Sunday, December 14, 2014

Titan's Timeline

Today I was poking around the timelines of the Demonic Three (Zagor, Balthus Dire & Zharradan Marr) and the Star Pupils (Yaztromo, Nicodemus & Pen Ty Kora), trying to figure out how the timelines of all six characters fit into the history of Titan. It was while doing this that I rediscovered my idea for working out the year that each FF book takes place in.

The book Titan - The Fighting Fantasy World puts the current date at 284AC. Having been first published in 1986, we could then assume that the earthly year 1986 = Titan year 284. If we follow that logic then we can work out what Titan year the events of a gamebook take place in by the earthly year of its gamebook publication. Now obviously this won't work for every gamebook, as many of them have already had their Titan dates specified (or at least narrowed down), but it could prove a useful system for dating those adventures that aren't tied down to any specific time.

The following timeline follows this method, but also takes into account any pre-existing lore (these titles are marked with an asterisk; many are estimated dates only). Let me know what you all think, and if there are any mistakes or omissions (and I'm certain there are - this was done a while back and is a work in progress):

175AC - The Tasks of Tantalon *
184AC - Legend of the Shadow Warriors *
187AC - Moonrunner *
279AC - Dead of Night *
281AC - City of Thieves

282AC - Island of the Lizard King
282AC - Scorpion Swamp
282AC - Fighting Fantasy
282AC - The Riddling Reaver
283AC - Deathtrap Dungeon *
283AC - Seas of Blood
283AC - Midnight Rogue *
283AC - Sorcery!
284AC - Titan - The Fighting Fantasy World *
284AC - Trial of Champions *
284AC - Crypt of the Sorcerer *
284AC - The Trolltooth Wars *
284AC - Creature of Havoc *
284AC - Demons of the Deep
284AC - Sword of the Samurai
284AC - Masks of Mayhem
285AC - Fighting Fantasy 10th Anniversary Yearbook *
285AC - Dungeoneer *
285AC - Blacksand! *
285AC - Demonstealer
285AC - Shadowmaster
285AC - The Warlock of Firetop Mountain *
285AC - Armies of Death *
285AC - Knights of Doom *
285AC - Battleblade Warrior *
285AC - Beneath Nightmare Castle
285AC - Phantoms of Fear
286AC - The Citadel of Chaos *
286AC - The Forest of Doom *
286AC - Caverns of the Snow Witch *
286AC - Chasms of Malice
286AC - Slaves of the Abyss
286AC - Stealer of Souls
286AC - Daggers of Darkness
286AC - Temple of Terror *
287AC - Portal of Evil
287AC - Vault of the Vampire
287AC - Fangs of Fury
288AC - Night of the Necromancer *
288AC - Master of Chaos
288AC - Black Vein Prophecy
288AC - Keep of the Lich-Lord
289AC - Tower of Destruction
290AC - The Crimson Tide
290AC - Siege of Sardath
290AC - Island of the Undead
291AC - Night Dragon
291AC - Spellbreaker
292AC - Deathmoor
294AC - Magehunter
294AC - Revenge of the Vampire
294AC - Curse of the Mummy
295AC - Return to Firetop Mountain *
295AC - Allansia *
304AC - Bloodbones
305AC - Howl of the Werewolf
307AC - Skullcrag *
308AC - Night of Necromancer
310AC - Eye of the Dragon *

The current year of 2014 would be the year 313AC on Titan, making next year the Year of the Ox. What do you think of this timeline? Let me know in the comments section below. :)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Special Delivery

Look what finally arrived in the post!

Yep, its my Advanced Fighting Fantasy adaption of the classic Fighting Fantasy gamebook The Warlock of Firetop Mountain. I know it's been out for a while now, but this is the first time I've actually put my grubby mits on a physical copy. It's a real thrill for me to have contributed to an offical FF-related product and I'm proud to add it to my FF bookshelf (which you can catch glimpses of in the background of the photo).

There will be an article on the writing of this book in an upcoming issue of Fighting Fantazine (along with my new gamebook adventure The Lords of Stone, but more on that in a future post). I will delve into the many different sources that contributed to what is, I hope, the definitive look at Zagor's classic dungeon lair.

Special thanks to Graham Bottley for getting a copy signed by the legends themselves, Steve Jackson, Ian Livingstone and Russ Nicholson.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Back From the Pit...

Hi all, sorry for the long delay between posts. My life has been consumed with a recent wedding and honeymoon, both of which went wonderfully well. In a great bit of timing my copy of You Are The Hero finally arrived via courier just as we were about to set off down south for a week. It proved to be excellent reading material and I hope to write up my thoughts on it another time.

