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Literature / Fighting Fantasy

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"YOU are the Hero!"

A series of gamebooks targeted at children and teenagers, responsible for popularising the concept in the United Kingdom. The majority of the 50+ books were set in a generic fantasy land called Titan, which later got its own tabletop RPG spin-off. Originally published by Puffin throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the series went out of print in 1995, having amassed 59 gamebooks, several spin-off series (including a range of non-interactive novels) and many other related books, boardgames and video games.

According to the book Dice Men, while The Warlock of Firetop Mountain was first published in 1982, the idea behind Fighting Fantasy got its start in 1979 when a Penguin Books editor, Geraldine Cooke, approached Ian Livingstone, the co-owner of Games Workshop. Her best friend told her about the Dungeons & Dragons craze happening in the UK at the time. Geraldine was fascinated by the concept and asked if he could write a book about RPGs. Ian replied that it would probably be better to make a book that gave readers the RPG experience and Geraldine agreed. Initially Penguin Books thought the idea was failure, so Geraldine took the proposal to its kids-book-wing Puffin who took the gamble. After initial slow sales, the book eventually became a best-seller for Puffin, leading to demand for follow-up books and eventually an entire line.

Wizard Books revived it in 2002, republishing some of the original books with new covers (and later some new adventures, including the infamous "lost" book Bloodbones which had been intended for release as part of the Puffin range). Following a brief tail-off, they relaunched their relaunch in 2009 with another range of new covers and more new adventures. The last new print adventure was released in 2012 to mark the 30th anniversary, although electronic versions of some of the books are currently being released by Tin Man Games for Steam, iOS and Android — many of these are expanded versions of the original books with new features. In 2017, the series was relaunched yet again for its 35th anniversary with more reissues and new adventures, this time being published by Scholastic.

The game mechanics are like a simplified single-player version of Dungeons & Dragons. Aside from the usual Dungeons and Dragons-style themes, there are adventures set in sci-fi universes, a Mad Max rip-off, a Star Trek pastiche, a haunted house horror, a superhero scenario, and... Sky Lord, a book which was almost certainly written under the influence of psychedelic drugs and Dadaist thinking.

The series has the standard second-person narrative style. Outcomes are influenced by three randomly determined statistics: Skill, Stamina, and Luck. A lot of the books introduced a fourth statistic, such as Faith or Honour, a selection of special skills, or statistics for your vehicle.

As you will see on the Trope list below, the franchise has amassed quite a bit of mockery over its run, yet it remains fondly remembered and has an unusually devoted fanbase. This best example would be the web-based fan magazine Fighting Fantazine.

The books were written or presented by Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson note . The series has had several Spin-Off series, most notable being Sorcery!, The Riddling Reaver (a multi-player gamebook available for up to 4 participants — a Game Master and 3 or more adventurers), and a game on the Nintendo DS. In 2017, Nomad Games made Fighting Fantasy Legends and a year later it came up with Fighting Fantasy Legends Portal for the PC and IOS. Meanwhile since 2011, Arion Games has been reprinting and expanding on Advanced Fighting Fantasy (which now has Stellar Adventures as a sci-fi spin-off). Most of Jackson and Livingstone's books are available electronically on Steam in the Fighting Fantasy Classics content pack.

Not to be confused with the Japanese name of Data East's fantasy arcade game Hippodrome. Definitely not meant to be confused with Final Fantasy, whose original name was Fighting Fantasy before Squaresoft found out the name was already trademarked.

    List of Booksnote  
  1. The Warlock of Firetop Mountain (Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone) — So far receiving two iOS Adaptations. One by Big Blue Bubble and the other by Tin Man games, which as of October 2018 has received a Nintendo Switch adaptation.
  2. The Citadel of Chaos (Steve Jackson) — iOS
  3. The Forest of Doom (Ian Livingstone) — iOS
  4. Starship Traveller (Steve Jackson)
  5. City of Thieves (Ian Livingstone)
  6. Deathtrap Dungeon (Ian Livingstone) — Received a video game adaptation in 1998.
  7. Island of the Lizard King (Ian Livingstone) — Implied to be the direct sequel to Deathtrap Dungeon. iOS
  8. Scorpion Swamp (American Steve Jackson)
  9. Caverns of the Snow Witch (Ian Livingstone) — iOS By Tin Man Games
  10. House of Hell (Steve Jackson) — iOS By Tin Man Games
  11. Talisman of Death (Jamie Thomson and Mark Smith)
  12. Space Assassin (Andrew Champman)
  13. Freeway Fighter (Ian Livingstone)
  14. Temple of Terror (Ian Livingstone) — Implied sequel to Forest of Doom. iOS By Tin Man Games
  15. The Rings of Kether (Andrew Chapman)
  16. Seas of Blood (Andrew Chapman)
  17. Appointment with F.E.A.R. (Steve Jackson) — Received a Tin Man Games iOS adaptation.
  18. Rebel Planet (Robin Waterfield) — Received an adaptation on the ZX Spectrum
  19. Demons of the Deep (American Steve Jackson)
  20. Sword of the Samurai (Jamie Thomson and Mark Smith)
  21. Trial of Champions (Ian Livingstone) — (Indirect) Sequel to Deathtrap Dungeon.
  22. Robot Commando (American Steve Jackson)
  23. Masks of Mayhem (Robin Waterfield)
  24. Creature of Havoc — Considered one of Steve Jackson's masterworks. Also infamous for being tough as hell. iOS Adaptation by Big Blue Bubble.
  25. Beneath Nightmare Castle (Peter Darvill-Evans)
  26. Crypt of the Sorcerer — Considered one of (if not the) hardest book from Ian Livingstone.
  27. Star Strider (Luke Sharp)
  28. Phantoms of Fear (Robin Waterfield)
  29. Midnight Rogue (Graeme Davis)
  30. Chasms of Malice (Luke Sharp)
  31. Battleblade Warrior (Marc Gascoigne) — Creator-Driven Successor to Island of the Lizard King
  32. Slaves of the Abyss (Paul Mason and Steve Williams)
  33. Sky Lord (Martin Allen)
  34. Stealer of Souls (Keith Martin)
  35. Daggers of Darkness (Luke Sharp)
  36. Armies of Death (Ian Livingstone) — Sequel to Trial of Champions
  37. Portal of Evil (Peter Darvill-Evans)
  38. Vault of the Vampire (Keith Martin)
  39. Fangs of Fury (Luke Sharp)
  40. Dead of Night (Jim Bambra and Stephen Hand)
  41. Master of Chaos (Keith Martin)
  42. Black Vein Prophecy (Paul Mason and Steven Williams)
  43. The Keep of the Lich-Lord (Dave Morris and Jamie Thomson)
  44. Legend of the Shadow Warriors (Stephen Hand)
  45. Spectral Stalkers (Peter Darril-Evans)
  46. Tower of Destruction (Keith Martin)
  47. The Crimson Tide (Paul Mason) — Direct Sequel to Black Vein Prophecy
  48. Moonrunner (Stephen Hand)
  49. Siege of Sardath (Keith K. Phillips)
  50. Return to Firetop Mountain (Ian Livingstone) — invoked Milestone Celebration and sequel to The Warlock of Firetop Mountain.
  51. Island of the Undead (Keith Martin)
  52. Night Dragon (Keith Martin)
  53. Spellbreaker (Jonathan Green)
  54. Legend of Zagor (Keith Martin, credited to Ian Livingstone) — Sequel to Return to Firetop Mountain.
  55. Deathmoor (Robin Waterfield)
  56. Knights of Doom (Jonathan Green)
  57. Magehunter (Paul Mason)
  58. Revenge of the Vampire (Keith Martin) — Sequel to Vault of the Vampire.
  59. Curse of the Mummy (Jonathan Green) — the final book to be published by Puffin
  60. Eye of the Dragon (Ian Livingstone) — the first original adventure to be published by Wizard Books
  61. Bloodbones (Jonathan Green) — Originally intended to be published by Puffin before they cancelled the series. iOS
  62. Howl of the Werewolf (Jonathan Green)
  63. Stormslayer (Jonathan Green)
  64. Night of the Necromancer (Jonathan Green)
  65. Blood of the Zombies (Ian Livingstone) — A Creator-Driven Successor and companion-piece to House of Hell written by Ian Livingstone to celebrate Fighting Fantasy's 30th birthday, and the final new adventure to be published by Wizard. The first Fighting Fantasy gamebook iOS adaptation by Tin Man Games.
  66. The Port of Peril (Ian Livingstone) — the first original adventure to be published by Scholastic
  67. The Gates of Death (Charlie Higson)
  68. Assassins of Allansia (Ian Livingstone)
  69. Crystal of Storms (Rhianna Pratchett)
  70. Secrets of Salamonis (Steve Jackson and Jonathan Green)
  71. Shadow of the Giants (Ian Livingstone)

The series now has a Character Sheet under construction here.

Fighting Fantasy provides examples of:

    open/close all folders 

    The Series in General 
  • Absent-Minded Professor: Wizardly advisors are sometimes written this way.
    • Such as Nicodemus in City of Thieves whose advice you seek out to slay a demon but who ends up remembering the procedure wrong and forces you to guess at the correct solution.
    • Also Astragal from Daggers of Darkness: when you meet him at one point it notes that even if you encountered him before, he's already forgotten all about the previous meeting.
  • An Adventurer Is You: Usually the classless variety, but on occasion you get to play as a wizard, a demon hunter, or a four-armed space warrior battling an army of dog-headed clones. A particular note goes to Creature of Havoc, in which the reader plays a monster who gets to kill and eat several standard adventuring parties.
  • Alliterative Title:
    • The series title.
    • A lot of the books' titles:
      • Citadel of Chaos
      • Daggers of Darkness
      • Deathtrap Dungeon
      • Demons of the Deep
      • Fangs of Fury
      • House of Hell
      • Masks of Mayhem
      • Night of the Necromancer
      • Scorpion Swamp
      • Siege of Sardath
      • Spectral Stalkers
      • Star Strider
      • Stealer of Souls
      • Sword of the Samurai
      • Temple of Terror
      • Vault of the Vampire
      • The Port of Peril
      • Assassins of Allansia
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Any member of the Forces of Chaos — whether you're a lowly goblin, frikkin' ugly mutant or one of the legendary "Snake Demons", you're always going to be evil. The only question is how bad you are — whether you're merely a conniving shopkeeper out to rip off the hero or you're something so nasty that the entire species deserves a Guilt-Free Extermination War.
  • And I Must Scream: Suffering three hits from a Ghoul will paralyse you, which allows the monster to eat you alive. Not fun.
  • Apologetic Attacker: The Spiked Maiden from Beneath Nightmare Castle. Actually the baron's daughter whose magical suit of armour forces her to attack anyone who approaches.
  • "Arabian Nights" Days: Magehunter
  • Armor Is Useless: In that usually getting better armor or a shield will give you a small Skill increase and nothing else. In a few books having a piece of armor or a shield will protect you getting hurt at one or two specific points (e.g. the manticore shooting his tail spikes at you before the fight in Deathtrap Dungeon, having a helmet will make you take less damage and stay conscious at one point in Knights of Doom). Some books try to be a little more ambitious, like Legend of the Shadow Warriors which has armor decreasing damage, but with some of the heavier sets lowering your skill, and being destroyed after a certain amount of damage. Space Assassin has an Armor score that works like the Luck score, where if you get shot you roll against the score and take no damage if you make the roll, but it will go down every time you make a roll to show your armor taking damage and getting less reliable.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: In Starship Traveller the non-security officers suffer a Skill penalty in combat. All of them except you, the captain.
    Your combat skills are the equal of your professional skills, as befits a true hero.
  • Bag of Holding: Island of the Lizard King has you find a "Pouch of Unlimited Contents." Since few of the books, let alone those in the early days of the series, have any encumbrance rules, the point of such a thing probably seemed strange even then. What you use it for is to trap an attacking water elemental.
  • Barefoot Sage:
    • Greylock, the sage/mentor figure from Demons of the Deep, is depicted barefoot in an illustration.
    • So is Pia the witch that offers to sell you potions in Eye of the Dragon.
  • Batman Gambit: At the end of Trial of Champions, when Lord Carnuss has managed to humiliate Baron Sukumvit by kidnapping you and forcing you to successfully penetrate Deathtrap Dungeon, he tries to claim the prize of 20,000 gold pieces. Knowing that you were kidnapped by Carnuss and sent into the dungeon against your will, Sukumvit turns the tables and offers you an additional prize, that of having one special request fulfilled. As he anticipated, you ask to challenge Lord Carnuss and get revenge for all the people he kidnapped and killed.
  • Bazaar of the Bizarre: In many books, there are markets that not only sell you mundane gear and weapons but often there are shops and stalls that sell magical or exotic items as well.
  • Bears Are Bad News:
    • Every bear you meet is out to get you — unless you get it first!
    • One exception is found in Vault of the Vampire, where the bear is merely an animal companion to a local ranger. It doesn't attack you unless you attack her.
    • Another exception is in Portal of Evil, where the hero can briefly team up with a former miner transformed into a bear by the portal.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The three Snake Demons (Sith, Myurr and Ishtra) play this role for the entire franchise. While everyone higher in the hierarchy of evil is either a Sealed Evil in a Can or The Ghost, they rule the local Hell, commanding directly or influencing indirectly the individual Big Bads, as well as having caused the nightmarish Chaos Wars, resulting in a global civilization collapse and the world becoming hostile. But far from working in common, they are as busy with power struggles as they are planning to unleash Hell on Earth on Titan, by merging the Demonic and Physical Planes together.
  • The Big Bad Shuffle: Evil Sorcerers, Evil Overlords, Greater Demons, corrupt rulers, conquerors, cult leaders, all tastes can be served on Titan... Each book has an individual Big Bad, directly or indirectly subservient to the aforementioned Snake Demons, themselves subservient to the greater evils and the Dark Gods, themselves subservient to the Demon Gods Death, Disease and Decay, themselves created by Elim the Great Enemy. But Elim is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who left the universe, the Demon Gods are a Sealed Evil in a Can, and the Dark Gods are more or less forbidden to act directly. Confusing much?
  • Big Good: Fortunately, the benevolent mages, High Priests and rulers are as many as the countless evils plaguing Titan, not to mention the gods' servants and the gods themselves. In many stories, one lends you priceless assistance, when they don't recruit you directly. The three Star Pupils serve as this to the series as a whole, among which Gereth Yaztromo and Arakor Nicodemus being the most recurring and influential.
  • Bitter Almonds: At least one book has this as the only way to tell that a bottle of liquid you have the option to drink is poison.
  • Body Horror:
    • Happens every now and then, but most notable in Beneath Nightmare Castle, thanks to the Big Bad Xakhaz, a sorcerer who worships Lovecraft-style gods, leading to both him and his followers gaining Lovecraftian Superpower. One of the illustrations in said book was actually banned because the publishers thought the audience would get too scared. It's of a woman with black eyes with tentacles coming out of her mouth. It's viewable on the Fighting Fantasy Wiki.
    • Marrangha from The Creature of Havoc, a form of dark magic practiced by the witches of the village of Dree that magically grafts organs and limbs from one creature to another, forming a horrific monster. It will most certainly happen to you if you end up in the village of Dree. That is how the player character came to be the creature of havoc in the first place.
  • Burn the Witch!: In Spellbreaker, it's possible to get embroiled with some witch hunters. Notably subverted, since in this book the witch hunters are the good guys, fighting against a coven of evil witches and warlocks who are trying to free a powerful demon from its prison. One of the encounters involves an actual witch-burning, although the girl who's about to be burned is actually innocent, and the inquisitor who's about to burn her is the actual warlock, who's framed the girl as a way of throwing suspicion off himself.
  • Cain and Abel: Maior and Feior in Black Vein Prophecy
  • Canon Welding: The books were originally all written as standalones. Eventually they started tying the series (and its various spinoffs) into one canon.
  • Captain Ersatz: Conrad the Maniac Guard from Moonrunner is an obvious ersatz of Jason Voorhees.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Every Big Bad and their associates are rotten to the core and enjoy it, flaunting their allegiances to Chaos and their evilness at every occasion. After all, moral ambiguity is hard to come by in books making you destroying monsters of all sorts to save the world.
  • Cassandra Truth: Your character in Siege of Sardath. When the town of Grimmund is plagued by a series of increasingly bizarre incidents, your character, a member of the governing town council, suggests that some unknown enemy is deliberately plotting to conquer the land. In an almost chilling display of Genre Blindness, the rest of the council laughs at your suggestion. Naturally enough, events soon prove that you're right.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Standard in most books, especially the "Advanced Fighting Fantasy" spin-off. Including the basic healing spell, which costs one Stamina to cast and then restores six Stamina.
  • Celibate Hero: You might run into a fair number of beautiful women but don't expect so much as a kiss in these books. Although there's a notable aversion in Vault of the Vampire, section 301.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Used almost to the point of absurdity in many books, when those seemingly innocuous things you gather just happen to be incredibly useful later on.
    • Subverted by Crypt of the Sorcerer, where you can throw a rat skull into the Gargantis' pit. The Gargantis promptly crushes the rat skull and the text points out what a silly idea this was. A bit ironic considering Ian Livingstone's easily the author most guilty of invoking this trope. His style has you constantly collecting heaps and heaps of items for no clear purpose, until they suddenly turn out to have the magic power to save you from a particular type of danger you just happen to run into later on that same adventure. Nowhere is this more true than in Crypt of the Sorcerer, honestly. Beyond the string of magic items you need to have collected to win, to get to the final boss you need to answer a series of questions with numerical clues you're supposed to have found on the way. Some of the questions, to say nothing of how you're supposed to have learned the answers, are pretty random. One of them is something a companion just tells you in conversation at one point. Not something he found out that you need to know to get past the wizard's defenses, just a random factoid he tosses out when chatting to pass the time on the way to the next leg of the quest.
    • Actually subverted in the very first book The Warlock of Firetop Mountain. The Y-shaped stick you find seems to build towards something, but by the time you're given a chance to use it, it has broken in your pack.
  • Children Are Innocent: Notably subverted during one encounter in Beneath Nightmare Castle, where you can find yourself being attacked by waves of knife-wielding children.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: While normally you're kind of expected to help out anyone you encounter who needs it, Slaves of the Abyss has an interesting aversion where one character (the one who actually caused or exacerbated most of the problems you're facing in the first place) tells you to focus on the big picture and not stop to blow everyone's nose for them or the country's doomed. On the other hand, you as the player at least know you're on a Race Against the Clock to save the day in that book.
  • Circus of Fear: The Circus of Dreams from Legend of the Shadow Warriors, in which the performers are all mandrakes. They replaced the inhabitants of each town they visited with more mandrakes.
  • Classic Villain: All villains play the trope of the world-threatening conqueror that must be taken down. Tropes Are Not Bad though, as what they lack in character depth, the best made ones gain in style and power, with some having strong Magnificent Bastard credentials.
  • The Computer Is a Lying Bastard: The books tell you that they're beatable even with the worst possible scores. Fans have pointed out that this is only fully true for a few books (Citadel of Chaos or Starship Traveller) or somewhat true for others (Warlock of the Firetop Mountain), and very dubious in most others (being theoretically winnable with super-luck). In some cases, it's a complete lie, as rolling low on your initial scores makes it impossible to win without cheating (House of Hell or Crypt of the Sorcerer).
  • Continuity Nod: After a while, the authors started including more and more references to previous books.
    • For example, the Trial of Champions follows the player through a reworked version of Deathtrap Dungeon, and the protagonist goes on to star in Armies of Death.
    • Likewise, the plot of The Crimson Tide is kicked off by events that occur in Black Vein Prophecy, and the PC of the former can meet several character from the latter, as well as a diplomatic envoy from Hachiman, previously seen in Sword of the Samurai.
    • The brother of the vampire hunter Van Richten from Howl of the Werewolf shows up in the otherwise unrelated Night of the Necromancer. Likewise, one of the pre-generated characters one can choose is the protagonist of Knights of Doom.
    • In Caverns of the Snow Witch, characters will pass in view of Firetop Mountain, and one of the companions will ask if the Warlock still rules Firetop Mountain. Presumably the player is about to answer when they are interrupted, since the reader may or may not have read that book.
    • The Forest of Doom (book #3) begins with you encountering a dying dwarf named Bigleg, who begs you to recover a warhammer which was stolen from the king of Stonebridge. You are aided in your quest by the wizard Yaztromo. In Caverns of the Snow Witch (book #9) you're accompanied for a time by a dwarf named Stubb, before he runs into his friend Bigleg and leaves with him to go after the stolen warhammer. And Temple of Terror (book #14) opens with you "resting in Stonebridge" after "the rigours of a recent quest," before Yaztromo arrives and sends you on another quest (after asking "Haven't I seen you before?'). In the middle of the book you run into another dying dwarf who was sent to deliver you the selfsame warhammer, after Yaztromo learned that you'd need it to accomplish your goal.
    • Phantoms of Fear has a dream sequence which, if you pick up on the clues, is a glimpse into the story of Trial of Champions.
    • The Port of Peril being the first book of the last relauch, it is filled to the brim with too many allusions to list, mostly to Ian Livingstone's previous books.
    • The protagonist of Assassins of Allansia is the one who killed Zanbar Bone in either City of Thieves or The Port of Peril and is tracked down by assassins sent by his second-in-command, who is quite miffed about it. (The Port of Peril is more likely, as The Hero is broke in both and said second-in-command plotted to resurrect Zanbar Bone in it.) In the end, the protagonist has to take part in the Trials of Champions, most likely becoming the hero of Deathtrap Dungeon as well.
  • Cool Sword: Lots of the fantasy books had one you could find. Some, like Slaves of the Abyss (which lets you insta-kill your enemy if you ever roll double-6's for yourself), Stormslayer (which gives you extra skill and damage against dragons), and to a lesser extent City of Thieves (which looks awesome but has no effect on gameplay) even let you start with the one in that book. In Sword of the Samurai, retrieving the extremely cool sword "The Singing Death" from the villain who stole it was the main goal of the book. In Vault of the Vampire, you can find "Nightstar", which is especially deadly against vampires and can be used instead of a stake against a dormant vampire.
