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Literature / Appointment with F.E.A.R.

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You will believe a man can fry your brains.

Appointment with F.E.A.R. is a Gamebook by Steve Jackson in the Fighting Fantasy series. It is especially noteworthy for taking on a very different subject: instead of the usual Heroic Fantasy settings, it is set in a Comic Book-inspired superhero setting, though still in a place called "Titan" (Titan City, to be precise).

You are Jean Lafayette, a.k.a. The Silver Crusader, a masked vigilante who underwent a genetic experiment as you were born, and the effects started to show just as the scientists behind all this gave up on seeing the effects. Having either Super Strength (with Flight), Psychic Powers, being a Gadgeteer Genius or blasting Pure Energy, you embark on a fight against crime in the city of Titan!

Evil organization Federation of Euro-American Rebels, or F.E.A.R., led by the sinister Vladimir Utoshki a.k.a. the Titanium Cyborg, is bent on world domination. The Silver Crusader must stop F.E.A.R. the day their leaders are to meet, or else it might be The End of the World as We Know It.


The book is slightly longer than a normal Fighting Fantasy book with 440 references compared to the standard 400. A 200-reference sequel not written by Jackson but using the same rules, Deadline to Destruction, appeared in an edition of Warlock magazine.

In 2014, the book was adapted for an electronic format by Tin Man Games, and released on Steam, iOS and Android. This particular version of the game features a limited form of character name and appearance customization on top of the choice of superpowers originally in the book.


Appointment with F.E.A.R. provides examples of:

