Lone Wolf - A Solitary Journey
Book 1 - Flight from the Dark
I was going through an old box of books when I unearthed my Lone Wolf collection. It has been years since I last ran through them and wondered how they would hold up. Fantastic!
Flight in the Dark is engaging and fun (and deadly). I think, for anyone not yet experienced in these choose a path paragraph solitaire books, that it is a like or meh experience. Lone Wolf is the top of the food chain, but the position is shared by the Fighting Fantasy series and perhaps the Middle-Earth paragraph books but I have no experience with those. Outside of books both TFT's Melee and Wizard had a good solo paragraph booklet as did Tunnels & Trolls. All very similar to each other, though TFT, Fighting Fantasy and T&T were also role-playing games and now Lone Wolf too, at least as I understand it. But as I say a new player may find they enjoy the quick low-key adventure and rather simple combat in Lone Wolf or Fighting Fantasy or they may just say meh an set them aside.
I enjoyed Lone Wolf in the past and it has stood up to the unforgiving tide of years very well. It is a quick adventure with limited choices and instantly fatal consequences in some situations. Took me 3 characters to make it through and I'd played this umpteen times in the past. If you keep playing you will win eventually so the best thing is to Iron Man through it. Take the bad rolls from the start and just see what you can do.
You only have 2 attributes, Combat Skill and Endurance (Hit Points). You roll a d10 and high numbers are good, so naturally I rolled a 3 for Combat Skill. You add 10 to this number so I had a 13. The combat system is simple but you do need to roll on a ratio chart to see about damage. Low number rolls on the d10 bad, high numbers good. Endurance works the same way, roll a d10 but add 20 this time. These are your HP. It is a nice smooth simple as a brick system, but it is combat in the very abstract and it comes to just rolling dice. Monsters either group to act as a single bigger monster, for example a Giak, which is kind of a Lone Wolf Goblin might have a CS of 10 and Endurance of 10 but two of them might fight as a single enemy with a CS of 13 and Endurance of 15. Or they might form a conga line of death where the very gentlemanly fight you one at a time.
Then there is the ability system. Your character chooses 5 of the available abilities. Each can come into use during the game, some are helpful and some are lifesavers and some will never get used depending on the path you choose. I advise choosing Healing as one of the five. No matter what path you choose it will come in either handy or as a life saver. The combat system usually involves both sides taking wounds so even if the character wins combat they will usually have some scratches. As much as I'd advise taking Healing I advise against taking the weapon skill ability. It sounds good but you roll for which weapon you are skilled at and only have a one in ten chance of it being your starting weapon (the axe) and the chances of finding whatever randomly rolled weapon you are skilled in are really too much of a chance when you will definitely need some of the other abilities listed.
The Lone Wolf series calls out to be expanded into an RPG (which I believe it already has been) but I'm thinking more along the lines of AD&D, both as a setting and a way to spice up the old paragraph books. In any case an entertaining quick adventure book and worth giving a replay once enough time has passed to have forgotten which path leads to success and which leads to an agonizing death.