Turn to 400! - Let's Play Solo RPG Gamebooks!

So this came up in the video thread and I liked the idea a lot so i thought i'd make a quick placeholder thread (which i'll update properly when i get home) for those of us who LOVE playing "Choose Your Own Adventure (tm)" style Solo RPG books (So...Fighting Fantasy, Lone Wolf, Blood Sword, etc).

I still have all my physical Fighting Fantasy books close at hand (as well as the Bloodsword series - one of my favourite multi-book campaigns) and the Lone Wolf books are all available online for free at Project Aeon. So I was thinking we could have a thread where we play through some of the classics and potentially compare notes?

This thread can also cover online interactive fiction (such as the digital versions of the FF books, a bunch of which are available on Steam, Inkle's adaptation of the Sorcery series, etc)

Basically this is an excuse for me to revisit my FF books

Relevant Links
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FIghting Fantasy
Fighting Fantasy official website
Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks on Steam
Inkle's Sorcery Adaptation (parts 1 and 2)

Lone Wolf
Project Aeon

Destiny Quest
Official Website

Fabled Lands / Blood Sword
Official Website

Tag!

Don't make me dig out my complete set* of Zork™ Books!

* (all four of them)

I WISH I still had all of my gamebooks. I had so damn many: Endless Quest, Crystal Quest, Wizards, Warriors and You...

Thankfully I'm slowly been rebuilding what I've lost and this thread might be a great excuse to finally play Gnomes-100, Dragons-0.

fenomas wrote:

Don't make me dig out my complete set* of Zork™ Books!

Holy crap, I thought I was the only one left in the world with all of those. (I can't overstate the significance of Zork on my young life. As a child I wrote fan mail to Infocom.)

I've gotten rid of most of my gamebooks, but I used to have a lot back when I had access to a Waldenbooks but not a computer or video game console. I got pretty into Lone Wolf and the humorous "Grailquest" series in particular, but haven't revisited them; I don't know how they might have aged...

Good idea, I need some motivation to actually pull these off the shelf.

Anybody into the Way of the Tiger series, or the modern Destiny Quest books?

i have the first Destiny Quest book but didn't put much time into it. Hopefully now i'll have the motivation to do so!

Added some relevant links!

Oh fun! GrailQuest and Endless Quest were my jam, my best friend in grade/middle school was into Lone Wolf, and we used to share back and forth.

I don’t have any of my old collection any more but did get Pillars of Pentegarn and Return to Brookmere from a library sale a few years ago.

I had (Owned? Borrowed? I really don't remember...) a lot of the Fighting Fantasies back when I was a kid, kicking off from Forest of Doom. It'd be interesting to hear people's opinions on some of them, see how they match my murky recollections.

I also had the second (I think...) Lone Wolf book, but was never able to finish it; kept betting murdered by that blasted Helghast. And they're all free now on Project Aeon? Hmm...

Now Inkle's remake of Sorcery! is something I've been meaning to get back to. I had the first two parts on Android for my phone, and I really liked them, but since I basically only played them during my commute when my bike was busted back when I was living in Amsterdam, I never finished part two and moved on. And now I have a shiny iPad to play on, the temptation is there to rebuy both parts and start again. Hmm, again.

(Wrestling with temptation and an overload of games.)

Apparently things get "pretty cool (TM)" with inkles sorcery games once you hit parts 3 and 4 - they've expanded and retooled them quite a bit and added some time travel elements. I've not gotten around to them yet (I was thinking i'd stream the whole campaign from part 1 at some point) but heard nothing but good things.

I haven't completed Part 3 yet. I found it very challenging and wasn't quite as into the plot as I was previously and thus lost momentum. I quite liked the city-based adventure of Part 2, in spite of the linear connections sometimes making little sense (in fairness that's a holdover from the books).

Also anyone into Sorcery! should also check out 80 Days. Inkle continued to tinker and add content for years after it was released, and have even ported it to Switch.

Ok, I think this has spurred me on into doing a run through the Blood Sword series again. Especially fun since i've now got a wipe clean battle map i can use to draw out the combat encounters (it has a simple grid-based combat system).

Blood Sword is technically a "party" based book since you can play it with 1 to 4 characters (or co-op with 1 player playing each character). The less characters you have, the higher the "rank" they start at to increase survivability. I'll probably go through with a team of four 2nd rank characters (nobody ever starts at 1st rank which always struck me as odd! Anyway...)

