Lone Wolf by Joe Dever

There is already a Joe Dever RIP thread, but I want to talk about his book series, Lone Wolf, as something interesting happened this morning.

Randomly minding my own business when YouTube shoved this video in front of me.

Now, as someone that enjoyed what Lone Wolf books I could get my hands on from the school library I was intrigued. These were amazingly well crafted books in one of the most interesting fantasy worlds I’d seen, and since I was at the time new to D&D I was in love with them and replayed the ones I had access to (which amounts to like books 1, 4, 5, and 7 or something random) over and over.

Eventually I fell in love with Steve Jackson’s Sorcery, I still have that complete set in hard cover behind me on my book shelf. I do love Jackson’s work, but I think the biggest appeal was having the full story and not randomly books.

However, watching this video (which was a delight), led me to the re-release project where they are putting these Lone Wolf books out as Definitive Editions in hardcover, with tons of missing content that was cut from the originals!

These looked so incredible, and the idea of playing books 1-5 as an adult just seemed so incredibly appealing, I bought all five just now. It was 130GSB for me to ship all five to the US (I think that’s about $158USD) and I’m already chomping at the bit to get my hands on these and get started.

Anyway, this was all news to me, so I figured it was probably news to others, and I wanted to spread awareness!

In a remarkably weird coincidence, I picked up the Android app for these books yesterday (free!) on a tip from the Offline Android thread. I adored these as a kid, and ran through the first book (ummm, to failure) a couple of times last night.

I’ll be going through it again tonight, I’m sure. But seeing the actual books in print again is really awesome, too.

It was my first non-PC (maybe my very first?) RPG experience. I have a lot of fondness for those books.

I actually came across that video last week myself, really good stuff. I used to have the full set of paperback Lone Wolf books, heck maybe they’re still somewhere at my Mom’s place. I’d love to go through them again.

I was watching someone on YouTube review the first book (this is just back in early April, I think these came out much more recently than I’d thought as in the comments someone had books 4 and 5 on pre-order and that’s just a few months ago) and I’m really impressed with what he showed off. The jacket, if removed, is a huge map of the world, and everything inside looks amazing, including the character sheet and action logs.

Don’t want to write in your book like a dirty teenager? Me either, so this is awesome.

They provide a QR code you can use to get a character sheet (I assume that you can then print?) and either way, genius move. Super cool stuff.

My order shipped already, though it’s coming from across the pond, so I assume I’m in for a bit of a wait. But I’ll report back when I get them.

Holy shit those look amazing, it physically pains me that I can’t possibly scrape together the money to get them. I loved those books as a kid - I found them before I found D&D so they were particularly eye-opening, they were basically my transition from “choose your own adventure” to full on PnP roleplaying.

The Lone Wolf (and Grey Star) books are the pinnacle of the gamebook genre, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve tried to keep up with the various digital incarnations over the years (like Project Aon).

Weirdly maybe, even more formative for me than the gamebooks was the Magnamund Companion, a book that detailed the world they were set in, a bit like a D&D sourcebook. It also had a little board game in it (pretty cool one, actually) and a short gamebook story starring Banedon, one of the few recurring characters in the LW books. Oh, and a dictionary of the Giak language. I used to page through that book constantly.

Glad to see the books are being printed again.

Man, I want to see the extended versions and I love that they’re doing the project. But I don’t have room for 32 hardcover books in my life (assuming they get that far) and I really can’t imagine going back to playing out of the actual books after Project Aon tbh. Just way more convenient.

Huge thanks for linking that, I wasn’t aware of it!

They have arrived!

They came very quickly, given they got here to the mid-west from Iowa. Color me impressed. Also impressive is the quality - these books feel really good, light weight but well constructed. With that incredible paper quality I’ve only ever seen from books printed in the UK - snow white paper with real texture to it.

I was able to scan the included QR code and have started making a character! Well, I guess I finished him now, but it was incredibly tough to choose my 5 Disciplines I started with. They all seemed really useful.

I went with Camouflage, Hunting, Sixth Sense, Tracking, and Animal Friendship. The mental ones all seemed really useful as well, but maybe as I progress through the series I can expand on my available powers.

The back of the book had some really cool glossaries, a section covering the history of the world complete with a timeline, there was some great information on the language used as well as other fun stuff like a monster manual.

Inside the jacket we have this gorgeous map (I love maps), and the rules and how to play section, and everything looks incredible from the font to the outstanding art (both the old and the new).

And here we are, at the start of my first time running through Lone Wolf as an adult. I was probably the age of the protagonist (sounds like 15 years old?) when I last played this thing, in the early 90’s, and I’m confident I will remember almost none of it but what I do remember will probably be fun nostolgia. Plus I think I did the first book years after the second book, which is the one I’ve done a few times, and maybe book 5 or something down the road. That’s about all I had access to. So, let’s do this.

One nice thing, the books have two book-mark strands of fabric so you can mark where you are and where you just were. Super nice touch.

I thought you only got 3 disciplines right out the gate!

I’ve been playing through them on the app on my phone at night, and man these are just so great.

Yeah, I’m super into this immediately. I think I was not prepared for the writing and world building grabbing me so quickly. I am also less confident I ever played the first book - this opening sequence is really something, surely I’d have remembered this? Maybe not, maybe not. Still, very fun so far.

I had all the books at like 13. I ‘grew up’ from the Choose Your Own Adventure books to these, and it rocked my world. Going back through the app is incredible. There’s…a thing you get in book 2 or 3? I can’t imagine going through the rest of the books without it! I don’t think you can “miss it,” and I’ll avoid spoilers for those who might not be there yet – it’s like the main objective of book 2 or 3. But I can’t FATHOM going through the other books without it!

It’s book two. Pretty sure anyone who has read these knows exactly what you’re talking about.

I’m sure as well, but there might still be people in book 1 reading this. :-)

Anyone who starts on book 3…I just can’t imagine, lol. (Back when the books were picked up piecemeal.)

Argh, those look so beautiful!

Is that a different beginning than the original printings–the training session with Star Fire? I don’t remember that being how the story starts and I don’t remember that illustration.

I thought maybe it was because it’s been so long since I read it, but yeah it could be new. It’s a really brilliant way to kick off the action so far!

I just compared it to the app I have downloaded, and it’s VASTLY a different first page!

Such a pleasant thing to see this thread. Joe Dever Lone Wolf was my favourites too and I have Book 1-10 (I think). Recently, I introduced them to my 10 year old daughter and 13 year old nephew and they are both hooked, although they cheat a lot :)
I bet I cheated too at their age.

I specifically remember doing it - I’d hold my place and see “what would happen if I did have this ability or item or made this choice” and I also remember sticking with said choice and ret-conning my character sheet, lol.

This time I’m taking it more seriously, no fudging the dice and no cheating, because since I was a teenager I’ve learned that is the best way to experience things like this. If I make a dumb choice that ends a great run, I reserve the right to change my mind. :)

I ABSOLUTELY would always hold a finger on the last page I was on, mostly just to avoid the insta-death endings. I wouldn’t cheat using skills I didn’t have, but I absolutely would go back if I died.