The Warlock of Firetop Mountain (1982)

This is The Warlock of Firetop Mountain (1982), the board game based on the inaugural Fighting Fantasy gamebook of the same name. The cover art is by Peter Andrew Jones, reworking his original cover for the gamebook (same dragon) but using Russ Nicholson’s design for Zagor, the warlock. Dave Andrews is credited for interior art and I believe it for that gorgeous board, but the tokens (which I failed to properly photograph) look very much like Russ Nicholson’s work to me. I could be wrong though. The whole thing is designed by Steve Jackson (the Brit) and is an early classic for Games Workshop.

It’s a cool board game, especially if you have any fondness for the book (I have an excess of it). A lot of the game involves wandering around, fighting monsters and gathering treasures, using a system that is basically the same as the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks (Skill, Stamina and Luck and couple D6s). The twist is that the final treasure chest requires three specific keys (of a possible 15). Finding the solution to that puzzle uses a mechanic similar to the way you gather clues in Clue. It’s neat. The maze section, which uses cards to randomly alter the path, is cool too. I only have five of the six player tokens, but they are delightfully proto-Warhammer in look and feel. Love them. Overall it feels like a cool older cousin to Talisman?

I have heard that for UK kids, this game is as massively important to them getting into RPGs as HeroQuest was for US kids seven years later. Confirm or deny in the comments, please! If the response is suitably enthusiastic, this will head to the table and maybe to a podcast episode.

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