The World of Lone Wolf
Der Hexenkönig (German)
Oberon il giovane mago (Italian)
Silverstjärnas ankomst (Swedish)
Le Sorcier Majdar (French)
Dever, Joe (editing)
Corben, Richard (American cover)
Bonner, Paul (interior)
October, 1985 (British edition)
March, 1988 (American edition)
April 2, 2003 (Project Aon release)
0099447703 / 9780099447702
0425095908 / 9780425095904 (American edition)
|Number of Endings:||28 (not including failure by loss of points)|
|User Summary:||As Grey Star, an orphan raised by the magical Shianti, you must begin your journey to find the lost Moonstone and stop Shasarak the Wytch-King from conquering Magnamund. Your first mission is to track down the Lost Tribe of Lara, a race of magical creatures who may be able to help you in your struggle.|
At one time I was really into the original Lone Wolf series. However, by the end of that 12th book I was a little tired of the routine.
However, after reading some reviews, I decided it was finally time to head back to Magnamund. So, I grabbed a copy off of eBay, found my old ten sided dice and settled in for some serious page flipping.
It is true that this series shares a lot of similarities to Lone Wolf, but there are two definite improvements.
First, the use of willpower makes the combat more engaging. It adds a bit of gambling to the battles and you actually have to make some tough choices while you fight. At one point I spent 6 willpower points in a desperate attempt to defeat a nasty foe and it was very satisfying to pull it off.
The second big difference in this series is that there are some well done supporting characters. Lone Wolf was always... well... kind on a loner, but Grey Star meets all kinds of interesting characters. It surprised me how much these supporting characters added to the drama and tension.
That being said, I must also agree with the other reviewers. This gamebook is simply broken when it comes to the power of your enemies. I went in knowing this, so I rerolled all of my character stats 3 times and wound up with:
Combat skill: 19 Willpower: 28 Health: 25
Even with these high stats I couldn't get through this nearly impossible quest. The enemies are way too strong. After 4 deaths I gave my character a potion of rejuvenation. Once during the game it allowed my character to max his Willpower and Endurance. With that I finally survived.
This is a very good gamebook IF you do something to adjust the difficulty.
This was the first adventure I ever had in Magnamund, and it's also one of the first gamebooks I discovered and read. As a result, I have very fond memories of the story and its characters, and I have long looked forward to replaying it. Now that I have, though, I'm a little disappointed. Certainly, it has some excellent elements -- memorable non-player characters (a rarity in gamebooks), a variety of nasty monsters, lots of opportunities to cast spells and a bunch of useful items to collect, not to mention plenty of high-quality and memorable internal illustrations. Unfortunately, it also has a lot of flaws. The writing is a bit more bland than I remember it being, but that's not my primary complaint -- most of the book's real problems have to do with poor game design. When I first enjoyed this book many years ago, I cheated to win. I'm glad I did, because if I hadn't, I don't think my memories would have been so fond. The optimal path through the book isn't that hard to find, but it contains enough difficult (and unavoidable) battles that it takes a lot of luck to get through successfully. This means that you can know exactly how to win but be unable to do so simply because of bad rolls of the die (or points at the Random Number Table, if that's how you play). Certainly, success relies on having high initial statistics; this is annoyingly luck-dependent, and a point-distribution system for character attribute generation would have made this a stronger and more balanced book. As it stands, certain aspects of the rules make a potentially entertaining adventure story into a long, repetitive, frustrating mess. This isn't a big deal if you don't mind cheating, but you shouldn't have to cheat to win the game; where's the fun in that? This situation isn't helped by the numerous typographical errors and vague rules embedded in the story's paragraphs; you'd think that by the fifth printing (which is the version I read) that some of these problems could have been cleaned up, but of course they never were. This book isn't as much of a classic as I had hoped, though if it had been given a bit more playtesting and thought, it really could have been.
Hint - Don't be afraid to expend willpower to increase damage in combat -- this is very useful in getting past the tougher fights with a minimum of damage.
This series is an extension of the Lone Wolf series by Joe Dever, which was quite popular in the mid-80s. It featured a continuing storyline that spanned more than twenty books. A wizard spin-off series was a natural.
This series is brilliant. It hits on so many points.
First off, like Lone Wolf, it is a continuing storyline (over four books) which gives it a more epic feel. The hero is a specially trained mage in a world occupied by a shadow-lord and his army of warriors, like a police state. This was a great choice as it makes all travel into hostile territory and gives a real "Star Wars, rebels against the empire" vibe.
