Friday 31 December 2021

Ian Livingstone interviewed at Gamerhub

A new interview with gaming legend Ian Livingstone* has been published over on Gamerhub.

“My career has had four main parts to it, each very different. Firstly launching Games Workshop and White Dwarf then moving onto writing the “Fighting Fantasy” Gamebooks with Steve Jackson. I then got into video games and was involved in launching “Tomb Raider”. Lastly working in education with the Livingstone Academy which gives students the skills they need for the 21st century. It’s all distinct but I think it’s impossible to choose which one gives me the most enjoyment because I still enjoy them all.”

To read the interview in its entirety, turn to 400.

* Who turned 72 on 29 December 2021.

Friday 24 December 2021

Happy Christmas from Fighting Fantasy!

'Tis the season to be merry, upon your Earthly Plane, which means that a new year is on its way. And 2022 is going to be a very big year for Fighting Fantasy, as it marks the 40th anniversary of the publication of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, in 1982.

With that in mind, make sure you keep Saturday 3rd September 2022 free. There will be more news in come in the New Year. But for the time being, Happy Christmas!

Friday 17 December 2021

Fighting Fantasy on The GROGNARD Files

Just in case you don't already know, The GROGNARD Files is a podcast about table-top RPGs from back in the day and today.

Recently, Fighting Fantasy co-creator Ian Livingstone and Fighting Fantasy historian Jonathan Green were interviewed by Dirk the Dice about the world's premier gamebook series for the podcast. To listen to the 3-part episode, click on the images below.

Friday 10 December 2021

Chris Achilleos (1947-2021)

We were very sorry to hear the terrible news that renowned fantasy artist Chris Achilleos passed away after a short illness on Monday afternoon.

Ian Livingstone posted this tweet in response to the announcement:

For many young fans in the 1980s, the cover of Temple of Terror was their first introduction to the work of the legendary artist, although he had already painted the cover for Space Assassin, and would go on to produce others for the series, including Armies of Death and the seminal background lore books, Out of the Pit and Titan - The Fighting Fantasy World. His painting appears in The Fighting Fantasy Poster Book an unprecedented four times!

Chris (full name 'Christos') was interviewed about his work for YOU ARE THE HERO - A History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks, and even provided the cover for the second volume. This was what he had to said about the creation of the cover painting for Temple of Terror:

“I was dealing with Ian and he called me and said, ‘I’m going to leave it to you to design me the creature for this new book I’m writing. I’m going to tell you the scene and you come up with the creature, because you probably don’t need guidance on this from someone like me.’ And I said, ‘That sounds great, yeah. Then you can describe it from my painting.’

“It was a guardian of this gate and it was a desert scene – a city half buried under sand – so I designed this creature that lies in wait, buried under the sand... It was something I’d seen in a wildlife programme, these desert snakes that hide in the sand and just have their eyes out and then they pounce on you. So I imagined the same creature sort of lying in wait for someone to try and pass the gate. I drew that and he was delighted with it. In fact he bought the original from me.”

This trust that the writer had in the artist, also resulted in Chris producing one of the most recognisable cover paintings in British fantasy gaming, that of Titan - The Fighting Fantasy World:

“With that Ian said, ‘Just draw a dragon picture, Chris,’ and then left it to me. So I had to consider first of all that’s it a double spread… and then come up with something. When you don’t get a manuscript or a story that already describes what you need to do, when you’re left to yourself, you tend to go round in circles with many ideas and not focusing on one, not knowing quite what to do. Time flies and you’re still wondering which way to go.

“In this case, this was what was going on. I felt like, I’ve got to stop here; it’s not working. So I made up a story in my head about a shape-shifting wizard, who is attacking this city, in the form of this giant dragon, being held back. He’s destroyed the army that you can see… The drawbridge is down, he’s holding onto one of the chains – the other one’s already been broken – and the rest of the bridge is broken and down… The best of the knights have been killed. In desperation the baron comes out with his magicians, or druids or priests, to do magic with the dragon – not to hold him, not to destroy him, but to turn him back into human form and conquer him.

“The clue I put in there that the dragon is not just an animal – it’s a shape-shifting being, a super-being if you like, a magician – is that I put earrings and bracelets on him. That’s what that’s saying. That’s also why it’s called ‘Dragon Spell’. They’re putting a spell on him and trying and revert him back to a human being so they can defeat him. The question in that picture is, will he turn back to human or will he just snap out of it and literally bite the heads off them? That’s what the picture’s saying. People either see that consciously or unconsciously.”