OK. Blimey there's a lot to set up with these books. I forgot how complex their rules are! (relatively speaking).

So here are my squad of neer-do-wells as they approach the black Citadel of Khalugen's Keep, intending on finding a sponsor and taking on the challenges of the Battlepits of Krarth...

SAGA NIGHTBLADE
TRICKSTER Rank: 2

IMAGE(https://smackfolio.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/saga.jpg)

HYPATIA THE INDOMITABLE
WARRIOR Rank: 2

IMAGE(https://smackfolio.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/hypatia.jpg)

ELEIMA STARGAZER
SAGE Rank: 2

IMAGE(https://smackfolio.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/eleima.jpg)

and...

AMOEBIC THE ENIGMATIC
ENCHANTRESS Rank: 2

IMAGE(https://smackfolio.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/amoebic.jpg)

I love these books. Owned most of the original early Fighting Fantasy ones (though I stopped seeing them in bookstores after 24 or so?). Had all the Lone Wolf, and a fair number of the Endless Quest and Super Endless Quest books.

There were.... 6? of the GrailQuest books, I think? Those were fun (tho the Poetic Fiend... Argh).

I never read the Sorcery! books. Worth getting into now?

I also recall the Hark series being hard to complete, but I was a kid!

There's a Java program for the Fabled Lands books that's really excellent: http://flapp.sourceforge.net/

Tyrian wrote:

I never read the Sorcery! books. Worth getting into now?

Do you mean the game? I think so, but of course my opinion is tinged with nostalgia.

fenomas wrote:

Tag!

Don't make me dig out my complete set* of Zork™ Books!

Pretty sure I still have book 3.

Yeah had to ask my mother about where the others all went to. Apparently she lent them to my aunt who then lost them. Had all the Zork and D&D adventure books and a large collection of Choose Your Own Adventure books back in the day.

All I have now are the Lone Wolf books and that lone volume of Zork.

BLOOD SWORD : Battlepits of Krarth. Update #1
I don't want to spoil the book for anyone that might want to track it down, so i'll spoiler tag all these updates just in case!

Spoiler:

Approaching the market at the centre of the imposing citadel, the adventuring group - through the use of Eleima's 'mind palace' discovered that the three remaining sponsors were the keep's overlord Magus Kalugen, the underdog of the Magi - and the one with the most to lose in today's events - Magus Balhazar and Magus Vyl...rumoured to be one of the undead. Armed with this information, the group decided Balhazar represented the best opportunity and chose his Scarlet banner to fight under.

Later that night, invited to a masked ball they were all surprised to discover that they were to be tested - locate the Magus from the assembled party guests in a single guess, or be rejected. Attempted trickery such as summoning of Amoebic's Faltyn - a sly, creature of faerie - for aid proved useless...however Eleima's ESP ability picked up on thoughts from a single, suspicious party goer.

Approaching and attacking this figure (side note - there's no ACTUAL reason to attack this figure besides already knowing he was an assassin, so it seems a pretty RISKY choice if you didn't already realise what was going on!) the team discovered he was one of Magus Vyl's assassin's and made to quickly dispatch him.

COMBAT : Sensing the assassin before he spotted the group, they were all able to surround the villain before he realised what was going on. However, surprised they were fighting this early, Amoebic had not yet pulled any spells to mind to cast, so she spent the first round prepping her Ghastly Hand spell. Sensing an incoming spell, the assassin tried to attack her first but failed to connect, instead taking a glancing blow from Saga the trickster. Hypatia tries for a mighty strike next but the assassin is too fast, ducking to one side. Luckily the sage is there to pick up the slack, making a mighty blow with her quarterstaff for double the usual damage. Back to Amoebic's round, she attempts to cast her spell but, being one of the more difficult spells to master, the attempt fails. Luckily, Saga is there to finish the assassin off with another quick blow from the side...

With the assassin dead, one of the group notices that only one other partygoer reacts, a man in a domino cape. Approaching and unmasking him reveals the shocked face of Magus Balhazar!

Pleased that he was discovered (AND that we thwarted an assassination attempt) he awards the group - specifically Hypatia - with a might treasure : The silvered Long Sword Blutgetranker ("Blood Drinker" A +1 weapon that deals an additional 1d6 damage to Giants and is rumoured to have been forged from a splinter of the great weapon of the god Frey.

