The Sword of the Bastard Elf

is a choose-your-own adventure that run on the Something Awful forums in June and July 2015. It’s a parody of the Fighting Fantasy series of gamebooks which I used to collect in the 80s and 90s.

The premise for the thread was that I’d found an old copy of the book and wanted to run through it with the forums posters making the choices. To make this work as a game I came up with stats and combat systems that superficially resemble those in the Fighting Fantasy series but actually differ pretty significantly. I also introduced item cards to represent the objects collected during the adventure and to explain their effects:

The Fighting Fantasy formula of a few choices at the bottom of each page with frequent game-overs would have been too rigid a format to be any fun for the SA forums. To get around this at the start of each update I presented the page with the options part missing – usually ripped off or badly scanned. The forums posters suggested the next move and I completed the page with the most popular of these choices made in the thread (plus whatever else I felt like):


The story ran for about a month with one update per day. The sketchiness of some of the drawings is due to the speed with which I needed to draw them to keep up with the posting schedule – I often didn’t have time to do more than a rough draft before uploading.

As the playthrough went on the suggestions from the forums posters (like game mechanics and ideas for decisions that weren’t selected) made it into the game. An example of this is the ability to take item cards from what could be seen in illustrations, and later on to combine them into other items.

The entire adventure is available online.


Game Mechanics

True to the style of the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, the Sword of the Bastard Elf uses only six-sided dice (D6). Although the system is superficially similar to Fighting Fantasy it actually works very differently. Part of the objective of the Sword of the Bastard Elf was to test out the system for use in future projects.

The player has four main characteristics:

  1. Élan: a measure of the Elf’s general prowess. Initial score is 1D6/2+6.
  2. Effort: The general will of the Elf to continue on. Initial score is 2D6*10.
  3. Fists: The “punchiness” of the Elf. Very important for combat. Initial score is 2.
  4. Injuries: How much physical damage the Elf can take. Initial score is 4.

Every test in the game has a given Effort rating – to pass the test you must exceed this score. You can assign as much of your Effort to the test as you like, up to your Élan value. You then roll as many dice as you have Fists, and add the number on the highest scoring of those dice to the amount of Effort you have assigned. If this score exceeds the Effort rating of the task, then you have succeeded. Otherwise you fail. Either way the amount of Effort you used is deleted from your total. This means managing Effort is extremely important and in some cases you may decide not to attempt a task or fight an enemy because even winning will cost too much Effort.
Once Effort, Injuries or Fists is reduced to zero, the game is over.

The Bestiary

The Bestiary was added to give readers clues about what to do next and to round out the lore of the game. The entire Bestiary is reproduced below:

Coming soon: Two Fisted Fantasy will continue on twofistedfantasy.com and twofistedfantasy.tumblr.com