Chris also had the honour of providing the cover art for the first Fighting Fantasy novel, Steve Jackson's The Trolltooth Wars:

“I was given the outline of the story and it was left up to me. I quite liked the concept of an orc fighting off a disgusting skeleton.”

Fans will be deeply saddened by the passing of a great artist and a fine man, but Chris leaves behind an immense body of work that has adorned everything from Doctor Who novels to Whitesnake album covers, as well as FF gamebooks. But certainly, the worlds of Fighting Fantasy would be diminished without Chris's contributions, and our thoughts remain with his friends and family at this difficult time.

In memory of
Chris Achilleos

Friday 3 December 2021

Ian Livingstone at Dragonmeet 2021

Dragonmeet is taking place at the Novotel Hammersmith​ in London tomorrow, Saturday 4th December 2021. The Gaming Hall and Upper Trade Hall will be open from 9:00am-11:00pm, while the Lower Trade Hall will be open from 10:00am-7:00pm.

Fighting Fantasy will be in the Upper Trade Hall on Stand 31, and Ian Livingstone will be signing books during the day. So if you're going to be there, do stop by and say hello. And may your STAMINA never fail!

Click image to enlarge.

Friday 26 November 2021

What's in a name?

The Fighting Fantasy gamebooks are memorable not only for their monsters and exciting plots, but also for the imaginative names Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone came up with for important characters and, of course, the villains who populate their adventures.

Yaztromo, Balthus Dire, Zharradan Marr, Zanbar Bone, and, more recently, Urzle Ironface.

Urzle Ironface, by Robert Ball.

As you approach the main gates, a giant bare-chested man with bulging muscles steps out from behind the jail to stand in your way. His body is covered in jagged scars, and he makes no attempt to hide the silver scorpion pendant hanging on a silver necklace around his neck. He is wearing an iron helmet which completely covers his face and he is armed with a large battle-axe and shield. "I've been waiting for you," he growls slowly in a deep voice.

Without giving too much away, in case you haven't already read Ian Livingstone's latest Fighting Fantasy adventure, Urzle Ironface is one of the characters you can encounter in Assassins of Allansia.

Of course, with a name like that, it is hardly surprising that he has inspired artists who work in not just two dimensions, but also those who work in three.

Urzle Ironface, by KrisztiĆ”n Balla (from the Hungarian language edition of Assassins of Allansia.)

Urzle Ironface, by Dan Mark of Atlantis Miniatures...

...and as painted by Paul Cooke of Pandemonium Miniatures.

Do you have a favourite character, good or evil, from the Fighting Fantasy gamebook series? If so, why not let us know in the comments below?

Friday 19 November 2021

Have you checked out Fighting Fantasy Classics lately?

Ready your sword, pack your provisions and prepare to embark upon quests in which YOU are the hero! Choose what happens at every turn of the page with Fighting Fantasy Classics – text-based roleplaying adventures remastered.

Fighting Fantasy Classics is published by Australian video games developer Tin Man Games and currently features 12 of your favourite FF adventures as playable apps. They are...

The Warlock of Firetop Mountain
The Citadel of Chaos
The Forest of Doom
City of Thieves
Deathtrap Dungeon
Island of the Lizard King
Caverns of the Snow Witch
House of Hell
Temple of Terror
Trial of Champions
Creature of Havoc

If you've not tried Fighting Fantasy Classics, download it today and...

Friday 12 November 2021

Fighting Fantasy Hoodies

You may remember that back in August the Warlock announced the launch of a range of licensed Fighting Fantasy T-shirts from from Seven Squared.

Well they have now been joined by both Fighting Fantasy sweatshirts and hoodies. The sweatshirts are available in a range of colours - including orange crush, burgundy, olive green, and royal blue.

The hoodies come in ash, combat green, and storm grey. As with the T-shirts, you can either select one of the pieces of reimagined classic cover art, or the Fighting Fantasy logo, to adorn your branded apparel.

So get yourself over to the Seven Squared webshop now and select your 'armour.'

Friday 5 November 2021

Dragonmeet 2021

Of course, there was no Dragonmeet 2020, thanks to the COVID lockdown, and we really felt like we had missed out by not seeing everyone last December. However, you will be pleased to hear that Fighting Fantasy will be at Dragonmeet 2021.

Dragonmeet is taking place at the Novotel Hammersmith ​, in London, on Saturday 4th December 2021. The Gaming Hall will be open from 9:00am-11:30pm, while the Trade Hall will be open from 10:00am-6:00pm.

