Games Me

Ergodic reading

These are books, like digital literature, computer-generated poetry and MUDs, where a “nontrivial effort is required to allow the reader to traverse the text”. And they are more common than you might think, especially in geek culture. Game books that allow you to “choose your own adventure” are ergodic, as are fantasy novels with extensive maps and world-building notes. But the RPG handbook pushes ergodic reading to its limit.

From ‘The joy of reading role-playing games’.

I have a fair-sized collection of RPG books: the Advanced Fighting Fantasy books (Dungeoneer, Blacksand!, Allansia, Out of the Pit, and Titan), Savage Worlds, D&D 4E Players Handbook, Mythic, the full set of D&D 5E Manuals (plus some others I’ve forgotten about, no doubt), but I’m yet to really play one.

I once convinced a friend to start an AFF quest, we must have been about 11 or 12, but our story didn’t get much further than one night. More commonly I’d spend hours meticulously constructing characters (on the slim chance I could ever get someone to play) and reading and re-reading the quests and background lore to imprint the worlds and stories in my mind.

Since I bought 5E I’m pretty much back there 20 years on, rolling characters and questing in my imagination.

Books Illustration Mythology and Folklore

Nightmare Fuel

Just in case you were wondering which FF monster illustration was best for inducing nocturnal terrors that would be the Night Stalker.

Still scares the shit out of me.

Books Illustration

Deathtrap Dungeon

That cover by Iain McCaig just because it’s so damn good.


Books Illustration

Fighting Fantasy

Danger lurks in every corner of Port Blacksand — infamous city of evil-doers!

YOU are an apprentice in the Thieves’ Guild of Port Blacksand. Tonight is the testing time, the climax of your training. Your mission is to find and steal a priceless gem, the Eye of the Basilisk, and the special skills you have learned will be tested to the limit!


I honestly can’t remember how many times I took this book out of the library. Competition was pretty fierce for Fighting Fantasy books and this was one of my go-to options when the only books available were those I’d already read.

My other go-to was also my first Fighting Fantasy book: Deathtrap Dungeon. I have such vivid memories of it. It was vol 6 in the FF series, the front cover was a many-eyed Bloodbeast (though in reality only two of the eyes were real, the rest blisters), and YOU, the hero, were taking part in the Trial of Champions in the titular dungeon of Fang. As well as the Bloodbeast there was a Pit Fiend, a Manticore – my strongest memory is dying of poison but I can confidently say I died many, many other ways too.

Fighting Fantasy Fest 2014 is in London on 7 Sep, Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone will be there but £50+ is a bit rich for my blood (between FF and 40K they’ve done fairly well out of me over the years!). Though I was almost swayed by the artist line-up including John Blanche and Russ Nicholson. Russ Nicholson’s art really captured my imagination as a kid, I like to think I could still do a fairly accurate sketch of his Rhino-Man from Citadel of Chaos from memory but it’s probably better for everyone if I leave you with his.