But for now I'm going to take a brief look at another iteration of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, the Lost Chapters game by Commando Kiwi. This game was developed as part of the Make Something Unreal competition in 2012. Four teams (Commando Kiwi - The Warlock of Firetop Mountain: Lost Chapters, Derp Studios - Citadel of Chaos: Dire Consequences, Digital Mage - Armies of Death: Rise of Agglax, Indigo Jam - Deathtrap Dungeon) each designed a game based on the Fighting Fantasy brand and using Epic Games Unreal game engine. Commando Kiwi's entry was judged the winner by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone.

The game itself is quite rough, and boils down to hacking and slashing your way through simple dungeons populated with blocky Orcs. It features many familiar locations from Firetop Mountain, such as the kitchen, torture chamber, chieftain's room and helmet room, as well as some new areas such as the mechanical room and tomb. I must admit that I've barely played the game itself, but I have spent some time trawling through its assets. In it I have discovered an interesting alternate version of our beloved Firetop Mountain.

In Lost Chapters the old infamous Warlock has taken over Firetop with his Orc army. Before he came along, however, the mountain fortress was once the seat of power of King Gregory. Gregory led his people to the mountain after the Battle of Spirescroft, where they constructed a mighty bastion to protect them from the wars that were ravaging Allansia.

Miners delved deep into the mountain, uncovering a vast network of caverns. Unfortunately tunnel collapses and Cave Spiders claimed too many lives and the King ordered the mine shafts to be sealed up forever.

Gregory lived from the years 353 - 426. After his death he was entombed within the fortress with his trusted retinue of knights.

At the time of the Warlock's invasion Sir Yotu Bourne, the sole heir of Gregory's line, was king of Firetop. The Orcs quickly took the outer halls, forcing Bourne to sabotage the great mechanical portcullis to hold them off while he and his men escaped through the caverns.

The King and his knights quickly returned to Firetop and fought their way to the throne room, where they found the Orc Chieftain waiting for them. The Orcs overwhelmed the knights and slaughtered them, ending the line of King Gregory once and for all. In the following years many brave and foolhardy adventurers have met their end inside Firetop. You, the player, are the latest to try their luck in its dark depths.

So, how do we reconcile this with what has already been established in FF canon? Dwarfs built the fortress inside Firetop, not Men. The years that Sir Gregory lived are in the distant future of the current timeline, so that doesn't fit either. Do we simply discard the storyline presented here, or is there some way to integrate it into the existing lore?

By the way, Lost Chapters should still be available to download for ios devices on the iTunes website.

Until next time, may your STAMINA never fail!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Your Adventure Continues Here...

Just a quick post today, I'm a busy, busy Baddu-Beetle!

Check out these two great FF-related websites I have discovered recently.

Under the Firetop Mountain ( features incredibly-detailed dungeon tiles and character tokens that are perfect for, oh, I don't know, perhaps running the AFF adaption of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain? There are also adventure sheets, house rules and more, so go check it out.

Groatsworth ( have some awesome FF, Warhammer and general geek-related t-shirt designs. Clothing is a bit of an unexplored area as far as FF-themed merchandise goes, so I'm excited to see what they come up with next. Go grab a tee and wear your fandom proudly!

Til next time.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Beardy Wimmen

Continuing on with the Dwarf theme, where are all the Dwarf women? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think a female Dwarf has ever been featured in a Fighting Fantasy publication (nor a Dwarf juvenile, for that matter). So where are all the beardy womenfolk?

Do they even exist at all? Or are all Dwarfs male. Perhaps they spring out of the ground fully-grown, or are planted like particularly hairy Cabbage Patch Kids? Maybe male Dwarfs can carry young around in their beer bellies?

If Dwarf women do exist, why aren't they out mining and advenuring with their male counterparts? Do Dwarfs have strict gender roles, perhaps where women are restricted to all the hard work (cooking, cleaning, raising Dwarflings) while the men do all the fun ale-quaffing and orc-clobbering?

Or maybe Dwarf women are revered and hoarded away in their fortresses like precious jewels? Throff, chief deity and creator of the Dwarfs, is a woman, so its entirely possible that female Dwarfs fulfil religious duties. Dwarf priests may only be females? That would explain why they are rarely seen abroad.

In any case, its a mystery without a firm answer as yet. What do you all think out there in the Abyss?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Dwarf Players for AFF

Here is a more in-depth look at creating a Dwarf player for Advanced Fighting Fantasy. As always your thoughts and opinions are appreciated.

