Tuesday, 26 April 2011

What Shall We Do with a Stylish Blogger?

So Stuart, over at Lloyd of Gamebooks, picked this fledgling blog for the above award. The award comes with the following rules:

1. Thank and link back to the person giving you the award.
2. Share seven things about yourself.
3. Select 10-15 blogs who you think deserve this award.
4. Contact these bloggers and let them know about the award.

1. Done. Do I need to say anymore? Oh, alright... Stuart is busy blogging about gamebooks and what makes them tick. Head over and let the man know what you make of his thoughts.

2. Seven things? I've not even sure there are seven things to know about me, but we'll give it a go.

1. I'm a huge fan of Doctor Who and have been since I joined the local fan club at the end of 1989.
2. My favourite colour is green.
3. I've not met a single person who hasn't described my taste in music as being rubbish. Pick a band/singer you hate and there is a good chance I'll like a song of theirs (as long as I've actually heard of them).
4. I'm a Liverpool supporter.
5. I've recently taken up karate (orange belt here I come).
6. Worked as a porter/chef in the UK and as an English teacher in Japan.
7. I'm a fan of The Goon Show.

3. 10-15 blogs! I'm sort of new to this...

1. Jetsam

That'll do.

Next post will probably be announcing the release of issue #6...

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Competition - Sneak Peek

Coming in issue #6 is a competition based around the Advanced Fighting Fantasy (AFF) role-playing system (which gets relaunched next month from Arion Games and Cubicle 7 Entertainment). You will be asked to design an AFF mini adventure (exact requirements for the competition are listed in the forthcoming issue) that will be printed in a later issue of the magazine. Plus, there are some further goodies up for grabs for the winner!

So, get your thinking caps on and fire up your imaginations!

Friday, 15 April 2011

Everything I Need to Know I Learnt from Reading Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks: Part 4 - Sneak Peek

With less than two weeks now till the release of issue #6, it is time for another peek. This time it comes from Ed Jolley's "Everything I Need to Know I Learnt from Reading Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks" series of articles which covers Puffin gamebooks #31~40.

Stealer of Souls

Go charging into the cottage to rescue the prisoner within, and you get a 16-ton weight in the face (note: actual weight may be less Pythonesque). Show caution when approaching the next prisoner you encounter, and this gives the concealed Dark Priest time to hit you with a very nasty spell. Sometimes, the only thing you learn from making mistakes is how to make different ones.
Moral: What works best in one place might not be so suitable for another.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

You Have to Start Somewhere

My "Editor's hat" is telling me this should really be an entry in the new "The Magic Quest" column, but I figure since I'm only going to cover a small moment in my journey as a Fighting Fantasy fan that I'm okay and won't have to growl at myself for giving it all away on this blog.

City of Thieves was my first encounter with the Fighting Fantasy series, having been allowed to pluck it from the local bookshop (now a shoe store) shelf in January 1987 for my birthday. Presumably I must have been eyeing up the books before then, otherwise I'm unsure as to why I would have picked the book. 1987 would also be the year I started buying the Target Doctor Who novelisations, but that is a whole different story... Those were great days, with this huge display shelf full of books seemingly aimed at me filled to the brim with Doctor Who, Fighting Fantasy, Lone Wolf etc.

So, book in hand, I entered the world of Titan and like so many others was quickly enamoured of the artwork of Iain McCaig. The nubile body of the Serpent Queen had an interesting (!) effect on my young male mind, as did the fetching Vampiress elsewhere in the book, and I spent forever at school scribbling away on pieces of paper fruitlessly trying to replicate McCaig's mastery of skulls (evidence of my failure to master them myself is easily seen in my art for Resurrection of the Dead in issue #1). I assume it is because art so immediately grabs one's attention that I tried my hand at that first, as I don't recall any attempts to pen my own adventures at this stage.

The adventure itself was played repeatedly, over and over again. If I recall correctly it was the Hag's hair that eluded me for the longest time till I finally found that entrance to the sewer. Of course, then I needed a Potion of Mind Control... Suffice it to say, the book didn't survive the year. Having been so well loved and read, and its poor spine so utterly creased (which happens when you need to lay the book flat to write on the Adventure Sheet), the book fell apart into chunks. I employed sticky tape to prolong the life of the book, but, after limping along on such life support for a few more months, I finally conceded that the book was indeed beyond salvation. Luckily, I was given a new copy of the same book exactly a year after the first, for the following birthday. It was time to slay Zanbar Bone all over again...

