Saturday, May 26, 2007

Back With A Vengeance: Lone Wolf

When I was about 10 years, I was introduced to the Lone Wolf book series by my cousin. It is an adventure game whereby your actions are based on the current abilities and skills that you possess and also allows you to progress in your adventure. It is an independent adventure or it can be combined to create a brilliant fantasy epic.

The adventures are written by the only British and 1982 AD&D winner Joe Dever who eventually became a games consultant and writer for major RPG games for most European-produced games. The books were first published in 1984 with the first book - entitled Flight From The Dark released as a testing tube.

Eventually the series became popular and almost 8 million copies were sold. It won the Gamebook of The Year award in 1985 and 1991. Dever mentioned that the idea of the series was meant to provide a setting for his AD&D campaigns. It was formed as a game similar to Runequest. The UK versions are the complete versions released by Hutchinsons - later becoming Red Fox. The U.S versions of the series were not released. Berkeley - the U.S publisher only published and abridged books 13-20.

The following here taken from Kai Monastery gives the idea behind the wonderful solo campaign and incredible world of Magnamund.

Originally my idea was to turn Lone Wolf into a RPG system, something akin to RuneQuest. In 1983, I was working with Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone at Games Workshop in London. By this time I'd already spent six years developing Magnamund and the saga of the Kai. Ian and Steve were very keen to have Games Workshop publish it, but the deal they proposed to me was so insultingly bad that I decided I would quit and go it alone at the first opportunity. In August 1983, they published the first of their Fighting Fantasy books and it was a huge success. Still seething from the derisory offer they'd made me for Lone Wolf, I decided to redesign my RPG system and turn it into a solo RPG campaign. I asked Gary Chalk (who was also working at Games Workshop at the time) to illustrate some of my manuscript for the first book, Flight From the Dark, and then I approached three London publishers with the first 50 sections or so. The response was fantastic. They all wanted it and they all started outbidding each other for the rights. Hutchinsons offered me the best deal which I duly accepted. I then quit Games Workshop and started work immediately on Fire on the Water. Gary resigned shortly after I did and we collaborated on the first eight Lone Wolf books between 1984 and 1986.
The books were selling well until 1998 where the last book #28: The Hunger of Sejanoz was published. When it was announced that the books were no longer published, this was Joe's explanation:

Red Fox have decided that they don't want to publish any more Lone Wolf gamebooks. As far as they're concerned the interactive gamebook genre is no longer popular enough to warrant publishing any more titles after Lone Wolf 28. I can't say I'm happy with their decision but I can understand the thinking behind it. Since 1994, all of the editorial staff who had worked for years on the Lone Wolf series either resigned or were sacked. Naturally, their replacements were keen to impress their bosses and thereby keep their jobs. I feel the newbies neglected Lone Wolf which they considered to be part of the old Red Fox regime. This neglect manifested itself in falling production standards (e.g. the loss of the colour maps in the U.K. editions from book 25 onwards, without any commensurate drop in cover price) and the allowing of certain titles (e.g. book 19 and book 22) to go out of print. I received dozens of letters from fans about book 22 at the time, and I passed on these inquiries to Red Fox with a request that they act. Unfortunately no reprint was forthcoming. I've demanded, as is my right, that Red Fox reprint the missing titles, but so far they've fobbed me off with vague excuses and have made no written commitment to reprint despite having received orders (in the hundreds) for those titles that are now out of print. Frankly, I've had enough of their procrastination and I've given them notice that I will be revoking their rights unless they reprint within the next three months. Legally, the rights to all of the books will revert to me on October 18th 1998. On that day I can legally offer the series, and any future Lone Wolf works that I care to produce, to another publisher. I have recently been in discussion with a publisher who is interested in picking up my entire backlist (over 50 books) when the rights revert to me in October so, fingers crossed, we may well see Lone Wolf get a new lease on life this year.

At this time, Joe has moved on to consultancy work whereas the books were given for online use for free at Project Aon. He is now currently working as a Lead Designer of a Lone Wolf RPG game due for release in 2008 by a Singapore games design company. Since the license of the books were reverted back to Joe since October 1998, he has the discretion over the rights.

However, the good news has arrived at last.

The rights of publishing were finally picked up by Mongoose Publishing. In a recent announcement, Mongoose will be re-releasing the books including the novels in a 6-8 week basis from September 2007 onwards and the publishing rights will indeed cover the final four unpublished books (29-32).

All the books will be revised extensively and new materials are added (quests, additional storylines) together with new artwork by Alberto Dal Lago, possibly in addition to the art drawn by Gary Chalk and Brian Williams. These are soft-cover titles. The Hardcover version of the books can only be ordered directly from Mongoose.

The biggest change in the series would be the release of the "redux director's version" of the first book Flight From The Dark. This time, the size of the book will be at approximately 450 pages with the major change (rewritten by Dever himself) focuses on the first act of the story.

In the first 1984 version, the reader will start the adventure from the forest after being knocked unconscious. But in the redux version, the player will band together with the other kinsmen, fighting enemies. The player will be fighting the way up to the Tower and ignite the signal of attack. Then you will be taken to the underground tunnel out to the forest where the original part of the adventure will begin.

Here is the new cover art for book 2: Fire On The Water by Alberto Dal Lago:

No comments:

Post a Comment

You are welcome to post in any comments that do not trouble readers of the blog.

Providing an ID is recommended. If some reason you wish to use an Anonymous name, please leave a name below your comments. From now on, comments with no names will not be considered for moderation.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...