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Lone Wolf

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American book cover

Lone Wolf is a collection of 29 gamebooks, similar to the Choose Your Own Adventure books, created by Joe Dever and initially illustrated (books 1-8) by Gary Chalk. The series began publishing in July 1984 and became one of the most popular game books ever published, selling more than 11 million copies worldwide.

The story focuses on the fictional world of Magnamund, where the forces of good and evil fight for control of this planet in a final showdown. The protagonist is Lone Wolf, last of his caste of warrior monks known as Kai lords. The book series is written in the second person and recounts Lone Wolf's adventures as if the reader is the main character. As Lone Wolf, you make choices at regular intervals throughout the story which then change the course, and the final outcome, of the book.

Each book in the series can be read/played separately, but they are designed in such a way that knowledge and items obtained in an earlier book can be carried over and used in the later ones. Each book has a unique player's objective, but the plot carries on chronologically where the previous book ends.

Although the series ceased publication between 1998 and 2007, a dedicated fan base established Project Aon in 1999 and have subsequently converted many of the books to HTML format. Joe Dever gave his permission for free distribution of the books online via the internet. Subsequently, there has been a strong revival of interest in Lone Wolf, particularly in Italy, Spain, and France where the books were republished between 2002-2006. Several adaptations now exist of the Lone Wolf series, including a D20-style Role-Playing Game published by Mongoose Publishing Ltd UK, the company which also plans to republish the original Lone Wolf series, beginning in the summer of 2007. A computer game and a mobile phone game are currently in production for release in early 2008.

Lone Wolf was notable as a gamebook series because it was the first one of its type (other than the notable Grailquest gamebooks) where the reader played a single character who grew more and more advanced over the course of the series. It was the first role-playing mega-campaign, and it has had a hugely influential effect upon the design of first-person fantasy computer games and MMO's (Massively Multi-player Online games) of recent years.

SynopsisEdit

Magnamund is a planet in the universe of Aon which is the focus of battle between the powers of Good, among them Kai (God of the Sun) and Ishir (Goddess of the Moon), and Naar, the evil God of Darkness.

In the north-east of Magnamund's northern continent lies the realm of Sommerlund. Its people, the Sommlending, are devoted followers of Kai. There are those among them, known as Kai Lords or simply 'the Kai', who possess extraordinary innate abilities. Trained from childhood at the Kai Monastery, the Kai Lords are Sommerlund's greatest defence against Naar's agents.

Naar's champions upon Magnamund are the Darklords, who dwell in the scorched wastes of the Darklands, west of Sommerlund. This realm, inhospitable to most life, enables the Darklords to survive on Magnamund - though powerful, they are greatly weakened by the natural atmosphere of their world. Forced to enact their will at a distance, the Darklords wage war with armies of Drakkarim (humans devoted to Naar), Giaks (goblin-like creatures spawned in vast numbers), and other creatures, and are served by agents such as Vordaks (undead with psychic powers) and Helghasts (shapechanging undead).

At the Kai Monastery is a young initiate, given the name Silent Wolf. On the feastday of Fehmarn, when all the Kai Lords gather at the monastery, Silent Wolf is sent to cut wood from the surrounding forest as a punishment for his inattention in class. While he is gone, a surprise attack is launched from the Darklands at several places across Sommerlund. The Monastery is assaulted and the gathered Kai Lords massacred. Rushing back from the woods, Silent Wolf is knocked out by a low-lying tree branch (in the Legends of Lone Wolf novelizations based on the books, it's implied that the branch was placed there by a being called Alyss so Silent Wolf would be spared the attack). When he awakes, he finds himself the only survivor. The last of the Kai, he renames himself Lone Wolf and sets out for the capital to inform the King of the loss of the Kai.