Doughty warriors and skilled craftsmen, Dwarfs are a long-lived race that enjoys three things above all: gold, ale and a good tale of heroic deeds. The allure of potential treasure or a monstrous opponent can sometimes be enough to lure a Dwarf from the comfort of his underground stronghold and into an adventuring party.

Personality: Most Dwarfs are earthy in character, favouring plain speaking and plainer actions. They prefer to take things slowly and surely, but can be quick to anger if slighted. They can also be honourable beings, however, and they appreciate bravery and good fighting. Above all, Dwarfs love precious jewels and metals, and they spend much of their time mining it from the earth and securing it away.

Physical Description: A typical Dwarf stands only a metre tall. They almost always have a long bushy beard, which they take great pride in growing and grooming. Their clothes are usually made from fine worked leather, covered with a light cuirass of strong Dwarfish mail. They favour wielding hewing weapons such as battle-axes and war-hammers.

Relations: Dwarfs tolerate, work and live alongside humans in many parts of Titan, therefore adventuring alongside them is also no issue. Some Dwarfs do not like Elves, owing to an ancient and traditional quarrel, but there have also been several notable adventuring partnerships between an Elf and a Dwarf.
Dwarfs loathe and despise Orcs, Goblins and other evil, non-human races; it would take an extraordinary event to convince a Dwarf to work alongside one without bloodshed!

Alignment: Dwarfs are generally followers of Good, upholding the ways of peace and justice wherever they lay their axe. There are examples of evil Dwarfs, such as the denizens of Mirewater, but they are extremely rare.

Dwarf Lands: Large communities of Dwarfs can be found across Titan, but most commonly in northern Allansia, such as Stonebridge and Fangthane. Dwarf adventurers are slightly less common in the more southerly lands.

Religion: Dwarfs worship the earth goddess Throff (whom they know as Kerillîm) with surprising intensity.  Dwarf priests will never be found outside of their subterranean, jewel-encrusted temples.

Language: The native Dwarf tongue is known as dethungar. It is never spoken in the presence of non-Dwarfs. Their writing consists of simple runes, which they often chisel into stone and engrave into metalwork.

Names: Bakulor, Bigleg, Biltur, Corin, Darkflint, Fangnir, Gillibran, Habul, Harlak, Hellura, Kagand, Littlebig, Lokimur, Roxsir, Stoneharrow, Stubb, Thorgrim, Trumble, Ulgrad, Wendle.

Racial Traits: A Dwarf Hero receives an additional 2 points to their Initial STAMINA score, to reflect their stocky frames and hardy metabolisms. 

They will also receive one point in the Underground Lore and Crafting Special Skills, as well as three points in Languages (Common) and four points in Languages (Dwarfish). Note that the Dwarfish language encompasses both the spoken dethungar and the written Dwarfish runes.

In addition a Dwarf Hero also starts with the Dark Seeing Talent.

Many Dwarfs lack experience in riding horses, and may have difficulty in doing so. When it comes to checking for actions such as hiding and sneaking, a Dwarf will count as Small in size.

Magic: Dwarfs prefer to shun magic in favour of a sharp battle-axe. Dwarfish spell casters are very, very rare, and usually still carry an axe as part of their equipment. The few spells they do use are very specialized, such as casting sharpness into an axe, or for searching out the purest seams of gold ore deep underground. Dwarf priests are slightly more common, but will almost never be encountered above ground.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Centaur Players for AFF

Here are some rules for playing a Centaur character in AFF. I cobbled it together from information in Allansia and Out of the Pit, and the guidelines for creating new player races in AFF (p.153-155). Let me know your thoughts in the comments section. :)

Centaurs are strange creatures with the upper quarters of a human and the lower quarters of a horse. Proud and fierce warriors, they usually remain confined to the grassy plains of their homelands, but young warriors sometimes choose to leave their tribe and seek their fortune elsewhere. 

Centaurs are brave and doughty warriors, fearless in battle to an almost suicidal degree. Noble and haughty, they place great value in martial prowess and personal reputation. The pettiest of disputes or slights against their honour are swiftly settled with cold steel. Much importance is also placed on family, as Centaurs see themselves as descendants of a lineage that stretches back through the generations to the very first horses. They will always talk of themselves as being ‘son of X, son of Y, son of Z’ and so on.
Physical Description
The average height of a Centaur is just over two metres tall. Because of the nature of their bodies Centaurs do not make ideal adventurers. Subterranean exploration, for example, can be a difficult process. Out in the open is another matter entirely. They are able to run far faster than any humanoid, even when bearing a heavy load.
In times of war they may combine human armour and horse barding to provide comprehensive protection.

