Friday 22 February 2019

Classic Cover! House of Hell

2019 marks the 35th anniversary of the publication of a number of classic, and ever-popular, Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks, including Steve Jackson's House of Hell.

For almost thirty years following its initial release back in 1984, House of Hell remained unique; it was the only FF adventure to have a wholly ‘contemporary’ setting. It was not a futuristic, superhero sci-fi yarn, or a post-apocalyptic adventure, but was Fighting Fantasy’s one and only specifically horror-themed adventure. That was until Blood of the Zombies was published in 2012.

House of Hell is the sort of nightmare you could imagine yourself ending up in if your car broke down on a lonely country road in a thunderstorm only for you to discover that you were in a mobile phone dead spot.

Other than the fact that there’s no mention of mobile phones, the plot of the book hasn’t dated in the intervening decades. As a result of the aforementioned breakdown and thunderstorm, the hero takes refuge in an old house, but it’s a decision that turns out to be the worst mistake of his life, since the house is home to a cult of devil-worshippers and their demonic Master.

The late games designer Alan Bligh was interviewed about the influence of the gamebook back in 2013: “Speaking as a kid who stayed up late to watch old Hammer movies, which I loved, I was absolutely there in my imagination, and that strange Ian Miller cover? Fantastic.”

Although his artwork later appeared on the cover for The Citadel of Chaos, House of Hell was Ian Miller’s first work for the Fighting Fantasy series.

“I got the job through the art agency Young Artists, which is now known as Arena,” Miller told Alex Ballingall when he was interviewed for the Fighting Fantazine in 2012. “I did a series of roughs, four I think, and Steve chose the version he liked best. It was an easy process.

“When I did cover work (I’m not often asked these days), I worked maybe one or two up on the published book size. The image would be pencilled in, then inked and coloured. I used illustration board for the most part… I always read the books I did covers for. It made sense in my opinion… I think the first, House of Hell, was the best of the bunch.”

Steve Jackson was so impressed by Miller’s work on House of Hell that he purchased the original painting.

House of Hell is available again, in a new edition, courtesy of Scholastic Books, with cover art by Rob Ball, and can be picked up here.

Monday 11 February 2019

Charlie Higson's The Gates of Death at the Alligator's Mouth Bookclub

The Alligator's Mouth is a children's bookshop in Richmond, Surrey. This Wednesday, 13th February 2019, at 4:00pm, the Alligator's Mouth Book Club is hosting a live reading of Charlie Higson's The Gates of Death.

The team at the Alligator's Mouth is looking for some brave adventurers to help find a cure for a disease that is turning people into demons! They will be reading through as much as of the book as they can, taking it in turns to roll dice for combat and asking for votes on making those tough decisions that make Fighting Fantasy gamebooks so much fun.

In a slight change from the shop's usual Book Club procedure, it is recommended that participants do not read the book beforehand, but it may be too late for that for hardcore Fighting Fantasy fans. There will also be a discussion about other adventure role-play books, and those taking part are welcome to bring their favourites with them to talk about.

Friday 8 February 2019

Arion Games releases Ice & Lakes paper miniatures for Advanced Fighting Fantasy

It seems somehow appropriate that, as Allansia is currently being alternately lashed by rain and threatened by snow, Arion Games should choose this time to release their Ice & Lakes Advanced Fighitng Fantasy minis.

This is the fourteenth set that has been designed specifically for Advanced Fighting Fantasy and provides players with yet more monsters and enemies, but all from the icy terrain and land-locked lakes of Titan. As well as common creatures such as the Crocodile and Snow Wolf, there are also rarer creatures, such as the Slykk, Toa-Suo, Spit Toad and Snapper Fish.

The 21 hand-drawn miniatures are bright and stylish, and now come with illustrated backs! They are supplied in both PDF and PowerPoint format, and are available now from DriveThruRPG.

Friday 1 February 2019

Classic Cover! Island of the Lizard King

As winter bites hard, here in Allansia, thoughts naturally turn to sunny times and travel to sunnier climes. Well how about a trip to a tropical island, spending time hanging out on the beach and enjoying the sites and engaging with the local wildlife?

Ian Livingstone's fourth solo title for the series, Island of the Lizard King had the hero fighting to free the young men of Oyster Bay from the tyranny of the insane Lizard King who ruled his island domain through a combination of black magic, voodoo and sheer force of arms. Iain McCaig’s classic cover bears the intimidating image of the Lizard King holding back his deadly pet, a Black Lion.

“The covers he did for The Forest of Doom, Deathtrap Dungeon, City of Thieves and Island of the Lizard King were nothing short of amazing," says Ian Livingstone. "Working with Iain was brilliant. He was full of ideas and energy, always excited by possibilities. His art captured moments frozen in time even though those moments never actually happened. There is so much drama and movement in his work, it’s genius.”

Island of the Lizard King is available again, in a new edition, courtesy of Scholastic Books, featuring artwork by Rob Ball, and can be picked up here.