The Kai series follows Lone Wolf as he rallies the armies of Sommerlund and her ally, Durenor, to repel the invasion, pursues and captures the traitor who brought about the invasion, and survives plots to complete the destruction of the Kai. At the end of the series, Lone Wolf recovers the Book of the Magnakai, the ancient text which contained the higher lore of the Kai Lords. With the massacre of the Kai, and Lone Wolf only an initiate, these teachings were thought to be lost.

The Magnakai series takes up the tale, with Lone Wolf now a Kai Master striving to understand the Magnakai teachings. The Book, however, is ancient and incomplete. To perfect his understanding and train a new order of Kai Lords, Lone Wolf must follow the path of Sun Eagle, the first Kai Lord and author of the Book of the Magnakai. Sun Eagle quested for the wisdom encapsulated in the Lorestones of Nyxator, seven orbs scattered across Northern Magnamund. As Lone Wolf begins the same quest, however, war breaks out again. The Darklords have again rallied behind a single leader and now hasten their invasion to defeat the Magnakai quest. Lone Wolf pursues the quest through the war-torn realms and even beyond the plane of Magnamund. Ultimately, he enters the Darkland capital of Helgedad and brings about the destruction of the Darklords.

The Grand Master series continues the story of Grand Master Lone Wolf and introduces the restored order of Kai Lords. With the destruction of the Darklords, Naar and his agents abandon open warfare and seek new paths to dominance, often focused directly on Lone Wolf as the keystone of the forces of Light.

The New Order series features a new protagonist, whose name is speculated to be Falco Nero, or Black Hawk (reference?),[1] a Grand Master in the Second Order of the Kai and a student of Lone Wolf, who is now Supreme Master. Much of the series focuses on attempts by Naar's minions to use remnants of the power of Agarash the Damned, Naar's greatest champion and predecessor to the Darklords. As such, the settings explore Southern Magnamund, where Agarash's empire was centred and which was ignored in the earlier series.

BooksEdit

WritingEdit

Joe Dever was seven years old when he became a fan of a comic strip known as "The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire", which appeared in a magazine called Look and Learn. He built armies of Airfix Roman soldiers and converted their spears to laser rifles, long before he was introduced to fantasy.[2] Dever was introduced to "science fantasy" by his high school English tutor.[3] He was the first and possibly only British person to compete in the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Championship of America, which he won in 1982.[4]

Dever has stated that his earliest inspirations for Lone Wolf were medieval classical texts such as Beowulf, Ivanhoe, King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table. In his teenage years Tolkien, Michael Moorcock, and Mervyn Peake along with military history and Norse mythology all contributed to the creation of the Kai. He also used travel books to discover images of "exotic places".[5]

Dever developed the world of Magnamund from 1975 to 1983 as a setting for his Advanced Dungeons and Dragons campaigns. Originally called "Chinaraux", the world consisted of only northern Magnamund.[3] The Kai lords are like "psionic rangers with special powers bestowed upon them by their gods."[4] An individual book took 9 weeks to write, with three for mapping and plotting, and then 6 weeks of writing the story, creating an average of 12 entries per day.[5]

Joedever1986

Joe Dever, 1986

PublicationEdit

Dever was originally contracted by London-based publisher Hutchinsons for four books, despite having planned out at least 13 for the series. When the first books proved to be popular, Dever was allowed an extension of contract and went on to write 20 books with Lone Wolf as the main hero, and 8 more featuring a new Kai Lord. He also developed the character Grey Star during this period, and four books were written using this character by Ian Page.[3] Dever also wrote The Magnamund Companion, in which all countries of the Lone Wolf world are described in some detail; readers are also given details on the Darklords and a trainer course in the Giak language. There are two games included, a Ragadorn Tavern Board game, and a short solo adventure that takes place immediately prior to book one, featuring the character of Banedon.