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Getting Started - That Cover

A very short post today, but...

I did a little digging and here it is, the cover I originally pitched to the Titan Rebuilding team!

Saturday, 9 April 2011

The Fact of Fiction: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain - Sneak Peek

Another sneak peek, this time from "The Fact of Fiction" article on The Warlock of Firetop Mountain.
At the river the hero negotiates the cost of passage to the other bank.
• Is the Ferryman seen here a nod to the Greek mythological character Charon, whose job it was to ferry the souls of the dead from the lands of the living to the world of the dead? One could attempt to build a case for the two parts of the book perhaps mirroring this division between the lands of the living (before the river) and the dead (after the river). This is because despite meeting none before the river crossing, the player encounters four different forms of the undead after crossing the river in the form of Zombies (see 122), a Vampire (see 17), a Wight (see 41), and a Ghoul (see 64)! Meanwhile, traditionally a coin would be placed in or on the mouth of the body of dead person to allow them to pay Charon for the crossing of the River Styx (see “The Fact of Fiction” in issue #4). That would make the Ferryman’s comment about inflation raising the price to 3 Gold Pieces even more amusing, rather than perhaps simply being perhaps a riff on the inflation the UK had suffered through in the late 1970s where prices rose by 25% per annum.
• The river was also the point at which Livingstone handed the story over to Jackson, who wrote everything north of the river as well as doing a polish of the whole book after it was pointed out by Puffin editor Philippa Dickinson that there was a noticeable change in writing style at that point.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Getting Started - The Pitch

So, how did this monstrosity get started?

After editing and posting (available for a month only and never again) compilations edits of the various Fighting Fantasy mini adventures in April 2009 (the pic above is the cover of the first of the five editions released), it was just a small step from that to the idea of a fan magazine. So, at the end of that same April, I posted this proposal to the Titan Rebuilding Yahoo! group:

"Fighting Fantasy" Fan Magazine Proposal
* Presented as a downloadable .pdf file (rapidshare?)
* A4 size page layout
* 56 pages?
* Biannual? / Quarterly?
* Editorial team: Overall / News / Pit / Archive / Interview / Art / Mini-FF?
* Colour Cover Art (Front & Back)
* B&W interior art
* "Omens and Auguries" - FF & other role-playing gamebook news (+ Titannica news?)
* "Out of the Pit" - 4 monsters from the world of FF (mix of monsters from post-OOTP FF gamebooks/mini-ffs & fan ones?)
* "The Arcane Archive" - reviews of FF & other role-playing gamebooks (colour cover scans)
* Mini-Adventure (200 refs with 6 minor b&w illustrations and 15 full page b&w illustrations)
* Interview with FF writer/artist (with colour photo of person interviewed)
* Articles about Titan
* Other regular features? (letters page, multi-player mini-ffs, Titan-based fiction?)
* Myself as overall editor + possibly interviewer. Also able to contribute some b&w art
* Per Jorner perhaps as Archive reviewer?
* Team from Titannica taking turns with articles about Titan
In a later post I then summarised the feedback I'd received:
Issues per year.
Most think 1~2 sounds right, which is a number I'm happy with and think can be managed (I have another fanzine that comes out about that often so I have some idea of the workload involved, especially since it is 56 pages per issue). If the responsibility for the bulk of the content is spread about then it shouldn't be too difficult to put an issue together. Only 1~2 a year also means that producing a mini-ff is more likely, but also we can cut/delay a mini-ff and simply do an issue without if need be.
Here I was thinking of original art. While my mini-ff compilations are a fun exercise, for the fanzine it would be prudent to keep the contents (bar that it is based on the FF system and world) original. I'm happy to supply some of the art and thought that if it (like the text) was split between different people it would make producing it easier.
(with rough page allocations)
*Cover (1 page)
*Guff (1)
*Contents/Editorial (1)
*"Omens and Auguries" (2)
*"Out of the Pit" (2~3)
*"The Arcane Archive" (2~4)
*Interview (8)
*Fiction (2~3)
*Article (3~4)
*Mini-FF (20)
*Back Cover (1)
This gives roughly 53 pages. (Mini-ff estimate based on average space taken in "Warlock"). 
Division of Labour
Art: 4 artists per issue (1 for colour cover art, 1 for general interior b&w art, 1 for mini-ff* and 1 for OOTP)
Text: 7 writers to cover OOTP, O&A, TAA, Interview, Article, Mini-FF*, Fiction
*This would presumably have the biggest workload of an issue.
Flying Pigs
All of this is currently just pie in the sky thinking, an idea I thought might be nice to try. Till people actually sit down and work out what they think they abel to do/can commit to time/effort-wise it can't really progress further. As noted, I'm happy to assemble each issue and do the overall editing, but wouldn't be able to produce the entire contents myself. I'm also willing to tackle the interviews, some art and the occasional mini-ff.

