The Lone Wolf Adventure Game is based on the series of Lone Wolf Gamebooks by Joe Dever, and is both a continuation of those books (both mechanically and in spirit) and an advancement of those game books into an RPG.
1.) Size and Production Quality
The Lone Wolf Adventure Game comes in a box priced at $30 retail. That’s pretty cheap for a full RPG, but about right for a “beginner box” as many bigger RPGs do now days. Inside the box are several things: 6 ready-made characters (both basic and master level, we’ll get into that later), tokens, handouts, reference sheets and 3 books: The Book of Kai Legends, Training, and Wisdom.
Each book is full color and ranges from 60 to 100 pages in length (it’s about 240 pages total between all 3 books). All are soft cover, and have art on almost every page. It works well, and for 30$ you won’t be disappointed in the contents.
The art is the same artist that decorates The One Ring roleplaying game, and gives a very distinct vibe. There’s a lot good here, and the spot illustrations and graphic design are top notch, as befits a Cubicle 7 product.
My only real complaint, was I felt like I kept seeing the same pieces over and over again, and while there was some reuse of pieces, it was actually different pieces that were very similar. A minor quibble, but it mattered to me.
Each of the 3 books covers a different section.
The Book of Kai Training is an “intro to roleplaying” book, and covers a lot about the setting, called Magnamund. It explains the role of Kai Lords in the setting, and how they manage (basically, they’re fantasy Jedi, complete with some mind-reading, force pushing, animal calming, and small object moving abilities). It covers creating new characters both on the basic level, and the Master level.
The difference is the complexity of the rules. Basic level is the simplest common denominator between the rules, and is really easy to use, play and go with. Master-level is much more akin to a complex RPG, while still retain the base mechanics of the basic level. The best part is the layering levels of rules, where the narrator can add new rules and mechanics as he deems appropriate, as to teach all the players the rules at the same level.
Some parts of the book revolving around Master level rules weren’t very clear, and I had to do some hunting through text to figure out various mechanics, rules, and interactions. The book is exceptionally new player friendly in it’s layout, and interface, but there’s some loss of clarity in it’s attempt to have a newer player friendly place.
The base mechanic harkens back to the old Lone Wolf books, and you flip a “coin” onto a grid of numbers rated from 0 to 9 to determine your starting skill check, and then add your level. It’s exceptionally new player friendly, and for more experienced gamers, contains rules for using a d10 (hint, 10s count as 0s, and the rest of the numbers are the same).
The Master-level mechanics work well, but involve a lot more math and creation then I expected at their highest level.
4.) Game Master Section
The Book of Kai Wisdom covers all the rules of the game in a single place for the Narrator to manage the game. It also has a lot of setting fluff, and covers what the steps to scale some of the mechanics. After reading it, I discovered many of the lingering rules questions I had from Training were answered here.
It’s a little frustrating to be flipping through 2 separate books to try to piece together mechanics that could have easily been condensed into a single book.
5.) Pre-Made Adventure
The Book of Kai Legends (the third book in the series) contains two missions that scale the rules up from basic to master by introducing new scenarios as the newly appointed Kai Lords move through the land being fantasy Jedi. It works for what it is, a learning adventure, and the full-color illustrations of NPCs and maps make it very immersive and easy to show and tell your players.
Total Score: 39/50
Not a bad score. The game suffered from some writing issues, and lack of clarity, plus a pretty heavy docking for having to flip between multiple books.
However, the game does pass the “Would I play this?” test, with flying marks in one particular section. This is a roleplaying game that will hook new gamers on RPGs easily, and with intuitive mechanics and an easily accessible setting. This is the one I’ll be busting out when I have to teach children, or newer players, and it’ll be a go-to game on my shelf.