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Series - Real Life Gamebooks

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Publishers: André Deutsch -- United Kingdom
Berkley (Pacer imprint) -- United States
Grafton Books (Dragon imprint) -- United Kingdom
Categories: Complexity Level : Advanced (Full Game System)
Format : Hardback
Format : Paperback
Game System : Combat
Game System : Randomization Method : Dice
Game System : Randomization Method : In Book
Game System : Scores
Genre : Historical Fiction
Target Age Group : Older Children
Writing Style : Present Tense
Writing Style : Second Person
Translated Into: Histoire (French)
Historiska soloäventyr (Swedish)
Real life gamebooks (Italian)
Sommer & Sørensens spillebøger (Danish)
Spielbuch-Abenteuer Weltgeschichte (German)

These gamebooks allow the reader to experience the events of various historical periods, from the eleventh century through the nineteen-eighties, first-hand. In each book, the reader creates a character by distributing fifty points between seven different attributes and skills (which vary from book to book, since some involve the use of equipment specific to the time). These skills are then tested against a roll of two six-sided dice whenever they must be used. In most of the books, the reader must also keep track of Wounds, which are equal to half of his or her Strength attribute; in the adventures with modern weaponry, however, a single hit is enough to kill the main character, so tracking Wounds is unnecessary. The books were first published in England, where they were simultaneously released in hardback (by André Deutsch) and paperback (by Dragon); a couple of years later, three titles were released in the United States by Berkley Pacer under new, shorter titles.


1. Madame Guillotine: The French Revolution
2. The Last Invasion: 1066
3. Sword and Flame: The English Civil War
4. Through the Wire: The Great Escape
5. Redcoats and Minutemen: The American War of Independence
6. Thunder in the Glens: The Jacobite Rebellion
7. Blazing Beacons: The Spanish Armada
8. The Fear Factor: Terrorism in the City

Related Documents

Play Aid

Real Life Gamebooks #2 Character Sheet

Real Life Gamebooks #7 Character Sheet

User Comments

This series has a really interesting premise. Instead of being set in a fantasy world, it makes you a fictional character at a real world event in history. It has standard choices as well as a number of skill check rolls. As a lover of history, this interests me greatly. The artwork is outstanding. Of the real history settings, this one is the oldest and most interesting.

I wanted to like this series but just can't. Like a lot of gamebooks, the writing is sparse, with short sections so you never really learn much about your character so never really feel anything for him. (I blame Fighting Fantasy for establishing these brief sections as the norm). Since the sections are so short, there is little dialogue. It feels like the writers are telling rather than showing.

My two pet peeves, no characterization and random pointless page flipping.

I'll probably try most of them as they are available on-line. But I've already tried the most interesting time period (1066). The subject matter they have chosen wasn't so interesting and when they focus on actual historical events which you can't alter, it isn't as much fun as it would have been just focusing on time periods.

Eras I would have selected:

Not only would these be more interesting, the later time periods would give the writers more flexibility.

Overall, the concept here is brilliant, the execution is poor.


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