Several years ago I had the privilege of reading an embryo-stage version of this excellent dungeon crawl adventure by Destiny’s Role gamebook creator Mark Lain, who is now entering it into the series as Book2. Of course, the defining dungeon gamebook would be Ian Livingstone’s Deathtrap Dungeon but this isn’t anything like that. With some extraordinary beasts in it and clever conundrums to appease ones wit, this deviates from the very dark Mistress Of Sorrows into a more sword and sandals style romp. If you would like to back this project on Kickstarter, CLICK HERE
Well it seems the Fighting Fantasy franchise has been completely sold out to ScholasticUK. It’s with deep regret I have to post this as the cover of the brand new Fighting Fantasy adventure. How twee, and how mocking of everything good up to now… and that’s been sparse!
For all those who might say… ‘but these books are now aimed at 5-8 year olds’… screw you! We was also that age when we started collecting and we got the likes of this.
Fighting Fantasy art is one half of the glory, and now its been handed to people who do not know the series nor have the style to suit. While there is every possibility Rhianna (yes, his daughter) has turned out a good story, I strongly believe we will have another Higson-esque adventure that just doesn’t capture the feel of Titan. And hey, another coverstyle. Scholastic ripping completist collectors off once again no doubt to make this ailing experiment with a legendary series a bit of profit. Which begs me to ask once again… I wonder what proportion of the profits come from old school collectors and how much comes from modern youth, not including those who buy them for their kids to relive their own youth? Scholastic have decided to ignore die hard fans once more, and I say fuck them.
Up until now, I only purchased new adventures in the Scholastic range. This hideous travesty of a cover sees me divorcing from any modern FF releases that are not from classic talent. It breaks my heart to say this, but everything Scholastic has done to this point apart from Assassins Of Allansia is either fatally flawed or absolute and utter trash, trumped by the modern generation of authors who actually know the genre such as Mark Lain, Victoria Hancox, James Schannep and Dane Barrett to name a few.
This is the death of a legend.
Today my dear friend Oliver McNeil launches his new Kickstarter campaign for the sequel to his award winning ( 😉 ) tabletop RPG, The Storymaster’s Tales Weirding Woods. The new adventure sees you as a hero trying to gain glory from the perilous Dracodeep Dungeon. New magic, new monsters and new characters abound in this fantasy Grimm-esque world. Having play-testing it live recently, I can tell you that it has all the makings of another masterpiece like it’s predecessor and it is great to see The Storymaster’s Tales universe expanding with another game in the pipeline even now. If you haven’t gone so yet, check out Mr McNeil’s Kickstarter by clicking this link The StoryMaster’s Tales “Dracodeep Dungeon” Hybrid RPG, via @Kickstarter https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/legendphotography/the-storymasters-tales-dracodeep-dungeon-hybrid-rpg?ref=android_project_share
I’ve done a little bit of proof reading and play testing for Mark Lain in the past, including the mini’s in Destiny’s Role book 0. Book 1 on the other hand is an absolute epic by comparison. Here we have a single adventure a whopping 500 references long with three artists on board, Alan Langford for the gorgeous cover, the ineffable Malcolm Barter on cartography and Mike Tenebrae for the internal illustrations. Having backed this on Kickstarter my likeness has been included in a very prestigious place in the book. Must admit, Mike did exceptionally well as I’m not easy to photograph let alone draw.
Anyway back to the story. The premise is to hunt down and destroy the Redcap and her witchly associates before her power becomes far too strong she can take over the land. And boy is it a tough ride. You need to make sure you get as many objects and provisions as possible as you will be in so many situations where these will be useful, not to mention the combats in Mistress Of Sorrows come thick and fast. You’re surely guaranteed not to complete it first time. I stopped counting at my twelfth death, most of them in fights.
Mark has clearly researched a lot on the subject matter, and evidence of this is none so obvious if you manage to get to Covan. This particular part of the book is my favourite area and the descriptive of events therein has writing in a style suitable enough for a film screenplay. This surpasses the authorship of other gamebook writers that have been in the game for years, just like Victoria Hancox did with Nightshift.
Whilst I managed to complete the quest and slay the Bigbad, she took me with her and I succumbed to her final hex. (So didn’t manage to meet myself lol) I hear a third book is in the works as well, so soon after Mistress Of Sorrows and I’m deliberately holding back credit so I can be part of that Kickstarter also when it comes about. If you don’t own Destiny’s Role books, it’s high time you did as you’re missing out on the cream of modern gamebooks crop. 10/10
The power of 44 strikes again.
I’m proud to announce my good friend and author Mark Lain has launched a follow up to his Destiny’s Role gamebook on Kickstarter. With a colour cover art by the legendary Alan Langford and interior art by modern illustrator Mike Tenebrae, you can help fund this amazing interactive project by CLICKING HERE.
Check out the great rewards on this chart.