  • Cool Versus Awesome: Giant robots versus dinosaurs in Robot Commando.
  • Covers Always Lie: Dear lord, so many examples:
    • The cover of the original edition of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain shows a white-bearded wizard who looks nothing like the Warlock, and he is summoning a dragon from a crystal ball, which does not happen in the story.
    • The cover of the original of Creature of Havoc shows Zarradan Marr, the Big Bad of the story, but this can make anyone think that the titular Creature of Havoc is him. The new edition cover shows a furry albino-like beast, while he is described as reptilian in the story. The albino monster seems to actually be a "Devourer", a one-off enemy from fairly early in the book.
    • The cover of the original Caverns of the Snow Witch shows an Orc who is grasping his neck as he stands in front of a globe containing a woman's head. The scene does actually occur in the story — the woman is the titular Snow Witch, who kills an underling just to show her power — yet many viewers think that the Orc is the Witch (because of his long hair and he seems to be "casting a spell" in front of a crystal ball). What is really, really bad is that the newest French editions of the book cut the image so it just shows the Orc, proving the editors did no research just by flipping through the book.
    • You'd think that the menacing pumpkin-headed figures are the title characters of Legend of the Shadow Warriors, whereas they are actually just manifestations of nature's wrath against man, a force of good, not evil.
    • The original cover for City of Thieves shows the book's Big Bad Zanbar Bone alongside a shot of the city Port Blacksand, making it seem like the whole story takes place there and that's where the final showdown will take place. But nope, your time in Blacksand is spent searching for the wizard Nicodemus, and later the necessary components for a compound that can destroy the villain. Zanbar Bone's own lair is nowhere near Port Blacksand.
    • The reprint cover for City of Thieves shows a fierce-looking man in a crowded tavern waving a knife at you, seemingly to challenge you to a fight. In the actual tavern scene in the book, though, the man is harmless and inviting you to play a Five-Finger Fillet knife game. If you refuse he'll simply leave you alone.
  • Creator Thumbprint: Ian Livingstone seems to be a sailboat racing fan, given how he sneaks references to his racing teams into Return to Firetop Mountain and Armies of Death.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Usually played straight, but occasionally subverted in some of the more ambitious books.
  • Crystalline Creature: Crystal Sentinels are golems made of quartz and rubies to serve as the Praetorian Guard for higher-ranking forces of evil, such as Sharella the Great Witch in Caverns of the Snow Witch and Bythos the Lord of the Abyss in Slaves of the Abyss. They are extremely durable, have SKILL stats in double digits, and cannot be harmed by edged weapons like swords or axes — adventurers will need to collect a warhammer in order to smash these enemies apart in combat, or else die in an unwinnable battle.
  • Crystal Weapon: Creature of Havoc includes a moderately powerful crystal club that shatters after landing one hit. It happens to be the only way to defeat the Big Bad by destroying the portal to his Pocket Dimension. In Stormslayer, the hero can buy an enchanted crystalline mace. This mace serves as an alternate magical weapon to your Wyrmbiter.
  • Cultural Translation: In Japan, certain books including Deathtrap Dungeon, House of Hell and Sword of the Samurai were redone in a moe art style.
  • Cursed Item: These turn up in quite a few different books, where picking up a cursed item will permanently reduce one of your stats (usually Skill).
  • Cycle of Hurting: Creature of Havoc has two separate instances of a group of paragraphs that loop round in an endless cycle, forcing you to fight an infinite supply of guards/immortal animated skeleton until you either cotton on to it or die.
  • Death by Materialism: A few books end with the choice, after having seen off the end boss and his lair subsequently starting to collapse, of whether you want to grab some of his treasure stash or just get the hell out. Guess what the wrong one is.
  • Demon Slaying: The entire plot of Dead of Night. More generally, various books have you fight everything from Fire Demons to Hell Demons to Ice Demons to Mirror Demons.
  • Depending on the Artist: Due to the number of times the series has been reprinted in various formats, Zagor has had at least five very different appearances over the years (and he isn't even consistently illustrated in the same book due to a different person doing the cover and internal illustrations). Although most depictions of him match the original illustration by Russ Nicholson — tall, thin and dark-haired, with a widow's peak and a goatee. The "old man" on the cover of the first edition of Warlock is a magical disguise, and the more inhuman appearance in Legend of Zagor is the result of him dying and coming back fused with a demon.
  • Deus ex Machina: The hero can get incredibly lucky sometimes.
    • In the beginning of Demons of the Deep the hero is made to walk the plank, tied up, into the sea by pirates — and just happens to plunge down onto magic marks deep in the ocean which grant you with gills! And said pirates even gave him provisions as a (stupidly wasteful) sick joke. Which also happen to be preserved by the magic.
    • In Crypt of the Sorcerer, a vital clue is just chiseled onto a boulder, standing in the middle of frigging nowhere out in the wilderness.
    • Robot Commando starts by having you unaffected, The Day of the Triffids-style, by a mysterious disaster that rendered the entire rest of your country's population comatose. Which is extremely lucky, as otherwise there wouldn't be a whole lot of adventure.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • In Sword of the Samurai if your Honor drops to 0, your character commits seppuku.
    • Deathmoor features one of the most esoteric deaths in the series — it's possible to revisit the same references repeatedly whilst lost on the titular moor, and if you visit one particular reference (which points out the feeling that you're going around and around in circles) three times in all you are directed to the following paragraph:
    You see absolutely no reason to do anything. Life is horrible anyway, you reckon, so you might as well die here and now as somewhere else at a later date. And that is exactly what you do.
  • Dug Too Deep:
    • A gold rush sparks the plot of Portal of Evil, as the Artifact of Doom that is the Big Bad of the book is unearthed by gold miners.
    • It is implied that the dwarves in Night Dragon awoke the basilisk that turned all into stone by digging too close to the caves where the titular dragon is slumbering.
  • Dungeon Crawling: Many of the books, particularly the earlier ones. Ian Livingstone seems reluctant to write anything else — the Forest of Doom is just a dungeon whose walls are made out of trees.
  • Early Game Hell: The Nomad Games Fighting Fantasy games — the first one is a mash-up City of Thieves + The Warlock of Firetop Mountain + Citadel of Chaos while the 2nd game is the Deathtrap Dungeon trilogy. In both games, you have no provisions to recover your health and Skill in combat determines how much potential damage an enemy does in a hit rather than if it can land an attack. In the books, an adventurer with 11 or 12 Skill is invincible against mooks, but in the iOS games even a lowly goblin can kill a talented adventurer in single combat. Luckily enemies and Skill/Luck tests give experience which improves your stats.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • In the first book, you can only eat a meal when specifically given the option. Subsequent books let you eat at any time except when fighting. The same book also gave out extraordinarily large Luck prizes and Skill points at times when it really made no sense. Like after deciding to search a dead body, but before discussing what's special about whatever you took.
    • The first few books were all more or less completely unconnected. Midway through the series an awful lot of Canon Welding attempted to tie all the books together into the world of Titan.
    • The Demon summoned by Grimslade in "Scorpion Swamp" is stronger than any enemy in the series; including Demon Lords.
  • Elves vs. Dwarves: Subverted with Redswift and Stubb, an elf and a dwarf who had become good friends when held as slaves in Caverns of the Snow Witch. It's also mentioned in the semi-canonical Zagor Chronicles that the dwarves and elves around Darkwood are actually pretty chummy with one another. That said, the same book also mentions that dwarves and elves have spilled plenty of each others' blood in foolish wars over the years, which accounts for why creatures like orcs and dark elves are as powerful as they are.
  • Empathic Weapon: Quite a few. Beneath Nightmare Castle stands out in that it has more than one. The Runic Axe will turn anyone who wields it into The Berserker, while a magical scimitar is now the refuge for the spirit of the murderous warlord who used to wield it, and which will possess the mind of whoever tries to use it. The Trident of Skarlos actively revels in killing demonic creatures, and will actively signal its desire to attack any demons that might be nearby.
  • Enemy Civil War: The only thing keeping Balthus Dire and Zharradan Marr from overrunning Allansia is that their forces cancel each other out. After Dire's death, and Marr being sealed away inside the Netherworld, this situation has been defused.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • The Slykk, a race of frog-like humanoids, are not known for their friendly treatment of humans who pass through their swamps. However, the Slykk in Siege of Sardath will help you if you prove to them that you're trying to stop the mysterious enemy that's threatening all the peoples of the region.
    • The Dark Elf Naas in Master of Chaos freely admits he has his own agenda as a servant of evil, however as a Noble Demon, he has a strong sense of honour and will work with the player character when it is in his interests to do so.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: In the Magehunter's world, it is common practice to feed a dog on nothing but goat meat for a week to make them sniff out wizards. On Titan, if you do this, it turns out they specifically sniff out evil wizards, as Kurt is actually quite friendly towards Khasim.
  • Evil Is Visceral: In Dead of Night, the Legions of Hell set up a living factory to corrupt the land around the village of Axmoor. Said factory has a huge heart at its core and humans are fed into its furnace as fuel.
  • Evil Lawyer Joke: The background section to Portal of Evil states that "there were robbers of all kinds, from desperate outlaws to clerks and lawyers."
  • Evil Versus Evil: The novel The Trolltooth Wars portrays a war between Balthus Dire and Zharradan Marr, each of them a Big Bad from earlier gamebooks. And the hero gets assistance in defeating them from Zagor, the Big Bad of the first gamebook and most frequently recurring villain in the series. The three of them were once friends, but had a falling out and now hate each other's guts.
  • Evil Versus Oblivion: Even villains can help you when they fear for their lives.
  • Experienced Protagonist: In most of the books, your character is a famous adventurer or veteran warrior, which is why you're sought by The Powers That Be to do their suicide mission. The most successful has to be the "Hero of Tannatown" from Stormslayer, who starts off with a legendary magic sword they quested for in the past and two extra-special items plus an unusually high amount of starting Gold Pieces. On the other end of the spectrum is the guy from The Port of Peril who's experiencing one of the economic downturn moments of being an adventurer. He starts off doing a Dumpster Dive for food and only has some "useless" trinkets as a reminder of previous adventures. The protagonists who are newbies are the poor trapped civilians in House of Hell and Blood of the Zombies and the dinosaur rancher of Robot Commando. As well as the ones who start the book as actual teenagers with terrible minimal stats, The Crimson Tide and Secrets of Salamonis, but fortunately those books have something of an experience system.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: If you eat some mouldy food in Trial of Champions, it turns out it was infested with parasites that will slowly bore through your stomach. You lose 1 STAMINA point for each new section you turn to; this is fairly late in the game, so it is still possible to win, you'll just die if you reach 400.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: In most books, the most advanced missile weapon is a crossbow. But there are books, especially those set in the Old World, where your character can encounter or have a blackpowder gun.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Some of the "deaths" you can reach are actually this.
    • In the book Night of the Necromancer, the character you play is Dead to Begin With, so all of the bad endings are this.
    • Forced Transformation endings are also commonplace, with lycanthropy curses a particular apparent favorite of many of the authors. Howl of the Werewolf places its cards on the table right from the very title.
  • Featureless Protagonist: Generally played straight in the original series, with one notable exception — Legend of Zagor requires you to play as one of the characters from the non-interactive Zagor Chronicles spin-off seriesnote . The second run of Wizard reissues changed the books by offering three predetermined characters with a name and short biography if the player didn't want to roll their own character.
  • Fisher King: Inverted in Knights of Doom: when the kingdom becomes ill of great evil, the king too grows sick. The only cure is to destroy the chaos disrupting his kingdom.
  • Fish Men: A few are encountered as monsters, but one benevolent example is Cyrano the Swordfish, a master swordsman who dwells in a magical painting and will provide the main character with a swordfighting lesson in Demons of the Deep.
  • Five-Finger Fillet: You have to do this and win to even be allowed to go on the adventure in Deathmoor.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode: The books are predominantly straightforward fantasy, with some notable exceptions:
    • There are a few Sci-Fi stories appearing sporadically across the range, although they stopped altogether near the end in favor of the "traditional" adventures in Titan.
    • Freeway Fighter takes place in a Mad Max-type near-future society.
    • Three of Steve Jackson's books offer totally unique settings: House of Hell is a horror movie-inspired story set in the present day, Appointment with F.E.A.R. is a superhero adventure and the player character in Creature of Havoc is the mindless monster you'd usually fight. All of these books punish the player for acting as if they're still in a fantasy/action story.
    • Black Vein Prophecy has none of the usual introduction or rules at all, sending you straight into the first paragraph — you don't roll up your statistics or find out anything about the adventure at all before starting.
    • Blood of the Zombies does not have the Skill stat. In combat, how well you do depends on your weapons which do varying amounts of damage. Additionally all your enemies die in a single hit.
  • Frankenstein's Monster:
    • In Legend of the Shadow Warriors it turns out that Dr. Kauderwelsch is a would-be Dr. Frankenstein, working on one of these. And then her son — yes, the Son of Kauderwelsch — performs the same trick in Moonrunner by chopping up the inmates of an insane asylum and piecing them together in an effort to resurrect his mother.
    • The player character from Creature of Havoc. In fact, there is a whole village of Dr. Frankensteins in Creature of Havoc. It's called the Village of Dree. The witches there create monsters by magically grafting parts from one creature onto another.
  • Gamebooks: Trope Codifier. Fighting Fantasy introduced or at least popularized the Tabletop RPG elements found in most subsequent gamebooks.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: In Revenge of the Vampire, one can chase after the vampire if you pay "all of your gold" to buy a horse. You can only confront said vampire early if you catch up to him at a coaching inn, and then pay for a room, but there's no opportunities to gain gold in-between. This causes the player to lose out on an early Infinity -1 Sword and a Plot Coupon. It's still possible to win if you take the game literally, but it's harder and there are sections that refer to the Plot Coupon. This gets stranger later in the book; in the room of the minion who had the Infinity -1 Sword, he's only in the room if you prove that you killed said minion. Also, the coach that you chased can be seen parked at the vampire's mansion... and it again has a coffin in it, even if you destroyed it early.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: Sadly, because more than a few Big Bad-tier villains are only seen at the very end for the final showdown, they usually receive very little motivation or development beyond "because evil".
  • Genre Mashup: Portal of Evil takes place in Khul, but makes use of a great number of Western tropes. Also there are dinosaurs.
  • Good is Not Nice: Some of the major "good guys" can be jerks at times. Yaztromo has a bit of a reputation for this, for instance berating you for disturbing him for your quest even when the world is at stake. A better example would be the vampire hunter Van Richten in Howl of the Werewolf; if you reveal your condition to him he'll express pity, but he still has to kill you because you're a potential danger. And not only that, you're penalized Luck for killing him because he still did a lot of good in his own way.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: In Fighting Fantasy Legends and its sequel you can find the Silver Scorpion Brooch from City of Thieves, which lets your adventurer recover 1 Stamina point per fight. With this item and your adventurer growing increasingly stronger in combat, a fight could end up being an opportunity to heal damage you took outside of battle.
  • Grand Theft Me: A major plot point in Magehunter.
  • Greater-Scope Paragon: Arn, Titan and the rest of the Celestial Court.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Death, Disease & Decay are the sealed Demon Gods in a can for the Dark Gods themselves, while their surviving Demonic Generals, Voivod & the Night Dragon are this to the Demon Princes.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: Sometimes other characters will accompany you for part of the adventure, although you don't usually roll dice for them in combat. Ian Livingstone is particularly fond of this trope.
  • Guide Dang It!: Some of the books have only one true path (read, some very specific things to do) to make it to the end. Particularly bad offenders are:
    • Crypt of the Sorcerer, which features an incredibly narrow path and turns the whole game Unwinnable by Design if you stray even one move from it.
    • The Crimson Tide, which is similar and also features a unique mechanic of a hidden message which is easy to miss.
    • Creature of Havoc, which has various frustrating features; notably, the only correct path includes a section which ends in your death. You need to have a specific item and then use it to Take a Third Option not given by the text, but even if you have the item in question you might not think to use it there. There is also a maze near the beginning that is very hard to escape and a lot of areas where all the paths lead to death.
    • Armies of Death requires you to win a bet (which has a 50-50 chance) in order to obtain a brooch, which you'll need later on as a gift for the Oracle, who provides you with information that you need to defeat the Big Bad. This means that even if you make every choice correctly and win every fight, you can still lose the game early on because of an unlucky die roll, and not even realize it until you get to the final showdown.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: The semi-canonical Zagor Chronicles Retcons this as Zagor's parentage, in that his father was a human wizard who impregnated a female demon.
  • Heroic Mime: Most of the time. The hero of these stories sometimes speaks, but it's rare, and he's almost never quoted.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Averted in Slaves of the Abyss; the authors wanted the player to sacrifice themselves, staying in the Abyss to allow everyone else to go free, but Steve Jackson insisted that the reader get a massive reward at the end.
    • Played straight in Legend of Zagor if you arrive at the Heartfires with Zagor's body, but only have 3 or fewer Stamina points remaining. You'll throw Zagor into the flames, but you'll be too weak to keep your balance and will end up falling in after him. The text says that you've saved the world, and your legend will live forever... but you won't be there to see it.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • The Archmage from Spectral Stalkers sends a group of unstoppable demons called the Spectral Stalkers after the bearer of an artifact called the Aleph. You eventually hand him the Aleph... just as the Spectral Stalkers are about to appear in his throne room. The resulting Oh, Crap! moment is stupendous.
    • In Bloodbones, one of the enemies you fight is the Anchor Man, an assassin who uses an anchor and chain as a weapon. The story is set in a seaside port. Take a wild guess as to one of the ways you can kill the Anchor Man.
    • In Daggers of Darkness, you are a contender for the throne of Kazan. If you manage to survive the evil Vizier's assassination attempts and reach the throne room, you find his daughter already seated on the throne. She first tries to attack you with a dagger, and then sics some ogres on you. However, the throne is enchanted to kill anyone who draws a weapon in its presence.
  • Holy Water: The gamebooks' mechanics make holy water extremely potent against many undead and demons. It typically does one dice roll's worth of damage, which can half or more of the Stamina of even the most potent undead. Even the most powerful demons can suffer up to a quarter of their Stamina in damage if you roll well enough.
  • Human-Demon Hybrid: Olodoran Zagor, the title villain of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, is stated to be born from the union of a human and a demon, his father being Gerlekus Zagor, a Necromancer and practitioner of dark arts, and his mother being a female Hell Demon summoned by Gerlekus.
  • Humanoid Abomination:
    • Most of the opponents in Creatures of Chaos and Beneath Nightmare Castle.
    • Not to mention the Abomination from Dead of Night, a undead creature formed from the corpse of a necromancer.
  • Humongous Mecha: You pilot these in Robot Commando. They're typically used for a variety of everyday tasks, including the herding of dinosaurs.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: The most common healing items in the books are provisions, meals you can scarf down to deal with those nasty sword slashes.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: Very common. Just a few examples: the Desert of Skulls, Blood River, Plain of Bones, Mountains of Grief, Port Blacksand, Nightshriek Jungle.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: In many of the books the player can fail and be cooked and eaten by cannibals or other creatures.
  • Improvised Weapon: A few books have your character needing to pick up something that'll make a viable weapon such as House of Hell where your first weapon is a letter opener. This also shows up heavily in The Gates of Death where you'll be using things such as a fireplace iron and pitchfork.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: While there have been many powerful weapons in FF that aren't just a Magic Sword giving you +2 Attack Strength or +1 Skill, the ultimate weapon in your hands has to be the Trident of Skarlos that you can find in Beneath Nightmare Castle. It gives you +2 Attack Strength and +2 damage against undead (which is practically every enemy at this point). Against the last boss, it will do +5 damage because it takes an unnatural joy at skewering the hell out of him.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: The Chaos Warriors of the Warhammer universe appear here as well, possibly due to Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson being involved both with Fighting Fantasy and Games Workshop.
  • Intrepid Merchant: In some books, there'll be a person out in the wilderness or other dangerous place who's out to sell you a good or two.
  • Kaizo Trap: A reoccurring theme in several of these books, such as Crypt of the Sorcerer, Night Dragon, Legend of Zagor, where after the final battle, if your STAMINA stat is too low, even if you kill the Final Boss you will either die in the boss' collapsing lair or get killed by a last-minute booby trap you're too weak to avoid.
  • Karma Meter:
    • Honour in several of the books. In most of these books a sufficiently high Honour score nets bonuses towards the end, most prominently in enabling that book's Infinity +1 Sword.
      • In Sword of the Samurai, if Honour drops to 0, the main character automatically commits seppuku. On the other hand if you've managed to get it really high, you can unlock the full potential of the magic sword you're trying to recover from the Big Bad.
      • In Knights of Doom, the lower the PC's Honour, the easier it is to corrupt them, but getting it high is the only way to be worthy of the book's ultimate magic weapon, which of course is the only one that can hurt the Big Bad. Tower of Destruction has a stat with similar utility.
      • Honour also appears in Night Dragon, though it has little to no adverse effects.
    • In general, Luck sometimes acts as one, as the reader can be penalized points for doing cowardly or unheroic things like abandoning people in obvious need, but can get more for things like saving people in trouble if it takes the hero out of his way.
    • In Dead of Night, your character is a paladin who is constantly given the opportunity to commit unworthy or even downright wicked deeds. Any of these will increase your Evil rating, which if sufficiently high can cause you to automatically lose the game if you fail a dice roll.
    • Presence fulfills this role in Island of the Undead. It's a measure of the player's spirituality; the higher it is, the better-disposed Non Player Characters become, and better able to resist the influence of evil spirits is the player. It is necessary to perform one Presence-sapping action, though the book reassures you that it's done for the greater good.
  • Karmic Jackpot: While you're frequently penalized for various dick moves (see Video Game Cruelty Punishment, below), just as often you'll be rewarded for doing good and helping people out. You can regain LUCK points, gain cool new weapons or items, be cured of diseases, have curses removed, etc.
  • Kill It with Fire: This is the only way to kill creatures like Mandrakes, Gonchongs and Mummies.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: On the one hand, if you're not this, you'll run into challenges you can't beat, but sometimes the stuff you try to take ends up making villains arrive, or ages you, or does something else dangerous.
  • Knight In Shining Armour: You play as one in Knights of Doom.
  • Knight Templar: Averted. You play a templar in Knights of Doom, but doing well hinges in large part on acting like a proper defender of the weak and oppressed.
  • Joker Immunity: In a setting where demon princes and epic-level sorcerers keep getting killed, Lord Azzur and Baron Sukumvit have never faced any lethal payback despite showing up in the Titan background book as some of the most worst individuals on the planet. While it's justified with Sukumvit, whose sins are strictly limited to his lethal Trial of Champions and he's otherwise a fair ruler, Lord Azzur is not only the brutal kingpin of Port Blacksand, he's also had a hand in world-threatening activities like bringing back Zanbar Bone and trying to execute the good wizard Nicodemus in The Port of Peril.
  • Last-Minute Hookup: Sort of. In The Crimson Tide, the player can meet the protagonist of Black Vein Prophecy, who is now a king. The best ending includes introducing him to the Hachiman ambassador, and the two are soon deep in discussion. The PC idly wonders if this meeting will lead to more than just a trade agreement.
  • Lighter and Softer: The new books written under Scholastic are aimed more at a younger audience, the content and artwork cutdown on the gore and menace. The Scholatic house style artwork looks far more like The Last Kids on Earth than Ian McCaig's gritty, baroque work on City of Thieves and Deathtrap Dungeon. Meanwhile there's certainly death and some pretty ugly ones, but there isn't the outright horror found in some of the darker Fighting Fantasy books like House of Hell (though that one is one of the titles reprinted by Scholastic), Beneath Nightmare Castle or Dead of Night.
  • Lizard Folk: Lizard Men are a reoccurring enemy in several gamebooks. Some of them, like Island of the Lizard King and Battleblade Warrior, exclusively features the player hero battling against the tyranny of hostile Lizard Men.
  • Lost in Translation:
    • Alarmingly bad in the non-English editions. Many books require the reader to work out a number hidden in a riddle or a name, which may depend on an acrostic, a pun, or converting a word into a number using an alphanumeric code. Translators usually just translated these directly without concern for lost information, rendering the acrostics and puns meaningless. The riddles could potentially be saved, but the code would lead to a different reference, and the paragraph numbers were not updated in the translation. This all meant that many books were unwinnable except in English.
    • Averted in most of the German translations, however. Even a set of two riddles based on converting letters to numbers and adding them up was done properly in the German version of Sword of the Samurai.
    • The Hungarian translations take great pains to transplant every riddle correctly as well. Not too surprising, given that Hungary has a very large and active fantasy/roleplaying scene with several publishing companies dedicated solely to it, one of which publishes the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks.
  • Luck-Based Mission:
    • In the first part of Creature of Havoc, your character is almost mindless, so instead of choosing what to do, you have to roll dice.
