Blacksand! (1990)

The second volume in the Advanced Fighting Fantasy game is Blacksand! (1990). As a rules expansion this is brief and arranged around urban activities — there are some new skills, a bunch of new spells, guidance for playing a priest type character and a mechanical framework for having socioeconomic class influence interactions. This is followed by some broad advice on creating cities and running adventures in them (which was already set up a bit in Dungeoneer).

The real centerpiece of the book is the detailed look at Port Blacksand, a city of some repute from the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks (two of my favorites, City of Thieves and Midnight Rogue, are set there). This is Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay levels of good and gritty city design here and augmented by Russ Nicholson’s frankly awesome illustration work. Truly astounding.

There is a lengthy scenario that capitalizes on the city design and presents an pretty open adventure (it actually picks up the threads from the second scenario in Dungeoneer, and would conclude in Allansia, the next volume). As a thing to read in a book, it’s pretty good! As a thing to run for a table of players, I hate being bound to the gamebook construction. Sometimes it works, most of the time I just want bullet points.

Oh, I meant to mention yesterday, the GM here is the Director, and the game aggressively uses film terms and concepts, using camera directions in descriptions and encouraging the GM to yet “Cut!” to end scenes. This goes farther than the Star Wars RPG at the time (I don’t think a lot of the cut scene mechanics were in that RPG until second edition and even when they are, they never seem quite so filmy). It feels a little out of place to me here, but YMMV.

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