Currency $ USD
Long Christmas Title Created using Figma

Find the perfect gift at our Christmas shop now
UK orders before 15th December, overseas before 4th December

Right Trees Created using Figma
Still funding
30% funded
261 backers

A full colour, highly illustrated hardback over 300 pages long, A4 (210mm x 297mm) printed on 140gsm gloss art stock, colour printed endpapers and bookmark ribbon

From the back of a van to the London Stock Exchange...

A grey day in 1974. Three games geeks are thinking about sinking everything they have into their dream of starting a games company. They go for it, but in less than a year one of them leaves. The remaining two carry on and end up living out the back of a van as they can't afford to pay rent for both an office and accommodation.

Steve and Ian in the ‘breadbin-sized’ office in Shepherd’s Bush in 1976

Pivotal moment for Games Workshop in 1976 at Gen Con IX when Steve and Ian first met Gary Gygax

They're living off canned food and takeaways with all their meagre earnings going into the fledgling mail order business. The business grows, and in 1977 they make the decision to open their own shop. It was going to be a proper games shop, as opposed to the small room at the back of an estate agents they had been working out of. It was a damp day in April 1978 and the shop was about to open up for the first time. But would they get any customers? They had no idea whether anyone would turn up at all but when they opened that door on the first day they found...

... a long queue that went around the block! The rest is history, as they say, and it's time to tell it...

Ian Livingstone, Steve Jackson and John Peake were the three games geeks who founded Games Workshop in their flat in Shepherd’s Bush. Not being a fan of D&D, John left the company, and Ian and Steve turned Workshop into a fantasy games specialist.

And that's what this book is about. A history of Games Workshop, not just the business narrative but the story of its founders and their journey, along with all the people they picked up along the way.

How did Ian and Steve do it? How did they get to that first Workshop store? What's the story behind Dungeons & Dragons coming to the UK, starting a whole new hobby? How did Games Workshop grow after that? It's now so big that it spans the globe. And along the way they invented an entirely new book publishing genre, too!

Part story and part game, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain written by Steve and Ian launches in 1982 published by Puffin Books



Ian Livingstone




Ian Livingstone at home in his games room.


Ian Livingstone is one of the founding fathers of the UK games industry. He co-founded iconic games company Games Workshop in 1975 with Steve Jackson, launching Dungeons & Dragons in Europe, Warhammer, White Dwarf and the Games Workshop retail chain. He co-authored The Warlock of Firetop Mountain with Steve Jackson in 1982, the first interactive gamebook in the Fighting Fantasy series which has sold 20 million copies worldwide. He has written 15 titles in the series, including Deathtrap Dungeon, City of Thieves and his new book, The Port of Peril, published by Scholastic in August 2017. Ian designed several board games including Judge Dredd, Legend of Zagor, Battlecars and Boom Town.

In 1995 he oversaw a merger that created Eidos plc where he served as Executive Chairman until 2002. At Eidos he launched global video games franchises including Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Hitman and Deus Ex. He is currently Chairman Sumo-Digital, Chairman Midoki, Chairman PlayMob, Chairman Antstream, Chairman The Secret Police, Chairman Flavourworks, Advisory Board Member of Bossa Studios, Vice Chair of UKIE, and Non-executive director of the National Videogames Foundation. He has received a BAFTA Special Award, Honorary Doctorate of Arts by Bournemouth University, Honorary Doctorate of Technology by Abertay University, Honorary Doctorate of Technology by University of Greenwich, and Develop Legend Award. Appointed OBE in 2006 and CBE in 2013.


Twitter: @ian_livingstone


Steve Jackson




Steve Jackson in the puzzle book Tasks of Tantallon.


Steve Jackson began his gaming career in 1974 as a freelance journalist with Games & Puzzles magazine. In early 1975, he co-founded Games Workshop with school friends Ian Livingstone and John Peake at their flat in Shepherd’s Bush, West London. They started by publishing a monthly newsletter, Owl & Weasel. And it was through the newsletter that they discovered Dungeons & Dragons. Specialising in Fantasy Role-Playing, Games Workshop grew into a UK wide chain of shops.  Inspired by Dungeons & Dragons, Jackson and Livingstone developed interactive books, the first volume of which: ‘The Warlock of Firetop Mountain’ was published in 1982 by Puffin Books. While Fighting Fantasy mainly targeted children, Steve's 'Sorcery!' series was aimed at an older audience. In 2014 Sorcery was successfully converted to an iOS/Android/Steam App by Inkle Studios with over 3m downloads.