    • The final confrontation of City of Thieves is another example. A wizard tells you that to kill the demonic Big Bad of the book you have to collect three alchemical ingredients and rub the mixture from them in his face. After you leave the city and before you enter the villain's stronghold, you get a message from the wizard that he remembered wrong: you have to use a mixture of only two of those ingredients out of three possible combinations, but he doesn't remember which one, and you're asked to lock in your decision with no guidance before you even start the final dungeon. Meaning you can get through all the dangers of a tough last area, incapacitate the final boss, and then still die and have to start all over because of the 66% probability of making the wrong random choice. At least this frustrates the player's avatar too.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: A recurring trope in the books, although how exactly any given shield will protect you varies Depending on the Writer. Some shields will give you a SKILL bonus, others reduce the amount of damage you take in combat, and still others guard against specific hazards ranging from arrows to magical lightning bolts to a Manticore's tail spikes.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: The player character of Black Vein Prophecy.
  • Magical Weapon: Certain types of entity can only be harmed by magical weapons, so you occasionally get "magic swords" which don't have any powers beyond being generically magic. In Vault of the Vampire, you could get one as a second best if you were severely lacking in hit points and unwilling to undergo the Blood Magic ritual that got you the Sword of Plot Advancement.
  • The Many Deaths of You: You can die in combat, but you can also suffer a number of "instant death" fates, ranging from being permanently imprisoned to crushed beneath a falling ceiling to passing out from the poisonous fumes in a monster's lair and then being devoured by said monster to being paralysed and devoured by the undead.
  • Meaningful Name: Lord Mortis, Malbordus, Balthus Dire, The Voivod — guess which side these guys are on.
  • Mercy Kill: Some books, such as Island of the Undead, have a part where you'll gain luck for putting some poor wretch out of their misery.
  • Metafiction: To win Magehunter, you have to listen to Al-Bakbuk's brother tell a story, which quickly turns out to be a metaphor for the story thus far, and which turns up Reinhardt's surprising secret.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Among other examples, the very first encounter in the second book is a pair of gate guards who include a gorilla with a dog's head and a dog with a gorilla's head.
  • Monster Knight: Chaos Warriors are particularly vicious examples. They appear in a few Ian Livingstone-penned books, and are Canon Immigrants from Warhammer, which Livingstone had a hand in producing as co-founder of Games Workshop.
  • Mook Chivalry: Present in most of the books, until very recently. There were rules for dealing with more than one attacker starting from the first book, but they were used rarely and most of the time the enemies would attack one at a time.
  • Most Writers Are Human: Out of 60+ books, the number where your protagonist isn't human can be counted on one hand. In Sky Lord you're a 4-armed alien, Phantoms of Fear you're an Elf shaman and Creature of Havoc you are a large monster (but you were human and in the good ending, you return to being human).
  • Mr. Exposition: Gereth Yaztromo and, to a lesser extent, Astragal.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous:
    • You, in Sky Lord.
    • Several enemies are this, notably the Kalundai in Legend of the Shadow Warriors, with six arms wielding six sabres, and Myurr in Dead of Night with four arms. Needless to say, it makes them very tough to fight.
  • Multiple Endings: Usually, there's one good ending and a bunch of horrible deaths, though a few books have poor-but-not-awful endings. Robot Commando is, as its rules run-down notes, one of the few books in the series where a total victory is possible in multiple ways, including one with minimal fighting and no proper boss battle.
  • Mutants: Another recurring enemy is a mutant of some kind. Similar to Warhammer Fantasy Battle, mutants are Always Chaotic Evil — being a product of body-warping energies from dark forces or else monstrous experiments from a Mad Scientist or Evil Sorcerer. Titan is one of those settings that'd love to have an army of X-Men: Sentinels.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Most of the major villains have these. E.g. sorcerer-warlord Balthus Dire, Zanbar Bone the demon-lich, bloodthirsty general Vlax the Slayer...
  • Necromantic: The son of Doktor Kauderwelsch in Moonrunner seeks to bring back his mother. His first attempt involves placing his mother's brain into a body assembled from the spare parts of the inmates of Craven Asylum. He later tries to transplant the brain into the body of the main character.
  • Nigh-Invulnerable: Many demonic and undead enemies are immune to normal weapons and if you don't have a magic sword and an escape option, then the monster would kill you automatically. Zanbar Bone takes the cake: to kill him your character first has to shoot him through the heart with a silver arrow. This only paralyses him for a short time; then you must rub a mixture of witches' hair and black lotus into his eye sockets. He is immune to everything else. See Luck-Based Mission above for more on why this is particularly frustrating.
  • Nintendo Hard:
    • Most of the books are designed to entertain and amuse adolescent and young-adult readers. Creature of Havoc, however, is designed to make you kill yourself in frustration.
    • Some of Ian Livingstone's books are also unpleasant in this regard, forcing you into constant combats, many of which are against extremely hard enemies. What's exceptionally galling about Livingstone is that sometimes he doesn't even give you any Provisions (the general equivalent to Healing Potions) to start out with, and you have precious few opportunities to heal at all.
    • Crypt of the Sorcerer (another of Livingstone's) ties with the aforementioned Creature of Havoc for the most unfairly difficult book in the entire series. Even if you make all the correct choices and have the highest possible stats, there's still a chance of being randomly killed (e.g. at one point you must roll a dice: if you roll a 1, you die — and no amount of Luck or magic items can save you) or weakened to the point you can no longer defeat the Big Bad... However, what really sets this particular book apart is the final battle: provided you have the highest possible Skill score (12), you have a mere 5.5% chance of winning.
  • No Fair Cheating:
    • Midnight Rogue had one of these as well and another where if you attempted to pull out a magic weapon to fight a gargoyle, the book would tell you that there is no way you could have acquired one yet and tell you to start over, "honestly this time". Since you play a thief in this book that is a bit rich...
    • Tower of Destruction has a section that gives the reader a slap on the wrist for cheating at one point, as it terminates the current sequence and denies you any further advantages you might've been able to find instead of just ending the game.
    • More annoyingly, Black Vein Prophecy and The Crimson Tide each have a situation where the player must fail a dice roll in order to win.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished:
    • Trying to help a fellow galley slave at the start of Masters of Chaos just gets you whipped instead.
    • This is subverted other times, however. For example, in Deathtrap Dungeon, there's a scene where you see an elven warrior being crushed to death by a boa constrictor. Choosing not to help her doesn't have any real repercussions. If you do try to help her, however, it's too late to save her life, but she gives you a valuable hint before she dies, and you gain an item that restores your health AND another that lets you get past a very dangerous monster later without fighting it.
  • No Ontological Inertia: After the villain of Spectral Stalkers dies, all of his creations die with him and his castle starts to fall apart.
  • Noun Verber: Star Strider, Moonrunner, Magehunter, Spellbreaker, Stormslayer.
  • Numerical Theme Naming: The traitor in Masks of Mayhem has a number hidden in their name (Ifor Tynin) to tell you which reference to turn to when your character realizes they have been betrayed. Genre-savvy players will have identified him as the traitor the moment they saw his name written down.
  • One-Hit Kill: In some books, you have the pleasure of being able to kill a foe in a single hit depending on the circumstance:
    • In the Fighting Fantasy book Creature of Havoc, the Player Character is a hulking Monstrous Humanoid with a 1-in-6 chance each combat roll of landing a Critical Hit that instantly kills its opponent. It can also accidentally drink a potion that suppresses this power.
    • In Freeway Fighter and The Rings of Kether, you can do this but only in vehicular combat and are limited by ammo. The first example, your car has rockets to blow up enemies while the second, your spaceship has smart missiles to vapourize them.
    • In Rebel Planet, humans (and it's only humans) have taken to mastering the martial arts against their alien oppressors, the Arcadians. Human fighters know all the pressure points on Arcadians and humans, so they have a chance to kill either species if they fight them unarmed (making your character's laser sword kinda pathetic barring a skill penalty for being unarmed).
    • In Slaves of the Abyss, your character is a master with their sword of Fangthane steel. With this weapon and only this, your character will instantly kill enemies if you roll a pair of 6 for your Attack Strength.
    • In Starship Traveller, if you successfully shoot someone with a phaser - they're either dead or stunned depending on the weapon's setting. Unfortunately your enemies have the same advantage (except for one "primitive" species that uses a rocket staff - your Medical Officer has a chance of stabilizing crew that have been struck, preventing them from dying).
  • One Stat to Rule Them All: Skill. Having a high score made fights much easier since the combat mechanics are simple opposed rolls rather than anything more nuanced. No need to worry about low stamina if most enemies can barely get a hit in and you never need to use precious luck points to affect combats as you can simply wear enemies down with repeated standard hits.
  • One-Winged Angel: Quite a few, but especially the Archmage from the Sorcery! series and Count Varcolac Wulfen from Howl of the Werewolf. The Big Bad of Stormslayer deserves mention for doing this no less than four times before the actual Final Battle! Fortunately, these battles can be skipped.
  • Only in It for the Money: A few of the gamebooks don't actually involve your character saving the city/kingdom/continent/world from a deadly magical threat. In some cases, your character is just out to line his pockets with as much loot as possible.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The Slave Warriors from Portal of Evil. They don't eat flesh and retain just enough of their minds to wield weapons, albeit clumsily. In all other respects, they're zombies.
    • Normally zombies are tough, damage sponges but not in Blood of the Zombies. These zombies fall apart with a single hit even if all you have is a butterknife.
  • Out-Gambitted: Lord Carnuss's attempt to humiliate his brother Baron Sukumvit (see Win Your Freedom, below) backfires when Sukumvit immediately offers you another prize, namely that of having any wish you want granted. As Sukumvit cleverly foresaw, you want nothing more than to kill Carnuss and avenge all the other slaves who died in his arena, and you demand to fight a duel with him. If you win, Sukumvit still has to pay the 20,000 gold pieces, but chances are he views that as a worthwhile price to pay to be rid of his hated brother.
  • The Paladin: You play powerful Holy Knight with a blessed blade and arcane skills in Dead of Night and Knights of Doom.
  • Permanently Missable Content: Ian Livingstone's books are particularly bad for this — you have one chance only to get the Plot Coupons you need to win the game, and very few (if any) of them are signposted.
  • Pet the Dog: Lord Azzur is the tyrannical ruler of Port Blacksand, the otherwise hopelessly corrupt and vile City of Thieves. While Azzur was a notorious pirate and murderer before he seized control of Blacksand, he indulges some rather odd acts of charity, including providing a luxurious home for a woman abducted by the evil Snake Men of the Desert of Skulls and left with the head of a giant snake, and celebrating the New Year by executing several of Port Blacksand's wealthiest citizens and donating their riches to the poor. Subverted in the Blacksand! sourcebook, when the entry for his first charity executions is immediately followed in the timeline by "Several of the now-rich citizens from last year's poor are killed in this year's charity executions." Fine sense of irony, that tyrant. The reader can even use Azzur's care of the Serpent Queen (the lady with the snake head) to their advantage in City of Thieves. If the player character enters the Serpent Queen's home, they can avoid a fairly difficult fight by presenting her with flowers and saying they are from Lord Azzur. She takes the gift with delight and gives the player a small tip.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything:
    • It's long been rumored that you can successfully complete Starship Traveller without ever having to roll the dice. These rumors are correct, meaning you rolled up an entire crew of elite spacefarers for nothing.
    • Viciously averted with the pirates you face in other books, who are dangerous sea vermin and always tough opponents, with three major villains being or having been pirate captains.
  • Plant Person: The Mandrakes from Legend of the Shadow Warriors, a magical plant species that can mimic a human being.
  • Post-Final Boss: Occurs in some of the books. You have to fight yet another opponent after dealing with the all-powerful Big Bad, although in most of these cases the follow-up battle isn't as difficult as the boss itself. Such as in Masks of Mayhem and Master of Chaos. Taken to ridiculous extremes in Night Dragon: after dealing with the titular dragon, the dragon's skull detaches itself, grows legs, and attacks you!
  • Power Up Let Down: Some of the early books had this for weapons and armour you found. That's because those items only granted a Skill point but not to Initial Skill. That meant they only served to prevent skill loss if your character was crippled somehow. Magic swords sometimes still had some use as they could hurt enemies that were immune to normal weapons, but monsters of this type didn't show up in the earliest books. Later books made sure to have new equipment be useful for any adventurer.
  • Print Long-Runners: The series has been running since 1982, including a seven-year gap between 1995 and 2002. There are currently 71 "main series" gamebooks across the different publishers, plus the four-volume Sorcery! spinoff, the two-volume Clash of the Princes boxed set which forms a two-player adventure, two supplementary titles (Out of the Pit lists various monsters, Titan is a guide to the world of Fighting Fantasy), two books that adapt the rules for a Tabletop RPG, four books in the Advanced Fighting Fantasy RPG system, seven novels, a magazine that ran for three years, the 10th Anniversary Yearbook, and the 25th Anniversary edition of Warlock of Firetop Mountain. And that's not even counting the ever-growing list of titles in the Advanced Fighting Fantasy 2nd edition catalog published by Arion Games (which includes the sci-fi spin-off Stellar Adventures).
  • Product Placement: In Star Strider: one of the insert pictures shows an ad for Coke on the side of a bus.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: The Shadow Warriors.
  • Red Herring: As time went on, in order to provide a challenge for readers, the writers started including items which would only hinder the player.
    • For example, in House of Hell the player is encouraged to look for the Man in Grey. This character does exist, and he is an enemy of the antagonists, but the information he gives you won't help you much.
