Thursday 27 April 2023

Fighting Fantasy Legends - New stock available for pre-order!

Selected Fighting Fantasy Legends miniatures are now available for pre-order from Atlantis Miniatures. It is estimated that shipping will occur in early June.

The miniatures that can pre-ordered are the Bloodbeast, the Shape Changer, Shareella the Snow Witch, the Demonic Three (Zagor the Warlock, Balthus Dire, and Zharradan Marr), the Dark Lords (Razaak, Zanbar Bone, and the Archmage), and the Lizard King along with his Black Lion.

Friday 21 April 2023

Pekelný dům - House of Hell hits the Czech Republic

Available now from Mytago in the Czech Republic is Pekelný dům, which is better known in English as Steve Jackson's House of Hell.

This means that there are now four Fighting Fantasy titles currently available from Mytago, with more to come later this year. So, watch this space!

Friday 14 April 2023

The Master of Firetop Mountain

Have you ever wondered what Zagor the Warlock would look like if painted by Iain McCaig. Well, wonder no more...

This is the completed cover art for the new edition of YOU ARE THE HERO - A History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks by Jonathan Green.

The book will be published later this year and it's not too late to place a Late Pledge to the project, if you missed the original Kickstarter.

Friday 7 April 2023

The Forest of Doom - published 40 years ago!

The Citadel of Chaos wasn't the only new Fighting Fantasy gamebook to be published 40 years ago on 31st March 1983. The other was Sir Ian Livingstone's first solo-penned adventure, the seminal The Forest of Doom.

His tale had the hero braving the perils of Darkwood Forest in order to recover the pieces of the stolen Hammer of Stonebridge, fashioned by the Dwarfs to protect their village from the predations of Hill Trolls. 

“I’d thought about writing another dungeon crawl,” says Livingstone, “but coming out just months after Warlock, I decided to set the adventure above ground. But where? I had two ideas in mind. One had a working title of Blackhill Manor and the other was called Doom in Darkwood Forest. I finally decided on the forest adventure. For the book title, I had a shortlist of three; Doom in Darkwood Forest, The War Hammer of Darkwood Forest and the third – The Forest of Doom.” 

The book introduced several characters and locations that would reappear later throughout Livingstone’s contributions to the FF series, including the village of Stonebridge, Darkwood Forest, and the wizard Yaztromo.

Interestingly, while his tower does appear in an illustration, Yaztromo does not. Despite this, he has been drawn into numerous illustrations by various artists since.

Yaztromo the wizard, as illustrated (from left to right) by Bill Houston, John Sibbick, and Martin McKenna.

Livingstone: “When writing Fighting Fantasy books, I like to create names and places that are both descriptive and evocative. Readers would know what to expect when they read the words The Forest of Doom or Darkwood Forest. The creature on the front cover of the book I named the Shape Changer as that was exactly what it was when it metamorphosed from a goblin into a flesh-ripping reptilian man-eater! I also came up with names that had something to do with my own world. The grand wizard Yaztromo is a good example of this. Ridiculous as it may seem now, the name was made up by combining the nickname of a baseball player (Carl Yastrzemski of the the Boston Red Sox, a power hitter whose nickname was ‘Yaz’) and a spaceship (the USCSS Nostromo from Ridley Scott’s Alien)!"

Carl Yastrzemski and the USCSS Nostromo.

Yaztromo was the most commonly recurring character in the Fighting Fantasy series, appearing in numerous gamebooks and novels, even out-doing Zagor the Warlock in terms of the number of guest appearances he made. 

Illustrated by Malcolm Barter, The Forest of Doom was the last Fighting Fantasy gamebook to have every full-page illustration accompanied by a caption until Scholastic started publishing the series in 2017.

“The commission came via my then agent John Craddock,” says Barter. “I remember, along with a couple of other illustrators I was asked to submit a sample picture, as the original artist Penguin had intended to use was unavailable… I was fortunate enough to get it.”

The Forest of Doom illustrations by Malcolm Barter.

But what of the book’s seminal cover? 

Livingstone: “When I finally finished writing the adventure, I wanted to make sure that the art reflected my own vision of the creatures of Darkwood Forest. It was at that time when I was lucky enough to meet a young artist called Iain McCaig who visited us at Games Workshop looking for a commission. I looked at his portfolio and asked Iain if he would like to illustrate the book cover, and was very happy indeed when he said yes. We talked about the cover a lot and settled on the Shape Changer as the central character. It is still one of my favourite Fighting Fantasy covers, beautifully painted, full of threat and atmosphere. I purchased the original painting from Iain – an amazing water colour – and today it hangs proudly in my home with my other Fighting Fantasy book covers.”

Martin Gooch and Sir Ian Livingstone in Sir Ian's home art gallery.