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Series - The Legends of Skyfall

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Alternate Title: Advanced Fantasy Gamebooks
Publisher: Armada -- United Kingdom
Categories: Complexity Level : Advanced (Full Game System)
Format : Paperback
Game System : Character Advancement
Game System : Combat
Game System : Inventory Management
Game System : Randomization Method : Coins
Game System : Scores
Genre : Fantasy
Genre : Science Fiction
Target Age Group : Adults
Target Age Group : Teenagers
Writing Style : Present Tense
Writing Style : Second Person
Translated Into: Skyfall (Italian)
TĂș eres el protagonista: Las Leyendas de Skyfall (Spanish)

This series of interconnected gamebooks, inspired by the author's AD&D campaign, is set in a fantasy world inhabited by the occupants of a crashed spaceship, thus blending the two most popular gamebook genres. Its system contains the usual components: three attributes (Expertise, Vitality and Fortune), simple combat resolution and inventory collection. What sets it apart is that instead of using dice, players must flip coins to determine random numbers. Whenever coins must be tossed, a formula is presented showing how many coins to flip and what to do with the results; this usually involves addition or subtraction of the number of heads or tails, sometimes also bringing attributes into the picture. It's not the most mathematically sound of systems, but it is novel.


1. Monsters of the Marsh
2. The Black Pyramid
3. Mine of Torments
4. Garden of Madness

Related Documents

Play Aid

Legends of Skyfall #2 - Map, Level 0
Thanks to Michael Hartland for creating and sharing this map.

Legends of Skyfall #2 - Map, Level 1
Thanks to Michael Hartland for creating and sharing this map.

Legends of Skyfall #2 - Map, Level 2
Thanks to Michael Hartland for creating and sharing this map.

Legends of Skyfall Character Sheet

User Comments

The Legends of Skyfall is a fantasy gamebook series published in Britain in 1985, during the height of the gamebook boom. It was published by the same company responsible for J. H. Brennan's better known Grailquest series, so presumably it was intended as a competitor to other important gamebook series of the period, such as Fighting Fantasy, Lone Wolf, Way of the Tiger and Golden Dragon. The label "Advanced Fantasy Gamebook" implied that these books were meant to require more thought and strategy to complete than the average gamebook on the market at that time, and the complexity of the books certainly lives up to that promise. Apparently the series was not as well received as others on the market, since there were only four books in it, and the author does not seem to have published any more gamebooks.

The books are set many years in the future on a distant planet called Skyfall. The world was settled by colonizers from Earth, but the people there have forgotten their origins, and now only medieval technology and magic prevail. There are other races, like elves, dwarves and goblins, and the game world design looks exactly like that of an Advanced Dungeons and Dragons campaign setting. Having said that, the adventures have a flavour of their own which sets them apart from other gamebook series or roleplaying modules. They feature lots of exploration and cleverly designed traps and encounters which will certainly keep the reader engaged for hours on end.

The game system is strongly inspired by Fighting Fantasy. In all of the books you get to play a warrior (the storylines imply that the same character is featured in all the stories, but strangely there are no instructions for carrying stats or inventory from book to book. Some people may find this illogical or a nuisance, but on the other hand it means you can play the books in any order without any disadvantages). Your character has three stats: Experience (which encompasses the ability to perform any kind of feat, including fighting, climbing, knocking down doors, etc.), Vitality (a measure of life points) and Fortune (similar to the Luck stat in Fighting Fantasy). You begin the adventure which a fixed number of Experience and Vitality points, but you get to determine your starting Fortune randomly.

Unlike other series, random numbers in Skyfall are generated by using coins instead of dice (personally, I did not feel very comfortable using coins, so I generated 50-50 percent results using dice instead). Ability checks are performed by tossing four coins and adding the number of heads that come up to your Experience score. If the result is equal to or higher than a certain success number determined by the situation, you succeed. Fortune is not usually checked for, but in some instances you can use points to add to an Experience check, or you may be required to spend a certain number of points in order to avoid the effects of a magical spell.

The combat system, too, is highly reminiscent of Fighting Fantasy. Every round, each combatant gets to toss four coins and add the number of heads that come up to their Experience score. Highest count means a hit and a deduction of Vitality points. As in the FF series, this means fighting opponents with higher Experience scores puts the player at a strong disadvantage, although all the books are designed so the player character can power him / herself up or avoid encounters with high-powered opponents if the right choices are made.

Fortune points can be spent to increase the damage one inflicts or to minimize wounds. Unlike the FF series, however, different weapons vary in the amount of damage they inflict (this mostly applies to opponents, since very seldom is the player given the option to use a weapon other than the starting sword and dagger).

Although this series wasn't popular with many people due to valid reasons (like sloppy editing and wrong section numbers), I do believe it deserves a critical reappraisal. Surely the writing wasn't the most exciting you could find in a gamebook, but the logical reasoning needed to solve the puzzles and traps more than made up for it. The editing was a problem, but none of the books are rendered unplayable because of it. Overall I do believe this is a series for people who are satisfied by difficult challenges, and don't mind the lack of developed characters and overarching storylines.


Released to mostly mixed reviews during what I refer to as the golden age of gamebooks (and fantasy literature overall), "The Legends of Skyfall" is a more intellectually-oriented series which has been both rightfully and unfairly overlooked in the years following its release. With a generally more mature, concentrated approach toward its older target audience of teens and young adults, the innovative usage of coin flipping as the primary determining tool is perhaps the most memorable feature of these stories - and unfortunately, the unnatural feel it brings neither sits well with nor fully catches on throughout most readers' playthroughs due to its inherent limitations. Whereas praise can be noted for the series' willingness to exhibit moderately creative situational puzzles and a solid amount of logical considerations, a number of faults still come to mind, namely the inconsistent difficulty level, occasionally pointless world exploration, non-evocative tone and weak interior illustrations (whereas the colorful, epic cover art is awesome, the insides are disappointing to say the least). While I wasn't a fan of the books by any means, I do believe these oft-forgotten gamebooks aren't all bad; maybe if they'd been better-edited, almost completely rethought and more thoroughly polished, these could've become cult classics. As they stand, though, one wouldn't miss too much in passing this series.


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