With the help of Joe Dever, Paul Barnett, whose pen name is John Grant, wrote twelve novelizations of the Lone Wolf books known as the Legends of Lone Wolf, several of which were heavily edited before publication.[6]. They have received mixed reviews from fans. Barnett was the creator of the characters Alyss, Qinefer, and Thog.[7] Barnett has been in discussions with an Italian publisher about reprinting the books unedited.[8] Random House stopped publishing the novelizations because "the books weren't selling," though the truth of this statement is contested.[9] There has long been question amongst fans as to which version of the series is canon. Joe Dever has stated that as the game books precede the novelization, they are the "authoritative" versions.[3]

Only the first four volumes of the Legends of Lone Wolf were made available in the United States (though Sword of the Sun was divided into two separate volumes, The Tides of Treachery and Sword of the Sun), and only the first 20 of the core Lone Wolf gamebook series were made available in the United States; the last 8 books were never printed in the US. It should also be noted that the American editions of books 13-20 were abridged versions and thus are shorter than the UK editions. The UK versions also have color maps. The abridgments are sloppy, sometimes leaving broken links, or sections referring the reader to an incorrect new section.[10]

During the latter period of writing, Joe Dever and Publisher Red Fox were at odds, and Red Fox ceased publishing the Lone Wolf series after book 28, The Hunger of Sejanoz, citing lack of interest in the interactive gaming genre, despite hundreds of requests for the reprinting of several Lone Wolf books that had gone out of print.[3] This left the series unfinished, as Dever had four other books planned. He plans on releasing these books in some form after completing his collaboration on the new Lone Wolf RPG.[11]

In 1999, Dever gave permission for his Lone Wolf book to be published for free on the internet by the non-profit organization Project Aon. Joe Dever later gave his permission to publish the out of print New Order series.[12] As of July 2006, 17 of his Lone Wolf books, the World of Lone Wolf series, the Magnamund Companion and several other Lone Wolf related written works are available for download.[13]

Fan baseEdit

Today Lone Wolf still commands a cult following, which is mostly located on two sites online; Project Aon Forums and Tower of the Sun. Project Aon prints the books for free online. Tower of the Sun is a forum started by Winterhawk with RPG elements such as rewarding site members gold crowns and experience points for posting, and allowing them to join a class from the Lone Wolf series. Tower of the Sun also has an ongoing fan fiction which exceeds ten chapters and a thousand pages of text.

ReceptionEdit

The gamebook series was published between 1984 and 1998 in over 30 countries, translated into 18 languages, and sold in excess of 9 million copies worldwide. Each of the first 20 books had average print runs of 250,000.[14]

The response to the Lone Wolf book series has been largely positive. Three books of the series won "Game Book of the Year" between 1985 and 1987. The series was also awarded the Gamemaster International "All Time Great" award in 1991.[15] The high quality of Joe Dever's descriptive prose receives especial praise, as well as the fact that the books, if played together, form a cohesive continuing story, with recurring characters (something not often seen in gamebooks).

Even so, the books are not without criticism. Wavering difficulty is a common criticism made about the series. The battles tend to be either too hard or too easy. This is mostly attributed to the attainment of the Sommerswerd in the second book Fire on the Water which drastically increases the wielder's combat abilities. Another reason for this would be the fact that a player can start with drastically different stats. Finally, because the books were written to be functional both as a series and as stand alone adventures, the question of whether or not a player would have access to certain special weapons and abilities made difficulty hard to gauge.

Another criticism is that the epic fights of the series, due to a simplistic battle system, lack a suitably epic feel. There has been a fan attempt by Zipp Dementia to remedy this by rewriting some of these battles as enlarged special "supplements" with adapted combat rules.[16]

Some also think that the Lone Wolf series is too linear, forcing the player to approach most problems in the same way, and to go a certain path. The more plot-oriented books are noted to be more linear, while the books that focus more on dungeon exploration are far less linear.

