Sleeping Gods, boo to Gary Gygax, and nostlagia for Fighting Fantasy gamebooks

Did anybody actually play the combats as written rather than assuming you’d win? Dying of a wrong decision, fair enough; dying of random combat was tedious.

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I believe this is called the rule of thumb.

“My thumb is still in the last entry, so I’ll go back.”

Later FF books were clearly designed with an awareness of this.

One adventure includes gaining a silver sword that is vital to the plot only if you fail a luck test.


(I still dream of writing one of these collaboratively as a google doc.)

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I definitely think there should be some “fail forward” options. I don’t think that any particular roll (win or fail) should be “vital” to “the plot.” I like games (I do a fair number of virtual novel type games) which multiple end points and failing (or making) a particular roll may send you down one of the paths. I am, of course, ignoring brutal games where failed combat rolls can get you dead.

I’m in.


Love it.We just need to work out a setting, as Roger eluded to I don’t think many people actually roll the dice so all we really need is a massive decision tree :deciduous_tree:

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The decision tree can get massive even if you aren’t using dice. Many visual novels (VNs) do is create stats that can rise or fall (usually only money falls) based on selected actions and some paths require specific stats to pass. Not many VNs use randomness, I’d say, but some do. Anyway, this topic is probably worth its own thread if you wish to continue.

Indeed. I’m going to go away and see if I can find any articles on how these things have been designed.

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I actually tried playing through adapting it to Rolemaster rules to make the fights more fun. Worked surprisingly well as I recall!
I used to have a ‘death count’ - I’d play the games as intended but if I died, carry on, with the death count as a score (my head cannon was this involved parallel worlds). It worked really well because once resigned to inevitable death I could just enjoy the books and not stress about ‘cheating’


I’ve seen several books mapped out – Project Aon has quite a few full diagrams. Many have single pinch points; others bring everything down to one of two or three options and then spread out again.

Yep. I’ve already found about 10 articles and a video from Steve Jackson, so down the rabbit hole I go.

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I think if it’s going to be a gamebook and not just a CYOA there need to be stats and/or abilities and/or tracked gear. Preferably one or both of the former, not just the latter.

I know I never much fussed about playing the combats properly in Fighting Fantasy or Lone Wolf because it’s either you win or you die and have to start completely over. And neither had any interesting decisions to make. I actually play out the fights in DestinyQuest because the mechanics are much more robust and it’s a real component of gameplay.

But having new information/branching based on skills was great in Lone Wolf, for example.

Back in the old forums I remember being given some links to get the Lone Wolf series online. I do still have the app in my phone. Great memories. I remember using my brother scientific calculator as a die (‘inv’ ‘.’ gave you a random three digit decimal, so I used the last number) because back in the early to mid 80s 20D and 10D dice were something unheard of.

I must admit that when I was a kid I did mass up a good collection of these “game books” (as they were translated into Spanish) but nothing compared to the Joe Dever saga. I believe my favourite Choose you own adventure was Codename: Jonah (or something like that)

Was this the one where you could transform into animals? I think I have that one (In Spanish: Te conviertes en tiburon)

Project Aon is where you can get access to digital versions of the Lone Wolf gamebooks.


And as I’ve said on other threads before, the “Kai Chronicles” app for android is excellent and automates the rolls and page links.


I noticed that the TwistAPlot page at includes a Structure Diagram (tree) for each of the 18 books of that series. Look under the Related Documents heading. These books are pretty small, but still seem sprawling when viewed this way.

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I suspect that I really missed out by ignoring the Lone Wolf books when I was young.

I can’t recall what my reasoning was. I’m pretty sure there was some kind of FF brand-loyalty going on in my head, but possibly I was also conscious that adding other series could get expensive given my limited means at the time (assuming I’d still want to buy all the FF books). Or perhaps I was already at that point struggling to find time to play the FF books that I was compulsively purchasing as soon as they were released*, and opted to at least limit the number of things I was failing to get my money’s worth out of by preventing myself from discovering that I wanted them.

Whatever the reasons, I’ve seen a lot of love for Lone Wolf over the years, and part of me rather regrets never having bought at least the first book to find out what it was like by comparison.

I should really check it out now – but I have this backlog of FF books, you know…

(*) These books were really the first evidence of my urge to collect things. There are so many that I never got around to playing; and even being fully aware that I was continuing to buy new ones despite the ever-growing backlog of unplayed predecessors, it required quite a force of will to stop doing that.

On the plus side, I see the final count was 60 books, and I managed to cut myself off after only slightly more than half of that : ) (I think I stopped at 34).

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Moving beyond that… there are what one might call “single links”, where entry A leads you only to entry B and that’s the only way you can get to B. (And not even “if you win the fight, go to B”.) Functionally this is the same as one long entry, so I’m guessing it was done for reasons of length.

One thing I enjoyed in the Falcon books was their use of binary status flags. Sometimes this would take the form of a letter (one entry says “score a B” and another says “if you have scored a B, turn to X”) but also things like “do you have a nuclear bomb” or “have you spoken with Special Agent Bloodhound”. (And these weren’t always direct - “do you have a nuclear bomb” might mean “have you been on this particular bit of the adventure, and therefore do you know a specific thing”.)

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Dead right!

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Flags became a problem in the later Lone Wolf books, however - many paragraphs end with ‘If you have huntmastery, turn to X, if you have mindshield, turn to x’ - the Lone Wolf books were all somewhat arbitrarily capped at 350 paragraphs and the net effect was that, as the books progressed, and the flags of disciplines and previous experiences increased, actual choices decreased.

Both Sorcery! and Fabled Lands did much better jobs of flagging, IMHO, and Fabled Lands was the only really successful ‘open world’, as the kids say nowadays. That was great! I’m very sad it never finished (although don’t get me started on the Kickstarter for book 7, which I’m still waiting for… or rather do get me started but either on a podcast or another thread as I’m feeling very guilty for contributing to the derailment of this one).

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I feel like I’ve read Book 7 - was it available as PDF from the Kickstarter already? Is it the paperback which you’re waiting for?