He also awards the rest of the group with an opal banner, through which he can track and communicate with the party as they descend into the Battlepits. The next morning, they are all led to the entrance to the dungeon, passing some of the other contestants - Bronze armoured barbarians from Magus Tor...and the sinister presence of Icon, the Ungodly, representing Magus Uru.

With that, they descend into darkness and the challenge begins proper...

Notes : The world building in this blows some of the early Fighting Fantasy stuff out of the water (probably a result of it being a much later written book - it even has a cheeky poke at Deathtrap Dungeon in one scene later on - AND due to it being based on an existing RPG system by the same author, "Dragon Warriors")

This first book I still know most of the main story beats pretty much off by heart, so i'm not expecting many surprises. From the second book onwards though things get MUCH more foggy. I can only really remember the (memorable) opening scene from book 2, so it will be interesting to get there).

I'm also going to Iron Man these, so if a character dies, they remain dead throughout the series and i'll adjust the remaining characters ranks to suit the difficulty of the next book as per the rules for playing with less than four characters if necessary. If all four characters die, then it's game over! and i'll move on to something else.

Quintin_Stone wrote:
Tyrian wrote:

I never read the Sorcery! books. Worth getting into now?

Do you mean the game? I think so, but of course my opinion is tinged with nostalgia.

Nah, i was thinking of the book version -

Sorcery!

BLOOD SWORD: Battlepits of Krarth. Update #2

And it was going so well...

Spoiler:

As the team descended into the depths they were greeted by a final feast, laid on by Balthazar to wish them luck on their trial. After eating their fill (and securing some food for future provisions) the group investigated a nearby alcove which, to their surprise, teleported them to a beautiful secluded cavern/garden overseen by an emotionless fey woman - Larisha, the Gift Giver. Some fast talking from the charismatic Tricktster resulted in the group obtaining two potentially powerful items... The Dragonlord's Gem, last breath of a powerful arch-mage crystallised in the form of a gem, and The Dagger of Vislet, an enchanted throwing dagger that would return to the thrower's hand when used.

With Amoebic's lack of a ranged attack aside form her spells, she chose to keep the dagger, and pocketed the gem for use later.

Leaving the garden, the adventurers found themselves back in the dungeon proper, within a north south passage lined with mirrors. Sensing trickery, but with the sage unable to detect anything suspicious, it was up to Saga to do things the old fashioned way, tapping and investigating the mirrors in search of traps or secrets. Odd shuffling were heard behind all but one mirror, and investigation beyond revealed a secret tunnel off of the main route.

Following this tunnel would be the group's first mistake.

At the end of a narrow crawlspace, they discovered a grating in the floor, below which they realised huddled the group of bronze-armoured barbarians they saw when entering earlier. Sensing the opportunity to gain the advantage over a rival faction, they dropped down from above, catching the party unawares.

This, would prove to be their second, deadlier mistake...

COMBAT : Even with the element of surprise, things started to go badly almost immediately, only Hypatia, swinging Blood Drinker, managed to get a hit in on the barbarians before they could recover and counter attack. As Amoebic continued to struggle to cast her complex spell, the barbarians quickly pressed the advantage, making several lucky hits on hypatia, who's strength was starting to flag.

When Amoebic's ghastly touch spell finally triggered, the results were horrific, but effective - the life force was instantly drained from the nearest barbarian, leaving only desiccated husk behind. It was not enough to stave off tragedy however, as Hypatia, despite her strength, was cut down and killed by one of the rabid wildmen. As the situation grew more desperate, it was a second spell from Amoebic that saved them in the end. A spray of volcanic fire erupted form her hands, engulfing the remaining wounded barbarians and finishing the battle.

The victory was a hollow one. One of their number - the strongest front-line fighter - was dead, making victory all the more difficult. Mourning would have to come later, however. Collecting the coin from her coin pouch, and another 20gp from the dead barbarians, the group prepared to press onward. Blutgetranker now hanging from the belt of the trickster - a constant reminder of their painful loss as then advanced down the passageway ahead...

I really like the combat in these books. It's got an *almost 5e* feel to it (albeit VERY streamlined and simplified with a crude form of action economy in play) and the magic system is pretty unique (the enchanter can memorise any number of spells from their spell list, but each reduces your overall magic skill by one point, making it harder to cast them. Also, The higher level the spell, the greater the extra penalty to casting (a level 2 spell means you add +2 to any rolls when attempting to cast the spell, but each turn you fail to cast a spell, you reduce that penalty by one, so eventually your chances of casting the spell go up)

Tyrian wrote:

I love these books. Owned most of the original early Fighting Fantasy ones (though I stopped seeing them in bookstores after 24 or so?). Had all the Lone Wolf, and a fair number of the Endless Quest and Super Endless Quest books.

