Saturday, 30 November 2013

The Allansian Adventurer

I don't know about you, but my favourite role in the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks has always been the 'Adventurer' - that nameless, wandering sword-for-hire who stalks the lands of Titan looking for adventure and gold, stopping every now and then in some more civilised place to rest, recover, and find a new mission. The Adventurer lives for the thrill of battle, the romance of the open plain, the glitter of gold, and the fame that comes with banishing evil wizards and mighty beasts. What's not to like?
An unnamed adventurer
OK, so the Adventurer is probably also a short-lived, rather smelly and generally unpleasant sociopath (borderline psychopath), kind of the opposite of what I try to be in real life, but maybe that's not so much of a problem if your home is the treacherous verminpit that is the world of Fighting Fantasy rather than the quiet suburbs of Britain.

I particularly associate this role with the early FF books set in northwest Allansia. Concentrating just on that continent in this post, the following gamebooks (not including the role-playing adventures, where you can choose to be whoever you want) cast you in the role of a nameless wandering Adventurer:
  • The Warlock of Firetop Mountain
  • Forest of Doom
  • City of Thieves
  • Deathtrap Dungeon
  • Island of the Lizard King
  • Caverns of the Snow Witch
  • Temple of Terror
  • Trial of Champions
  • Crypt of the Sorcerer
  • Slaves of the Abyss
  • Armies of Death (although you've gained a fortune and an army)
  • Return to Firetop Mountain
  • Night Dragon
  • Curse of the Mummy
  • Eye of the Dragon
It's conceivable that you are/were such an individual in Creature of Havoc too, but that fortune has taken some rather dramatic turns in recent times. Your characters in Tower of Destruction and Siege of Sardath are also adventurers but appear to be locally based ones rather than the prototypical wandering nameless Adventurer.

Of all of these, only three weren't written by Ian Livingstone (TWoFM was of course co-authored with Steve Jackson), and, as I've discussed already here, here and here, quite a few of these books form little sub-series within Fighting Fantasy. But is it possible to construct a coherent sequence of all of these adventures which would allow you to imagine yourself as a single Adventurer in all of them? Well, one day soon I might give it a try, but there are various difficulties involving the Zagor and the Galleykeep timelines, especially when you factor in the FF novels and AFF roleplaying adventures (which also add several other complexities). For now, it's easy enough to imagine the Blacksand/Fang series following on from the Stonebridge trilogy, perhaps with you coming back north from Vatos to Silverton (in which case, Crypt of the Sorcerer would be at some later date after Deathtrap Dungeon at least, maybe even after Armies of Death). Return to Firetop Mountain and, especially, Eye of the Dragon, are set quite a few years later than the other Livingstone adventures, whilst the start point of Curse of the Mummy (in Kaynlesh-Ma) suggests a possible tie-in with the Kallamehr based adventures. Night Dragon could be set at any time, as far as I can tell. I'll come back to the history of Zagor and the Galleykeep in future posts.

16 comments:

  1. The adventurer is also an irresponsible spendthrift who may have a gambling problem. This would explain that after getting untold wealth at the end of every book ,they start the next one with just a sword, some leather armour and 10 provisions. Of course in Armies of Death, you at least spend your money on something responsible (or even more sociopathic as you don't really know there's a nasty demon out there. You just want to kill things on a larger scale.)

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    1. @Stuart: "you at least spend your money on something responsible (or even more sociopathic as you don't really know there's a nasty demon out there. You just want to kill things on a larger scale.)"

      I love it! You're right, at the end of Trial of Champions, you essentially go 'Hell yeah, all this money means I can now invade and destroy stuff!'.

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    2. And either you're the luckiest adventurer alive or Allansia is such a crap place that if you get an army together to just randomly destroy stuff, you end up randomly saving the continent again from a Shadow Demon, making any sociopathic intent you had look completely heroic.

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    3. Well, if you think about it, around the years 283-285AC, you have Zagor, Balthus Dire, Zanbar Bone, the Snow Witch, Malbordus, Zharradan Marr, Razaak, Agglax and who knows who else all up to no good in the northwest corner of the continent, so my bets are that its a pity crap place for those who like the peaceful lifestyle.