The combat system is the best I've encountered in any gamebook. You get three attributes: Combat Skill, Endurance points and Willpower points. The first two are self-explanatory. To determine the combat you compare Grey Star's combat number with the enemy's and get a ratio. You then point to a chart to get a number 1-10 (no dice, yay!) and on the chart determine how much endurance each combatant loses. The scale is a bit in Grey Star's favour but since there are so many numbers, every fight is a risk. The willpower is what makes it fun. As you fight with your magic staff, each time you use it, you must expel a willpower point. For each point you expel, your opponent's damage doubles. This means short fights are in your interest as well as avoiding combat to save willpower. Almost all of my fights are short and brutal (averaging 3 rounds, I'd guess). This is so much more satisfying than the endlessly long dice rolling in Fighting Fantasy or page flipping in Sagard.
The back story is quite cool and has an epic feel. A race of benevolent beings withdraw from the human world, taking a vow not to interfere. When an evil witch-king takes control of humankind, the Shianti (the good race) are bound by their vow. But they find an orphan baby (who they name Grey Star) and train him to save humankind. So you have a reason to exist and a noble mission, but also a sense of naievete about the world you didn't grow up in.
The book is fast paced and challenging. You really feel like you need to conserve willpower points but find it difficult. You spend the book looking for the Lost Tribe of Lara, primates who can see a magic gate. As I mentioned, since the witch-king has warriors everywhere you feel like a spy in enemy territory. You pick up some fun companions, a merchant named Shan Li and a pretty witch's apprentice called Tanith (who looks very pretty in the artwork). The writing is lively. My favorite scene is one which you can create an elemental wave to overrun a bridge and a chariot of bad guys chasing you.
This is not to say everything is good. The book feels a bit railroady. For example, your companions die in different ways but there is nothing you can do about it. And the map is annoyingly vaguely similar to one of North America. I have trouble not seeing that as the basis for it.
Overall, a cool book and superb start.
I tried playing this one again after years and it's pretty impossible. Even with great stats and all the extras I still die miserably. I think I must have fudged my way through all those years ago.
A superior gamebook, with a few flaws.
First of all, the detail and intricacy of the game world is superb. You really feel as if you are immersed in Southern Magnamund and the authors do a brilliant job of conveying the setting. Flora and fauna are explained to a degree rarely found in gamebooks. There is just a neat feeling I get when I come upon Madin Rendalim. I feel like I know him and that his elixir is real, such is the verisimilitude of this world.
The battle and magic system in these books is also excellent, and I appreciate all the opportunities to make use of my chosen magics. However, the authors passed up numerous opportunities to make a choice for magic available where it would have been immensely useful, in order to push the story into the direction they want. For example, when an NPC companion and you are fighting a Quoko, magic as an option is never made available when it would have been a perfectly opportune time to use it.
Writing is above average, but not excellent. However, the backstory and character development are par excellence. The development of character, NPCs, the world in general, as well as small details therein are superb.
The choices are generally well thought out and involve more than simply picking a path or battle. Ability to backtrack is decent. The first half of this book is especially well done, with a myriad of interesting choices, fantastic encounters, and memorable NPCs.
However, there is some technical sloppiness, with a few passages leading to incorrect pages. Sometimes this is obvious, but at least once, it is not, and this could prove crucial, for it is just prior to the most difficult battle in the book. Typos also occur more frequently the further along you progress.
While this book is challenging, it is by no means impossible. I didn't have a single fight until halfway through the book, yet is it THIS fight that can kill you easily. Make it past this and you have a good shot. The other battles are not bad, especially if you use an extra point or two of WP. Plenty of healing is made available, and you will likely need it. The authors want you completely spent at the end of the book, and I was, completely out of WP, and nearly out of endurance. Most of the choices presented in the first half of the book allow logic and stealth (which is advised early on) to bring you success.
All in all, very good book. The interior illustrations are great, but the American cover leaves something to be desired when it comes to the portrayal of Grey Star himself. I would have preferred a little more choice with spells, especially in, or just prior to, battles. But with the vividness with which the world in portrayed and the memorable characters, as well as the great game system, this book is definitely recommended.
Rating 1-10: 8
|Errata:||Section 3 mentions "your remaining two meals," but depending on events, you may have more or less than two meals by this point. In section 10, the choice that leads to 102 should instead go to section 90. In section 193, pestle & mortar should be listed as a backpack item. In section 266, the choice that leads to 333 should in fact lead to 330. Section 289 covers the greater than and less than cases, but not the equal to case.|
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Dronak - American -- clean sheet, spine cracked, front cover has one corner missing, one corner bent; generally good condition
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World of Lone Wolf #1 - #3 Character Sheet (back)
World of Lone Wolf #1 Character Sheet (front)