Fighting Fantasy

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Fighting Fantasy
Warlock 25th.jpg
The 25th anniversary edition of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, originally published in 1982 and the first in the Fighting Fantasy series.
Designer(s) Ian Livingstone, Steve Jackson
Publisher(s) Puffin, Wizard Books
Publication date 1982
Genre(s) Fantasy
System(s) Gamebook

Fighting Fantasy is a series of single-player roleplay gamebooks created by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone. The first volume in the series was published by Puffin in 1982, with the rights to the series eventually being purchased by Wizard Books in 2002. The series distinguished itself by featuring a role-playing element, with the caption on many of the covers claiming each title was an adventure "in which YOU are the hero!" The majority of the titles followed a fantasy theme, although science fiction, post-apocalyptic, super-hero, and modern horror also featured. The popularity of the series led to the creation of merchandise such as action figures, board games, role-playing game systems, magazines, novels and video games.

Overview[edit]

The Fighting Fantasy gamebooks were created by British writers Steve Jackson (not to be confused with the US-based game designer of the same name) and Ian Livingstone, co-founders of Games Workshop, and provide an original twist on traditional fiction in that the reader takes control of the story's protagonist, being required to make choices that will affect the outcome.

The text does not progress in a linear fashion but rather is divided into a series of numbered sections (usually between 300-400). Beginning at the first section, the reader chooses a non-sequential option (e.g. Section 1 to Section 180) which in turn provides an outcome for the decision and advances the story. The story continues in this fashion, the player continuing to choose other numbered sections, until their character is either stopped, killed, or completes the quest.

Fighting Fantasy books typically feature a system whereby the protagonist is randomly assigned scores in three statistics (named Skill, Stamina, and Luck) which, in conjunction with the player rolling a six-sided die, are used to resolve combats and test the protagonist's success in certain situations. Some titles use additional statistics or additional conflict resolution mechanics. A typical Fighting Fantasy gamebook tasks players with completing a quest, with players then making choices in an attempt to successfully finish the adventure. A successful play of a Fighting Fantasy gamebook usually ends with the player reaching the final numbered section of the book. Many of the titles only feature one path to the solution, and in some cases this can only be achieved by obtaining various story items (e.g. gems in Deathtrap Dungeon).[1]

There were 59 books in the original series, beginning with The Warlock of Firetop Mountain (Steve Jackson & Ian Livingstone, 1982) and concluding with Curse of the Mummy (Jonathan Green, 1995). Jackson also wrote a self-contained four-part series titled Sorcery! (1983-1985). Andrew Chapman and Martin Allen also wrote a two book, two-player adventure titled the Clash of the Princes (1986). There were also several supplemental books produced that provided more information about the Fighting Fantasy universe, including a comprehensive bestiary of monsters and a sample adventure.

The majority of the Fighting Fantasy titles are set in the fictional medieval world of Titan, which consists of three giant continents.[2] Other titles are set in fantasy, horror, modern day, and sci-fi environments.

Wizard Books acquired the rights to the Fighting Fantasy series in 2002, and have since published reprints of older titles and several new titles in a revised order.

All Fighting Fantasy gamebooks are illustrated, including full-page pieces and smaller, generic images scattered at random throughout the book, often serving as breaks or space fillers between sections. Regular contributors included Les Edwards, Terry Oakes, Russ Nicholson, Leo Hartas, Ian Miller, John Blanche, Martin McKenna, and Iain McCaig.

Publication history[edit]

In 1980, Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone attended a Games Day, and after meeting with a Penguin editor decided to create a series of single-player gamebooks.[3] Their first submission, The Magic Quest, was a short adventure intended to demonstrate the style of game. The Magic Quest was eventually accepted by Penguin Books, although the authors devoted a further six months to expanding and improving upon the original concept. The end result was The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, and after several rewrites, the book was accepted and published in 1982 under Penguin's children's imprint, Puffin Books.