Fighting Fantasy will be in the Trade Hall and Ian Livingstone will be at the convention. As well as signing books at the FF stand, he will also be giving a talk as part of this year's seminar stream.

Tickets for Dragonmeet are on sale now, and you can keep up to date with developments here.

Sunday 31 October 2021

Blast from the Past! Vault of the Vampire

Published in 1989, Vault of the Vampire was the 38th gamebook in the Fighting Fantasy series. Written by the late Carl Sargent, under the name Keith Martin, and illustrated by the late Martin McKenna, FF's riff on Dracula is a bona fide classic of interactive horror fiction.

Interestingly, despite blood-suckers appearing on a regular basis throughout the previous thirty-seven titles, up until this point no one prince of the night had taken centre stage and become the Big Bad to be dealt with at the climax of an adventure.

Keith Martin rectified this by transporting the reader to Titan's version of Transylvania, set within the mountainous Old World realm of Mauristatia, replete with wolves howling at the moon, creepy forests, a headless coachman, and a sinister, bat-haunted castle.

The plot is also just what you would want from a story called Vault of the Vampire...

Can you put an end to Count Heydrich's evil reign of terror?

YOU are a hardy adventurer and have journeyed to the icy mountains of Mauristatia in search of great wealth and fortune... but what you find there makes your blood run cold.

You discover by chance the terrible secret of the local villagers. Can YOU free them from the evil tyranny of the bloodthirsty Count, or will you too succumb to a horrifying fate?

Two dice, a pencil and an eraser are all you need. YOU decide which paths to take, which dangers to risk and which foes to fight!

Les Edwards painted the cover for the book: “Vault of the Vampire turned out to be one of those classic images. I can’t say why exactly. It’s just one of those cases where everything works the way that was intended. It’s a pretty traditional Vampire but maybe that’s part of its strength. It’s a simple and dramatic image and very direct. It was a big influence on Vampire paintings that I did subsequently.”

Martin McKenna, who was still only eighteen at the time, turned his hand to producing some very Hammer Horror-esque images for the book’s internal illustrations that have stood up to the test of time very well.


A blood-soaked sequel followed in 1995, entitled Revenge of the Vampire. This was the only occasion a direct sequel to a gamebook was written by an author other than the series’ co-creators Jackson and Livingstone.

Revenge of the Vampire (FF58) was Keith Martin’s seventh contribution to the Fighting Fantasy gamebook series. In the story, Count Reiner Heydrich returns from the dead once more to stalk the Old World in search of fresh blood and new slaves. It is up to the hero (who is not the same hero as featured in Vault of the Vampire) to put an end to him once and for all.

Count Heydrich, Vampire, is back from the dead!

A half-forgotten evil has arisen from the grave to stalk the Old World in search of fresh blood and new victims to enslave. Count Reiner Heydrich, undead Vampire Lord, is ancient beyond the reckoning of mortals. This time, however, there is someone on his trail, a brave hero who is determined that he shall not succeed in his evil plans. That someone is YOU!

As well as being written by Keith Martin, author of Vault of the Vampire, once again Les Edwards painted the stunning cover image while Martin McKenna came up trumps with the internals.

Friday 29 October 2021

Rebel Planet: The Graphic Novel - 24 hours to go!

Rebel Planet: The Graphic Novel, written by Mark Lain and illustrated by Gary Mayes, has just 24 hours left to go on Kickstarter and it has already achieved its funding goal.

The book will not be available to buy after the Kickstarter, so if you want to secure your copy, make sure you pledge your support before it's too late!

Friday 22 October 2021

Pandaemonium Miniatures' Legendary Fighting Fantasy Figures

If you follow @fightingfantasy on Twitter, you may have already seen Pandaemonium Miniatures' painted Fighting Fantasy Legends models, as produced by Atlantis Miniatures.

The Warlock used his scrying sphere to track down the painter and then summoned him to the depths of Firetop Mountain to find out more...

The Warlock: Who are you, where are you from, and what is it you do for a living?

Paul Cooke: My name is Paul Cooke, I'm from Bristol and I am self employed, splitting my time between commissioned miniature painting and scenery building, and tutoring English at GCSE and A Level.

TW: How long have you been painting miniatures?

PC: I started painting miniatures (badly!) when I was about 13 with my HeroQuest set (I'm actually currently in the process of stripping, repairing and repainting my original set!), I've had a few gaps, and prior to returning to the hobby four years ago I hadn't painted a figure for approximately six years. [Paul turns 45 on 22nd October. Happy Birthday! ~ The Warlock]

TW: What was your first exposure to Fighting Fantasy? Do you have any favourite titles in the series?

