Welcome to the BACKPACK! My name is James Kail and I’m an alcaho…. I mean, I’m a Fighting Fantasy fan. I am an active member of a friendly facebook group called Fighting Fantasy (and other gamebooks) among others.

The BACKPACK is here to provide YOU with a few resources I’ve worked on myself to help you with your FF collecting and gaming. So far these include an edition guide, a collection checklist, a cheatsheet of authors/illustrators work, some hand-drawn gamebook maps and other items.

There are lots of great resources out there and what I’ve produced could be made by anyone, but as I spent the time obsessing over certain aspects, it makes sense to share for others to benefit from. This page is hosted by Jason Archer who is dedicated to supporting the gamebook community via web hosting and resource collation through and

Charts and stuff

Edition Guide – a brief visual overview of how collectors tend to categorise the various prints and reprints of books in the series

My Checklist – a collection checklist that includes the numbering for each main uk series. (also see Jamie Fry’s Checklist & Price Guide as a source)

My Cheatsheet – a cheatsheet arrangment of authors/illustrators work to assist the FF festival goer

Quick Combat – a chart showing the average Stamina loss against an opponent according to your skill difference, possible to use instead of dice

What your bookshelf would look like if all 66 main series gamebooks were numbered-greenspines with the real author’s on them

Gamebook maps and analysis

Port Blacksand books – I love the city of thieves, and so I aim to map every book that takes place there!

The Adventures of Goldhawk – Livingstone’s 4 book series aimed at younger readers, with less paragraphs and more colourful illustrations.

Difficult Books – The well written but (sometimes near) impossible book.

About Me

When I was asked if could publish my cheatsheet, of course I said yes. I had produced it for myself and shared it on the offchance others could benefit. I suggested giving credit and was asked if I would like a link to anything, and now I have my own subdomain here to do what I please with. I’d like to keep it FF focused so first thing’s first, a bio of my Fighting Fantasy fandom…

My first FF book was Forest of Doom which my mum actually read to me. My second FF book read may have been Island of the Lizard King which I read with a friend cooperatively at middle school. Somewhere in there was City of Thieves which is still a favourite and Caverns of the Snow Witch. All Livingstone titles of whom I became a fan.

From there I got a whole load of books from a friend and started my ‘collection’ looking out for the books I didn’t have in charity shops which back then were easily found. I bought all the Advanced FF books with a special love for Blacksand! I got older and lost my way a little, but eventually found my way back to the hobby, having kept my bookshelf of green-yellow books all that time (although I gave away my few Other Gamebooks shortly before this rekindled interest).

My ‘collecting’ started again a few years ago now, when I discovered that Fighting Fantasy (an introductory role-playing game) had a kind of sequel in Riddling Reaver, then the existence of the boardgame of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, and finally the exquisite hardback anniversary edition of the same book. I started trying to complete all the Livingstone books (in theoretical chronological order) using dice, where as a kid I always read the books without rolling.

It might have stopped there if I hadn’t started talking to that old friend who had given me half his collection long ago. He invited me to the Fighting Fantasy (and other gamebooks) group on facebook, where my fandom slowly became an interest again. Since then I discovered the Adventures of Goldhawk series. In looking for a price-list I print-screened the check-list of versions and started thinking seriously about what I’d like my collection to look like, and started working toward various collection goals. I began persevering through non-Livingstone books that had lost me too quickly as a child, motivated to make use of the growing collection. I used spreadsheets to work on statistics and check-lists and pen and paper to flow-chart some books of choice with changing intentions, but more and more for personal enjoyment.

And here we are, after a brief history of my fandom. I was an Ian Livinsgtone fanboy and Iain McCaig for his covers, but lately I’ve found more of the books enjoyable especially by analysis. With the series getting new releases from Scholastic, interest in the hobby is constantly being revived…

Please enjoy the contents of the BACKPACK. I’d also like to produce some ‘soft’ gamebook solutions that let you choose the level of spoiler you want. Starting with Skill recommendations to path hints to full decision trees and stats. So there may be something like that in future. Also I’ve given very short overviews of my gamebook experiences before which might be nice to present. I started writing a gamebook a while ago which is usually stalled. I have produced a few related meme-works.


Thank you for reading/visiting. There are lots of people I could personally give thanks to but I should mention Jamie Fry for producing the price list that formed the basis of my own checklist, with additional input from Mark Lain, Paul Scanlan and many others. And again Jason Archer hosts this site. Thanks!

If you have any suggestions, corrections or other feedback, it is welcome in the comments page here or find me in the facebook group!