Return to Firetop Mountain is the 50th entry in the Fighting Fantasy series of gamebooks, written by Ian Livingstone as a Milestone Celebration and nod to the first book of the series, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain.
Ten years ago, an heroic and selfless adventurer braved the dangerous maze under Firetop Mountain and faced its diabolical master, the evil Warlock Zagor, eventually killing the evil master of Chaos once and for all... Or so it was thought. Chaos Wizards such as Zagor himself have ways to cheat death, and the Warlock was prepared. After ten years of silence and peace, a new threat rose from Firetop Mountain: the animals fell ill, the soil darkened and the people of the nearby village of Anvil are attacked by night horrors who kidnap people and drag them back under the mountain, where their bodyparts are harvested to reconstruct Zagor's body. You are an adventurer looking for fame and fortune, and the dire situation of Anvil's village is the right situation for you to be the hero. With the help of the people of Anvil, Kaad and Yaztromo the wizard you'll have to find a way to infiltrate the dungeons under Firetop Mountain, make your way to the sanctum and defeat Zagor one more time, for the good people of Allansia.
The book is to The Warlock of Firetop Mountain what Trial of Champions was to Deathtrap Dungeon, an elaborated sequel which revisit the same location with a fleshed-out backstory, brand new puzzles and encounters and a new set of plot coupons to gather in order to finish the game alive.
The Zagor trilogy finally concludes itself with the third and last book, Legend of Zagor.
Return to Firetop Mountain provides examples of:
- Adaptational Heroism: As mentioned in the background, the backstory makes clear that the morally dubious protagonist of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain was a noble hero, and Zagor was a standard Evil Sorcerer.
- Attack on the Heart: The Undead Chaos Warrior can only be killed if you stab his heart.
- Awesome Mc Coolname: The prize goes to the Chaos Warrior "Darkblade Skullbiter", former owner of the demonic sword you can acquire.
- Back from the Dead: As mentioned in the description, evil wizards can cheat death with the Raise Dead spells, which will automatically revive the caster after a set amount of time. This was the case with Zagor.
- Big Bad: Zagor, the (revived) Warlock of Firetop Mountain, now more villainous than before. Well, not that he was that much evil...
- Big Eater: At one point you can join an eating contest with some of Zagor's servants. You can win one of the Golden Dragon Tooth from the Barbarian if you do so.
- Black Knight: A Chaos Warrior encountered in his private room is one of the opponents you can face. He's so ferocious he can revive himself even if you kill him.
- Call-Back: The first, abandoned part of the dungeon and is still the same as the first time around in The Warlock of Firetop Mountain. You can even find a room with four skeleton at a table, sinister call to the four dwarves playing card in the same title.
- Characterization Marches On: The character of Zagor is much more developed and depicted compared to his one-dimensional, original self, coming off as a Noble Demon.
- Cool Sword: The one belonging to the infamous Chaos Warrior Darkblade Skullbiter. Subverted in that, rather than use it as a secondary weapon, you can barter it with a Chaos Beastman in exchange for a free pass to Zagor's quarters.
- Deadly Ringer: At one point, there's an evil witch who casts Mind Control spells on unwary adventurers, turning them into her slaves, but her enchantment can be broken by ringing a silver bell within her presence.
- Duel to the Death: The very final duel against Zagor is a mano-a-mano knifefight on equal standing.
- Elemental RockPaperScissors: Zagor tries to defeat you by summoning a series of four Chaos Elementals against you. To defeat them, you must summon the corresponding Light Elemental in the right order. Earth beats Air, Air beats Water, Water beats Fire and Fire beats Earth.
- Enigmatic Minion: The Puzzlemaster and the Pitmaster are in Zagor's service and can kill you if you try to fail their trials, but, on the other hand, are more than happy to let you go if you pass their tests. You even wonder alound about their attitude.
- Equal-Opportunity Evil: Zagor seems to employ pretty much every possible monster, from goblins and orcs to Troglodytes to Ogres to vampires and Gorgons.
- Everything Is Trying to Kill You: An egregious example is a peculiar talisman which reacts to the garlic in your backpack by turning into a stiletto and sinking itself in your back.