Centaurs have had mixed dealings with humans and elves, and as a result are apt to be wary of the intentions of such races. Indeed, many tribes indulge in the hunting and eating of humans with scant regard for their racial similarities.
Most humanoid races look down upon Centaurs as little more than brutish savages. They can sometimes be found serving alongside Orcs and Trolls in the armies of Evil, where their appetite for battle is sure to be sated.

 Strongly neutral creatures, Centaurs will do whatever is required to keep themselves alive and their saddlebags full of gold. They hold allegiance to no one but themselves and their tribe, but may grant grudging respect to anyone who has proven their worth in battle.

Centaur Lands
 Centaurs favour warm grasslands, such as the Pagan and Windward Plains of northern Allansia, the Pikestaff Plain in north-eastern Khul, or the vast steppes of Lendleland in the Old World.
Centaur Heroes will be considered by other centaurs to have abandoned their tribesmen, and should expect an icy reception if they return to their native land.

 Centaurs believe themselves to be horses that were cursed for some past misdeed by the great Hunnynhaa, Lord of Horses, and forced to suffer the indignity of a sluggish human body. They delight in the telling and singing of tales that speak of their curse and their desire to be free of it.
Despite their sometimes savage nature, they are at heart a spiritual people and are always in touch with the land.

 Centaurs have their own oral language (which has no written form) but can usually also speak Common. They can also communicate with any horse.

 Centaurs can use magic with no penalties. They tend to favour spells which increase personal strength and courage. Centaur Priests may worship most of the standard deities, particularly Fourga and Telak, but their chief deity will always be Hunnynhaa.

Racial Traits
 A newly created Centaur Hero starts out with the following characteristics:
A Centaur Hero receives 2 an additional points to his Initial STAMINA score, to reflect his greater body mass and resultant strength.
They will also receive one point in the Hunting and Plains Lore Special Skills, as well as two points in Languages (Common), and four points in Languages (Centaur).
In addition a Centaur Hero will start with the Fleet-footed Talent.
A Centaur Hero may not choose any of the following Special Skills: Acrobatics, Mounted Combat, Ride. These abilities are plainly of little use to a Centaur. Most others, however, can be chosen and used without modification.
Note that, for combat purposes, a Centaur’s definition of a ‘narrow corridor’ will be wider than that for a human.
A Centaur Hero will have all the same modifiers as for someone on horseback when it comes to rolls for escaping and the like. A Centaur’s Jump can be up to twice a human’s distance or height. All Sneak rolls incur a -2 penalty due to their size and shape; certain situations may prove success to be impossible. Similarly, a Centaur counts as Large for Hide rolls. It is assumed that a Centaur can carry as many ‘items’ as it has current STAMINA points. Any Climb rolls will incur penalty of -3, unless the surface is sufficiently open, level and stable enough to allow its hoofs to grip.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Myriador's Multiple Mistakes

As many of you may know, a company called Myriador published a series of D20 adaptions of several of the more popular Fighting Fantasy gamebooks for use with the Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition rules. These adaptions contradict the previously established lore numerous times. Under the guidance of 'FF Consultant' Dave Holt, the D20 adventures frequently ignore or change existing setting material in favour of making everything a bland and uninspired standard fantasy setting.

Here for your enjoyment (or not) are a list of some of these changes...

The Warlock of Firetop Mountain
  • The D20 series incorrectly claims that Gilford (a new village created for the adventure) is the starting town for the heroes. Warlock Magazine has previously established that this village was Anvil. In the end I included Gilford as another possible starting point in my AFF adaption (along with Haven, which was introduced in the Salamonis Gazette).

The Caverns of the Snow Witch
  • The Gnome cook in the Crystal Caverns has been changed to a human.

Deathtrap Dungeon
  • The settlement of Fang has been transformed from a sleepy river port into a bustling walled metropolis with a standing army and navy. 
  • The army of Fang contains an elite unit of Elven archers, despite Elves on Titan being portrayed as an insular, secretive folk that seldom leave the borders of their homelands. 

The Shamutanti Hills
  • The village of Birritanti has been transformed into a much larger settlement than it was in the original Sorcery! series. According to the D20 adaption it now has huge guard-towers, a militia and a mayor. Steve Jackson has previously stated that the Sorcery! series was inspired by his travels through Nepal, but the D20 adaption has fully ignored this flavour, instead changing Birritanti into a standard medieval town.
  • Similarly, all through the D20 book the inhabitants of the hill villages have been given cliched fantasy names, again ignoring the Nepalese-inspired setting and flavour.

