I missed out…
Somehow I completely missed out on the Fighting Fantasy:series (FF) gamebooks during their initial run. Probably, since I was already playing AD&D, T&T, and DQ, the solitary fun of the gamebooks was not as appealing as the social fun of tabletop RPGs, and what little desire I had for something like gamebooks was was more than adequately served by T&T solo adventures. In any case, I never owned any FF gamebooks until I picked up the 2003 iBooks reprints of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain and The Citadel of Chaos.
…but Internet RPG Forums are amazing
I had run across a mention of a Fighting Fantasy RPG, somewhere (probably on rpg.net), and eventually figured out it was Fighting Fantasy — The Introductory Role-playing Game (FF:TIRpG) and purchased a copy from a used bookstore online. It was easy to find, as I recall. 1
Mechanically it is the system from the FF gamebooks, but with explanations for new tabletop gamers of how to use it for tabletop gaming. It is actually a nice introductory RPG, but it was a little too simple for the game I wanted, and my interested stopped there for a while.
At some point I figured out (again, probably by reading on rpg.net) that the Advanced Fighting Fantasy RPG was a different set of books from the FF RPG, with a more detailed system, and it was probably what I should have been looking for instead of FF:TIRpG, but my interest had fall asleep; no doubt in part because the third book of the set, Allansia, was reputedly difficult and expensive to get. 2
However, the Arion Games edition (AFF2e) published in 2011 reawakened my interest. I got that edition, and liked the system and setting, but wondered how different it was to the original AFF. Eventually I decided I wanted to compare AFF2e to the original AFF, so it was back to the Internet bookstores. Dungeoneer and Blacksand! were relatively easy to find (Dungeoneer in particular), but an relatively affordable copy of Allansia was more difficult. Eventually I was successful. Yesterday Allansia arrived, and today Blacksand! arrived.
At My Table
I'm planning to use AFF as my pickup game with the kids, the game we play when something else has to be canceled, too few players are available, or I'm just too tired to play anything more complicated. I'm looking to make use of the Titan setting, with all its over-the-top fantasy elements.
I'm going to start with the original FF RPG, play that for a few sessions, add in the stuff from Dungeoneer, then Blacksand!, then Allansia, maybe all in the same episodic campaign. Eventually I'll transition to another campaign, using the AFF 2e rules. At the end of it all I should be able to do a good comparison of all three rules sets. Maybe then I'll do an actual review, but don't hold your breath.
Fighting Fantasy and Advanced Fighting Fantasy RPG Bibliography
Fighting Fantasy — The Introductory Role-playing Game (FF:TIRpG)
The system in Fighting Fantasy - The Introductory Role-playing Game is pretty much the same as in the Fighting Fantasy game books.
The game calls the person who ‘controls’ the game the GameMaster or GM (p. 11). The player characters are called “adventureres” (p. 9, 10).
Fighting Fantasy — The Introductory Role-playing Game (copyright 1984 by Steve Jackson; ISBN 0-14-031709-0), and
These are standard mass-market paperbacks, 11×17.6 cm, 4¼×6⅞ in.
There were also the Fighting Fantasy Manuals, a couple of books detailing the monsters and world of the FF gamebooks: Out of the Pit and Titan. These are large format paperbacks, A4 sized (around US Letter sized).
Out of the Pit, Fighting Fantasy Monsters (copyright 1985 by Marc Gascoigne, Steve Jackson, and Ian Livingstone; ISBN ISBN 0-14-031999-9), and
Titan, The Fighting Fantasy World (copyright 1986 by Marc Gascoigne, Steve Jackson, and Ian Livingstone; ISBN 0-14-032127-6) detailing the Fighting Fantasy world).
Advanced Fighting Fantasy (AFF)
Advanced Fighting Fantasy took the role-playing system from the gamebooks and FF:TIRpG and developed them in more detail, adding ‘Special Skills', which allow characters to more skilled in specific areas than just their general SKILL, a magic system, a couple of mass battle systems, etc.
The game uses the metaphor of making a fantasy movie, so the person running the game is called the Director (p. 11) and the player characters are called Heroes (p. 9).
Dungeoneer (text copyright 1989 by Marc Gascoigne and Pete Tamlyn; ISBN 0-14-032936-6),
Blacksand! (text copyright 1990 by Marc Gascoigne and Pete Tamlyn; ISBN 0-14-034396-2), and
Allansia (text copyright 1994 by Marc Gascoigne and Pete Tamlyn; ISBN 0-14-036051-4),
These were published as paperbacks approximately 13×20 cm, about 5×7¾ in. There were matching releases of Out of the Pit and Titan to go along with the new game, in the same size.
Out of the Pit, Fighting Fantasy Monsters (copyright 1985 by Marc Gascoigne, Steve Jackson, and Ian Livingstone; ISBN 0-14-034131-5), and
Titan, The Fighting Fantasy World (copyright 1986 by Marc Gascoigne, Steve Jackson, and Ian Livingstone; ISBN 0-14-034132-3) detailing the Fighting Fantasy world).
Advanced Fighting Fantasy, 2nd edition (AFF2e)
Advanced Fighting Fantasy, The Roleplaying Game, 2nd edition (copyright 2011 by Graham Bottley, Steve Jackson, and Ian Livingston; ISBN 978-0-85744-067-9),
Out of the Pit (copyright 1985; Arion Games edition 2011, ISBN 978-0-85744-068-6), and
Titan, (copyright 1986; Arion Games edition 2011, ISBN 978-9-85744-069-3).
These paperbacks are approximately 21.5×28 cm, pretty much exactly 8.5×11 in. These editions of Out of the Pit and Titan are essentially straight reprints.
I don't know if FF:TIRpG was easy to find because they printed so many of it, or if it was just part of the large print runs they used to use in general.
I suspect that Allansia was published late enough that print runs in general had shrunk in size considerably, even if the print run for Allansia in particular was small simply because it was the third book in the AFF RPG series, which was bound to make it less popular than the gamebooks in any case.