Following the success of the first Fighting Fantasy title,[4] Jackson and Livingstone began writing individually to create additional Fighting Fantasy gamebooks. In 1983, The Citadel of Chaos and The Forest of Doom were published, by Jackson and Livingstone respectively. Four more titles followed: Starship Traveller (the first title with a science fiction setting), City of Thieves, Deathtrap Dungeon and Island of the Lizard King. In 1984, a decision was made to hire more writers to continue the series: Steve Jackson (the United States-based founder and owner of Steve Jackson Games), Andrew Chapman, Carl Sargent (aka Keith Martin), Marc Gascoigne and Peter Darvill-Evans.

Jackson and Livingstone, however, continued to be involved and approved all cover and internal illustrations within the UK.[5] Regular contributors included Les Edwards; Terry Oakes; Russ Nicholson; Leo Hartas; Ian Miller, John Blanche and Iain McCaig. Covers were rarely consistent and due to printing errors[6] and different markets[5] many different versions exist.[7][8] Once Wizard acquired the franchise different versions with a new logo were printed, the rationale being that the old covers did not suit the modern market.[9]

The Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks published in the US by Dell/Laurel Leaf featured a new cover design and illustrations by Richard Corben.[10]

Jackson wrote a self-contained four-part series titled Sorcery! (1983-1985), that combined the use of combat and sorcery. The books also featured dice images at the bottom of each page, making it possible for the player to randomly "flick" through the pages for the equivalent of a dice roll. The Fighting Fantasy titles published by Wizard Books use the same device.

Although the Fighting Fantasy titles had successful sales[4][11] the increasing dominance of video games in the 1990s caused a gradual decline. The series was scheduled to conclude with Return to Firetop Mountain (Book 50, Livingstone, 1992), but due to increased sales ten more books were written. Nine were published, the series ending with the Curse of the Mummy (1995). The tenth title Bloodbones (Book 60 in the overall series numbering), was eventually published by Wizard Books.

In 1989, Fighting Fantasy was reworked into a multiplayer system referred to as Advanced Fighting Fantasy, with a number of support titles explaining the concept.

In 2002, Wizard Books acquired the rights to the Fighting Fantasy series and reprinted many of the original titles in a revised order to fit the reduced number of books (initially only the gamebooks by Jackson and Livingstone were published) and to incorporate the Sorcery! miniseries into the core series.[12]

A new Fighting Fantasy title, Eye of the Dragon (by Ian Livingstone) was released by Wizard Books in 2005, with reprints of original titles commencing the following year. 2007 marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of Fighting Fantasy, and to commemorate the event Wizard Books published a special hardcover edition of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain that used the original 1982 cover image and contained extra material such as the dungeon solution and a commentary on Fighting Fantasy by Livingstone. Wizard Books has since released several new titles[13] including Blood of the Zombies by Ian Livingstone to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary in 2012.[14]

Other media[edit]

Warlock magazine (first published by Puffin Books and later Games Workshop) provided additional information on the Fighting Fantasy universe, and each issue featured a gamebook, new rules, monsters, reviews and comic strips. It was published from 1983-1986 and ran for 13 issues.

In 1984, Steve Jackson published a roleplaying game, Fighting Fantasy - The Introductory Role-playing Game. A second version was published in 1989 as Advanced Fighting Fantasy (AFF).

In 1985, Steve Jackson wrote a picture gamebook with the title Tasks of Tantalon, in which the player was required to solve a series of puzzles which were presented as large, full colour pictures containing hidden clues to be located and assembled.

The Warlock of Firetop Mountain (1986) and Legend of Zagor (1993) were released as board games by Games Workshop and Parker Brothers respectively.

In 1992, a Fighting Fantasy 10th Anniversary Yearbook (a diary with articles, trivia and a gamebook) complete with a boxed set of dice and character sheets was published.