 Trial of Champions
  • The D20 book claims that Chadda Darkmane was the first hero to successfully navigate Deathtrap Dungeon, something that has been mentioned nowhere in previous books.
  • The Strider creature in the cave below the rope bridge has been changed into a human assassin whose name is Strider.
  • The Witch summons Stirges, a D&D monster that does not belong in the FF setting.
  • The Tusker is changed to a boar-headed Minotaur.
  • The Siren is changed to a Black Elf called Anistasial.

There are plenty more changes throughout the series, but this will give you a taste of the sacrifices (and plain bizarre choices) that Myriador made to conform the FF adventures to D&D standards. In the end I guess it was fortunate that they never ended up finishing the Sorcery! adaptions and butchering Crown of Kings.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Chopping Block - Part Three

Hi everyone,
Back again with a final look at some of the crazy critters that lurk inside the Nintendo DS game The Warlock of Firetop Mountain. For those that are interested, the webpage for the game developer, Big Blue Bubble Inc., can be found here.

Nobbler: A Dwarf who is willing to sell his wares to anyone, as long as they don't stink of Orc. He can be found inside the common room of the Dwarf stronghold.

Og: A White Orc who is so lonely that he is willing to sell his weapons to anyone. He did some terrible things when he worked for Zagor and Giles.

Giles: An evil man in league with Zagor. Knowledge, not power, is his only desire, which is why he gets along so well with the Warlock. He somehow charmed the Dwarf leaders into believing he is their friend, although they are fully aware that he is also cavorting with Zagor. No-one's really sure how and when he came to Firetop. He seeks a sample of one of the undead Dwarfs so that he can learn its secrets and use it to infect his enemies.

Gorrin Briarbeard: This Dwarf guards the entrance to the Dwarf stronghold. He has red hair and wears a patch over his left eye. He wields a huge battleaxe and carries a dagger. He is on the lookout for spies and distrusts Giles immensely.

Oliphant: An insane Dwarf priest who hides out in a chamber accessed via a secret passage from the Trophy Room. He is balding, grey-haired and wields a sledgehammer. He believes the hero to be a new initiate and orders him to go to the Room of the Three and collect the Book of Right from the compartment beneath the statues.

Zagor: The evil Warlock of Firetop Mountain. Some say he looks young and came from the direction of Darkwood Forest, followed by a Red Dragon and leaving a string of burned-down villages behind him. Others say that he is very short, wizened and old, and say he came from Darkwood with a lot of green servants. Zagor and his legions stole the home of the Dwarfs and their ancestors as well as their possessions. Those he defeated have been raised from the dead to serve in their former home.

Firetop Dwarfs: Many Dwarfs still live inside Firetop, but they can't be counted upon to be friendly. They have a military outpost on the upper levels and they are still on guard against 'invaders'. All non-Dwarfs are attacked on sight. The Dwarf warriors think it is their skill and loyalty that keeps them safe from the Warlock, but others think that the Warlock lets them live for his own amusement. None of them mine the mountain anymore. There are some among them who are organising an army to chase the monsters away from their home.

Golems: The Dwarfs created the Golem to serve them, but the gods punished them for their laziness. The Golems were released from their burden of servitude until Zagor the Defiler came and added them to his legions. Now they are deadly killers. The Cyclops guards the entrance to the Upper Keep; it can shoot fireballs from its eye. Lesser Golems can be found beyond, of different colours and lesser power.

Orcs: Green-skinned Orcs are the weakest, then grey-skinned Orcs, Red Orcs and the powerful White Orcs.

Skeletons: Although undead, the Boat House Skeletons are not evil. Engineers have been tasked with running a ferry to Stonebridge, but the Dwarfs have prevented them from travelling downstream. The industrious Skeletons have dreams of trading with Stonebridge and someday creating their own merchant empire.

Eye Stingers: These creatures appear to be an advanced or magical breed, for they are covered in many eyes instead of just one, and can shoot bolts of magic from their main eye. Spikes emerge from their body when enemies get too close. Pink Eye Stingers shoot fireballs from their main eye, while Green Eye Stingers shoot green blasts that poison their opponent.

Misc. Info:
- Zagor wishes to be rid of the Dragon. He offers its hoard to the hero who kills it. 
- Killing the Dragon yields a mysterious vial of Dragon Essence, probably what Zagor seeks.
- One of the Dwarfs can be found drinking in the Orc Tavern. He wears a necklace of human ears.
- Zagor's Inner Sanctum is sealed off by an iron portcullis, which has been further barricaded by the Orcs who removed the handle from the winch. This was to prevent the Undead Dwarfs in the room beyond from getting through. Too many Orcs were careless, so the chieftains blocked the way. The Warlock teleports in if he needs to visit the outer rooms.
- No Orcs are allowed in the Fortress proper, which is protected by a spell that blocks the doorway with magical chains unless the hall is lit by a special blue candle. Most Dwarfs don't think twice about it, because in their glory days the hall was always filled with blue candles.