  • Affectionate Parody: While the original book was happy to make numerous subtle references to official superhero properties, the mobile game version is upfront about having a parodic nature. This is especially apparent when it comes to naming your character, where you have no way of inputting one of your own. Instead you have to choose from a list of random and thoroughly silly names for your hero, such as The Consummate Warning, The Incomparable Romance, The Indifferent Thoughtstealer, The Average-Sized Basket, etc.
  • Bald of Evil: Vladimir Utoshski.
  • Beam-O-War: You get into one with the Ice Queen if you have ETS, her ice powers vs. your heat ray.
  • The Beastmaster: The Ringmaster, a supervillain. The hero learns that he has escaped, but because the plot branches based on the players choice of superpowers, there's a 50:50 chance he won't show up later.
  • Big Bad: Vladimir Utoshski / Titanium Cyborg
  • Big First Choice: The choice of powerset can have quite significant effects on the plot, primarily changing where the clues to the all-important meeting are found.
  • Bound and Gagged: Several instances. A few Innocent Bystanders end up tied up and gagged by bad guys. In one case, you do this to a villainess once you defeat her.
  • Busman's Holiday: Lafayette can hardly go shopping in the mall or relax on the seashore without some supervillain or big danger coming by...
  • The Cape: That's the kind of superhero the Silver Crusader is supposed to be.
  • Captain Ersatz: The book is full of them:
    • The Scarlet Prankster is a CE of The Jester (Marvel) or the Joker (DC).
    • The Creature of Carnage is definitely an Incredible Hulk CE.
    • The Silver Crusader himself, as well. Picking Super Strength/Flight makes you very much like Superman, while Gadgeteering Genius plays out a lot like Batman.
  • Chainsaw Good: Chainsaw Bronski is a criminal whose weapon and tool of choice is, as you'd guess, a chainsaw, though if you attack him it says he wields an electric knife in the fight. The illustration for the 2018 version changes his weapon into a knife with the teeth of a chainsaw to accommodate both.
  • Chinese Launderer: He seems to also serve food if you ask him too. This location was changed to a martial arts school in the mobile game version, seemingly to go for something less potentially offensive (although the 2018 reprint leaves it a Chinese laundry)
  • Clark Kenting: In the mobile game, when in their civilian identity, your superhero character sprite will simply be shown wearing glasses over their face, while still wearing their costume. Sometimes with a hat.
  • Damsel in Distress: Several, although children and men are just as likely to need rescuing as the women.
  • Featureless Protagonist: Although this is one of the few Fighting Fantasy books in which you play a named character, the text is careful to avoid stating their gender and the character has a Gender Blender first name. The text illustrations also takes care not to show the full figure of the Silver Crusader, having the cape hide most of their body when they're shown flying.
    • Averted in translations where the language always comes with gendered nouns/adjectives; in French, for example, the Silver Crusader is by default referred as male.
  • Fun with Acronyms: F.E.A.R itself.
  • Flying Brick: One of the four superpowers you can choose from, and the one that makes the game easier to beat. However you are not at a Superman level of invulnerability - you can be shot dead by an ordinary handgun with a single shot or roasted by a vehicle mounted flamethrower or killed by a laser cannon.
  • Guide Dang It!: As is usual for one of Steve Jackson's Fighting Fantasy books.
  • Heroic Bystander: If you are fighting The Poisoner and are unable to attack him, a hostage you rescued earlier will come to your aid and kill the Poisoner. Doubles as a Moment of Awesome.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: Contains one of the darkest bad endings that you can possibly get in a Fighting Fantasy gamebook.
  • Karma Meter: You win and lose Hero points depending on your actions, although they don't have any impact on gameplay beyond Replay Value to try and get a higher score.
  • Lighter and Softer: When you fight enemies, you merely capture them as opposed to killing them. That's not to say that deaths don't occur in the book, just not when Silver Crusader wins any fights. Of course, you're a superhero. You can kill them, but you lose hero points. This is something of a hollow punishment when you consider that hero points are very rarely important. Gameplay-wise, almost never. They're really meant as a way of keeping score so you can compare one playthrough to the next.
  • The Many Deaths of You: You can be incinerated by a flamethrower, killed instantly by a laser cannon, shot dead, have your mind shredded by a psychic opponent or be obliterated along with the city if you fail the quest.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: You will meet a mad scientist who has created a four-armed man and a tiger-headed one.
  • Mugging the Monster: You being the monster (or superhero in civvies at the time), of course. You can choose whether-or-not to fight them off, although fighting them off leads to your secret identity being revealed and you having to retire from the superhero gig.
  • Multiple Endings: The location of the F.E.A.R. meeting (and the people who have the clues you need to find it) changes according to which superpower you choose.
  • Mummy: One of the supervillains to be fought, described as an Implacable Man.
  • Mysterious Informant: Several.
  • Mythology Gag: The name of the present-day setting, Titan City, references the world of Titan in which the usual Fighting Fantasy gamebooks take place.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Usually causes you to lose hero points, except for one case where your powers actually kill somebody and nobody calls you on it.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
  • No Fair Cheating: Crosses over with Developers' Foresight at the end of the book, when you're trying to find the F.E.A.R. meeting. Each superpower gives you a different endgame, with the meeting being held at a different time and place, but all of the endings have options for all four superpowers to avoid spoiling which ending goes with which superpower if you don't already know. Using the wrong superpower for that ending ultimately leads to your death.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: The ending listed under Mugging the Monster is perhaps the most esoteric way to fail in any Fighting Fantasy book — nothing bad has happened yet, but word of your secret identity will soon get out from the two muggers, so you have to give it up.
  • Noodle Incident: At some points in the story, some supervillains are mentioned that the Silver Crusader previously fought... but nothing more is told about them, such as the Beastmaster and the Ocean Behemoth.
  • Off-Model: The mobile game adaptation uses the original -Silver Age-inspired - Declan Considine illustrations and pairs them with new original character art that has a very different art style, closer to modern comic books.
  • Oh, Crap!: The members of F.E.A.R. when you defeat Titanium Cyborg
  • Pastiche: Of Silver Age superhero comics.
  • Playing with Fire: The Fire Warriors.
  • Plot Coupons: The clues to the date and time of the F.E.A.R. meeting.
  • Pun: The very last sentence if you get the good ending.
    "You can honestly say that you've saved the world from F.E.A.R. itself."
    • Also a lot of puns from the supervillain fights in the mobile game. The Ice Queen uses every ice pun possible, on Schwarzenegger's Mister Freeze level.
  • Red Herring: If you choose Super Strength as your power, one of the clues you can obtain actually contradicts all the other clues. Deceptive, cunning villain or sloppy editing? Your call.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Fear The Serpent, supervillain in a snake suit who has an actual poisonous bite!
  • Run or Die: In a number of situations, if you go into a fight without having the right power(s), the Silver Crusader will die if you don't run away (or at least choose to go into a fistfight, instead of using their power which would guarantee death). One example is going against Mastermind, if you have any power other than the Enhanced Technological Skill (ETS) - you'll automatically die if you don't run away. If you do have ETS, you have developed an alpha wave emitter that torments Mastermind into submission.
  • Shout-Out: Many!
  • Story Branching: The game plays out totally differently depending on which superpower you choose, as the F.E.A.R. meeting will have a different location, date, time, and a password or other specific information (such as which airport hangar the plane where the meeting is to be held is in), and the clues will always be held by different supervillains.
  • Superhero Speciation
  • Threatening Shark: When you go to the beach, guess what danger comes from the sea?
  • Ungrateful Bastard: If you defeat the shark by blowing it up with an Energy Bolt, it will explode and chunks of its flesh will land on the beach-goers... who will then criticize you harshly and calling you out for tormenting a "poor fish". This will dishearten you quite a bit. And you won't win any HERO points!! And you will miss a clue you'd get from a more grateful mother of the kid you just saved!
  • Unwinnable by Design: The one story path that is common to all playthroughs is having to get the Circuit Jammer (although it can be with a different person depending on which superpower you have and / or choices you make). If you don't find it, then the final battle against the Titanium Cyborg is this.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: The Psi powers will prove to be the most useless, even downright dangerous one. Check this one if you want a challenge!
    • Even more true in the electronic version, where picking that power sticks you with a crummy Skill score of 8, the lowest of any power choice.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Rather than instantly losing the final fight if you don't have the Circuit Jammer, you actually get to fight the Titanium Cyborg... only to automatically lose (and then die gruesomely) after 3 moves.note 
  • Yellow Peril: The only Asians to appear in the book are shifty-eyed orientals in an ethnic restaurant who turn out to be working for the Titanium Cyborg to destroy the world.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: This is the backstory of one of the NPC, Timothy Grant a.k.a the Brain Child, a young boy whose nightmares comes to life. One of your possible encounters involve battling a giant monster materializing from a fountain and attacking people before dissappearing without leaving any traces; and with the right clues, you discover the source of the monster to be one of Timmothy's various nightmares.


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