12 Days of the UK OSR Day 4: Advanced Fighting Fantasy

Ok so I’ve slipped with keeping this daily. It no longer tallies with the 12 days of XMAS, oh dear. Whoops!

I will however patriotically soldier on with one review-let a day, with gaps for when I’m feeling pathologically lazy/worn out with the world/busy doing real d101 sorting out etc.

So onwards.

Silly old me forgot to mention Fighting Fantasy in my intro piece. “How could you!?!” you weep. Well I was focusing on RPGs and FF fine as it was and entry point and inspiration for us Brits into the wider field of D&D land was never a RPG. Well not my snobby 15 year old mind.  I kinda played with the nice Fighting Fantasy RPG, a simple but effective affair by Steve Jackson with a Tiger-Man-Thing jumping out of an exploding dice as a cover. I ran it once for my younger brother, which successfully introduced him to RPGs. Otherwise ignored it in favour for D&D. I was dimly aware of Advanced Fighting Fantasy by Marc Gascoigne when it came out, but I was bedazzled by the brilliance of RuneQuest at the time so it never registered. “Its not a proper role-playing game, its for Kids”, forgetting but five minutes ago I had been one of those kids.  Verily was I in my Kevin the Teenager phase.

So when Arion Games republished Advanced Fighting Fantasy as a 2nd Edition to much fanfare with a publishing deal with Cubicle 7 (which means it gets into your local gaming store), I felt honour bound to do my bit for Queen and Country and pick up a copy.

And I liked what I saw 🙂

Highlights for me personally.

  • Lots of Russ Nicholson art (YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!)
  • The basic Fighting Fantasy game book system, expanded in all sorts of fun common sense ways.  For example basic FF has all damage being 2 stamina and Armour is never a factor.  Adv FF allows you to roll D6 to determine damage by weapon and reduces it by Armour type which again you roll a D6 against a short easy table (which you copy to your character sheet). There’s also a very groovy random dungeon creation method as well.
  • Its a complete RPG which is very newcomer friendly without being patronising. You could buy this for somebody new to RPGs and they could easily run a game with it. There’s tons of examples, advice, lots of print off and play example characters, and a couple of adventures. All squeezed in with a very inclusive system – monsters, GMs guidance, setting info, full magic systems – all in all a nice one book game.

Why this is important to the UK OSR?

  • Its Fighting Fantasy maaaannnnnnn! 🙂
  • Its an ideal starter RPG for young and old alike.  When the young Newtlings come of age and show interest old Dad will crack out Adv FF.
  • It oozes the atmosphere and feel of UK OSR. Not just the obvious Russ Nicholson art, but also the text.

Arion Games have also republished Titan and Out of the Pit, which are the setting guide and monster manual respectively. Although Adv FF also has a selection of bits from these books, pick up these two and you’ve got the ultimate UK OSR RPG. My hat is off in salute to Graham Bottley who put this edition together so lovingly 🙂

Related reading

If you want a complete chapter by chapter run down, along with what has been changed from the first version check this out.


3 thoughts on “12 Days of the UK OSR Day 4: Advanced Fighting Fantasy

  1. I was a bit “why do I need this product” about the new AFF until I bought it on a whim and I’m really glad I did. It’s an excellent book and I can’t disagree with any of the design changes and that’s coming from somebody who never saw the point of AFF in the late 80s/early 90s when we already had FF for really simple stuff and Red Box D&D for anything a bit more involved.

  2. I played Advanced Fighting Fantasy when it first came out, and our group were very impressed with it. I don’t now remember details, but it was simple enough to use first time with no thumbing through manuals at the table, and flexible enough to cope with all the generic-fantasy based things we wanted to do with it. Considering that RQ was our default system, that’s saying a lot.

  3. I just scored cheap copies of the first two AFF2 books (the rules, and monster books). Haven’t received them yet, but am looking forward to delving into them when they arrive. My friend Brian was quite complimentary to the game when it came out a year or two ago, but I was so mired down in fantasy RPGs at the time, I decided to give it a pass.

    Newt, out of curiosity, how do you think it compares to “Dragon Warriors”? I really like the ‘new-ish’ version of that game.

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