After the success of the Fighting Fantasy series, Jackson designed ‘F.I.S.T.’ the first interactive adventure game played on the telephone, and ‘Battlecards’ the first Collectible Card Game. In the mid-1990s Jackson spent two and a half years as editor of the weekly ‘Games Page’ for the London Daily Telegraph. Along with legendary digital game designer Peter Molyneux, He co-founded videogame developer ‘Lionhead Studios’. Steve left Lionhead in 2006 when Microsoft bought the company. Moving into academia at Brunel University, Steve co-founded an MA course in Digital Games Theory and Design MA as Professor of Game Design.

Twitter: @stevejacksonuk


Jamie Thomson



Find more about Jamie here.

Jamie Thomson is a writer and games developer. He was written novels, game books, computer games, radio plays, comics and TV and film scripts for all sorts of ages. His works have been translated into many languages and sold all over the world. He has 30+ published books to his name. One of his kids novels, Dark Lord: the Teenage Years, won the Roald Dahl Funny Prize.


His career in games and books began when Ian Livingstone hired him in the early '80s to work at Games Workshop. Jamie was brought in as Assistant Editor to Ian, on White Dwarf magazine.


Jamie lives in the dungeons below the Tower of his Dark Master (also known as Ian Livingstone) where he spends every day writing for his evil overlord.

A Glimpse of Chapter 7: Van Morrison

1976. Steve and Ian wake with a start. It's the rain, drumming onto the top of their van, as if a huge Ogre right out of a D&D game was using their roof as a drum-kit (Drums of Thunder, +6). It was another day working in their Uxbridge Road office. And yes, that's right, they lived in a van. Van Morrison, as they called it, where they'd been sleeping for a while now, alongside all the boxes of games and Dungeons and Dragons and stock they couldn't fit into their office. How did it end up like this? Well, a few months earlier, Ian and Steve had been running Games Workshop out of their flat at 15 Bolingbroke Road in Shepherd’s Bush, West London. The converted town house had only one public phone in the hallway that they were using for their mail-order business.

Games Workshop's first ever trade order: six Mancala boards. Dungeons and Dragons hadn't even appeared in the UK back then...

But now they'd got a whole range of entirely new kinds of games. Things were beginning to pick up and it wasn't just Mancala boards and backgammon sets anymore. They'd managed to acquire a 3-year exclusive distribution agreement for the whole of Europe from Tactical Studies Rules (TSR – publishers of Dungeons & Dragons in the US). This was granted when Games Workshop made their first order; for six copies of D&D. They were already publishing their own '70s-style newsletter called Owl and Weasel, a kind of predecessor to White Dwarf, which they quickly adapted to be the mouthpiece of their new product line.

Cover of issue 6 of The Owl and Weasel, Ian and Steve's newsletter. One day it would morph into White Dwarf magazine...

Now the phone was constantly ringing, and gamers often knocked at the door. (Some would call them '70s nerds, but not all of them were, of course. Not to mention that the word nerd wasn't yet in common parlance, but this is where part of the whole 'nerd' thing was born). A recent article in The Spectator magazine called Ian and Steve, ‘Patient Zero for the epidemic of UK geek culture’. Their customers were expecting to find some kind of shop front so they could buy direct. Even the occasional costumed wizard turned up... The landlord was getting increasingly annoyed with people and parcels arriving all day long, let alone the other residents who hadn't banked on living with this kind of entrepreneurial explosion.

They had to get out... Gen Con IX was coming up in the States, the premiere convention for fantasy and science fiction gaming in the world. They had to get there, meet Gary Gygax and the rest of the D&D guys, firm up that vital relationship. To try to sign up all the fledgling US role-playing games companies. It took about 3 months to get to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin for the Con, but they got there in the end. Deals were struck, games were played, beer and burgers consumed, relationships established.

They flew back, inspired and invigorated by it all – except now they needed a new office. They managed to find one in Uxbridge Road, also in the Shepherd's Bush area of London. It was a small room at the back of an estate agent. That's all they could afford and it didn't include an actual flat to live in... So, that's where Van Morrison came in. They slept in the back of Steve’s van! And what about washing and shaving and the rest? Well, they joined a nearby squash club. For several months they lived in the back of a van, ran their business from a tiny room round the back of an estate agents, and became very good at squash by default.

Read more...
borejko borejko
borejko borejko asked:

Is continuation planned? Next years of history GW 85-?
And when will the book be published?

Ian Livingstone
Ian Livingstone replied:

There are no plans for additional books at this point. We expect the book will be published in 2018, but it depends on when the project reaches its funding target.

Chang Chin Seong
Chang Chin Seong asked:

Greetings from the Far East! I would like to inquire if there is a fixed last/final day for backers to make a pledge, please?

Ian Livingstone
Ian Livingstone replied:

Hello Chang, unless the funding target is reached early, the final day for pledges will be end of March 2018. Thanks, Ian

Join in the conversation

Sign in to ask a question