Friday, 30 July 2021

Fighting Fantasy at the UK Games Expo 2021

The UK Games Expo 2021 is taking place all this weekend - from Friday 30th July to Sunday 1st August - at the NEC on the outskirts of Birmingham in the UK and Ian Livingstone is there.

Ian is exhibiting at Stand 2-T95 where he will have the very-hard-to-get-hold-of-hardbacks of Assassins of Allansia for sale. He will also be signing his other Fighting Fantasy gamebooks.

You will find him sandwiched between artist Ralph Horsley and Atlantis Miniatures, producers of the Fighting Fantasy Legends figures.

Click on the image above to enlarge it.

On Friday afternoon, at 5:30pm, Ian will be giving his 'Life is a Game' talk, and on Saturday evening, at 6:00pm, Ian will be leading The Dark Room's John Robertson into the infamous City of Thieves!

If you're attending the UK Games Expo 2021 this weekend, do stop by Stand 2-T95 and say hello.

Monday, 26 July 2021

Return to the Pit with Arion Games paper miniatures for Advanced Fighting Fantasy

Available now from Arion Games is the first set of paper miniatures for Advanced Fighting Fantasy, featuring the creatures from the book Return to the Pit.


This new set of John Kapsalis miniatures includes such delights as the Accursed, the Astral Slayer, the Barrow Guard, the Bone Demon, and the Brain Defiler.

You can pick up the Return to the Pit monster book from Arion Games via DriveThruRPG, along with the whole range of Advanced Fighting Fantasy products.


Friday, 23 July 2021

The Land of the Rising Sun

On your Earthly Plane, the Tokyo Olympics have commenced, having been delayed for a year. Athletes from all over the world have converged on Japan to compete against each other, rather like competitors gather from all over Allansia to brave the dangers of Baron Sukumvit's Deathtrap Dungeon.

Fighting Fantasy has always enjoyed a close connection with Japan. Many adventures have been inspired and influenced by Japanese culture, as well as its myths and legends, not least The Sword of the Samurai. The twentieth book in the original series presented readers with the Fighting Fantasy version of Japan, in the form of the mystical land of Hachiman.

Warlock magazine only lasted for 13 issues in the UK. It was put out in Japan by publishers Shakaishisou Sha under the same name, which in Japanese is written asウォーロック. Established in the December of 1986, it continued until March 1992 during which time 63 issues were published! Starting out as simply a direction translation of the original English language magazine it inevitably ended up developing its own original material which went far beyond articles solely about Fighting Fantasy gamebooks.

ファイティング・ファンタジー was the name given to the Fighting Fantasy series in Japan, which translates simply as ‘Fighting Fantasy’. In 1986, Shakaishisou Sha, the Japanese publishers of the range, arranged a publicity tour for the two co-founders of Fighting Fantasy, and invited Jackson and Livingstone to visit Tokyo to sign copies of their books. Fans turned out in their hundreds.

“Shakaishisou Sha was a small publisher of mainly dry, academic works; sociology and the like,” Jackson explains. “Penguin’s Japanese agent approached them with Fighting Fantasy. It wasn’t their thing at all. But the editor gave a sample of Warlock to his teenage son, who was studying English. The son was so enthusiastic that they signed up a deal. I have no idea what happened to bring the books into the public eye. But suddenly FF was something of a sensation. And Shakaishisou Sha, who would normally sell 5-10,000 copies max of one of their academic books, suddenly found they’d sold 250,000 copies of Warlock! Through Penguin we got them to agree that if they sold two million plus books in Japanese they would invite us over for a publicity tour. They honoured their promise.

“And so it was that in 1986 Ian and I flew to Tokyo and embarked on a memorable publicity tour. On our arrival, our hosts gave us both envelopes which we assumed were itineraries. But later we found they had given us around £1,000 cash each! I suggested this was to pay the hotel and put a limit on our expenses – so they didn’t have to pay for long phone calls back to our families in the UK, but no. As we checked out of the hotel we were told that the company had paid for our rooms already. The cash was simply our ‘pocket money’!”

Shakaishisou Sha even arranged a Fighting Fantasy Day and went so far as to register the names of the co-creators in Kanji (the system of Japanese writing that uses Chinese characters).

Jackson: “First event was a signing at a big bookstore in Tokyo. We arrived to find a queue stretching from our signing table, right across the shop floor and up three flights of stairs. And people had brought us small gifts. Next day was a ‘Fighting Fantasy Convention’. The hall was packed with fans who we spoke to through our interpreter. Then we went on the Bullet train to various other cities for signings, etc. We were overwhelmed by the response to this tour.

Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone on tour in Japan in 1986. (© Ian Livingstone, 1986 and 2021)

“On the Bullet train to Kyoto we asked our editor how our names would appear on the book covers in traditional Japanese. He explained that Western names were not really translatable, but they could be registered in Kanji. It was a bit like the trade mark system. You put some characters together and officially registered them. And from then on they meant something in Kanji. He offered to create Kanji characters that would represent our names. Mine was a combination of three existing characters which translated into ‘Happy Emperor Samurai’ or something like that. Three weeks after we returned home I received a packet from Japan which contained official ink stamps with our Kanji translations, and a few T-shirts with our characters printed on them. The only problem was we couldn’t tell which was which! So for all I know, Ian has three T-shirts with ‘Steve Jackson’ on, and I have the Ian Livingstone ones!”

Only this year, a different Japanese publisher, Group SNE, has re-released several titles in Japanese, with covers featuring the classic artwork from the 1980s. So, 35 years on, it looks like Fighting Fantasy is still big in Japan!

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

More Sværd & Trolddom

Coming soon from Faraos Cigarer are another two titles in the Danish translations of Fighting Fantasy, or Sværd & Trolddom, as the series is called in Denmark.

Can you guess which classic Ian Livingstone titles these two are?


Talking of translated editions of the Fighting Fantasy series, these stone cold classics are now available again in Japan this year, courtesy of Group SNE.




Saturday, 17 July 2021

The Warlock Returns - Issue #4

Available now from Arion Games is Issue #4 of the Advanced Fighting Fantasy fanzine The Warlock Returns, featuring a cover that is out of this world!


This issue contains more new material from fans of the Advanced Fighting Fantasy Roleplaying Game and Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks, including:

* Denizens of the Pit - Creating island creatures on Titan

* Jungle - Shamanism within the jungles of Titan

* Troika! Deep-Dive & Review - A look at the AFF-inspired roleplay game

* Sorcerer Spell Cards - For use with your magic users

Director Advice Articles - Suggesting rumours and plot hooks

* Everyone-Games - An online accessibility-driven RPG convention

* New Races: Slykk and the Rhino-People

The Legend of Gareus - Comic Strip and Agony Aunt page

* Torra: Bringing Down the House - A location and NPCs

Letters from Arion

Plus further information on the Warlock Returns charity auction


Friday, 9 July 2021

Are YOU Game?

I understand that on your Earthly Plane you are facing a weekend of noble sporting endeavours, it being the finals of both the ball-blugeon contest Wimbledon, and the foot-the-ball competition of the Euros.

While I prefer the gladiatorial games of Blood Island myself, sport is nonetheless enjoyed by all manner of races, all across the world of Titan too. Port Blacksand - that notorious City of Thieves - even has its own Sports Arena, where events such as Dwarf-tossing, Pixie Throttling, and Shoot-the-Apple-Off-The-Goblin's-Head - entrance 1 Gold Piece - may be enjoyed.

However, without doubt, the most popular sport undertaken within the arena is that of Bays' Ball.

Bays' Ball is a game played by the small Goblin-like creatures known as Bays, hence its name. It is their favourite game.

The game is played by two teams of small, Goblin-like creatures, known as Bays (hence its name), who alternate between fielding and batting. A small leather ball is thrown or "pitched" by a designated member of the fielding side to an opposing player who, armed with a wooden stick, hits the ball and then attempts to run around a circuit delimited by cloth bags manned by fielding Bays.

If the ball is hit over the wall of the stadium or arena the game is being played in then the batting team will score a complete circuit and can potentially win immediately. If the batter misses completely then they are out and this is denoted by the words "You're out!" being called behind the batter. The score is often displayed on the walls of the arena through the employment of cloth banners suspended from wooden hangers. These are updated as the score changes by designated Bays.

Bays are passionate about the game and players and supporters alike will react badly to losing. On the other hand, they are overjoyed when they win and supporters have been known to shower gifts upon the player responsible for the victory. It has been known for non-Bays to be allowed to play, and even spectators are sometimes accepted onto the field to play.

Other sports popular across Allansia and beyond include Ogreball, and Bataar Racing. What's your favourite of all the Titan games?

Oh, and good luck England!

Monday, 5 July 2021

Artist of Allansia

Ian Livingstone recently visited artist Karl Kopinski at his studio to collect the incredible cover painting Karl produced for the limited edition hardback of Assassins of Allansia, back in 2019.

It will now join other classic FF covers - by the likes of Iain McCaig, Les Edwards, Jim Burns, and Brian Williams - in Ian's home, as part of his unique Fighting Fantasy art collection.


Ian Livingstone and Karl Kopinski with the cover painting for the Fighting Fantasy gamebook Assassins of Allansia.

Ian will be selling copies of the limited collector's edition hardback of Assassins of Allansia at the UK Games Expo, when the convention returns to the NEC at the end of July.

You can find out more about what is happening at the incredibly popular event here.

