Fighting Fantasy – The History

One of the things about getting old is that people start getting nostalgic for things they did when they were kids. Sometimes those are things that they got into heavily when they were 12 but wouldn’t be seen dead doing by the time they were 16. I was already out of college and addicted to role-playing games when The Warlock of Firetop Mountain was published, so I never played the books very much. We used to laugh at them a bit. I could see, however, that they were very popular with kids, and they held out the promise of luring more people into the hobby that I loved.

A quick look over the list of books reminds me that they had some fabulous covers. The artists used on them included Les Edwards, Chris Achilleos, Jim Burns, Brian Bolland and Rodney Matthews. And of course someone had to write them. My friend Paul Mason did four. And another member of my gaming group, a lad called Marc Gascoigne, wrote one and then went on to play a major role in editing the series. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that without Fighting Fantasy there would be no Angry Robot — Marco is a talented guy and he would have found another way to develop his career — but I’m sure that the success of the series gave him valuable experience of the ups and downs of publishing.

Now there are new books. E-books are, of course, ideal for the choose-your-own-adventure structure, and I’m sure that has helped. One of the original authors-for-hire, Jonathan Green, has done a lot of work on the new books, and is now looking to publish an history of the franchise. He has a Kickstarter project. I have just backed it.

I’ll be interested to see what Jonathan comes up with. As I understand it, he’ll be sticking to the Fighting Fantasy books, so we will be spared the horrors of HeartQuest. I have no idea whether he’ll just cover the traditional gamebooks, or if he’ll venture off into the spin-off series such as the novels, or the Advanced Fighting Fantasy books (which were proper role-playing, yay!). Of course nothing will happen at all if the project doesn’t get funded, so if you remember those books fondly, please consider helping out.