About Lone Wolf:

 

Lone Wolf appeared in the early 1980s, soon after Fighting Fantasy. Apparently, it was developed as a land for AD&D campaigns. It was first published by Sparrow (which then became Beaver) and later by Berkely-Pacer (which is universally reviled for its shortened versions) in the USA and Red Fox in the UK.

It was/is the longest running gamebook series, with the (last ?) book published in 1999. The unique thing about this series is the consistency. You get a feeling of continuity as you advance through the series. From Books 1-20, you take on the role of the title character - Lone Wolf, as he advances in power from a puny novitiate to the Head of his Order. Books 1-20 were further divided into the Kai Series (1-6), the magnakai Series (7-12) and the Grand Master Series (13-20). In the first, Lone Wolf progresses from an Initiate to a Kai Master as he saves Sommerlund from various threats. Discovering the Book of the magnakai in Book 5, Shadow On The Sand, he then goes on the magnakai Quest for the Lorestones of Nyxator, culminating in the destruction of the ancient foes of Sommerlund in Book 12, the Masters of Darkness. From Book 13-20, he proceeds to save Magnamund from further threats.

 

An oil painting, from the Magnamund Companion, of some of the Darklords of Helgedad, Champions of the Dark Lord Naar and the ancient foes of Sommerlund.

 

In Books 21-28, you are his disciple. Most of the books in the series are quite good, though I feel the quality declines towards the end of the series.

There were 2 main "spin-off" series, The World of Lone Wolf (Grey Star) and Legends of Lone Wolf. In the former, you are a magician, apparently living at about the same time period as Lone Wolf. The latter is not strictly a gamebook series. In fact, it is a series of novels, based somewhat loosely on the gamebook series (and meant for a more mature target audience). Some truths are revealed in the novels, and characters are developed much more. If you have followed the Lone Wolf series, you should read the novels. Unfortunately, the novels stop at the equivalent of the end of Book 8 in the gamebook series.

 

The System:

 

Likes

One of the things that I like about this series is the skill system. In the first book of each sub-series, you choose a few of the skills. After completing each book in the sub-series, you get an additional skill, as a reward for completing the book, I guess. These additional skills help you greatly in the later books, but note that common sense and decision making are the most important "skills" to win a gamebook.

One good thing about Lone Wolf and Grey Star gamebooks is that no dice are needed. Printed at the back of every book is a Random Number Table, a table with many cells - each with a number from 0 to 9 in it. Because of the table, the only other materials needed to play a Lone Wolf or Grey Star gamebook are a pencil and an eraser. While "all you need are two dice, a pencila and an eraser" for Fighting Fantasy, Lone Wolf only needs a pencil and an eraser!

The combat system is quite robust for a gamebook. Unlike most other gamebooks, there are a wide range of results for each round of combat, as they are generated by consulting the Combat Results Table at the back of the book under the column representing the Combat Skill differential between Lone Wolf and the Enemy and picking a number from the Random Number Table.

The puzzles in Lone Wolf are quite well done. They usually require the reader to figure out a number sequence from the diagram, or to form the numbers of the entry to turn to (ie The first number is the number of disciplines a Kai Grand Master has mastered, the second is the number of islands in the island chain on the northeast of the map).

 

Shortcomings

 

Attributes

There are 2 main attributes - Combat Skill and Endurance. The former is a measure of a character's fighting ability and the latter, his "life" or hit points and, in certain cases, his stamina and will to survive. In Books 1-12, Combat Skill is determined by picking a number from the Random Number Table and adding 10. Endurance is found by picking a number from the Random Number Table and adding 20. When one comes to Books 6-12, special rules apply - one of the subtle complexities that make Lone Wolf one of my favourite Gamebook series. There are these things know as "Lore Circles". When one completes the Disciplines in a Lore Circle, he will get a bonus to his Combat Skill and Endurance scores. The bonus depends on the Lore Circle, from +3 End in the Lore Circle of Light (with 2 disciplines to master) to +3 CS and +3 End for completing the Lore Circle of the Spirit (with 4 disciplines to master). In the Grand Master Series ( Books 13-20 ), completing every book gives a +1 CS and +2 End bonus.