Friday, 2 July 2021

Ian Livingstone to attend the UK Games Expo

Having been cancelled altogether last year, and postponed again this year, the UK Games Expo is taking place at the NEC in Birmingham from Friday 30 July - Sunday 1 August, 2021. And what's even better is that Ian Livingstone will be there, flying the flag for Fighting Fantasy!

Ian has a stand at the event for the whole weekend, and will be selling copies of the collector's hardback edition of Assassins of Allansia. He will also be giving his 'Life is a Game' talk on the Friday evening, from 5:30-7:30pm.

Ian will give an entertaining and visual account of his struggles as an entrepreneur in the 1970s when he and Steve Jackson founded Games Workshop and launched Dungeons & Dragons and Warhammer in Europe.

He will talk about the history of the multi-million-selling Fighting Fantasy gamebook series, which are still in print today almost 40 years later, and will end by listing his top ten favourite board games from his collection of more than 1,000. 

Ian's talk will be followed by a Q&A, and a book signing session. This is a free event and will take place in the Toure suite.

To find out more, and to purchase your ticket for the UK Games Expo, click here.


Friday, 25 June 2021

Blast from the Past! Spellbreaker

Spellbreaker
(FF53) was published 28 years ago this week, while its author, Jonathan Green, was still studying at university.

The story begins with the hero inadvertently enabling Nazek (another Warlock) to steal the Black Grimoire from its guardians at Rassin Abbey in the Old World kingdom of Ruddlestone. To make amends, the hero sets out to track down the villain in order to stop him from opening the legendary Casket of Shadows, and releasing the evil imprisoned within.

Art – both exterior and interior – was provided by Alan Langford. It was the first and last time the artist painted a cover for the series, despite having illustrated five FF adventures before Spellbreaker.

“They just asked me to do it,” says Langford, “which was rather nice, because you get paid rather more for cover art than you do for your inside work.” The image was produced using predominantly watercolours. “I used a little bit of permanent white gouache as well, which is my normal technique for watercolour.”

The Devilworm, which was inspired by the legend of the Lambton Worm.

One of the internal pen and ink illustrations provided by Alan Langford.

(© Alan Langford, 1993)

However, when Wizard Books republished the adventure in 2007, Martin McKenna was commissioned to produce a new piece of cover art, which was done digitally. (Green had been keen to have McKenna illustrate one of his FF adventures ever since being commissioned to write Spellbreaker, back in 1992.)


Despite being incredibly difficult to complete fairly, Spellbreaker still has its fans among the Fighting Fantasy community.

Did you know...?

It was John Sibbick’s image of a dragon attacking a band of adventurers, determined to steal its treasure hoard, that appeared on the front cover of Dungeoneerthat inspired Green to write Spellbreaker in the first place, because he thought the forward-facing dragon was actually a demon!


Friday, 18 June 2021

Modern Yet Nostalgic - Classic Fighting Fantasy Covers Redesigned

Guilherme Gontijo is a Brazilian, designer, writer, and RPG enthusiast. He is the author of Into the Bronze, an old school role-playing game set in the Bronze Age of a magical Mesopotamia.

His day job as a graphic designer, and his love of RPGs, inspired him to give the covers of some classic Fighting Fantasy gamebooks a drastic makeover, and he posted the finished pieces on Twitter.

The Warlock used his scrying sphere to track Guilherme down and drag him back to Firetop Mountain to interrogate him about his reimagined book covers.


The Warlock: When did you first get into Fighting Fantasy? Which was the first book you read? Do you have a favourite adventure?

Guilherme Gontijo: My first contact with Fighting Fantasy books was back in the '90s. I had a friend who was very much into gamebooks and he lent me The Warlock of the Firetop Mountain for a weekend. It was totally different for me because I was not used to a solo RPG experience. Until this day it remains my favorite one, mostly because of all the memories of my childhood it brings.


TW: What inspired you to redesign the covers of some of the classic Fighting Fantasy gamebooks?

GG: I lost a friend to COVID-19 some time ago and this process of redesigning something so precious to me helped me to deal with my grief in hard times. Beside, redesigning covers you love is always a very fun exercise!


TW: Do you have a background in graphic design?

GG: Yes, I have been a graphic designer for a few years, and work mostly in art direction and layout design. Back in design school days we used to redesign a lot and that sharpened our skills and imagination.


TW: Can you tell me a bit about the thinking behind your redesigns?

GG: The whole idea behind the redesigns was to make it modern and yet nostalgic. The modernism aesthetic has this strange power to look highly retro-futuristic and because of that it was a logical choice for the redesigns. The colour palettes were all based on the original covers and most of the illustrations paid homage to them in some way or another. It was quite a challenge because when you redesign a much-loved series like Fighting Fantasy, you deal with the expectations of diehard fans. From what I saw on social medias, the fans liked them a lot, thank God!