Several of the Fighting Fantasy titles have been released as video games, including seven Fighting Fantasy titles (The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, The Citadel of Chaos, The Forest of Doom, Temple of Terror, Seas of Blood, Appointment with F.E.A.R. and Rebel Planet) for the Commodore 64, Amstrad, BBC, and Sinclair ZX Spectrum (1984) and Deathtrap Dungeon for the PC and PlayStation by Eidos Interactive (1998). On August 18, 2011 an adaption of Talisman of Death was released by UK developer Laughing Jackal for the PlayStation Minis platform (playable on the PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 3).[15] On December 5, 2006, it was announced that Jackson and Livingstone were planning to release a new series of video games based on Fighting Fantasy for Nintendo DS and Sony's PSP.[16] The first of these, Fighting Fantasy: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, was released for the DS in the United States on November 25, 2009, and for the Apple iPhone and iPod in early January 2010.

In 2010, Super Team Film Prods secured the rights to House of Hell, with the intention to make a motion picture based on the title.[17]

On February 10, 2011 an Amazon Kindle edition of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain was launched by UK developer Worldweaver Ltd, for the US market.[18] Warlock and four other gamebooks were released on iOS by Big Blue Bubble, but retracted from the app store in 2012 when they lost the licence.[19] Australian game developers Tin Man Games have since published several iOS and Android versions of Fighting Fantasy books, including Blood of the Zombies, House of Hell, Forest of Doom, Island of the Lizard King and Starship Traveller,[20] and Cambridge-based studio Inkle released an interactive version of The Shamutanti Hills, the first part of the Sorcery! series, for iOS in May 2013.[21] The second instalment is also available on iOS, while the first is available on Android and Kindle.[22] Another iOS version of the same instalment was released by Bright Al Ltd in 2010.[23]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "FF3: Deathtrap Dungeon". Fightingfantasygamebooks.com. Retrieved 2011-12-12. 
  2. ^ "Titan". Web.archive.org. 2005-09-01. Retrieved 2011-12-12. 
  3. ^ "Fighting Fantasy FAQ". Web.archive.org. 2005-11-27. Retrieved 2011-12-12. 
  4. ^ a b "Fighting Fantasy FAQ". Web.archive.org. 2005-11-27. Retrieved 2011-12-12. 
  5. ^ a b "Fighting Fantasy FAQ". Web.archive.org. 2005-11-27. Retrieved 2011-12-12. 
  6. ^ "Fighting Fantasy FAQ on the Internet Archive record of the old fightingfantasy.com site". Archived from the original on 2005-11-27. 
  7. ^ "Fighting Fantasy FAQ on the Internet Archive record of the old fightingfantasy.com site". Archived from the original on 2005-11-27. 
  8. ^ "One". Fightingfantasycollector.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-12-12. 
  9. ^ "Interview with Simon Flynn on the official Fighting Fantasy website". 
  10. ^ "Fighting Fantasy on gamebooks.org". 
  11. ^ "created". Web.archive.org. 2005-11-27. Retrieved 2011-12-12. 
  12. ^ "Wizard Covers". Fightingfantasycollector.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-12-12. 
  13. ^ "Gamebooks". Fighting Fantasy. Retrieved 2011-12-12. 
  14. ^ "Blood of the Zombies". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-09-16. 
  15. ^ "Fighting Fantasy: Talisman of Death | Games". Laughing Jackal. Retrieved 2011-12-12. 
  16. ^ "Fighting Fantasy gamebooks to come to handhelds // News". Gamesindustry.biz. Retrieved 2009-12-23. 
  17. ^ Lodderhose, Riana (27 April 2010). "Super Team buys ‘House of Hell’ rights". Variety. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  18. ^ "Fighting Fantasy and Lone Wolf gamebooks at Worldweaver Ltd.". worldweaver.com. Retrieved 2013-05-26. 
  19. ^ "'Fighting Fantasy' Series Delisting August 14th". Retrieved 2013-05-26. 
  20. ^ "Books". Tin Man Games. Retrieved 2013-05-26. 
  21. ^ Inkle Studios project page
  22. ^ http://www.inklestudios.com/2014/03/12/android-is-live.html
  23. ^ Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! The Shamutanti Hills goes live

External links[edit]