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Fighting Fantasy and me

The Early Years
There I was, a small wide eyed boy of just eight years of age walking through Toyworld. I was looking at the remote control cars, "Hornet", "Wild One" and "Grasshopper", truly inspiring names! As I turned to find my father, I noticed a display I had not seen before. It had books in it. Books in a toy store? Something was amiss here.
So over I trundled to investigate the book stand only to be blown away by the facinating cover pictures they had. A skeleton holding a scythe riding a horse and lightning immediatly caught my attention. It reminded me of "Iron Maiden" posters and covers I always looked at in the music store. Another had a orange monster with tentacles and a jewel in its head bursting out of slime. Another had a huge multi-headed monster attacking a tiny ship. These pictures were awesome!
My Dad, easily bored in a toy store, noticed my sudden interest in the fantasy books, and said he would buy me one. One? How was an indecisive child like me supposed to choose one? Easy, narrow it down to five and pick one at random. Five minutes later I left the store with Rebel Planet tucked under my arm.
As soon as I got home I began to draw up an adventure sheet (I didn't want to write in the book). After reading the long introduction I set off on my quest to save humanity from the evil Arcadians. Somewhere along the line I turned to the wrong reference and completed the book, after reading only twenty or so references. Thinking "that was easy", I put the book away and went to kick the footy outside. I tried to repeat the victory again later only to be denied again, and again, and again. Frustrated that I could not finish it a second time, I began to hate Rebel Planet, but at the same time I wanted another book to see if it was easier and if it was better. It was not long after that Seas of Blood joined Rebel Planet on my bookshelf. Soon after that, I was addicted.
The thing I remember most about the early years was the huge amount of cheating I used to beat the books. I got rid of the dice (one way to stop yourself dying), claimed to have items which I did not really have (yes of course I have all 5 dragon artifacts) or just randomly flicking through books and reading paragraphs in hope I would find some clue to get me past where I was stuck. Any book I still could not beat, I hated (Crypt of the Sorceror, Rebel Planet, Creature of Havoc, Slaves of the Abyss).
Four years of hardcore collecting, and finally my interest began to wane. Why? Just a little thing called an "Amiga 500" computer. Games like Speedball and Menace took the space in my life that was once filled by Fighting Fantasy.

Favorites during the early years: Seas of Blood, Talisman of Death, Masks of Mayhem, Trail of Champions and Island of the Lizard King.

The Middle Ages
After the introduction of the Amiga, my interest in Fighting Fantasy came sporadically. I often bought books in spurts, not consistently as in the early days. My cheating became more refined (reading the start of every reference to find what the damn number of the item is) and I conquered more books, some legitimately, but never with dice. Soon I only had one book left in my (incomplete) collection to beat: Creature of Havoc. I set aside one weekend to beat this monster and, ironically, beat it by mapping and for once I did not cheat a single bit.
Finally, I decided to stop collecting the series and not bother buying another Fighting Fantasy book again. I was seventeen and had had every gamebook 1 through to 51. The latest book was numbered 54. I was close to my boyhood dream of having the complete set, but why bother? They would keep releasing more books and I would have to keep buying them, which I had no interest in doing anymore. So I ended my collection there, every gamebook up to 51. Not the set, but my set. And that was it, I was content and doubted I would ever buy another Fighting Fantasy book.

Favourites durimg the middle ages: Master of Chaos, Battleblade Warrior, Slaves of the Abyss, Stealer of Souls and Starship Traveller.

Completing the Set
In my second year of University I toyed with the idea of selling my set. Over 50 books, near complete, it must be worth something, and I had no need for them anymore. Why not sell them and get some fast cash? I also wondered how far the set had gone now, so out pure interest I went into a bookstore to see what number the latest gamebook was.
"59? That is pathetic, I would have thought they would be 65-70 by now easy. What is this? Revenge of the Vampire? Count Reiner Heydrich has returned eh? I wouldn't mind kicking his tail again. Ah, what the hell!"
After beating the Count a second time, I looked up Fighting Fantasy on the internet to have my beliefs confirmed, the series was finished and out of print, ending at 59. What do I do next? Without a glimmer of doubt in my mind, I decided to complete my dream and collect the entire set. I was hooked all over again.
After much chasing around, I finally found the remaining books, completing the series when I eventually found the elusive Legend of ZAGOR. I completed all the books over again, this time with no cheating whatsoever. I used the dice for the first time since I began collecting. From the thoughts of sale, Fighting Fantasy sprung a new life and I think I will be forever addicted.

Favourite Books: Legend of the Shadow Warriors, Crypt of the Sorceror, Moonrunner, Slaves of the Abyss and Trial of Champions.

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