    • Goes all the way back to the very first book, which featured a Y-shaped stick whose only function is to break and be useless.
  • The Rest Shall Pass:
    • When you're making your way through the villain's lair in Portal of Evil, you can rescue two of his prisoners. If you do, they'll help you fight the villain's bodyguards. Rescue both of them and they'll each take on one of the guards and free you up to take on the villain.
    • More generally, there are several books in which you'll have other people traveling with you when you run into multiple monsters. Your companions will take on some of the monsters and leave you to to deal with one or more of the others, although you usually only have to roll dice for yourself.
  • Retraux: Blood of the Zombies, the book published to mark the thirtieth anniversary, used the original logo and green spine the Puffin books featured.
  • Revive Kills Zombie: In Legend of the Shadow Warriors, the only true way to defeat the undead Big Bad Voivod is to use the Spear of Doom's power to resurrect him.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: After being forced to kill your friend, you can take a swipe at the Trialmaster who pitted you against him in Deathtrap Dungeon.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: In at least two of the books you play a king or prince who goes on a quest to save his kingdom.
  • Samurai: The player character of Sword of the Samurai, naturally enough. A group of samurai also appear in The Crimson Tide.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: The Dr. Welsch illustration in Moonrunner.
  • Schmuck Bait: And lots of it.
    • Unguarded treasure chest? Turns out to be a monster.
    • Feel like helping yourself to a diamond the size of a fist that's just lying around with nothing guarding it? Yeah, better not, unless you fancy being turned into a person sized diamond yourself.
    • Choice of two candles to light a pitch-black room? The one that stays alight for longer feeds on your blood.
    • Just before the end of Dead of Night, your brother's "ghost" shows up and tells you to jump out a window at the top of a high tower in order to reach Myurr. Guess what happens.
    • There are three cases of this with the Final Boss of Space Assassin. (The guy is a Faux Affably Evil type and a Bad Liar.) He first offers you a drink. (It's poisoned.) If you don't fall for that, he asks for a Last Request and asks to play cards. (He's trying to distract you to get a weapon.) And if you don't fall for that, he threatens you with what he claims is a lethal weapon. (It's nothing but an old clock.) The worst part about all this is, even you're smart enough not to believe any of his lies, there's still a fight, and it isn't easy.
    • But not always, because sometimes the books try to trick you this way. The original Deathtrap Dungeon is full of places that play this Trope straight. However, In one place, a sad-looking ghostly girl recites a poem to you, and later it becomes clear she's urging you to dive into a pool of water at the end of a corridor. While this seems like an obvious attempt to trick you into jumping into a flooded subterranean tunnel with no exit, she's telling the honest-to-goodness truth. Not only is it safe, but if you don't believe her, you won't find a crucial item you need to win the game.
    • Drinking red "wine" in a vampire's castle isn't a smart move.
  • Sea Monster: A few pop up, but the most notable example would be the Kraken from Demons of the Deep. Either that, or the Abyssal Horror from Stormslayer.
  • Secret Test of Character: One of the rooms you walk into in Deathtrap Dungeon is empty save for a disembodied voice which gives you the opportunity to praise or insult Baron Sukhumvit. If you praise him, the voice condemns you as a sycophant and the room begins to fill with water, where you will drown if you fail a Test of Skill. Insulting the Baron earns you the admiration of the voice, and a very useful magic item.
  • Secret Test of Thieving Skill: The whole plot of Midnight Rogue turns out to be set up as your character's final exam from the Thieves' Guild.
  • Separate, but Identical: The Nomad Games versions allow you to pick between an Elf and Paladin (these two are the lone female icons), a Dwarf, a Barbarian, a Rogue and a Chaos Warrior. The only difference between them is the artwork, otherwise they have the exact same stats and talent choice.
  • Seppuku: You automatically do this in Sword of the Samurai if your Honour drops to 0.
  • Sequel Episode:
    • The very first book, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, received a follow-up ten years later for the series' 50th release, Return to Firetop Mountain. Return was itself followed shortly after by Legend of Zagor. Legend of Zagor itself was also a sequel to a "Puzzle Art Book" called "Casket of Souls", causing a crossover (Zagor fusing with the Big Bad Demon from that book).
    • Deathtrap Dungeon was followed by Trial of Champions, which uses a different player character attempting the Trial in a different year; Armies of Death features the same player character from Trial.
    • The Forest Of Doom has a follow-up in Temple of Terror where the hero who had recovered the Hammer of Gillibran is now on a quest from Yaztromo and learnt a few spells from him too.
    • The Crimson Tide has a follow-up on the events of Black Vein Prophecy (with cameos from the player character and several others) at the end.
    • Revenge of the Vampire is a direct sequel to Vault of the Vampire.
    • The Port of Peril to City of Thieves, written thirty-plus years after the original. With Assassins of Allansia being a sequel of one, most likely the former.
  • Shoplift and Die: Generally justified that the shopkeeper who forged the items he's selling is a powerful wizard, or the vendor just throws an item of merchandise at you and scoots away. Yaztromo is polite enough to warn you twice before unleashing Forced Transformation on you. You later run into a talking crow who was a thief who had this happen to him...
  • Shout-Out:
    • Ian Livingstone and his teammates appear as minor NPCs with real-world names (albeit sometimes spelled phonetically-"Fyll" instead of Phil, "Ndroo" instead of Drew, etc.), and can offer help to the player.
    • Another example is in the more recent Eye of the Dragon, where shopkeeper Thomas Peppercorn is a dead ringer for Livingstone, although he's not a sailor.
    • Hobbits appear in Creature of Havoc.
    • Legend of the Shadow Warriors:
      • In the illustrations, the titular bad guys look exactly like the Golden Vampires in the Hammer Horror/Shaw Brothers crossover oddity The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires.
      • The Mandrakes of the travelling Circus of Dreams are basically pod people.
      • The subliminal messages you see through the mirror in the aforementioned circus' Big Top are a clear reference to They Live!
    • Moonrunner contains a ludicrous number of Shout-Outs to different horror movies:
  • Show Within a Show: In Magehunter, to defeat Mencius, you listen to a story by Al-Haddar, which starts out as a metaphor for your own adventure — Jaddar pursued the evil Abdul Al-Azrad with his magic bow. Abdul escapes, but Jaddar pursues, and en route encounters a man who tells him the story of a prince who befriended an evil wizard. In this substory, the wizard was captured but the prince freed him, and the wizard turned him into a lion. The lion prince wandered the land in desolation and eventually came across a genie, who had to kill him. First, however, the genie told the lion prince the story of his brother to explain why he had to kill him. The genie's brother was a great genie, but he was killed by his jealous brother. The brother was thrown out of the tower, and when he tried to get in, he found his way blocked by a snake, a lion, and a raven, and he was instructed to kill the most dangerous. At this point, the story transitions to second-person choose your own adventure style, but still has Al-Haddar's quotation marks. When the most dangerous animal is dead, the hero is approached by an exile prince who asks for aid — and at this point Al-Haddar stops narrating.
  • Sidequest Sidestory: Some of the more ambitious books in the series feature these as opposed to having to follow one incredibly specific path to be able to win, giving you the option of going through them to win items or other benefits that will help in the endgame.
  • Signature Style:
    • Ian Livingstone's books have varied settings, enthralling atmosphere and powerful and enjoyable travelling companions, but consist mostly in Dungeon Crawling, usually with a single mandatory path to victory, requiring the player to collect a ton of items and trinkets, and usually to open every door and pick a fight with everyone they meet in order to find them all. The markedly different style of Legend of Zagor created a Running Gag within the fandom that Livingstone had taken the credit for the book from Keith Martin and buried him in his back garden. note 
    • Steve Jackson is more experimental, always trying new ideas and situations. His books have deep background, but often require the player to collect items in order to avoid hard battles. The notorious style shift within the series' very first book The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, frequently registered when its infamous "maze" section comes up, is a result of Jackson and Livingstone essentially writing half the adventure each and simply jamming the two parts together to create the finished volume.
    • Paul Mason's books require the player to take an incredibly narrow, specific path, but also tend to have the most complex stories, featuring actual plot twists. To make up for the restriction, he often includes a few mediocre endings and hollow victories in addition to the optimum ending and failures.
    • American Steve Jackson (see Names the Same in the Trivia section) stands in direct contrast to Mason. His books feature non-linear stories that give the reader multiple paths to success and multiple good endings. Like Mason, he allows the reader to revisit locations.
    • Dave Morris and Jamie Thomson collaborated on Keep of the Lich-Lord. The book features optional miniquests, a heavy sense of atmosphere, passwords, multiple (optional) weapon upgrades, and more-expressive-than-usual supporting characters. All five staples are prominently featured in their own series, The Fabled Lands.
    • Stephen Hand puts very detailed settings with well-developed backgrounds. His books feature many plot-relevant non-player characters, with multiple paths to success, and more Shout Outs to movie villains and horror monsters per book that can be counted. Most of his books also include complex plots and many enigmas, and villains that can rarely be faced in straightforward fights, forcing you to rely on your wits to reach them, let alone to win. A Guile Hero who thinks before they slash he wants you to be.
    • Jonathan Green specializes in Überwald settings and plots that transpose staples of the horror genre and their most famous stories (coven of wizards, demons, mummies, Ghost Pirates, werewolves, ghosts searching to unmask their assassin, you name it) into the franchise's setting. He also uses codewords and alphanumeric codes to measure your progress. While his first books had a single path to victory and many unforgiving That One Bosses, his recent works are much more diverse and more open. They offer a large number of optional side quests and different branches, with multiple different ways of fighting the endgame by means of Plot Coupons with huge Replay Value: It's possible to go through some of them six or seven times without seeing everything.
    • Keith Martin's books usually feature long and thoroughly detailed quests, having you exploring various wide landscapes with many different settings, leaving you free to go pretty much wherever you want and little penalty for skipping sections, for enormous Replay Value potential. He also adds detailed scenery, enthralling atmosphere, fleshed out Non-Player Characters, and battles with a charismatic and considerably powerful Final Boss (thankfully made much easier with an Infinity +1 Sword and some trinkets collected in a Gotta Catch Them All quest), and often a much easier True Final Boss fought in the Golden Ending.
  • Significant Anagram:
    • The Trialmaster in Deathtrap Dungeon gives you two anagrams to solve, each one the name of a monster. After solving them, you choose one, and then fight the monster. The anagrams are NO CROP IS: "Scorpion", and RUIN MOAT: "Minotaur". The Minotaur is easier to fight.
    • A vitally important instance of this occurs in House of Hell. Inside one room is a kris knife, which is the only weapon that can be used to slay the Big Bad, but it has a magically locked door for which you will need to utter the correct password in order to enter. You have the opportunity to learn this password by getting a manservant drunk. When his tongue loosens enough to tell you the password, his brain is so addled he can't remember it anymore, telling you it's like the name of the house, but all mixed up. "Drumer" is an anagram for "murder", which is the password that lets you into the room.
  • Slave Galley: You get to start Master of Chaos by going undercover as a galley slave. Played straight in Trial of Champions.
  • Sliding Scale of Linearity vs. Openness: Many of the books are level 1 or 2; Ian Livingstone is infamously known for this. The most ambitious books — especially Jonathan Green's three all-new books for the Wizard series (Howl of the Werewolf, Stormslayer and Night of the Necromancer) — manage to reach level 4 or 5, usually by keeping track of events with codeword systems. Robot Commando is still the reigning champion with not only giving you absolute freedom of movement but even a way to achieve a fully victorious ending without fighting the Big Bad.
  • Smug Super: The dog-headed Prefectas from Sky Lord are an entire race of "perfect warriors". They are defeated by cloning another group of Prefectas who are even more unbelievably arrogant than the first, sparking an Enemy Civil War.
  • Snake Talk: The Demon Prince Myurr ssssssspeakssss like this in Dead of Night because he is a ssssssssnake demon.
    Myurr: Greetingss, Demon-Ssstalker. Welcome to the culmination of my plansss.
  • SNK Boss: A lot of bosses are super-strong and super-cheap. Special mention for Razaak in Crypt of the Sorcerer: if you even manage to get to him, he has top stats and will kill you instantly if he hits you twice in a row.
  • Sociopathic Hero: There are a couple of occasions where you have to perform some rather unconscionable acts to get the best possible outcome.
    • In Crypt of the Sorcerer, you have to kill the defenseless keeper of the Valley of Bones (which penalizes you right off the bat) and steal one of his rings, which you need to awaken the undead in the graveyard. Some readers found the book frustrating.
    • In The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, Zagor is just sitting in his lair, minding his own business, when in barges this bounty hunter who wrecked the place and stole all his stuff, who kills him. Amongst Zagor's stuff that the player loots is a spellbook that shows the owner how to control the monsters of Firetop Mountain. That's right: the hero has the option to become an Evil Overlord should they feel like it.
  • Solo Tabletop Game: Designed as an early experiment for solitaire Roleplaying.
  • Some Day This Will Come In Handy:
    • As a basic rule for these books, grab everything that's not nailed down. If one of the available items is a claw hammer, ignore the last four words of the previous sentence.
