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Fighting Fantasy – an easy way to role-play
Fighting Fantasy is the title given to a series of interactive novels also known as Gamebooks. Each book includes an individual adventure. All Fighting Fantasy books are divided into several hundreds of paragraphs. Instead of reading the book directly from the beginning to the end, the reader should follow the instructions given in each paragraph.

In Fighting Fantasy books the readers participate and affect the outcome of the story with their choices. The readers have to make choices and concentrate on guiding their fictional characters through the book's adventure, which often involves tricks, traps, riddles, encounters and combat. In practice, this means that the readers read a paragraph and are usually given several options to choose from. Based on their decision, they move to some other paragraph (the number of which is given along with the option). Choices range wildly from something simple like “If you wish to go north, turn to 324. Otherwise, go to 13.” to much more complex alternatives.

The thing that makes Fighting Fantasy books so easy to use is the unique game system: the only materials the reader/player needs are two six-sided dice, a pencil, an eraser and a gaming sheet which can be copied from the beginning of any book.

Fighting Fantasy adventures were originally planned to be played alone, but they can also be used with groups or as a base to some other role-play. One – quite simple – way to use the books with groups is the following:

1. Gather a group (or take the FF book with you when you go and hold a recreational class).
2. Give the instructions (what it is about).
3. Create characters (as the book instructs).
4. Start reading/playing.

For me – when using the Fighting Fantasy books with the groups – the main objective is to teach and to improve the group’s working. As the reader (in these cases me) can only turn to one option given in each paragraph, the participants must make a single decision together. Usually this involves a lot of conversation and most likely someone has to give up his/her own opinion for the sake of the group.

My secondary objective is to improve the tolerance for failures. As the book’s adventure goes on according to the decisions made, it is possible that sometimes it leads to an unwanted result. In these cases, it is as it is. The group made the decisions and they must also bear the consequences. Occasionally this means that the adventuring characters end up dead and the group must start all over again. Failures belong to this kind of game.

Having said that, the most important thing when playing – either alone or with a group – is to have fun. A little bit of excitement is not a bad thing, either. In my opinion, the Fighting Fantasy books can be read and played with any kind of groups – excluding very young children; this could be too exciting for them. Probably the most auspicious target group would be children (especially boys) aged from eight to twelve.

More information about Fighting Fantasy books and the gaming can be found from

Text and pictures by: Marja "Patsi" Pohjonen, a student of Culture and Arts

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