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  2. Or the adventurer could be a philanthropist and donate all their wealth to various temples, religious orders, public works, or maybe just runs afoul of a tax collector! *grin*

    I've wondered myself if it would be possible to connect up all the books, and I very much doubt it's possible to reconcile the science fiction ones with the Titan-based ones... unless you throw Doctor Who into the mix!

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    1. They must be getting rid of the money one way or another - either they are gambling it, spending it on things that don't last, hording (even banking it), giving it away, or having it taken from them by fair means or foul. It's clear that earning the money is the fun part - having it is a bit of an anticlimax to the Adventurer.

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  3. Surely the plot of 'Spectral Stalkers' gives you the means to reconcile the SF titles with the fantasy ones (if you really wanted to).

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    1. @Klea, @JonGreen: Ha ha, now you're going too far!

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    2. I haven't done Spectral Stalkers yet.

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  4. Night Dragon could be set at any time, as far as I can tell.

    True. But I do like the fan theory I came across somewhere that it happens not long after Siege of Sardath, and the thwarting of the Dark Elf sorcerer in that is what leaves the Dark Elves unable to deal with the Night Dragon themselves.

    Not that that would make any difference to the timeline you're trying to construct here.

    As for Klea and Jon Green's comments, for years I've maintained that Spectral Stalkers is the best Doctor Who gamebook ever published. Mr. Green's The Horror of Howling Hill is certainly one of the better gamebooks to actually feature the Doctor, but Stalkers just captures the ethos of the series in a way that none of the official tie-in gamebooks ever have.

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    1. @Ed: "But I do like the fan theory I came across somewhere that it happens not long after Siege of Sardath, and the thwarting of the Dark Elf sorcerer in that is what leaves the Dark Elves unable to deal with the Night Dragon themselves."

      Brilliant! I hadn't thought of any such thing (to be honest, I don't know either of those two books inside out, having got them much later than most others, which is something I should change).

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  5. I remember reading a theory that the hero of Forest of Doom and Temple of Terror is Flaxenmane of Silverton, the adventurer sent in to Marr's mines to recover the vapours (and who comes to a sticky end). The reasoning is that he wears a winged helmet, like the the hero of FoD gets for returning the warhammer and, after defeating Malbordus, he would probably be of sufficient renown to be the one sent on such an important mission.

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    1. Now that's something I'd never heard of! What a great idea. I'll have to look into it some more. Thanks Kieran!

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  6. Linking the adventures was something that I was very keen on doing back in the day. I even kept a journal of sorts in the 10th Anniversary Year Book. Reading it back now (with much embarrassment and cringing at the childish scribbles) I can see that my adventures, rather conveniently, started on January 1st (which was a Stormsday by Allansian reckoning if anyone is interested.)

    It apparently all began with me on trial for robbing some fat merchant then being sent on the mission to Fire Top Mountain as some sort of rehabilitating punishment. My adventures then continue in the order, TWoFM, CoTSW, FoD,ToT, CoTS, interspersed with vague descriptions of escorting merchant convoys and cargo barges. For some reason the narrative ends at the beginning of CoTS, presumably I was never able to complete it.

    My god! I have specifically noted that I have deposited my treasures at a bank in Salamonis. I'd forgotten all about that. I'll have to go and check. 21 years with compound interest means I must be rolling in dosh. Perhaps, while I'm at it, I'll finally visit Fang. I hear that some creepy baron puts on an annual circus or something

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    1. I love it! I think we all imagined something similar, though maybe not as well worked out. I'd be worried about your money though - in 21 years, there's a lot of time for bank robberies, bank collapse, theft by the bankers, etc. etc. I wouldn't be surprised if you turned up and they pretended they didn't know who you were. Perhaps there was a subclause that after a certain time you would be assumed dead and the money would default to the bank?!

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    2. Ha, a point well made. Anything could have happened in Allansia over the last two decades. No doubt I'll find that The Bank Of Salamonis is a pile of rubble with some sorceror's obsidian fortress growing out of it....or something. Now that's what I call a financial crisis!

      *Goes rummaging in the garden tool shed for a rusty old sword with which the word of fiscal responsibilty can be spread.

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