There were.... 6? of the GrailQuest books, I think? Those were fun (tho the Poetic Fiend... Argh).

I never read the Sorcery! books. Worth getting into now?

I also recall the Hark series being hard to complete, but I was a kid!

There's actually 8 GQ books but the last two are next to impossible to find for a reasonable price.

Oh wow, I had n

imbiginjapan wrote:
Tyrian wrote:

There were.... 6? of the GrailQuest books, I think? Those were fun (tho the Poetic Fiend... Argh).

There's actually 8 GQ books but the last two are next to impossible to find for a reasonable price.

Oh wow, I had no idea!

Ah, of course - "While there were eight total books published in the series, books seven and eight were never published in the United States. " -- Wikipedia

And wow, you aren't kidding about that. I wonder if any of our UK brethren could find a copy of either in a used bookstore for cheaper? Probably not, given the rise of the internet.

Could have a look in my local used book store but the owner is a bit of a snob about his books and I seem to recall from past experience he doesn't consider gamebooks "real books".

Tyrian wrote:
Quintin_Stone wrote:
Tyrian wrote:

I never read the Sorcery! books. Worth getting into now?

Do you mean the game? I think so, but of course my opinion is tinged with nostalgia.

Nah, i was thinking of the book version -

https://www.amazon.com/gp/bookseries...

GWJ broke your link. :/

If you really like Fighting Fantasy books, you should play them. But it's probably going to cost a lot to find the books these days. So much cheaper to get the electronic version off of Steam or play on iOS like I did.

Or the next time you're in the Cary area, I can loan you my copies.

pyxistyx wrote:

Could have a look in my local used book store but the owner is a bit of a snob about his books and I seem to recall from past experience he doesn't consider gamebooks "real books".

We had one local big used book store that was great for finding old D&D books in good condition. I was bummed when they closed the local branch.

Anyone tried Legacy of Dragonholt? From what I see of it, it's effectively a set of gamebooks so I figure it fits under this topic. Looks interesting, but I'm not sure if it's worth $48 relative to other books, like buying the whole Blood Sword series. (which Pyxistyx makes sound fascinating :))

I've got it but not played through it fully yet, just a couple of the scenarios. It's pretty good (but expensive!). What's interesting is that it's entirely skill based with no dice rolling - so events unfold (even combat) differently depending on which skills you chose at character creation and you have to judge through the story when would be a good time to use a skill. Take too many hits and instead of losing health you stroke off a skill until you can recover later.

. There's also a "time management" aspect to it, so exploring an area of the town fills X time slots and then, different things happen through time depending on the stage it's at (e.g. someone might only be at home in the afternoon, or a particular event might only happen first thing in the morning). Or on a mission you might have "X" number of turns before "reinforcements arrive" or something, and different actions advance time differently (so, digging through a collapsed cave might take 2 time slots)

Bonus - It has a lesbian couple integral to the story (a gnome and her half orc bodyguard) and they get arranged to be married part way through the story, which is adorable.

I'm going to have to go back to it for this thread, so it's on the to-do list!

Do you find the world to be interesting? The Fantasy Flight 'Terrinoth' stuff has long felt like a po-faced, off-brand Azeroth. (To be fair I know we're talking fantasy gamebooks here, where the world building can't usually be described as awe-inspiring).

If I have a bit of energy left this weekend I'll crack open the first Blood Sword.

Its pretty trad-high fantasy stuff. (I assume it's the same world as the Descent games? but i've never played those... *cough* despite owning the base set *cough*) But it's a pretty small scale setting (town under threat from a nefarious conspiracy) so, i'd put it at the equivalent of Mines of Phandelver in 5e.

Interesting, thanks. I've seen Dragonholt as cheap as $28 in an Amazon board game sale, so I'm sitting on the wishlist until it gets cheap again. It's also available as a Tabletop Simulator module, but even for free that's not really the right way to play that kind of game. Seems like something that would work well as a tablet app though.

I have to admit one thing that made me look at it was a couple of bad reviews from clowns on Amazon whinging about "marxists and feminists".