- Excalibur in the Rust: You can find the legendary sword of Darkblade Skullbiter in the nest of a Goblin, of all things.
- Foreign Queasine: The menu for the eating contest is a typical Troglodyte delicacy: sheep's eyeballs. In a bout of realism, eating them is disgusting but does heal you all the same, since it's a meal after all.
- Frankenstein Monster: Apparently, Zagor's spell did bring him back to life but was faulty, which means that he needs to replace most of his body parts with fresh replacements from the people of Anvil.
- Giant Flyer: You can hire the service of a Giant Eagle early on to fly from Kaad to Firetop Mountain.
- Glamour: There is an inescapable encounter with a hag, who uses a magic charm to disguise herself as a beautiful maiden in an attempt to trick and brainwash you. She use the same charm to disguise her dog-headed minion into a human, and if you didn't collect a magic ring earlier in the adventure you'll fall under her spell.
- Hand in the Hole: This is where you will find the first Golden Dragon Tooth, in a hole near the entrance of Zagor's lair. Unfortunately, said hole is filled with acidic gel which will dissolve your flesh if you aren't wearing a gauntlet.
- Heroic Sacrifice: If you rescue the blinded Zoot from Zagor's prisons, he will uncover a secret door for you, but will also fall victim to the trap in front of it.
- Kill It with Fire: There is a chamber players need to enter, which contains SIX Mummy enemies players must defeat in order to continue. But players who purchased a lantern earlier can instantly kill 1 dice's worth of mummies instantly by breaking the lantern and spilling burning oil on the mummies.
- Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: After using all his Elementals, Zagor will challenge you to a solemn, unarmored knife fight one on one.
- Multi-Melee Master: While the other books imply that you can use other weapons than the sword, this book has an ample variety of weapon you can use, including the sword, a hammer, a knife and even a whip.
- No-Sell: The Metallix seems harmless, but is completely immune to any metal weapon and must be dealt with stones and rocks.
- One-Winged Angel: In a rather unusual example, if the Chaos Beastman wounds you at least once he will transform into a stronger and more monstrous Chaos Beast Lord.
- OOC Is Serious Business: Just like in Crypt of the Sorcerer, a kind and friendly Yaztromo is actually a deadly enemy under disguise.
- Plot Coupon: The four Golden Dragon Teeth which can summon Light Elementals, as well as the pages of the spellbook telling you which Elemental lives in which tooth.
- Red Right Hand: Almost literally, Zagor's right hand is grotesquely oversized for his arm, while his left arm is a skeletal stump.
- Schmuck Bait: One of the Golden Teeth you can obtain is a fake dud.
- Sequel Hook: After killing Zagor in the final battle, you leave and returned with some villagers so that they can see Zagor's corpse for themselves. To everyone's shock, the dead Zagor had a big smile on his face and the stump on his incomplete arm was missing too.
- Series Fauxnale: This was intended to be the last book in the series, bringing things full-circle and ending things on a nice, round number, as well as finishing after 10 years. However, the special attention given to the series in the anniversary year caused sales to spike and it continued being published by Puffin for another few years after this.
- Silver Has Mystic Powers: You can find a rather useful Silver Dagger which can harm the undead and is required in the final battle to kill a rat which is running away with one of the Teeth.
- Spikes of Villainy: The Chaos Warrior's battle attire.
- Skippable Boss: The Chaos Beast Man will let you pass if you give him Darkblade Skullspitter's sword. And then there's the Chaos Slime Beast, which you don't need to fight if you take the "PUZZLES" route.
- Touch of Death:
- The Doppelganger can drain your soul and turn you into a lifeless husk just by touching your human skin. In your battle against it, you'll need to try piercing it's soul while avoiding it's touch - lose a single attack round and it's game over.
- The Plague Bearer is small, frail and seemingly harmless, but can kill you with his infecting touch.
- Unstoppable Rage: Both the Chaos Warrior and the Chaos Beastman can fly into an unstoppable rage when in combat.
- Villains Out Shopping: You can run into a room of the dungeon where a bunch of Zagor's mooks are enjoying some free time partying and having eating contests.
- Weaksauce Weakness: The mirror for the Gorgon, Garlic for the Vampire and the Whip for the Mindbender.