Friday, 22 May 2020

Happy Birthday, Steve Jackson!*

Steve Jackson was born in Manchester, in 1951, but his family moved to Canada when he was four years old. However, they returned to the UK when he was 11 and he joined Altrincham Grammar School for Boys. And it was here that he met fellow pupil Ian Livingstone.

In the years since then he not only co-founded Games Workshop and co-created the legendary Fighting Fantasy gamebook series, he was also one of the co-founders of Lionhead Studios, and went on to become Professor of Games Design at Brunel University.

Happy Birthday, Steve, and may your STAMINA never fail!

* For yesterday.

Friday, 15 May 2020

Blast from the Past! Scorpion Swamp

When the Fighting Fantasy series first started to take off in the early 1980s, Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone simply could not keep up with the demand for new gamebooks.

"It’s funny, really, that when The Warlock of Firetop Mountain was first published, Puffin were not very enthusiastic about it," says Livingstone. "Within a year they wanted to publish a new book every two months! We needed help and got it." And so the 'Presents' series was launched.

"As it happens, our first ‘Presents’ series author was Steve Jackson – the American one, designer of GURPS – who had come over to the UK to talk business with Games Workshop," explains Steve Jackson, the British one. "So the book was: Steve Jackson & Ian Livingstone Present: Scorpion Swamp… by Steve Jackson. Very confusing!”

“I was visiting London,” explains US Steve, who was already known to the UK Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone since Games Workshop was distributing his games on this side of the Pond. “They described their travails in creating FF books, and the difficulty of flow-charting. I sat down and wrote the first third of Scorpion Swamp, and they liked it.”

There are still people to this day who do not realise that the Steve Jackson who wrote Scorpion Swamp, Demons of the Deep and Robot Commando, and the Steve Jackson who wrote such classics as The Citadel ofChaos, House of Hell and Creature of Havoc are two completely different people.

“Occasionally I am presented with a copy of one of UK Steve's books to sign,” says US Steve. “I always explain, and if they really want me to, I will sign it ‘The wrong Steve Jackson’.”

Published in 1984, with a cover and internal art by Duncan Smith, Scorpion Swamp sent the hero into the fetid fens of the title with nothing but his sword to defend himself, and a magic Brass Ring that detected evil as well as letting the hero know which way was north.

Unlike other Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, Scorpion Swamp allowed the player to choose one of three quests, from a selection of patrons who are Good, Evil and Neutral. The gameplay was non-linear in design, enabling the hero to revisit locations and explore the swamp as he so desired, and a direct consequence of US Steve’s background in RPGs.

But how did Duncan Smith come to join the esteemed ranks of Fighting Fantasy illustrators? “My mate Iain McCaig had been doing some for Puffin and suggested me to the art director as they were looking for artists for another few books,” explains Smith. “Our styles were quite similar and so they liked my work and that's how it came about.”

The artist cites the illustrations of Poomchukker and the Giant as being his favourites from the book. “I actually like Scorpion Swamp,” he says, referring to the work he did on the title, “though I'd do it very differently now.”

Scorpion Swamp was the first adventure to bear the now infamous green zigzag Adventure Gamebooks banner and the fondly-remembered Fighting Fantasy logo, which was also green at the time. Even though the zigzags only remained in use until Creature of Havoc, the spines of FF gamebooks stayed green until the end of Puffin Books’ run in 1995.

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks in the NME

When the Warlock was but an apprentice wizard back in the 1980s, Fighting Fantasy gamebooks were a publishing phenomenon. Do you know what else was a phenomenon? That's right - the New Musical Express.

So it seems somehow appropriate that today Fighting Fantasy gamebooks are featured on You can read James McMahon's piece about how video games took him back to the golden age of Fighting Fantasy here.

Friday, 8 May 2020

Fighting Fantasy Post Match Analysis

For many people Fighting Fantasy gamebooks are all about the monsters, and the world of Titan is populated with more than its fair share of grotesque and mythical creatures. However, Fighting Fantasy fan Matt Rainbow has taken his love of monsters to another level, comparing the various adversaries that appear in the earlier books in the original series.