AdaptationsEdit

Three computer games were released during the late 1980s using the Lone Wolf license.[17][18][19] The first two, published by Hutchinson, were adapted from the first two gamebooks, while the third entitled 'Mirror of Death' from Audiogenic Software, featured an original storyline.[20] The game was well received by several game magazines.[21]

The Legends novel Eclipse of the Kai was abridged as an audio book read by Edward da Souza in May 7, 1992.[22] Another was recorded but not released.[7] A version narrated and composed by Joe Dever was also made, but never released.[5]

There was also a series of telephone adventures called "Phonequest", one of which was known as "Fortress of Doom".[23]

In 2004 the license was adapted as a role-playing game by Mongoose Publishing under the Open Game License using Mongoose's OGL System. This has met mostly with praise for its adaptation of the Lone Wolf world, though some believe that there are many overlooked problems with the RPG, such as balance between classes and "hard to interpret" rules. Dever is credited with helping the game's principal designer, August Hahn, to incorporate information from his final four unreleased books into the game.[24] A line of miniatures was also created for the game.[25]

Three scripts were developed for a potential Lone Wolf film release but they did not proceed beyond the pre-production phase.[26]

An online MMORPG was developed by fans throughout 2005,[27] at one point with the help of Joe Dever,[28] and a playable demo had been released for beta testing, but development abruptly stopped when it was announced that a first-person computer game was being developed by Singapore-based Ksatria Gameworks Pte Ltd. Joe Dever is cited as Lead Designer on the project, which is scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2008.[29]

GamebooksEdit

(author: Joe Dever)

Kai series
  1. Flight from the Dark
  2. Fire on the Water
  3. The Caverns of Kalte
  4. The Chasm of Doom
  5. Shadow on the Sand
    Magnakai series
  6. The Kingdoms of Terror
  7. Castle Death
  8. The Jungle of Horrors
  9. The Cauldron of Fear
  10. The Dungeons of Torgar
  11. The Prisoners of Time
  12. The Masters of Darkness
    Grand Master series
  13. The Plague Lords of Ruel
  14. The Captives of Kaag
  15. The Darke Crusade
  16. The Legacy of Vashna
  17. The Deathlord of Ixia
  18. Dawn of the Dragons
  19. Wolf's Bane
  20. The Curse of Naar
    New Order series
  21. Voyage of the Moonstone
  22. The Buccaneers of Shadaki
  23. Mydnight's Hero
  24. Rune War
  25. Trail of the Wolf
  26. The Fall of Blood Mountain
  27. Vampirium
  28. The Hunger of Sejanoz
  29. The Storms of Chai

NovelsEdit

Legends of Lone WolfEdit

(author: John Grant - Pen name of Paul Barnett)

  1. Eclipse of the Kai
  2. The Dark Door Opens (based on 'Flight from the Dark')
  3. The Sword of the Sun (based on 'Fire on the Water')
  4. Hunting Wolf (based on 'The Caverns of Kalte')
  5. The Claws of Helgedad
  6. The Sacrifice of Ruanon (based on 'The Chasm of Doom')
  7. The Birthplace (based on 'Shadow on the Sand')
  8. The Book of the Magnakai (based on 'Shadow on the Sand')
  9. The Tellings
  10. The Lorestone of Varetta (based on 'The Kingdoms of Terror')
  11. The Secret of Kazan-Oud (based on 'Castle Death')
  12. The Rotting Land (based on 'The Jungle of Horrors')

d20 seriesEdit

(author: August Hahn)

  1. The Lone Wolf RPG
  2. The Darklands (supplement)
  3. Magic of Magnamund (supplement)
  4. Dawn of Destruction (supplement)
  5. Blood Moon Rising (supplement)[30]

OtherEdit

  1. The Magnamund Companion (gazetteer)
  2. Lone Wolf Graphic Novel: The Skull of Agarash (graphic novel)
  3. Lone Wolf Poster Painting Book (by Gary Chalk)