I hope you enjoyed this look at how the Nintendo DS game chose to portray the iconic Firetop Mountain. As you can see it varies quite a bit from the previously established setting, but I think there is still a lot of value in it and perhaps some of the lore here can be used to enrich the setting or perhaps portray a future version of the Warlock's lair. What do you think?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Chopping Block - Part Two

This post is a continuation of the previous one, in which I took a peek at the citizens of Stonebridge in the Nintendo DS game The Warlock of Firetop Mountain. This time we will venture into the infamous mountain instead and see who is there!

Bartholomew: A red-bearded Dwarf who is seeking ore inside Firetop to forge a new weapon. He lives in an area of the basement near the Temple. Mizar claims that he is delusional, like all remaining Dwarfs inside the mountain.

Mizar: A hunchbacked Dwarf who has lived undisturbed in a hidden workshop near the keep entrance in Firetop since Zagor came. He holds a grudge against the Orcs and other monsters that occupy his home.

Hobbler: A diseased Dwarf wretch who was held captive in the torture chamber. He was desperate to get a message to Weaselnose but died in his cell. One of the Dwarf leaders, he was captured through his own carelessness, not because he was betrayed.

 Klugg: A savage, grey-skinned Orc and Warden of the dungeon's prison. He is the only one who holds the key that opens the door to the deeper levels of Firetop. He is often found in front of the Cells or in the Torture Chamber. He acts tough but is partial to bargaining when faced with the possibility of death. Carries the Prison Mask.

Max Pain: The brutal Orc torturer.

Livingstone: The white-haired Dwarf high priest and war leader of all the Dwarf clans. He resides in the temple within the Dwarven Barracks and always refers to himself in the third person.

Orlinn: A down-on-his luck human gambler. His lucky dice were stolen by an Orc and since then nothing has gone his way. Most of his clients are the dim-witted Orcs and Dwarfs that infest Firetop.

Rubblerat: The burly Orc that guards the only way into the inner sanctum. He wears an enchanted blue crystal amulet around his neck that makes him immune to all attacks, be they physical or magical.

Zhug: Orc chieftain and boss of the Orc Stronghold.

Peon: Zhug's cowardly but sneaky servant. He suffers from a debilitating cough that only the mushrooms from the Rat Caves can cure.

Back soon with more devious denizens!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Chopping Block - Part One

I may have mentioned before that The Warlock of Fire Mountain AFF adventure compiles almost every version of that infamous dungeon over the years into what (I hope) is the most comprehensive and detailed edition yet. There were, however, two sources that I didn't include. One of them is the Nintendo DS game that was released some years ago. This version of Zagor's dungeon was so radically different from what had been previously established that it was too difficult to reconcile.

The adventurer in this game is actually from the Old World; he travels from Gummport to Stonebridge with the express purpose of plundering Firetop Mountain of its riches. In Stonebridge the adventurer stocks up on supplies and meets some of the town's unfortunately named inhabitants...

Thelonius Manintown: A Dwarf gold prospector who just arrived in Stonebridge. He claims that the Dwarfs in these parts live in the past, and that some of them hate the new ruler bitterly, and that none of them do any mining anymore. When the keep at Firetop fell, many of his kinsmen left Stonebridge and joined his clan. Others stayed in the mountain and from time to time let their kinsmen know that they still live. Thelonius is ashamed of them and believes they have lost the true way of Dwarfhood, which is mining (and nearly all he can think about!). When he eventually makes it to Firetop he sets up camp in the Rat Caves.

Weaselnose:  A Dwarf peddler who was born in Firetop before the Warlock came, and still travels back there a lot because his father still lives inside. His father, a former High Priest and Warleader of the good Dwarfs inside Firetop, considers Weaselnose a failure and a disgrace.

Oaffer Goodnessake: A Dwarf who claims to have searched every corner of Firetop and found no evidence of the Warlock or his fabulous treasure.

Wilkins: A bald, well-muscled human who sells fine weaponry and mans the Stonebridge barracks. He alone holds the copper key to the main gate (which is rumoured to explode in the enemy's hands). He won't let anyone outside the town gates unless he believes them capable of surviving in the wild.

Gloria: A human female who stays inside Stonebridge for fear of the Warlock.

Waxenwicks: A sly-looking human male who blames Wilkins for preventing trade and artisans to the town. He claims to be a blacksmith, leathersmith, goldsmith, candlemaker, cobbler, carpenter, tailor and, above all, a trapper. He has crafted hundreds of candles for use by Giles the Librarian.

