 10 November 2017

Steve Jackson & Ian Livingstone to attend DRAGONMEET 2017

Celebrate 35 years of Fighting Fantasy gamebooks at Dragonmeet this December.

Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, the co-creators of the world's most popular gamebook series, will be giving a special seminar at Dragonmeet, on Saturday 2nd December 2017, to mark this incredible milestone.

Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone in 1982.

The event runs from 10:00am until midnight, and Scholastic Books will be there, selling copies of the Fighting Fantasy re-issues, and so will Fighting Fantasy historian Jonathan Green, who will have copies of YOU ARE THE HERO Parts 1 and 2 on sale.

We'll see you there, and may your STAMINA never fail (in the signing queue)!

Wednesday 8 November 2017

Ian Livingstone's FREEWAY FIGHTER signing at Forbidden Planet

Forbidden Planet are pleased to welcome back Gamesmaster Ian Livingstone and artist Jim Burns, on Saturday 25th November from 1:00–2:00pm, for another unique signing event!

Ian and Jim, along with a host of comic book talent, including artist Simon Coleby, will be signing copies of the collected trade paperback of Titan Comic's Ian Livingstone's FREEWAY FIGHTER four-part mini-series.

Scripted by Andi Ewington, with art by Simon Coleby, colours by Len O'Grady, letters by Jim Campbell, and edited by Fighting Fantasy's very own Jonathan Green, the FREEWAY FIGHTER graphic novel is a prequel to Ian Livingstone's much-loved 1985 Fighting Fantasy gamebook.

In the story, an unknown virus has wiped out over 85% of the world’s human population. Former I-400 Driver Bella De La Rosa is one of the 15% – living every day as if it were her last. Now, eighteen months after the collapse of civilisation, faced with a new world order where violence and chaos rule the Freeway, she must hone her racing skills and survive any way she can!

Also available ONLY at the Forbidden Planet event are two very Limited Edition Prints of Jim Burns' original cover art for the Freeway Fighter gamebook!

Friday 3 November 2017

Fighting Fantasy historian Jonathan Green to attend AramadaCon this weekend

Fighting Fantasy historian and gamebook author Jonathan Green will be one of the guests at this year's AramadaCon, which is taking place at Future Inns this weekend in Plymouth.

On Saturday 4th November, in the Main Hall, he will be giving a talk entitled 'How to Write an Adventure Gamebook', while on Saturday evening there will be a live read-through of a Fighting Fantasy adventure.

Not only that, but he will have a table in the Dealers' Room, where he will be selling copies of his history of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks, YOU ARE THE HERO Parts 1 and 2.

Sunday 29 October 2017

Join the battle for a British Games Institute

Fighting Fantasy co-founder of Games Workshop, co-creator of Fighting Fantasy and godfather of the UK gaming industry Ian Livingstone is leading the campaign for a British Games Institute.

The is a proposal backed by over 500 games, arts, finance and educational organisations, as well as both trade bodies TIGA and Ukie. But it won't happen unless politicians understand how important games are to UK people like you. And so Ian needs your help to persuade government to fund the British Games Institute.

If you've ever played a video game, you've probably played one made in the UK. From the breath-taking creativity of Monument Valley and LittleBigPlanet, the grand strategies of Total War and Football Manager, the exhilaration of F1 and Forza, the glorious exploration of Elite, the joy of Lego and Worms to the freedom and sophistication of Grand Theft Auto and Batman, the British have a genius for making games.

We have made world-class games for nearly 40 years, but the studios that make our games face massive challenges in raising the money needed to develop games, fighting low public and media recognition of games' impact on our culture and economy, and real difficulties accessing the skills to keep our games world-class.

British games contribute well over £1 billion to the country's economy every year but government funding for the art form that is games has been negligible. Some still question whether games are even an art form. In this day and age!

Many of the most influential people in games, finance, the arts and education believe that it's high time games had a single national public agency to champion games. This new agency will address these challenges by funding the production of cultural games, backing cultural projects like games festivals and heritage, and sourcing cutting edge skills through online training.

For the petition to be delivered to Minister of State, Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Matthew Hancock MP, it needs 10,000 signatures. It already has almost 4,000 but there is still a long way to go.

So please follow this link and sign the petition yourself, and then share it will all your friends and colleagues and ask them to sign it too, and let's make the BGI a reality!