ReferencesEdit

  1. Sekhemty (2005-06-01). The Name of the Grand Master in the "New Order" Series (PDF). Rising Sun. Retrieved on 2006-07-15.
  2. Dicing With Death. Warlock Magazine (1986-07-01). Archived from the original on 2001-04-28. Retrieved on 2006-07-03.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Blake, Jonathan (1998-01-01). Joe Dever. The Kai Monastery. Retrieved on 2006-07-03.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Baylis, Chris (1993-01-01). Interview with Joe Dever conducted by Chris Bayliss. Role-Player Independent Magazine. Retrieved on 2006-07-03.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Dever, Joe (1993-08-28). Lone Wolf: Joe Dever Frequently Asked Questions (PDF). Joe Dever Letter. Retrieved on 2006-07-15.
  6. Dannenfelser, Randy M. (2006-01-01). UNDER HOT LIGHTS AND A FALLING SKY WELCOME TO THE LIFE AND TIMES OF PAUL BARNETT. John Grant Paul Barnett.com. Retrieved on 2006-07-03.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Gallot, Gavin (1999-05-01). Paul Barnett Interview. Rising Sun: Project Aon. Retrieved on 2006-07-15.
  8. Anders, Lou (2002-01-01). Interview With John Grant/Paul Barnett by Lou Anders. BeWrite Books.com. Retrieved on 2006-07-03.
  9. Egelstaff, Julian (1997-09-01). Paul Barnett. Kai Monastery. Retrieved on 2006-07-03.
  10. Egelstaff, Julian (1997-01-01). The Flight from the Dark. The Kai Monastery. Retrieved on 2006-07-15.
  11. Dever, Joe (2005-12-21). Joe Dever letter. lobo-solitario.com. Heirloom Publishing. Retrieved on 2006-07-03.
  12. Project Aon will publish the New Order series!. Project Aon (2006-05-18). Retrieved on 2006-07-03.
  13. Dever, Joe (1999-01-01). Joe Dever Permission Grant. Project Aon. Retrieved on 2006-07-03.
  14. 20 YEARS OF “LONE WOLF”: THE AUTHOR JOE DEVER AT LUCCA GAMES. Project Aon (2005-10-11). Retrieved on 2006-07-15.
  15. Lone Wolf:Celebrate a decade of award-winning excellence (PDF). Project Aon (1994-01-01). Retrieved on 2006-07-15.
  16. Zipp Dementia (2006-06-01). New Lone Wolf Legendary Fights (PDF). Rising Sun Issue 16. Retrieved on 2006-11-12.
  17. Template:WoS game
  18. Template:WoS game
  19. Template:WoS game
  20. Katz, Demian (1998-01-01). Lone Wolf Software. gamebooks.org. Retrieved on 2006-07-15.
  21. Pillar, Jon (1991-05-01). Lone Wolf - The Mirror Of Death. The "Your Sinclair" Rockin' 'Roll Years. Retrieved on 2006-07-15.
  22. Gallot, Gavin (1992-01-01). Lone Wolf/Joe Dever: 1992 Publication Date. Project Aon. Retrieved on 2006-07-15.
  23. Dever, Joe (1993-01-01). Lone Wolf: Joe Dever's Phonequest (PDF). Joe Dever Letter. Retrieved on 2006-07-15.
  24. Vashna, Darklord (2004-12-01). Rising Sun. Tower of the Sun. Retrieved on 2006-07-15.
  25. Sprange, Matthew (2005-10-01). New Lone Wolf Miniatures. Mongoose Publishing. Retrieved on 2006-07-15.
  26. Dever, Joe (2004-07-01). Joe Dever Interview. lobo-solitario.com. Retrieved on 2006-07-03.
  27. Cat, Black (2005-12-23). The end of the LW MMORPG?. Lone Wolf MMORPG. Retrieved on 2006-07-03.
  28. Blake, Jonathan (2005-01-01). Kai Grand Sentinel (PDF). Project Aon. Retrieved on 2006-07-03.
  29. Dever, Joe (2005-12-21). Joe Dever letter. lobo-solitario.com. Heirloom Publishing. Retrieved on 2006-07-03.
  30. Hahn, August (2005-01-01). Blood Moon Rising. Mongoose Publishing. Retrieved on 2006-07-03.

External links Edit

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