[Books] My first Fighting Fantasy roleplay gamebooks

It’s always satisfying to find books you forgot you were looking for. It’s even more satisfying when you’ve never seen the titles available in your country.

I’ve been very fascinated with role-playing games (RPGs) in all of their forms since I started playing games. For the likes of Pathfinder or Dungeons & Dragons, it wasn’t always easy to assemble a group, which is why I started looking into solo RPGs. After some googling I stumbled across the Fighting Fantasy series of gamebooks.

The Fighting Fantasy series was initially co-written by Games Workshop co-founders, Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, and published from 1982 to 1995. While they founded the series, they didn’t write all of the books, though their names were still prominently displayed on each title.  Similar to Choose Your Own Adventure titles, the stories don’t follow a linear story progression and feature multiple branches throughout each book. This is coupled with the ability to fight monsters, track experience, and more. I thought they sounded like a blast and needed to get my hands on a few.

Similar to Choose Your Own Adventure titles, the stories don’t follow a linear story progression and feature multiple branches throughout each book. This is coupled with the ability to fight monsters, track experience, and more. I thought they sounded like a blast and needed to get my hands on a few.

Similar to Choose Your Own Adventure titles, the stories don’t follow a linear story progression and feature multiple branches throughout each book. This is coupled with the ability to fight monsters, track experience, and more. I thought they sounded like a blast and needed to get my hands on a few.

In 2014, I spent a lot of time in Johannesburg and would often seek out second-hand bookstores. Unfortunately, the equivalent stores in Cape Town never have stellar book collections — well those comparable to Johannesburg. For a time, I searched high and low for anything resembling Fighting Fantasy, but always came up empty handed. I eventually settled on a copy of Castle of the Undead (Nick Baron), which is a Ravenloft Choose Your Own Adventure gamebook novel. I’ve read some of it, but it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t the thing I was after.

This past week I was living it up in Port Elizabeth on holiday. As much as anyone in P.E. can “live it up.” Tallulah and I decided to scour a few second hand bookshops until we stumbled upon Books & Bygones. Upon first look, it was nothing more than an antique dealer, but that was until you looked past the bricka brack and towards the rear of the store which housed tome upon tome of untold treasures. This is where I found my first two Fighting Fantasy titles, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain and Dead of Night.

They had several other titles, but I’d already squandered most of my holiday spending on other things. These two would have to do.

I haven’t had a chance to read either yet, but I have peeked at the first two pages of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain and it looks fantastic. I look forward to finally playing one of these long-forgotten gems of gaming history.

Edit: Thanks to Mandy J Watson for pointing out that Jackson and Livingstone didn’t write all of the books.