Remember how excellent some gamebooks actually were back in the 80s? The ones with mostly fresh ideas that we couldn’t wait for the release of? This is also a very impacting game book based largely on brainwork as there are no combat systems. Typically, this is everything Choose You Own Adventure should have been. Creepy, paced, atmospheric and relies heavily on cerebral skill to get you through. It literally doesn’t need dice or card systems to work whereby the aforementioned CYOA were dreadfully easy.
Set within the confines of a creepy hospital (that’s enough to shit some people up alone), you awaken in a very surreal version of your world. You realise quite early on some lunatic (liking it already) is stalking you to chop you up like other victims. These turn out to be witches and the author has cleverly interlaced witch folklore into the story, with the looney taking different body parts from each in order to gain special powers. But things take a turn for the worse when you discover a higher power in control of this seemingly willing slave. All throughout the adventure you feel everything is being manipulated around you from room to room, and you don’t know what random and usually gory thing is going to happen next.
All the classic Fighting Fantasy esque conundrums are here, from riddles and letter codes (like in Ian Livingstone’s Deathtrap Dungeon) , to cryptic deciphering and numbered items (Steve Jackson’s Creature Of Havoc perhaps). It’s even 400 references long. For a first gamebook from Victoria Hancox, this is an excellent debut. She has certainly drawn from her familiarities with gamebooks and experiences which have added backbone to the game and I have also been in contact with Victoria and begged that she’ll write another. She replied to me and… I’m not going to say the answer 😜.
This is what many modern gamebooks should be like, and if you like the Horror gamebooks like me… it should be the very next book you buy.
Attempts.. 6 🙂
*proudly became the first known player to complete it successfully according to the author.
Get your copy HERE.
September has seen the release of Fighting Fantasy game book Assassins Of Allansia by the Guv himself, Ian Livingstone.
Assassins Of Allansia
I recently picked up my hardback copy of the book at the Fighting Fantasy Fest 3 from the authors son, Jack. I mentioned my weirdo number 44, and asked if that copy was available as all 400 copies were numbered. He dug it out for me also mentioning it’s Ian’s weirdo number as well. Nice. Anyway Ian signed it later on with a personal message.
So, with all that aside… what do i think to this entry in the popular gamebook series?
It’s a lovely adventure to come back after the series sending up that was Gates Of Death and the fair but fatally flawed Port Of Peril. I’m old school FF and thus have noticed that this and especially Gates seem to have alternative lore to the Fighting Fantasy book many of us have read. The DECAYER in Assassins for example, is nothing like the undead looking creature inked by Tim Sell in Out Of The Pit. SEE HERE. We are also getting Earth christian names now, like Florence, Henry and Samuel. This isn’t detrimental to the book in itself but it is a thorn in an old school fans side. Makes it feel like there’s a dimension crack and reality is seeping into our beloved Titan. Hold on, 20GPs to stay on a dangerous island for how long? You can find that just bumming around for a day.
The art by Robert Ball is somewhat nicer than Vlado Krizans and given Scholastic seem to avoid the more detailed illustrations of yesteryear in favour for dummied down jagged angular repro’s I finally feel a sense of actually being on Titan again. Not much, just a bit.
I think we need to stop comparing what FF was and accept it is going to be different now a bit like any other series reboot. (Doctor Who, James Bond etc). Definitely a Livingstone book. Youll know what that means after a couple of nights on the island. The story itself is packed full of dangers and the Guv has gone out of his way to make you not want to try things out in case it causes stat penalties. Also, you could call this FF5and a half as it takes place between City Of Thieves and Deathtrap Dungeon. Not to mention an appearance of a familiar much loved character from one of them…and I dont mean Azzur or Sukumvit.
Overall, if we brush away the old school cobwebs and altering Titan lore, this is the best since the Scholastic FF revival. I hope more come out like this rather than the previous couple.
For about 23 years now I have been toying with the idea of getting tattoo’s based on the amazing illustrations from the Fighting Fantasy game book series. Well this month I finally went beserk. Starting off with the Iain McCaig filler illustration of the villainous Zanbar Bone from the book City Of Thieves.
The tattooist did such an amazing job barely three weeks later I nuked some credit and had two more done. The first being Martin McKenna’s unused filler intended for FF40, Dead Of Night. Puffin rejected it though because of the religious iconography. Cowards.
The next would be John Blanches filler from the Sorcery series which I simply call sun-orc. Sorcery was the epic four book Fighting Fantasy quest which introduced me to the entire series.
Fighting Fantasy content was going to be narrowed down here and focused on my FF site, but as my internet is down until the Sky repair man can get here I couldn’t help but add this to my blog via my phone. Ian Livingstone has been at the quills again and brought us a new Fighting Fantasy title in the form of Assassins Of Allansia.
Now isn’t that an arresting title? This new gamebook of the beloved series will be released on September 5th but is available on preorder at Amazon HERE.