It is plain to see, thanks to Matt's meticulous analysis, that some adventures are filled with weaker foes, but lots of them, while other books have fewer, but more highly skilled, adversaries.

Have you conducted your own analysis of any aspect of the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks? If so, let us know in the comments below, or email

Saturday, 2 May 2020

Beyond the Pit - Set VIII

Arion Games have just released their eighth set of paper miniatures for the Beyond the Pit compendium of Fighting Fantasy monsters.

The set contains Titan-specific beasties such as the Kalamite, Khuddam and Maijem-Nossoth, as well as old favourites including Lizard Men and the Kraken.

You can download the paper miniatures via DriveThruRPG, where you will also find the other sets in the series, and which can use to enhance your tabletop games of Advanced Fighting Fantasy.

Friday, 1 May 2020

Assassins of Hungary

As some of you brave adventurers will no doubt already be aware, Ian Livingstone's latest Fighting Fantasy adventure, Assassins of Allansia, is now available in a Hungarian edition, published by Chameleon Comix.

Chameleon Comix have gone with an old school look for the book, featuring Karl Kopinski's cover art for the special edition hardback on the cover, and even going so far as to give Allansia Bergyilkosai a green spine!

The gamebook features brand new internal illustrations by Krisztian Balla.

Assassins of Allansia has been very well received in Hungary, which is good news because Chameleom Comix are planning on releasing further titles in the future.

Deathtrap Dungeon: The Interactive Video Adventure - Now available on PC, Mac and Mobile!

Branching Narrative’s debut title, starring Deadpool 2 star Eddie Marsan, is available today on PC, Mac, Android and iOS
30 April 2020 (London, UK): Branching Narrative has now released the full version of its debut title, Deathtrap Dungeon: The Interactive Video Adventure, across PC, Mac, iOS and Android devices.
Perfect for a games night in with friends or family, the game is a new take on the classic Fighting Fantasy gamebook by Ian Livingstone. Part story, part game, this interactive piece of fiction allows players to become the heroes of this narrative adventure.
Starring British actor Eddie Marsan (Ray Donovan, The Gentlemen, Deadpool 2), who narrates the story and guides players throughout, this high-quality interactive video production faithfully recreates the beloved fantasy book. This interactive video adventure is delivered as a high-quality video steam version of the game that allows players to make choices and direct the flow, fully utilising the mechanics of the classic Fighting Fantasy book.
The story-based nature of the game lends itself to a turn-based couch co-op approach and can be great fun for groups voting on (or just shouting out) the choices in the narrative.
Deathtrap Dungeon, was originally released in 1984 as, arguably, the most popular chapter of the Fighting Fantasy series, and challenges the player to survive the ‘Trial of Champions’ that takes place in the labyrinth of Fang, full of fiendish tricks, traps and deadly creatures set by the devious Baron Sukumvit.
“We’re really excited to be able to release the game across all these platforms, to give as many people as possible the chance to experience Ian Livingstone’s fabulous story for themselves,” said Matt Spall Co-founder of Branching Narrative. “The game offers a wonderful escape from reality and can bring together family and friends to engage in a fun and entertaining adventure. Faithful to the original book, the story and artwork are family-friendly, yet still build plenty of suspense to engage and surprise.”
Ian Livingstone, author of Deathtrap Dungeon, said: “Story-telling stimulates the imagination in many ways and giving people choice adds a unique dimension to the experience. Eddie Marsan and Branching Narrative have combined to produce an enthralling adaptation of my book. I look forward to Eddie luring participants to their doom. The clue is in the title!”
Deathtrap Dungeon: The Interactive Video Adventure is out now on mobile at £4.99 UK and on PC and Mac at a discounted price of £5.99 UK in an introductory sale offer. Available now via:
Media and Content Creators interested in playing Deathtrap Dungeon: The Interactive Video Adventure or want to interview the development team should contact Dead Good Media for Branching Narrative:
Media – Sophie Carter -
Content Creators – Jake Kulkowski –