It all started on Twitter; during my usual morning trawl I saw a tweet from an old acquaintance celebrating the return of the Fighting Fantasy books for their 35th anniversary, and the waves of nostalgia poured over me. As a kid, I loved all sorts of gaming, and these adventures were perfect for the long drives up to Scotland or as a substitute for when no one else was around for a game of 40K or Magic. But I haven’t picked one up now in the best part of two decades, as with most things supplanted by something newer and more exciting – until it comes full circle and now this is the newer and more exciting occupation of my time once again.
The first task was to go and dig out all my old books, which I believe are still buried in the mess that has never quite left my parent’s house. As I write these opening words though, they currently remain unfound – it is turning into a quest itself, each option chosen ultimately leading to a dead-end and another failure. I cannot remember even how many there might be lying in wait, but a look through old covers online brings back memories; the likes of Creature Of Havoc, Deathtrap Dungeon, Caverns Of The Snow Witch and Demons Of The Deep returning like old friends.
But thank god for libraries! I have raided two of my locals and returned triumphant with five different quests to lose myself in once again. A quick panic ensues as I cannot for the life of me find a single d6 around my flat (d4? Check. d8? Yup. d20? Of course. d6? Nada). But soon enough, Dolenmir is sitting at the cave entrance that leads into Firetop Mountain… It does not take long for the multitude of doubts to set back in again; every option agonised over, the wondrous possibilities of those spurned stretching to impossible delights. So easily I am hooked, diving ever deeper in to see if I was right – I need to know if checking the body was the correct move and not the barrels, right?
The emotions continue at a lightning pace, along with the scribbled maps that make less sense the more lost I become; until at last, a way out! Oh, and a dragon. Ultimately, my first attempt was a cruel, bitter failure right at the last, missing just a single key to leave me sitting weeping upon a chest to remain forever locked. But the bug is back, along with a renewed determination to conquer the odds and win the treasure for myself (because we all know I won’t in real life), the gaming geek in me has fully awoken once again.
Whilst I might have forgotten all about Fighting Fantasy, it appears many others haven’t. I’ve barely scratched the surface of crowdfunding projects and fan-generated resources that are now out there, not to mention the upcoming second convention that is taking place in West London at the beginning of September. Or indeed the RPG that has emerged and is currently in its second edition.
Finally, looking forward to the whole reason this odyssey kicked off in the first place, Fighting Fantasy returns in August courtesy of new publisher Scholastic with five older titles (including the ubiquitous The Warlock Of Firetop Mountain obviously). More excitingly, a new story written by Ian Livingstone, The Port Of Peril, is coming at the same time; personally, I am hoping for either some kind of Lovecraftian tale set in an Innsmouth-style town, or possibly a more Nassau-esque pirate adventure not so far removed from the soon-to-be-missed Black Sails show. But whatever we are treated to, I am glad that I have rediscovered this lost classic, and I’m sure many others will too – happy anniversary.