Friday, December 17, 2010

Fighting Fantasy: Book Outline

I've written before about the Fighting Fantasy series. As limited and childish as the format seems to be, there's something about this stuff that remains fascinating to me. It's something that involves writing, games, world-creating and, usually, horrible creatures and monsters. The possibilities ought to be endless! But in practice, things usually tend to go down the same old route of sub-Tolkien stories involving medieval towns with inns, boring old orcs and dragons, and zero character development.

I wrote quite a few FF-type adventures when I was a kid, and some I even printed and bound and lovingly added illustrations to with coloured markers. I always figured that I wasn't the only one. Now, it turns out that there's a smallish but dedicated online presence for FF. Lots of amateur adventures, of varying quality, are now easily available from the net. Because most of these have been written by people who enjoyed FF back in its heyday, the format and themes of these adventures tends to be pretty similar to the standard FF books.

In my big 'ol book of story ideas, I stumbled upon an outline for a FF book I wrote some time ago during a phase when I was particularly interested in Asian culture and bad kung-fu movies. Sword of the Samurai seemingly not doing the trick, I felt that this was a subject that would suit the gamebook format perfectly. The themes of training hard, mastering techniques and kicking ass were what I had in mind. Though there's still little in the way of character development here (maybe I intended that to be added later, hmm), I still think there's enough interesting ideas here swiped from kung-fu movies to make a decent gamebook.

So here, unabridged, direct from my notebook:


-you choose between 2 skills.

(a) The ability to defy gravity and leap through the air as though weightless

(b) The ability to blend into the darkness of the night and approach enemies undetected

In either case, you will gain experience points for fighting

You begin on a small island. A local crime syndicate has come to your village to extract taxes. You must locate their secret underground tournament and compete to win the freedom of the village. In the village, you fight petty gangsters, visit a shop, infiltrate a minor enemy base and fight armoured fighters and kill a minor boss to learn where the tournament is. It's being held underground beneath the town hall. People are cheering and betting. You must defeat 3 increasingly tough warriors, each with different styles (crane, mantis, etc). After you win this tournament, you have the option to get off with a peasant girl (nice). While in the village, you can visit a friend who is thinking of joining the syndicate, she tries to convince you that it might not be so bad.

You head to the mainland, looking for the far-off city where the crime syndicate is located. This continent is vast and untamed. There are 2 main routes. One is through unknown territory- you will face off against hordes of horrors- giant monitor lizards (what?), zombies, will-o-the-wisps (one of my old favourites), goatmen and hook-handed killers (note the urban legend references). But you'll gain plenty of experience.

The other route takes you up a lonely mountain. At the top, a hermit gives you training (if your experience is high enough) for five years. He gives you a tattoo to prove you have passed. This tattoo will mean that several future encounters will play differently, as more time has passed (I still like this mechanic). You will also gain the opportunity to get a map for a castle.

When you get to the city you must get past the guards in order to enter as the city has been taken over by the syndicate. If you can leap, there is an air-battle through the trees with many guards after you (House of Flying Daggers, anyone?). You then enter through a back entrance. Otherwise, you can sneak-attack them, or fight them outright for more experience points.

The boss hides out in a big, obvious castle in the centre of town. If you have enough experience, you can try and join the syndicate. They will not accept you if you have the tattoo, in which case you will have to fight your way in (more experience).

If more time has passed, the castle will be roughed up with lots of wear and tear. If you have the map, you will know how to get into the depths of the castle. Otherwise, you have to move up through a couple of floors. There will be in infinite loop of warriors to destroy you. If you die, you get sent to the underworld for a trial; if you succeed, you'll be given another chance and sent back to an earlier point in the adventure (and back in time, if necessary). If 5 years have passed, then you will have to fight your friend from the village, who has now become a gang member.

If the gang don't accept you because of a lack of experience, or if you try anything funny after being accepted, they will punish you. You expect them to chop off your finger (any amount of sources for this, but I probably saw it first in Showdown in Little Tokyo) but instead they will cut off your hands as a trophy and your adventure ends.

You move down through the underground levels of the castle, fighting goons and a featured villain on each floor (like in The Big Boss). If 5 years have passed, the final boss will be aged and somewhat fearful because he will have heard of your reputation.

Otherwise, he's never heard of you and is very condescending.

Either way, in the final battle he becomes a dragon-creature. You fight on a stage in front of his minions. If you have certain items, a double-roll will do extra damage against him. Every second round, roll an extra dice because the building will be on fire and you may be hurt (your nemesis knocks over a candlestick).


So there it is. Sounds like the best damn gamebook of all time. Will it ever be written? I didn't even get to the mapping stage, to be honest.

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