Tweedle: A female Dwarf who runs the Tweedle Triplets Trading Post in Stonebridge. She and her two sisters (who man posts inside Firetop Mountain) have a monopoly on fresh goods in the region. They literally killed the competition.

Caleb: A mysterious human monk who runs the church in Stonebridge. He believes what befell Firetop to be a punishment from the gods. He took over running the temple after so many Dwarfs fled the town.

Next time I'll detail some of the inhabitants of Firetop Mountain itself.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Tidings from the Warlock

By now a few lucky devils have gotten their grubby mits on a copy of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain AFF adventure. If you are one of those said devils please drop me a line and let me know what you think! Here is one review by Bronn on the Arion Games forums:

Righto, I have my copy and have been greedily devouring it this afternoon. The short version is: I love this book! It's sixty-two pages of iconic FF excellence.

More extensive highlights include:

Cartography & Art: Excellent maps throughout, breaking the dungeon into easily managed sections that correspond with the larger whole. Steve "Mr. Nibbs" Luxton's depiction of the lands surrounding the mountain is a particularly evocative, stand-out piece. I'd love to see more of this style in future. Then there's the art -- it's Russ Nicolson's original work from the game book, what more is there to say except it's classic stuff, amazingly rendered.

Fidelity to Source: Yes, the bulk of the dungeon adapts and stays faithful to the original gamebook, at least in terms of dungeon layout and monster demographics. It's an iconic location, and the author preserved the encounters, puzzles and traps that made it a classic in the first place.

Expanded Material: That said, there's plenty of extra stuff to enjoy. Brett Schofield has done a clever thing here, inserting material from alternative representations of Firetop Mountain as random encounters. So now we have Shylock the Moneylender, the Hungry Beggar and a 'Lucky Find' imported from the board game; which I love! Previously unnamed NPCs like the Dwarves, Librarian, Maze Master and others are given further detail, making their presence in the mountain seem more explicable. Named characters, like Zagor and Farrago DiMaggio are given brief histories as well. The surrounding landscape is also explored, including the lovely aforementioned map, rumors and encounter tables, as well as brief descriptions of nearby settlements.

Over all, the union of classic and expanded material really makes this feel like a complete product. Firetop Mountain isn't just a solo dungeon anymore, it's a substantial and viable adventure location for AFF parties who fancy tackling the setting and villain that started it all. Bravo.

This pleases me to no end as its exactly the balance between faithfulness to the original gamebook and expanded material that I was aiming for.

For those that are interested, here is a link to a copy of the Pagan Plains map that I drew for the book.  I will upload some images of the dungeon maps in the near future.

Back with more soon!

EDIT: And I'm back! Here are some links to the dungeon maps:

I don't mind saying that I put a lot of work into these maps! If you'd like to take a closer look at any of them, just click on the 'Download' button to the right for the original hi-res image. There's lot of little details hidden away in the maps - let me know what you find!

Friday, May 30, 2014

He's back....

 Well, it's been a long time in the making, but my AFF adaption of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, that classic gamebook we all know and love, is about to be released. I started writing it about a year ago and intended for it to appear in an issue of Fighting Fantazine, but somehow we ended up here! The book features the classic illustrations of Russ Nicholson (including one or two little seen ones), the awesome Martin McKenna cover as well as some maps and other minor illustrations by yours truly. I will feature some closeup looks at some of these in a future post.

The book is a fairly faithful adaption of the original gamebook. I avoided adding any new pieces of lore to the FF world and instead tried to collate all of the various versions of The Warlock of Firetop that have been published over the years (the original gamebook, the Warlock magazine version, the boardgame, the Myriador d20 adaption - heck, even details from the Salamonis Gazette!) into one ultimate version of that iconic dungeon. Really the only version that I haven't included (I think) are the Nintendo DS game and the Commando Kiwi iphone game, and only because they vary so drastically from the original source material (and in my mind should be considered as alternate realities or perhaps future reinarcations of the infamous warlock - Son of Zagor anyone?).

Those lucky enough to attend the UKGamesExpo this weekend will have first dibs at the initial (very) limited print run. After that I believe it will be made available for purchase on the Arion Games website. I hope that you will all consider purchasing a copy and I look forward to your thoughts. Who knows, if it sells well enough you might be seeing The Citadel of Chaos before too long? If you have any questions, reviews, opinions, etc. on this I'd love to hear from you!

May your STAMINA never fail!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Parlez-vous français?