    • At the start of Forest of Doom, you have the option to buy a whole bunch of magic items from a merchant, and almost all (except for a few red herrings) will be useful in some encounter you may have, either auto-succeeding a skill roll or just plain save your life. You don't have enough money to buy everything at the start, but since this book actually allows you to try again rather than give a Bad Ending if you didn't find the plot items, and you've been finding valuables all over the forest, a second attempt will allow you to test those babies out.
  • Space Police: You play a Space DEA Agent in The Rings of Kether.
  • Spikes of Villainy: A Chaos Champion from Trial of Champions wears plate armor that is literally covered in spikes. And he wields a spiked mace. Practically all Chaos Warriors or Champions in the series sport this look.
  • Spirit World: The dream-world in Phantoms of Fear and the Dreamtime in Night Dragon. The former also overlaps with Dark World.
  • Squishy Wizard: Averted, repeatedly. A lot of the final bosses are evil sorcerers of one sort or another, and they tend to be the toughest fight in the book. You also get to play a very tough, sword-swinging wizard yourself in Citadel of Chaos off to fight a surprisingly beefy wizard who is as much a Badass in sword-fighting as in magic.
  • Tagline: The Scholastic imprint has been using "May Your Stamina Never Fail You!"
  • Take a Third Option: A lot of dangerous encounters give you an alternative to fighting, and some even give you an alternative to that.
    • For example, in Space Assassin, there's a place where you have to get by a sentry who won't let you pass unless you answer a riddle. You can actually answer the riddle, which gets you by without a fight, or you can fight him (not recommended, seeing as he uses a disintegrator, which means he wins the fight if he makes one successful attack), or you can use options that involve items from your inventory, assuming you have them. (Although one of these options carries a risk of making him angry and forcing you into the fight option.) Note that the first option (answering the riddle) seems to be the proper option, because the challenge in the next room is much harder if you get past him any other way.
    • Some of the more ambitious gamebooks hid options from you; the notoriously Nintendo Hard Creature of Havoc has several items or options that you aren't prompted to use but you have to deduct or add to a reference number to get a new reference number to use certain items (for example, a pendant that can find secret doors that requires you to add 20 to the reference number you are on at the time to use it). Notably, one of these options has to be used in a section that ends in your death to win the game.
    • The spin-off series The Cretan Chronicles has a system where at certain points you can add 20 to the section number to attempt a nonstandard action. If no such action is available, you are penalized for trying to be ahead of your time.
    • Both Zagor and Balthus Dire (the Big Bads of the first two books) can be defeated without a fight if you make the right choices.
  • Tap on the Head: A majority of the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks have the player character get knocked unconscious by blunt objects. Some of these situations can be avoided while others are forced on the reader. The players could wake up to find that they suffer a stamina decrease, their items have been looted, suffer no ill effects or in cases even instant death!
  • Terrible Trio: Balthus Dire, Zagor and Zarradan Marr, back in their apprentice days. They eventually went their separate ways and became rivals.
  • There Are No Tents: Generally averted, but any option to sleep outdoors rather than the safety of an inn will usually incur penalties.
  • Too Awesome to Use: The Crystal Club in Creature of Havoc can kill any opponent outright no matter what, but shatters upon use. It's also an item required to use against the Final Boss to reach the Golden Ending.
  • Treacherous Quest Giver: The Twist Ending to Masks of Mayhem.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: This happens a lot of times, especially when picking up objects.
    • How are you supposed to know that this glove in that box is going to make you permanently weaker while that ring in that very same box enhances your agility?
    • Most of the books require you to collect several MacGuffins (the keys in The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, the hammer parts in The Forest of Doom). There is usually little to no indication of where they are, and getting one often requires success in two or three previous encounters, with no indication at the time that those are important. If you miss one, you have to start over again, as there is no way to backtrack. Players were intended to play the book many times and map the whole thing, as a way to give the books Fake Longevity.
  • True Final Boss: Katarina Heydrich in both Vault of the Vampire and its sequel Revenge of the Vampire. Naas the Dark Elf in Master of Chaos. The Traitor Ifor Tynin in Masks of Mayhem. They overlap with Post-Final Boss, being much weaker than the villain fought before them.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: You eventually learn that Mad Scientist L'Bastin from Sky Lord has been usurped by his creations, the dog-headed Prefectas.
  • Turns Red: At least one Boss Battle does this; if Count Heydrich of Vault of the Vampire is reduced to 4 Stamina points he will try biting your throat, which will kill you outright if he manages to hit you twice.
  • Turn Undead:
    • Most books with many undead enemies provide you with a spell that can banish them without fight, notably in Knights of Doom.
    • In Dead of Night, one of the talents you can choose as the Demon-Stalker is "Banish Undead" which, well, banish undead monsters. It's also the Achilles' Heel of the Blight Demons.
    • The Keep of the Lich-Lord features the Charm of Unbinding, an exceptionally powerful variation that obliterates every undead around at once, and can prove vital against the Big Bad.
    • Night of the Necromancer uses it as a twist: Since you are a ghost, many characters mistaking you for an evil spirit will use it against you.
  • Un-Cancelled: Book number 50, Return to Firetop Mountain, was intended to end the series at a round number and bring it full circle, but it sold well enough for the series to continue for another 9 (technically 10) books.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable:
    • In The Crimson Tide, the player starts out as a child with a maximum SKILL score of 6, as opposed to the usual 12. Unfortunately, the editor of the book failed to realize this and increased the maximum SKILL of one of the first monsters you encounter from 6 to 12, thereby making the game more or less completely unwinnable at time of publication (since the error became apparent and the author of the book described the editor as "an idiot", most people reduce the monster's SKILL score accordingly).
    • The notoriously Nintendo Hard Creature of Havoc has a system of finding secret doors by subtracting from the current reference you are on if it begins with "You find yourself..." The paragraph that contains a secret door you need to find to progress in the game does not begin with this.
  • Unlikely Hero: The player character in House of Hell. You're pretty much an average joe who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. (This is reflected by the fact that you start the adventure unarmed, resulting in a penalty to your Skill until you actually find a weapon.)
  • Unwinnable by Design: In more than a few books if you fail to pick up the right item, 50 pages later you find that you're completely screwed.
    • Caverns of the Snow Witch: if you roll too low for your initial statistics, half-way through the book, you die.
    • Steve Jackson is a big fan of using this as cruelly as possible; House of Hell and Creature of Havoc both contain multiple areas with large decision trees where every path leads to death. Two battles in Creature of Havoc are unwinnable, as they will simply restart every time you win (by means of trapping you in an infinite loop of the same three or four sections), until you run out of Stamina. One is a fight against a constantly respawning number of Chaos Warriors, the other is against the undead Quimmel Bone, who will simply reform every time you win.
    • Crypt of the Sorcerer is notorious in this regard; you must follow a very specific path and pick up the right items or information, or you will die. Thing is, it usually won't happen immediately, but some 50 paragraphs later...
    • Howl of the Werewolf is generally quite lenient about this (if you don't collect all the Plot Coupons it's still possible to win the game, just a bit trickier), with one exception: if you attempt the vampire hunting sidequest and fail to kill its Optional Boss properly, then you lose the game at the point where you would otherwise have won.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: You can commit some acts of cruelty sometimes, but it is never good for your karma.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: As noted above, you'll get burned by this if you commit certain dick acts. Sometimes you'll lose SKILL, STAMINA or LUCK, sometimes you'll be cursed with some sort of negative effect, or you may simply suffer an instant death.
    • A notable subversion occurs in Crypt of the Sorcerer, where you have to kill the Bonekeeper to get an item that lets you get another item that you need to avoid an extremely hard fight later on in the book. Unfortunately, you're still hit with a major LUCK penalty for doing so.
    • Another subversion occurs in Vault of the Vampire with the Cloudcuckoolander Wilhelm Heydrich. If you attack and kill him, you'll suffer a LUCK penalty... but if you catch him in an Ax-Crazy mood and he attacks you first, you will not be punished for killing him.
  • Villain Protagonist: The chance to play an out-and-out bad guy comes up surprisingly frequently in the series. You get to play a pirate in Seas of Blood, a thief in Midnight Rogue and a few books offer options to go an evil route (such as Scorpion Swamp).
  • Violation of Common Sense: There is at least one instance (specifically in Black Vein Prophecy) of having to fail a stat check to get an item required to win the book.
  • Wax On, Wax Off: Menial tasks give you valuable combat experience in The Crimson Tide.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: One of the ways you can kill the warlock Balthus Dire in Citadel of Chaos is by pulling down the curtain in the room, exposing him to sunlight, which immediately drains his life and kills him.
  • Weapon of X-Slaying: In most books in which you set out to defeat a specific evil (Chaos Warriors, Undead, Demons, and the like), there is one to be found and make battles much easier. It is very often the only way to stand a chance against the Final Boss. Overlaps with Infinity +1 Sword, as they always give you a hefty power boost.
    • House of Hell: Hell Demons can only be harmed by the powerful Kris dagger, which you must obtain before the final confrontation.
    • Beneath Nightmare Castle: The Trident of Skarlos was made to destroy the undead and abominations created through sorcery.
    • Night Dragon: You must recover a sword made specifically to slay the Night Dragon, who's actually paralyzed with fear in front of the weapon, allowing you to automatically win the first round of combat.
    • Many of the series' main villains are vulnerable to their own weapons, which you must obtain to even complete the game. Including Razaak's sword in Crypt of the Sorcerer, the Lizard King's Fire Sword in Island of the Lizard King, the Nightstar from Vault of the Vampire which deals massive damage to Count Heydrich, among others.
    • Stormslayer is a little different in this regard: the magic sword you start with gives you bonuses against dragons, but not the elementals that make up the majority of the monsters you fight. It's magical mainly to skip over the question of how you can hurt such monsters. Regardless there are a few dragons to fight in the book, so the bonus is still applicable.
    • Subverted with The Spear of Doom from Legend of the Shadow Warriors. You use it NOT to kill Voivod, the main villain, but to resurrect him back to human form. Killing Voivod in battle will only have him resurrecting immediately and killing you on the spot.
  • We Sell Everything: You can run into various merchants and shop owners who employ this trope. Ian Livingstone is particularly fond of this trope, and these stores will inevitably have one or more seemingly-useless trinkets that turn out to be an important Plot Coupon.
  • What Have I Become?: In Portal of Evil, the warlord Horfak will undergo a Villainous Breakdown if you reveal his hideously disfigured features with a mirror. The portal is forced to destroy his mind to bend the former mine-owner to its will; while he will still fight you, he is now just another slave warrior and significantly weaker.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • After your home village is decimated at the start of Tower of Destruction, you can either start clearing away rubble and helping the survivors or you can start gathering up supplies for yourself by basically looting the ruins. Your fellow townsfolk do not appreciate your apparent opportunism.
    • You can get a few moments like this from the gamebooks themselves, such as by killing the harmless goblin children in Citadel of Chaos, or killing the blacksmith in City of Thieves, the latter of which actually punishes you with a Luck deduction.
    • In Portal of Evil you can find yourself in a position where you have to rob a merchant of 10 gold pieces in order to pay for food. You need one of these to pay for the provisions, and if you refuse to hand over the rest to a group of beggar children, the text will say "Evil-doers have little to fear from you, you are joining their side!" This also results in a Luck penalty as the gods frown on you.
  • Whodunnit to Me?: The setup of Night of the Necromancer.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Or monkeys... in Island of the Lizard King, the title villain has let a Gonchong parasite bond itself to him, making him nearly unkillable. However, since Lizard Men are deathly afraid of monkeys, bringing a monkey with you to confront the Lizard King makes him so terrified that the Gonchong must force him to defend himself. This cuts the Lizard King's SKILL in half.
  • A Winner Is You: Several of the books have disappointing endings, the last "reference" being only a few lines long and giving no details on the outcome. Particular offenders: Space Assassin, The Rings of Kether, Rebel Planet and Deathmoor. Even more annoying, Masks of Mayhem, which has a two-line ending to avoid giving away its Twist Ending.
  • Win Your Freedom: Your character in Trial of Champions is one of many people kidnapped by the evil Lord Carnuss so he can find a champion to enter into the Deathtrap Dungeon contest as a means of humiliating his hated brother Baron Sukumvit (see The Unfavorite, below). Carnuss intends to keep the prize if you get through the Dungeon, but you'll receive your freedom.
  • With This Herring: Generally averted with most Fighting Fantasy books where your adventurer gets pretty good equipment, but played straight with Nomad Games's Fighting Fantasy Legend (lessened to a degree for this one as you are given 30 gold pieces) and Fighting Fantasy Legend Portal. In those games, your adventurer starts with a dinky short sword and NO PROVISIONS!!! This makes the start of the game brutal as there's no way to recover your health initially.
  • Wizard Duel: In the climax of Citadel of Chaos, the player character can duel the villain Balthus Dire by means of spells — or just avoid the whole thing and immediately charge him with a sword.
  • The Xof Y: Several titles of the series have this format. It is even more common in the French-translated titles.