 

Combat

 

Variations

 

Currency

There are several forms of currency in the land of Magnamund. Some lands share currencies (eg Dessi, land of the Elder Magi, uses Gold Crowns) and some use many currencies.

Some currencies:

* Gold Crown (currency of Sommerlund and other places)
* Silver Lune 4 Lune = 1 Crown
* Kika (currency of the Darklands) 10 Kika = 1 Crown
* Ren (a cloth currency)

 

Additional Resources:

Maps of the Lone Wolf World

Timeline

Excerpts from the Kai Wisdom and Fighting Fantasy Mailing Lists

Scans of the Lone Wolf Club Newsletters

 

Links, find out more!

Lone Wolf Webring 20 over sites dedicated to Lone Wolf
The Kai Monastery The first detailed Lone Wolf site, with reviews and other quirky stuff
The Aon Project Digitalising the Lone Wolf Books
Rising Sun A Lone Wolf fan ezine
City of Varetta Maps and information on places and people
Secrets of the Kai ERPG information, gamebook marketplace and more
Desert Lynx's Oasis Giak tutorial, atlas of Magnamund and others
City of Toran
Lone Wolf Book Covers A collection of covers from most the books
The Masters' Gallery Original drawings inspired by the LW books
Lone Wolf Resource Centre Maps from most of the books (all but for the New Order series)


Lone Wolf

Number Title Rating ( /5 ) Do I have this book?
1 Flight from the Dark 3 Yes
2 Fire on the Water 4 Yes
3 The Caverns of Kalte 4.5 Yes
4 The Chasm of Doom 3.5 Yes
5 Shadow on the Sand 3 Yes
6 The Kingdoms of Terror 5 Yes
7 Castle Death 3.5 Yes
8 The Jungle of Horrors 4.5 Yes
9 The Cauldron of Fear 4 Yes
10 The Dungeons of Torgar 3.5 Yes
11 The Prisoners of Time 5 Yes
12 The Masters of Darkness (I have the whole Kai series, 1-12, in the wonderful Beaver editions with gorgeous covers) 5 Yes
13 The Plague Lords of Ruel 2.5 Yes
14 The Prisoners of Kaag 2.5 Yes
15 The Darke Crusade 5 Yes
16 The Legacy of Vashna 3 Yes
17 The Deathlord of Ixia 5 Yes
18 The Dawn of the Dragons 4 Yes
19 Wolf's Bane 3 Yes
20 The Curse of Naar 3.5 Yes
21 The Voyage of the Moonstone 3 Yes
22 The Bucaneers of Shadakai (apparently the rarest book) 4 Yes! Haha.
23 Mydnight's Hero 2.5 Yes
24 Rune War 2.5 Yes
25 The Trail of the Wolf 2 Yes
26 The Fall of Blood Mountain 2 Yes
27 Vampirium 1.5 Yes
28 The Hunger of Sejanoz 2 Yes

 

Special

Number Title Rating ( /5 ) Do I have this?
1 The Magnamund Companion 5 Yes! Finally! Shiny, colourful, large and attractive.

 

Legends of Lone Wolf (Novels)

Number Title Rating ( /5 ) Do I have this?
1 Eclipse of the Kai   Yes
2 The Dark Door Opens   Yes
3 The Sword of the Sun   Yes
4 Hunting Wolf   Yes
5 The Sacrifice of Ruanon   No
6 The Claws of Helgedad   No
7 The Birthplace   Yes
8 The Book of the Magnakai   No
9 The Tellings   Yes
10 The Lorestone of Varetta   Yes
11 The Secret Of Kazan-Oud   Yes
12 The Rotting Land   Yes

The World of Lone Wolf (Gray Star)

Number Title Rating ( /5 ) Do I have this?
1 Gray Star the Wizard 5 Yes
2 The Forbidden City 4 Yes
3 Beyond the Nightmare Gate 4 Yes
4 War of the Wizards 5 Yes

 

Credits:

David Thian for writeups on the first 2 Lone Wolf books (done c. 1998).