I then followed it up another post later on which had a teasing image showcasing a possible design for the cover (the image below is the revised version I posted instead of the original, as in the original the magazine was called 400 and mini adventure titled Night of the Necromancer - a title then pinched with permission by Jonathan Green):

The magazine was on its way!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Artist Spotlight - Natalie Gingerboom

Today is the first in an irregular series of posts that will briefly highlight the various talented artists whose works help lift Fighting Fantazine up to be something other than a very dense chunk of text.

To kick off, we turn the spotlight on Natalie Gingerboom.

The magazine was first put in touch with Natalie after her contribution to an art competition on the official website which depicted Zanbar Bone and his Moondogs (from City of Thieves). Andrew Wright, our "Out of the Pit" wrangler spotted her talent and got in touch, directing her to the newly released first issue of the magazine. She sent an email and before the week was out she'd signed over her soul and was hard at work on the cover for issue #2.

Since then she's been hard at work studying illustration at University, and you can visit her blog to take a peek at her non-Fighting Fantasy efforts.

In an effort to keep her from drowning in study we've kept her busy ourselves, with Natalie doing the back cover for issue #3 and most recently the front cover for issue #5 (which she discusses on her blog and a bit of which I've nicked for the logo at the top of this blog).

Fans can look forward to more of her artistic efforts as she contributes to issue #7, currently planned for release in July...

Sunday, 3 April 2011


I've had a query about deadlines, which ties in nicely with an email I sent out to previous/current contributors at the end of last week. Basically what I was trying to communicate was, if you have something to submit (or an idea you want to thrash out as a possible submission), then getting it in to me sooner rather than later is better. The reason for this is that I am trying to block out (assign space in other words) future issues and if you want something to appear in one of those issues now is the time to send it on in!

The magazine does have deadlines. Here is a few now:

Issue #7 - June 24th, 2011 for publication in July
Issue #8 - August 26th, 2011 for publication in October
Issue #9 - November 25th, 2011 for publication in January 2012

These don't mean you should have your first draft in to me by then. Ideally those dates represent when final drafts should be reaching my mailbox.

Enough said, I think. If on the other hand you think I've forgotten to address something to do with deadlines and/or submissions to the mag, write a comment below!

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Turn to Paragraph 400 - Sneak Peek

Time for another sneak peek, this time from the second half of the survey results. This time around we look at the mini adventures, the role-playing game and Advanced Fighting Fantasy, the novels and other materials, as well as learning your favourite pieces of cover and interior art. The results also cover favourite villain, favourite creature, favourite artist and writer.

There is also "most wanted reprint" (which out of print do you most want back in circulation), "most wanted author" (who you'd like to see pen the next new title), and a list of writers you'd love to see write for the series. We round that part out with where in Titan you'd like to see the next book set, and which genres you like beyond fantasy.

We also asked about the magazine itself (and you had the first 3 issues to vote on). We learnt your favourite feature and the image at the top of the post was voted your favourite piece of fan art. It is from the mini adventure Shrine of the Salamander in issue #2 and the artwork was by Brett Schofield. Congratulations Brett!

Finally, the results round out with what you'd like to see in future issues and who was voted "most important contributor" to the Fighting Fantasy range.

Get a hold of a copy of issue #6 when it is published to find out all the results...