PC: I think when I was 11 or 12 I played my first gamebook and it happened to be The Warlock of Firetop Mountain - that's still a standout because it's so challenging. I also love Deathtrap Dungeon, The Forest of Doom, City of Thieves and the Sorcery! series in particular. It was the whole package really; the interactivity and feeling like you were really in that world, drawing out my maps as I went and then making a neat version on completion, and gazing at the amazing artwork. I still have my collection, and I've also been enjoying the various PC game versions.

I remember my local Waterstones held a design competition when I was around 14 to create your own monster with stats etc. I got a lovely letter explaining that, as it happened, I was a bit older than most other participants so they didn't feel it was fair to give me a prize, but they did send me all of the display posters from the event, which I was more than happy with! So they were so influential and were definitely my way into the world of wargaming and role-play, along with HeroQuest of course. So you can imagine my reaction when I was approached to paint this set!

TW: How did you feel when you discovered that Atlantis Miniatures would be producing the Fighting Fantasy Legends range?

PC: Very excited - I'm familiar with Atlantis and I really enjoyed painting one of the Trolls for my Frostgrave games so I knew they'd be fantastic - but also torn as I had to make a tricky decision about which miniature to get! The design of each miniature is so well done and evocative of the original artwork.

TW: Which pledge level did you select?

PC: I backed at the single figure level, as that's what I could budget for at the time, and had to make the difficult choice between the Shapechanger and the Bloodbeast. In the end I went for the Shapechanger; the cover art was always a favourite and it's such a good match to Ian McCaig's original watercolour.

 Is there a particular process you follow when you paint a Fighting Fantasy mini?

PC: So far I have been referring to the cover art to aim to match details and colours as much as I can. As I'm lucky enough to be painting this set for Ian Livingstone, it's invaluable that he can give me guidance on colour choices for those which are based on the internal black and white artwork, and I can consult with him on any tweaks or changes. In general I am using a range of techniques including the 'traditional' basecoat/shade wash/highlight method, wet blending, and some airbrush work.

For larger figures such as the Shapechanger and Bloodbeast I've found it best to paint them in their separate pieces, and for all of them I'm painting the bases separately as they are very nicely detailed in their own right. It's important to note that as these are resin miniatures I've made sure to wash them in soapy water and carefully scrape away any flash and mould lines before priming.

 Are there any particular challenges to painting an FF mini? Is there anything you found particularly hard, or anything you're especially proud of?

PC: I think as above, knowing how to prepare resin figures is important. A wash in soapy water and a gentle scrub with an old toothbrush will remove the traces of the release agent from the casting process - if this isn't done the primer won't adhere and indeed can completely flake off. Dry-fitting the pieces is a very good idea, although these are really well designed from that perspective, and in most cases the pieces 'plug' together in a fairly intuitive way. Looking over the figures to check for mould lines and flash is also vital - I found it is very thin and feathery, so a gentle scrape with a new scalpel blade is all that's really needed. I use superglue for assembly, and in some cases I've drilled and pinned parts together for a stronger join.

Honestly, I have been so impressed by the quality of these miniatures; Altantis produce lovely work anyway, but these are definitely up there with their best. In terms of painting, they all have their own challenges - most recently I was finding the yellow flame-like edging on the robes of the Archmage of Mampang really tricky - yellow can be a pain anyway, but it is a very fine edging, probably only 1.2mm thick. Basecoating with pink really helps with yellows and oranges, otherwise it's hard to get it to sit evenly, but even with this method it took a few attempts. So far the one I'm most pleased with is the Bloodbeast.

 Do you have a favourite miniature from the range?

PC: Again, it's a tossup between the Shapechanger and the Bloodbeast, and I can't really decide! Having painted both now, I still like them equally.

TW: Are there any other FF characters or monsters you would like to see turned into miniatures?

PC: I think a rendition of the cover of Freeway Fighter would be great. Admittedly, that would be much more of a diorama in its own right, with the car and characters. I also think Zanbar Bone, although he already has a 28mm miniature, is definitely worthy of being turned into a larger scale bust to match the original Ian McCaig cover of City of Thieves. The Iain Miller cover of House of Hell is another contender!

TW: Are you planning on creating any FF dioramas using the minis?

PC: For this set, I don't know. Ian might have that in mind for display purposes; these are being painted in time for the 40th anniversary of the publication of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain in August 2022. For my own Shapechanger.. .that's got me thinking. It would be good to do a scene to emulate the cover art, maybe incorporating some forced perspective to get a sense of peering into the depths of the forest behind the monster.