My revised reading challenge for 2017 is to focus upon what a GM can take from the books I read. I lift out characters, events, creatures, plots or themes from each book. As a GM, you still need to read the book to gain the most benefit, but each review brings a few ideas for the GM.
My latest book to review is Fighting Fantasy RPG, by Steve Jackson. This paperback book was published by Puffin in 1984, but seems to have fallen out of print. The Fighting Fantasy website describes it as follows:
The world of Fighting Fantasy, peopled by Orcs, dragons, zombies and vampires, has captured the imagination of millions of readers world-wide. Thrilling adventures of sword and sorcery come to life in the Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks, where the reader is the hero, dicing with death and demons in search of villains, treasure or freedom. Now YOU can create your own Fighting Fantasy adventures and send your friends off on dangerous missions! In this clearly written handbook, there are hints on devising combats, monsters to use, tricks and tactics, as well as two mini-adventures complete with Games Master’s notes for you to start with.
Fighting Fantasy is the ideal introduction to the fast-growing world of role-playing games, and literally countless adventures await you!”
I found this in the National Trust second-hand bookshop at Belton House. I bought it as a nostalgia trip, as I remember playing the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks during the early eighties, notably Citadel of Chaos and Forest of Doom. Finding the rules expanded into a simple RPG was very appealing, as a way to re-live my experiences with these clever books.
For the GM
Firstly, this book is a simple RPG. The rules are very light, every Hero has only three stats: Skill, Stamina and Luck. For combat, roll 2D6 and add Skill, highest total wins and decreases Opponent’s Stamina. Luck is a diminishing resource which can add small bonuses to an outcome. If I had not already started teaching the boys how to play Basic D&D, then I would be tempted to use this simple RPG instead.
Along with the rules, the book has a section on running the game. Fighting Fantasy is aimed at beginner gamers, so includes a lot of useful GM advice. Admittedly, the tone is very old school, and assumes dungeon-based adventures. This book is a product of its times, but much of the advice remains useful, especially to OSR GMs.
Finally, there are two sample dungeons at the back of the book. Almost every room in the dungeon is accompanied by a full-page, black-and-white illustration. As the rules and statistics are so simple, these dungeons are ripe for conversion. I plan to make a few notes, then run the boys through these dungeons over the summer.
- The previous GM Reads was Tales from the Vulgar Unicorn, edited by Robert Asprin
- The next book reviewed was Seeking North, by CJ Cherryh, Lynn Abbey and Jane Fancher