Scriptarium is doing an amazing job of publishing French language versions of the Advanced Fighting Fantasy range. Amazing because they are going above and beyond a simple direct translation. These guys have released gorgeous books with all new artwork (in colour and black & white, and with all new work by Russ Nicholson himself!), maps and text. Défis Fantastiques, the core rulebook, features an enormous all-new adventure that takes you from Salamonis, through Balthus Dire's Black Tower and beyond to Darkwood Forest. I'm afraid to say their work really puts the english language versions to shame!

For those that are interested, Scriptarium is currently running a funding drive for the publication of a French language version of Titan. As per usual, there will be a stack of new material, including another exclusive adventure and a map of the Old World (which features all new locations named by Steve Jackson and Jonathan Green). The project has already reached its goal, but every extra cent will go towards more artwork (featuring FF stalwarts Russ Nicholson, Malcom Barter, Bill Houston, John Sibbick and Steve Luxton) and better quality. Move quickly, however, for there isn't much time left before the funding drive comes to an end.

I have spent a little time going through Défis Fantastiques and trying to translate it as best I can. Results have been mixed, however, since I don't speak a lick of French and have been relying on Google Translate to do the hard work for me. The adventure I mentioned earlier features heaps of new information on the people and places of Titan, but some of the names have me stumped as to the correct translation. I am hoping someone reading this will know their way around the French language (or know someone who does) and can confirm what the correct translations are:

la Toison du Mouton-OursThe Bearsheep’s Fleece Inn?
Musiques ensorcelantesMagical Music?
Gargarpies - ???
Eaux DormantesDormant Waters, Still Waters?
Place de la MonnaiePlace of Money?
Trouée de BasseterreLowland Gap?
La MéandrineThe Meandering?
Crocheroc - ???
L’aubgerge de la plaineThe Plains Inn?
Foret de la DagueDagger Forest?
Collines du Loup Sinistre – Grimwolf Hills?
Plaines du PurgatoirePlains of Purgatory?
Riviere de l’Eau-de-FeuFirewater River?
Montagnes des Eternels PerdusMountains of the Eternally Lost?
Cotes du HurleventWindhowl Coast?
Collines du Cap-LointainHills of Cape Faraway?
Monts Du Dixieme JourMountains of the Tenth Step?
Plaine de la CicatricePlain of Scars?
Collines de l’Espoir PerduHills of Lost Hope?
Collines GenereusesGenerous Hills?
Steppes SinistresSinister Steppes?
Plaines de QuymmPlain of Quymm?
Dunes Sans FineEndless Dunes?
Les Terres Ameres - The Bitter Land
Le Des Engelures - Frostbite Isle
Le Doigt Blanc - The White Finger
Le Desolee - The Desolate Isle
Marais de Grogmyre - Grogmyre Swamp
Hauts de Bei-Han - Bei-Han Heights
Massif de l Effois - Mountains of Terror
Cote des Glaives - Sword Coast
Amphis - ??
Brindalphis - ??
Gunnarphis - ??

+6 LUCK points to anyone who can help me out!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Welcome, Adventurer...

My name is Brett Schofield and I am a self-confessed Fighting Fantasy Fanatic. I've been a fan of the enduring gamebook series since my dad loaned me his first edition copy of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain. The evocative setting, the incredible Russ Nicholson illustrations, the many ways you could die - I was instantly hooked. My Dad never got his book back and I have since added almost every Fighting Fantasy publication to my collection that I could get my hands on.

When we finally got the Internet once of the first things I did was search for Fighting Fantasy. There wasn't a great deal out there at the time, but the handful of fans that did exist quickly banded together and began re-exploring the world of Titan together. For my part I started JEDIboyy's Encylopaedia of Titan in late 2000, a couple of crappy HTML pages detailing the people, places and monsters from some of the later series' gamebooks. Together we formed the Rebuilding Titan group, and set about trying to bring some coherency to all the wildly different corners of the Fighting Fantasy world.

Fast-forward 14 years later (!) and I am still working at it. I have contributed an adventure to the awesome Fighting Fantazine webzine and have illustrated a couple of others. With a bit of luck another piece of my work will find its way to publication soon. Although I post very infrequently on the mailing list and forums, I have nevertheless been diligently scouring every Fighting Fantasy book that has been released and adding every minute detail to my ever-increasing database. And it is high time I started sharing some of my endeavours!

I have been thinking about starting a blog for a long time, but it is the recent appearance of Paltogue's excellent blog: The World of Fighting Fantasy that has finally spurred me to start one. I will post news and personal thoughts on the series, but I will try to focus on lore and Advanced Fighting Fantasy related material that I have pulled from my database. If there's a particular corner of Titan that you'd like me to focus on, let me know!

More soon; may your STAMINA never fail!