TW: Are there anymore FF covers you would like to reimagine?

GG: I would love to design another run with the sci-fi adventures this time! Especially Space Assassin, Starship Traveller, Freeway Fighter, and Appointment with F.E.A.R.


Friday, 11 June 2021

The Cartography of Kakhabad

Last week, we introduced you to the marvellous maps of FF fan Alnaro.

Well, it is not only the standard Fighting Fantasy series that he has mapped - he has also used his artistic talents to create a quartet of cartographic wonders for Steve Jackson's Sorcery! series. And here they are...


The Seven Serpents

The Crown of Kings


Friday, 4 June 2021

Marvellous Maps

The maps that used to appear in the Fighting Fantasy books have always been celebrated, quite rightly, as wonderful works of art.  

Well French Fighting Fantasy fan Alnaro has produced his own maps of some of the most iconic FF adventures, and they too are works of art.

But be warned - spoilers lie ahead!


Alnaro's maps are characterised by the inclusion of creatures, characters and settings that appear in the gamebooks, or on their covers. His map solution for Steve Jackson's The Citadel of Chaos is a perfect example of this.


One of the things that makes Alnaro's map of Ian Livingstone's seminal Deathtrap Dungeon stand out is his portrait of Baron Sukumvit. Another is the fact that it has been presented horizontally, rather than vertically.


The different regions of Fire Island can be clearly seen on this map of Ian Livingstone's Island of the Lizard King, which includes two mini-maps of the gold mine and the prison colony.


Alnaro's map of Scorpion Swamp is less illustrative, but nonetheless striking and effective.


His map of Ian Livingstone's Caverns of the Snow Witch makes it clear what a wide-ranging adventure it is, with the hero travelling from the Icefinger Mountains, across the Pagan Plains to Stonebridge and the Moonstone Hills, and from there to the peak of Firetop Mountain!


Alnaro's map for Vault of the Vampire includes the overland route to Castle Heydrich, as well as detailed plans of the vampire's lair itself.


The beast-haunted land of Lupravia is rendered in exquisite detail in Alarno's solution to Howl of the Werewolf, as is the kingdom of Femphrey that is the location for Stormslayer.


And finally we have the Invisible City, from Charlie Higson's FF adventure The Gates of Death. The Temple of Throff is a nightmare to navigate, but with this map to aid you, you actually have a chance of doing so successfully!

If you have your own maps of your favourite Fighting Fantasy adventures, we want to see them. Find out more here.


Saturday, 29 May 2021

May Your Paintbrush Never Fail!

Many of the people who backed the Fighting Fantasy Legends Kickstarter have started to receive their models from Atlantis Miniatures, which also means that some eager beavers have already started painting them.

For example, here are two impressive pieces painted by FF fan Alexander Ainsworth.

Iain McCaig's iconic Shapechanger brought to life in three dimensions, from Ian Livingstone's The Forest of Doom.

The evil necromancer Razaak, from Ian Livingstone's Crypt of the Sorcererwith evil minions in tow.

If you have painted any of the iconic heroes or villains from the Fighting Fantasy Legends range, we would love to see them. Please send your photos to info@fightingfantasy.com, and your painted masterpieces could end up appearing on the official site too.


Sunday, 23 May 2021

Shelf Healing with Ian Livingstone

Ian Livingstone recently appeared on the Shelf Healing podcast.

Rebecca Markwick interviewed Ian about the early days of Games Workshop, how he and Steve Jackson came to invent the Fighting Fantasy series of adventure gamebooks, and working within the video games industry. You can listen to it here.


Friday, 14 May 2021

Advanced Fighting Fantasy: Combat Companion

Another week, another Arion Games release for Advanced Fighting Fantasy. This time it's the brand new Combat Companion by Graham Bottley, which is available now from DriveThruRPG.

This book contains a huge number of optional rules, new additions and new ideas to add to a new, or existing, Advanced Fighting Fantasy campaign, and will prove useful for both Players and Directors. Within you will find:

* Alternative Hero creation for novice/experienced characters

* Four new Special Skills

* Twelve new Talents

* New Critical and Fumble tables

* Ten Alternative combat rules

* Twelve new Combat Options

* Martial Arts rules and nine styles

* New Combat Magic school

* Seventeen new Spells

* Master and Acquired Magic weapons and armour

* New weapons, armour and equipment

* Mounted combat rules and new mounts

* Twenty Three Monster Templates

Don’t let those flashy spellcasters grab all of the glory! Buckle on your sword-belt, take up your trusty shield and find glory in battle!

You will need a copy of the Advanced Fighting Fantasy Second Edition Core Rulebook to make use of the rules contained within the Combat Companion.