    The World of Titan in General 
  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Largely averted. The lists of prices contained in Titan and Dungeoneer vary depending on whether you're in a large city with many merchants (least expensive), a smaller village with some regular commerce (more expensive), or a very isolated area where only a few very daring and greedy merchants will go (most expensive). Titan also goes into further detail about how a barter system can work-a master armourer will not accept two dozen chickens for a top quality breastplate, and it's a fairly dumb idea to buy a couple of apples with a bag of gems or a golden holy symbol.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • Titan: The Fighting Fantasy World, which includes backstories on a lot of the villains and NPCs.
    • There is also Out of the Pit which contains game stats and backstories on hundreds of different monsters from the series.
    • The woman who gives you conflicting advice in Dead of Night has two symbols tattooed on her palms. These are the signs of the Neutral Logaan the Trickster, which makes the encounter seem a lot less random, although you'll only know this if you've read Titan very closely.
  • All Trolls Are Different: Large, tough, not too bright — and commonly employed as city guards, at least in the more morally ambiguous parts of the world.
  • Apocalypse How: Titan suffered two Type 1 versions. The first came when the kingdom of Atlantis had essentially become Ax-Crazy and was determined to Take Over the World, which led the gods of good to intervene and split the One Continent of Irritaria into three separate continents. The War of the Wizards was the second apocalyptic event, although it was averted in the Old World, where a powerful magical ritual was used to destroy the forces of evil before they could invade the human kingdoms.
  • Cain and Abel: Sukumvit became ruler of the city of Fang upon the death of his father, and his younger brother Carnuss was more than a little bitter over this. Carnuss became so warped by jealousy that he tried to have Sukumvit murdered, but the assassins he contracted were Sukumvit's spies, who revealed the plot to their master. Sukumvit had Carnuss banished from Fang, and Carnuss wanted revenge, and when Sukumvit began the Trial of Champions Carnuss began searching for a champion to enter the Trial for him as a means of humiliating his brother. Sukumvit has the last laugh when Carnuss's enslaved champion, your character, finally emerges from the dungeon. Sukumvit offers your character one special wish in addition to the 20,000 gold piece prize, and as he anticipated you demand to fight Carnuss to avenge the slaves who died in Carnuss's arena.
  • Cataclysm Backstory: With a few exceptions, there are no actual full-fledged countries in either Allansia or Khul, because of the sheer destruction wrought by the forces of evil during the War of the Wizards. Most areas are wild and unsettled, and almost all human settlements are city-states. This is averted by the Old World, which managed to avoid the horrors of war.
  • Chaos Is Evil: The setting considers Evil and Chaos to be the same thing, to the extent that the Tricksters, who in D&D terms would definitely be Chaotic Neutral, can't be considered chaotic because they're neutral. This is despite the rigid hierarchy of Demon Lords and Archdevils — Chaos is, by definition, not required to be consistent. In any case, anyone or anything associated with Chaos is about as bad news here as they would be in Warhammer.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: Several books show a somewhat consistent polytheistic pantheon, with different gods even having their own cults and devotional orders (for example, the Templars are devoted to Telak), but the cross is a significant religious symbol.
  • Cute, but Cacophonic: The Jib-Jib is basically a ball of fluff the size of a cabbage that runs around on two cute little feet. It also has a shriek that can be heard over a mile away and its default reaction when frightened is to start screaming, in hopes that either this will frighten away whatever threatens it or that an even bigger nasty will show up to eat whoever set off the Jib-Jib.
  • Duels Decide Everything: When magic became prominent in the world again after the sinking of Atlantis, almost every ruler sponsored his own official court wizard. When two countries were in a dispute that threatened to start a war, they often averted bloodshed by having their court mages fight a Wizard Duel, with the losing mage's country suffering some sort of agreed-on penalty.
  • The Dung Ages: Particularly in the case of Port Blacksand, where some streets have so much filth and muck that it can be waist deep for a Dwarf.
  • Dungeon Crawling: There are plenty of traditional dungeons, as you might expect. One enterprising ruler named Baron Sukumvit, on the other hand, created his own dungeon, ready-made with a host of deadly monsters and traps, and offered 10,000 gold coins to any daring hero who could enter it and come back out alive. Deathtrap Dungeon, as Sukumvit came to call it, serves as the setting for two Ian Livingstone-written gamebooks.
  • Eldritch Location: Most noteably the setting to Beneath Nightmare Castle, thanks to the influence of Xathaz.
  • Enslaved Elves: They may not actually be enslaved, but the N'yadach have fallen a very long way from the time when they enslaved the Skorn and fought with the Dwarves for control of the underground realms. At their height they had both fearsome magical powers and fighting skills, but in their final war against the Dwarves their Skorn slaves rebelled and joined their enemies, and the Dwarf-Skorn alliance crushed them. Now, the N'yadach are pitiful wretches reduced to hunting vermin and struggling to survive.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: When the Elves that would break away from the rest of the Elven peoples started to become the Dark Elves, a minority of them became horrified at the fact that the Dark Elves began worshiping demons and the gods of evil. These Elves broke away from the rest of the Dark Elves and became the Black Elves. They're still cruel and hateful beings who regularly ally with Orcs, Goblins and Trolls, but they're nowhere near as depraved as the Dark Elves.
  • Everybody Hates Hades: Death is the ultimate God of Evil, with his brothers Disease and Decay just a step behind him in power.
  • Evil Overlord: More of them than you can shake a stick at, though slightly less numerous than...
  • Evil Sorcerer: So distressingly common on the continent of Allansia that there are no actual centralized governments beyond the city-state level; they gang up on anything bigger before it becomes powerful enough to be a threat to their machinations. Other places are slightly better off; operative word here being slightly.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: More like Evilutionary Wizards, several of whom crossbreed various creatures to create monsters to serve as Mooks. Notable examples include Balthus Dire, Karam Gruul, Axion, Zharradan Marr, the witches of Dree, and the guys who created the Manticores and the Fish Men.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture:
  • Fantasy Gun Control: It used to be played straight, Mage Hunter was notable because your titular witch hunter carried a gun and was the first time a character in a Fighting Fantasy medieval setting had one. But that character was from another dimension, as later books came out it showed the Old World in a state of technological improvement and so they started to have guns. In the Scholastic Fighting Fantasy books, Khul and Allansia have a few too as imports from the Old World or artifacts carried by dwarfs.
  • Gaia's Lament: A particularly poignant dream in Phantoms of Fear has your Elf appearing in a technologically advanced city in a far-future Titan, complete with automobiles, high-rise buildings of glass, concrete, and steel, and emotionally dead nine-to-five workers dragging themselves to soul-crushing smog-spewing factories; to an Elf, a Child of Nature, this industrial monstrosity is as heartbreaking as it is nightmarish to behold.
  • God of Evil:
  • Heroic Neutral: Nicodemus spent most of his life fighting the forces of evil. He eventually became so burned out from the struggle that he retired to Port Blacksand, where almost no-one would bother him. While he doesn't typically do much these days (and can become very irritated if he's bothered by adventurers who try to run to him to solve all their problems for them), he will help if the problem is sufficiently big enough.
  • Keystone Army: A few of the Big Bads, like Balthus Dire, Agglax and Arachnos, are the only things that keep their disparate armies cooperating. One of the major objectives in many gamebooks is taking out the Big Bad so his or her armies will destroy themselves with infighting.
  • Lizard Folk: There are isolated savage Lizardmen tribes you can run into, but there is also a huge, expansionist and decidedly evil Lizardman Empire around for a more civilized threat.
  • Medieval Stasis: Averted for the Old World, they're evolving into a hybrid of Dark Ages, Renaissance and Steampunk. It's played straight for Khul and Allansia which are both so under constant threat from Chaos forces that they can barely get any post-medieval technological innovation happening - though they do get a few knicknacks from the Old World.
  • Metal Muncher: Iron-Eaters are amoeba-like monsters which, as hinted by the name, can dissolve iron and alloys for food, including those found on adventurers in the form of weapons and armor, usually by dropping on them by surprise from the ceiling.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters:
    • An ape-headed dog and a dog-headed ape guard the Citadel of Chaos.
    • A number of different monsters in Titan were created by insane wizards cross-breeding different natural species, including humans. The results include Garks (a cross between goblins and giants), Fish Men (Exactly What It Says on the Tin), Manticores (a cross between humans, lions, bats and scorpions), Shapechangers (monsters that use illusion magic to appear as innocuous travelers to sneak up on unsuspecting victims before attacking them), Rat Men (again, Exactly What It Says on the Tin), and so on. As you might expect, they're all pretty unpleasant sorts.
    • One of the big evil empires on Titan is the desert-dwelling (but expanding) Snake Man empire, who were created when one of the lesser gods of evil collected a variety of human and snake specimens and blended them together. Unusually for a god, there were "a great many horrific mistakes, on which it is better not to dwell", before said god actually managed to create the species they wanted.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Really, that's all there is to say about them. (Well, apart from the fact that two of the major dwarf communities in Allansia are above-ground.)
  • Our Elves Are Different: All Elves know magic. And they're far better at it than humans will ever be, though this verges on being an Informed Ability considering that most Elves you meet and have the option to fight are fairly weak as enemies, and considering the huge number of world-threateningly powerful human spellcasters.
  • Our Gnomes Are Weirder: Very much so. Some of them, like the one in Forest of Doom, are cranky magic-using eccentrics who just want to be left alone, but the gnome you can meet in the Crown of Kings series will sell you out to the guards of Mampang if he recognizes you.
  • Our Goblins Are Different: Actually, not so much. While they are usually Mooks, some of them can prove to be challenging threats (such as in Return to Firetop Mountain where the hero can be captured by a goblin). The marsh goblins are considerably nastier.
  • Our Imps Are Different: Imps are a recurring, minor threat, with the most common being Fire Imps — bat-like, fire-breathing, flying critters with a human's face and horns, who attack the heroes by spitting fireballs. They're Fragile Speedster-type enemies who, despite being fast, go down in two hits, although in a few books (like Trial of Champions) the Fire Imps displays the ability to further transform into far more powerful Fire Demons upon being slain.
  • Our Monsters Are Weird: Alongside the usual Trolls, Orcs, Dragons and so on you have some more oddball monsters like the Wheelies from Citadel of Chaos.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: They're among the wimpiest enemies you can face (being, on average, slightly weaker than humans), but still have a reputation for savagery. One aspect where they do stand out are their ability to eat just about anything (including wood, rocks, dirt and metal) and their bizarre funeral rites, where each mourner takes a bite out of the dearly departed's corpse. Your character participating in the rite can earn you their friendship in Armies of Death, both due to the respect you're showing their culture and the sheer balls you show in coming out of nowhere and doing it without asking.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: FF werewolves can be killed with normal weapons, but silver weapons are still your best bet. Which you unfortunately have the chance to discover for yourself in the one book that has silver bullets.
  • Plant People: Mandrakes, who can assume the form of any person. Fire is their only weakness.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: If anything is reptilian, don't expect it to be friendly to you.
  • Retcon: Zagor, the Warlock of Firetop Mountain has at least two very different backstories portraying him as either a brooding but not especially evil hermit, or a more evil but still human would-be-Evil Overlord. Three negates any of this and fuses him with the antagonist demon from Casket of Souls from Puzzle Quest Books.
  • Rhino Rampage: Rhino-Men are the mooks of Big Bad Balthus Dire.
  • Riddle for the Ages: The War of the Wizards was triggered when a group of explorers in Khul discovered the Dead City and released a "nameless Chaos-spawn" from a sarcophagus. No official explanation has been given of who built the Dead City (which is described in distinctly Lovecraftian terms) or what exactly the "Chaos-spawn" was.
  • Sand Worm: A tooth from one of them is necessary to complete one of the books.
  • Screw You, Elves!: An unusual variant in that the Elves did this to themselves. One group of Elves believed that, since you Can't Argue with Elves, they should lead the other races to actively fight the forces of evil in Titan. The rest of the Elves balked at this, considering it tyranny. The dissident Elves and their prince (who was secretly a worshipper of Slangg, god of malice) tried to force the issue by trying to assassinate the Elf king and take power over the Elven nations themselves. The rest of the Elves fought back and nearly defeated the dissident Elves, until the dissidents fled underground. These dissident Elves eventually became the Dark Elves.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can:
  • Series Continuity Error: In the Sorcery! mini-series, Courga is depicted as a male god in conflict with his brother Fourga. In other appearances and the manual, Courga is depicted as a female goddess with Fourga as her brother and consort.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: When Hydana, god of the ocean, became lonely, he began kidnapping oceangoing humans to keep him company. After the first few groups of humans drowned, Hydana realized they couldn't breathe underwater and used his powers to turn their lungs into gills. This led them to become the Mermen, even as Hydana repeated the feat with the elves, trolls and giants he added to their ranks.
  • Take Our Word for It: The Shamutanti Hills are supposedly as wild and full of evil as the rest of Kakhabad. There are monsters and plenty of dangerous humans in the wilderness, but the villages you pass through are harmless, or even friendly. Birritanti, the largest, is downright pleasant-seeming.
  • Thieves' Guild: Accepted as a fact of life in Port Blacksand. In one book you actually play a member of the guild out to make his bones.
  • Token Good Teammate: The goblins worship all manner of evil gods, including a goblin goddess of agriculture. But there's no such thing as a goblin goddess of agriculture; who the goblins have actually been praying to is Galana, the elven goddess of plants and fertility. Galana is so benevolent that rather than allow the goblins to starve, she helps keep their food production up despite them being evil.
  • Top God: Titan, the God King, who gave his name to the world the series takes place on.
  • Treants: The world of Titan also features Tree Men, which are the typical gardeners of the forest and fiercely protective of their trees. They are almost indistinguishable from real trees, their mouth and small eyes being typically hidden in their thick, cracked bark. So much that, although elves knew of their existence for a long time, humans have only recently discovered them. Of note is that the SKILL and STAMINA scores given are for their two main attack branches; they are otherwise way too though to be killed by a single adventurer, but cutting both branches will force them to retreat, severely injured.
  • T. Rexpy: The "Pit Fiend" encountered late in Deathtrap Dungeon can be described as a more upright T. rex popular with gladiator arenas, hence its name. It should be noted that the actual Tyrannosaurus rex has a separate entry in the Out of the Pit supplement, and it does have stronger stats than a Pit Fiend.
  • Überwald: Parts of Legend of the Shadow Warriors and Moonrunner contains a simply ridiculous number of Expies and Shout-Outs to every well-known horror movie imaginable, of every era and sub-genre, including the Uberwald classics. Also Vault of the Vampire and its sequel, which take place in and around the Old World kingdom of Mauristasia which is pretty much a love letter to the trope.
  • The Undead: Mostly zombie and skeleton mooks, with some ghouls, vampires (ranging from fairly strong Elite Mooks to nigh-unbeatable Big Bads or noncombat encounters for which you'd better DAMN have the proper doodad if you don't want to read yet another example of The Many Deaths of You), a few liches (Death Is Cheap when you're an all-powerful Evil Sorcerer), and a few other more exotic types.
  • The Unfavorite:
    • When their father died, Sukumvit became the fabulously wealthy ruler of the city-state of Fang, while his brother Carnuss became a nobleman with an essentially meaningless title. Sukumvit banished the jealous Carnuss when the latter tried to have him killed, and Carnuss attempted to get revenge on Sukumvit by recruiting a hapless adventurer to serve as his champion in humiliating Sukumvit by overcoming his famed Deathtrap Dungeon.
    • In Black Vein Prophecy, Feior was a cruel, ruthless prick, very much in the mold of Bezenvial. Maior, on the other hand, was pretty gentle and compassionate, and so naturally gets screwed.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The book Titan details the story of the Halfhand brothers and their followers, a tribe of humans who invaded and slaughtered a tribe of orcs who lived in a fertile territory and took over their land. The book Lampshades what a dick move this was on the humans' part, since they were the ones who started the fight, but also notes that the humans are the ones celebrated as the heroes.
  • The Witch Hunter: You play one yourself in, unsurprisingly, Magehunter. One is encountered in Howl of the Werewolf who can be friend or foe, and then his brother shows up in Night of the Necromancer, but sadly can only be an enemy.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The Minimites, a race of pixie-like creatures who had tremendous magical abilities, joined with a number of human wizards in a powerful magical ritual to destroy the forces of evil threatening the Old World during the War of the Wizards. They succeeded, and the Old World was spared the destruction suffered by Allansia and Khul, but many of the Minimites were so overwhelmed by the power they wielded that they thought they could become the benevolent leaders of the world. Other Minimites realized that this was simple tyranny, so they deliberately nerfed themselves so that most magic wouldn't even work in their presence and they could not stay in close contact with one another.
  • Wretched Hive: Port Blacksand. There are more than a few others (such as Kharé, Cityport of Traps, and Tak, City of Pirates), but Blacksand is the world's ultimate example.

Your adventure ends here.