Little history lesson of Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf Gamebooks
If you are old enough, maybe you have read at least one gamebook: one of the most famous saga is, for sure, Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf. Gamebooks are books in which the reader is also the main character of the story. The books were divided into numbered paragraphs, at the end of each, usually, there’s a choice between two or more actions; the most common ones are like “To go north, go to paragraph XX, to go east, go to YY”. It’s a role playing game for one player, that was very popular between the eighties and the nineties. All you need to play the game, is the book, a pencil and an eraser; a lot of people usually made a copy of the character sheet, in order to not ruin the book.
About Lone Wolf and Kai Lords
In the books, Lone Wolf is the last survivor of the Kai Lords, an order of the finest warriors of the Sommerlund realm, against the forces of Naar, the evil God of Darkness and his champions, the Darklords. In the land of Sommerlund, it is tradition to send noble children to the Kai Monastery for training. There, they become initiates who starts training with existing Kai Lords, until they too have become masters of the way of the Kai. Once fully trained, the new Kai return home, prepared to defend themselves and their families from the threat of the Darklords. Although Kai training is not easy, it instills unique Kai disciplines upon those who practice it. These disciplines manifest themselves in areas such as honed combat reflexes, psychic powers of the mind, and uniquely sharpened senses.
The last incarnation of Lone Wolf
To whom may have read the books, the story takes place between Lone Wolf books four and five, titled The Chasm of Doom (in Randong, when you have to stop the summoning of Vashna) and Shadow on the Sand (when you have to stop Haakon and search for the Book of Magnakai). To the others, it’s a standalone adventure with no dependency to the stories of the books. Creator Joe Dever described the game as the one that finally “got it right”. Dever also described the game as presenting the protagonist Lone Wolf with a Batmanesque darkness while still being a “paragon of virtue”.
The game mixed a book interface for exploration, with action turn based combat. You can develop your character and you can focus on one or more aspect of your choice; you can choose to use more on powers, or specialize in swords, axes, two weapons, weapon and shield… There are plenty of customization options for your character, more than the old book ones. Suggestion: it’s better to specialize, than to be a jack of all trades, because some fights can be hard.
Fighting Giaks and Drakkars with Lone Wolf
In gamebooks, fighting required two tables: one that simulates a 10-face dice roll and one with the result of the fight. In the videogame, you got a smart Active Time Bar and a multitude of options to choose from:
- attack with main weapon (there are 5 different skills for each type, axe or sword, to unlock);
- throw daggers;
- use the Sommerswerd (the epic and powerful weapon that got a skill tree on its own);
- use an item or a power.
About the enemies, the most common troops that you can find in both the books and the videogame, are the Giaks: goblin-like creatures that are used as troops, builders (slaves) and food for the troops. The elite warrior troops are the Drakkars: human skillful warriors, from an entire nation voted to war. Both giaks and drakkars, are commanded by the Darklords: the Champions of Naar, the God of Darkness; in the books, you will encounter only few of them (a total of 5).
The story so far (by Joe Dever)…
First of all: the plot of the game was written by the titular Joe Dever himself. I believe that this is the most important feature of the game. About the story itself: “Communication with the village of Rockstarn have ceased and you have to investigate. Only the Sunken Forest separates this region of Sommerlund from the dreaded Darklands: is a new menace looming on the horizon?”. One important characteristic of the storyline, as in the books, is that choices matter. Every choice that you made can determine if you got some advantage in the next battle, if you meet an ally, if you find a sidequest, if you find something…
The text in game is available in English, French, Italian, German and Spanish.
The game is worth your time, and, if you grew up reading Joe Dever’s books, you will enjoy playing a more interactive Lone Wolf adventure. The Lone Wolf that I have imagined when I was a kid, was just a bit different, but it’s ok. I think that every Lone Wolf of every reader, is different from each other.