In 1984, with other authors like Mark Smith and Jamie Thomson now writing for the main Fighting Fantasy line, the original creators found themselves with more time to expand the Fighting Fantasy world, as well as the FF brand, in new directions. Steve Jackson, set himself the challenge of turning Fighting Fantasy into a more conventional role-playing game, such as those that had inspired The Warlock of Firetop Mountain in the first place.
“I wanted to see how simple I could make a role-playing game based on FF,” says Jackson. “So instead of the GamesMaster describing the room you’d just walked into, the illustration was in the book. You’d just say: “The door opens and you see… THIS!” and show the players the room. I had no intention of creating a new Dungeons & Dragons or anything like that. It was just supposed to tie FF in as a multi-player game as well as a solo RPG.”
As well as the usual FF rules, modified for the multi-player experience, Fighting Fantasy came complete with two ready-made adventures, the introductory The Wishing Well and the significantly longer and more challenging Shaggradd's Hives of Peril.
Jackson: “FF the RPG was supposed to be the simplest possible format for a RPG; minimum work involved for the GM. So instead of the GM having to keep referring to a GM’s map, there was a map offered at every location... Having been used to full-blown RPGs which got more and more complex, this was, as it said, an introductory rulebook. Excellent art by Duncan Smith, don’t you think?”
Duncan Smith produced all of the book’s internal art, including maps, as well as the dramatic cover which showed an angry Weretiger bursting out of a huge dice.
“I think the deadlines were very tight,” Smith says, recalling the time he spent working on the cover, “and I remember they wanted everything in it including the kitchen sink. Dwarfs, dragons, dice, monsters , etc. I just had to come up with an idea to have all the elements on the cover, and make it look good. I wanted to do a more traditional painting but they liked this, so...”
In the meantime, you can find out more about the history by picking up a copy of Jonathan Green's YOU ARE THE HERO - A History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks and YOU ARE THE HERO Part 2, which is currently on sale at a knock-down price, direct from the author.