Fighting Fantasy Books Review

The Basics:

  • For ages 5 and up (mostly depends on the reading level and coping skills of the reader or listener)
  • For 1 or more
  • Length of time to read the book is not something I care to even guess on, but the overall experience is potentially endless

Geek Skills:

  • Counting & Math
  • Logical & Critical Decision Making
  • Reading & Writing
  • Active Listening (if reading to the little geeks)
  • Risk vs. Reward
  • Emotional Coping Skills
  • Memorization
  • Resource Management
  • Imagination

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Moderate
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • Each book contains a complete story with multiple endings and many choices to make. Genres include fantasy, science fiction, horror and more!

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek approved!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek approved!

Overview

The Fighting Fantasy books consists of many different genres that range from fantasy, science fiction, horror, and more. Although, admittedly, the “horror” stories are pretty tame. These are books for young readers, after all.

The Fighting Fantasy stories are often referred to as “pick-a-path” or “choose your own adventure” books. Wherein the reader or listener of the story is asked to make choices that determine how the story unfolds. In this way, the otherwise passive reader or listener plays an important role and must actively participate in order for the story to proceed.

What makes the Fighting Fantasy books different from the other “pick-a-path” books is that the reader or listener creates a character that is played alongside the story. This character has attributes, weapons, armor, treasure, and everything else you can imagine, including a Character Sheet.

When the reader or listener chooses or is forced to engage in combat, the character’s attributes are used with dice rolls to determine the outcome. Compound this with the many choices the reader or listener have to make during the story and you have an often times intense, but always engaging experience that is very reminiscent of a role-playing game. Albeit a bit on rails.

A single story can be read and “played” multiple times because of the many different choices the story offers. Dice are not necessary as there is a dice rolling mechanism built into the book (random flip of a page results in a die roll result). A pencil and paper is necessary to record and keep track of different information about the story and the character using a Character Sheet.

If a child cannot easily read the book, the book can be read to them. The choices and decisions are given to the listener to determine how best to handle. In this way, the stories can be shared with a child who is still learning how to read. It also encourages and excites them to learn to read even more, as well as introducing them to the imaginative hobby of role-playing games.

The stories can be intense for younger children. The books are well written and can be very descriptive. Some of the scenes described in the book are rather graphic and watching a character being slowly killed, dropped into a pit trap, or flat-out eaten can be a bit too much for Child Geeks to emotionally cope with. There is nothing that is “adult only” in these books, but when you consider the possibility of reading these to Child Geeks as young as 3-years-old, a fight with a Skeleton Warrior could be stressful and horrific in their young imaginative mind.

Parents and guardians should use their best judgement concerning what stories are or are not appropriate.

To learn more about the Fighting Fantasy book, visit the official web site.

Final Word

One of my great pleasures as a young boy was spending countless hours with my friends role-playing epic battles and spinning tall tales around the kitchen table whilst chucking dice hither and yon.  I can still recall with clarity specific events that happened during gaming sessions.  For example, the time we made it all the way up to the evil warlock’s highest chamber in a tower filled with traps and fiends most foul.  We fought bravely and sacrificed much, but our adventuring company had made it to the very top despite the odds and now faced the dreaded foe who had sown so much discord in the land.

We raised our weapons, readied our spells, and drew courage from each other.  We faced the menacing warlock and prepared for battle, but first the Dungeon Master (DM) insisted on completing the villain’s monologue. After 5 minutes of listening to the warlock wax poetical about how he was going to bring about the end of the world, we charged.  The DM, in his great wisdom, thought it best if the warlock was given a free attack and thus magically froze all of us mid-stride. The warlock, having stayed our blades, prepared a deadly spell and casted it at our party.  The DM, checking for spell casting failure, rolled the absolute worst value in the world.  The spell of power backfired on the warlock and promptly turned him into dust!

Silence permeated the air around the real kitchen table and the imaginary warlock’s chamber. Then, laughter.  A kind of laughter that can only be shared with a group who have experienced such an outrageous event.

This experience is something every parent can have with their children. I am not suggesting anyone reading this go out and buy source material for a role-playing game. What I am suggesting is that the shared experience I mentioned above was nothing more than a story told in a manner that allowed the listener to participate.

Most books we read to our children only allow them to listen. They can, and mostly likely will, ask questions whenever you read something that they don’t understand. Good for them! This means they are actively listening. But are they actively participating?

“What do you mean, Father Geek? Of course they are participating! They are engaged in what I am reading!”

Very true, but I want to introduce you to a different way your child can participate in the reading experience and become even more engaged in an exceedingly geeky fashion.

The Fighting Fantasy books are specifically designed for the reader or listener to guide the story. By making a choice, the story changes. The reader and listener transcend the aspect of a passive listener or reader to become an engaged participant and author of the story that unfolds.

I have found these books to be an excellent medium to discuss critical decision making and emotional coping skills. My oldest son takes the books very seriously and has started learning the universal law of “cause and effect” as a result. He understands that his decisions will have an impact, both short and long-term  It is because of this he takes his time and really thinks about the choices presented to him. But when things don’t go his way, he can act out and be really upset. This is an excellent opportunity to work on emotional coping skills by talking about his frustration, help him come to terms with the unwanted results of his choices, and reinforce that it’s not OK to throw a fit because you lose.

I really like these books, the stories, and the game mechanism that is seamlessly included between the lines of text to enhance the reading experience. I can think of no other book collection that will be as rewarding for the listener as it is for the reader. I can tell you already that my oldest has big plans to read through all the Fighting Fantasy books as soon as he can.

And all because I gave him a dice, sat him on my lap, and started reading him a story about dragons.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children and wife the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
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7 Responses to Fighting Fantasy Books Review

  1. The Father Geek says:

    I failed to mention that the Fighting Fantasy books have a very active and creative community of fans. Check out the official Fighting Fantasy web site for more stories, free printable goodies, and lots of great discussions on the books!

  2. april says:

    hi! found you from the relax and surf blog hop! hoping you’ll follow back, as well 🙂

    best,
    april

    http://www.marineparents.blogspot.com

  3. HI! I’m visiting (& following) from Sunday Strolling Blog Hop. Have a great Sunday!

  4. Kathy Thomas says:

    Love your Blog!
    I am a new follower, now.
    found you at the blog hop.
    Living Out Loud
    http://lgreenss.blogspot.com

  5. Pingback: Father Geek » Dungeon Crawler

  6. Nate says:

    Got one of them as an android app. Loved it!

    • Cyrus says:

      The app versions take a lot of the administrative paperwork out of the activity. Not a bad thing whatsoever, as it allows the reader to enjoy the story fully. Books later in the series required even more paperwork, including magic power and magic spell tracking. All worth it, but for younger Child Geeks, the apps keep it fun. So very pleased you are enjoying them, Nate!

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