Friday 24 July 2020

Blast from the Past! Seas of Blood

Having already had two science fiction Fighting Fantasy adventures published (Space Assassin and The Rings of Kether) Andrew Chapman’s third contribution to the FF series, was Seas of Blood (FF16).

Seas of Blood saw the hero take on the role of captain of the pirate ship Banshee, who undertakes a contest with rival buccaneer Abdul the Butcher. Whichever one reaches the island of Nippur within fifty days, and with the most gold, will be declared King of Pirates

The adventure is unusual because it allowed for combat between vessels, and between the Banshee and seas monsters, utilising both CREW STRIKE and CREW STRENGTH scores.

Seas of Blood was illustrated by Bob Harvey, his second of four contributions in the gamebook series...

... and bore a cover by the legendary album cover artist Rodney Matthews.

Matthews’ art medium of choice is pigmented acrylic ink. “I do it with those inks because they’re transparent, or at least translucent, and you can build up the colour gradually,” says the artist. “That’s why I use them, so you don’t overstate something, you can build it up and keep in control of things.”

But while the cover implies a Classical theme, the adventure itself (as older FF fans will know already) has a more strongly Arabian feel to it. And the reason for this mix-up? According to Matthews, it was down to a junior editor at Puffin misleading the artist when he was given the cover brief.

Despite this mix-up, Matthews is still proud of his involvement with Fighting Fantasy, however fleeting it might have been: “I enjoyed doing the cover. I think it probably enhanced the book, but a bit inaccurately.”

As with a number of locations from the other early Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, when FF editor Marc Gascoigne set about compiling Titan – The Fighting Fantasy World, the lands surrounding the Inland Sea, where Seas of Blood is set, were slotted into the newly-created continent of Khul.

However, the book’s author, Andrew Chapman, had already developed a more extensive geography and history for the lands of the Inland Sea which he would later go on to use in two more books – one of which, Ashkar the Magnificent, features the same map as appeared in Seas of Blood – as well as the unpublished FF adventure Deathlord.

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