Wednesday, May 11, 2011


This week, I finally bit the bullet and cracked open my Mentzer Red Box to check out the goodies inside. Though I did notice some of the rules differences between it and my older Moldvay box set (Thieves knocked down again! Why?), I really liked the organization and especially the introduction. It reminded me of the old Lone Wolf books that I used to borrow from my best friend Conor when I was in middle school. I'd always loved Choose Your Own Adventure books ever since I was small and the addition of combat and roleplaying elements to the standard "if you want to go east, turn to page 26" formula gave them a lot of re-read value.

In my online searches for Lone Wolf books, I came across a website called Project Aon, where you can read and play all of the Lone Wolf books for free, legally and with the expressed permission of Joe Dever, the original author. Naturally, I started into the first one, which got me thinking: what would it have been like if I'd gotten this box set when I was 12? My influences at the time were the Lone Wolf books, Magic: the Gathering cards, games like the Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past and emulated copies of Chrono Trigger and Shining Force. Reading the Mentzer Red Box made me want to revisit all of those old sources and see if I could put together a whimsical kind of D&D campaign with them in mind.

I'm still a heroic kind of guy at heart. Saving an imaginary village from rampaging ogres is definitely more satisfying for me than acquiring imaginary loot. So whatever this campaign would be like, it would have plenty of danger, monsters and potential good to be done on top of the normal loads of treasure and magic items. I think 12 year old me would be satisfied.

(Note: Looking through my old Magic cards, I had no idea that Liz Danforth and Tony DiTerlizzi did so many illustrations for them. It's cool thinking back on how the worlds of RPG and CCG art intersected before Magic really took off.)


  1. I also tend toward the heroic. I think it's a lot of fun to play the good guy.

  2. Lone Wolf was also a HUGE influence on my 12-year-old self. Somewhere on the Project Aon site is the Magnamund Companion in PDF form--highly recommended inspirational reading. I still have my hardcopy (ragged as it is) and it was essentially my first exposure to the concept of a "game world" document.

    For your re-reads, I'd also recommend checking out a program called Seventh Sense (again, there's a link somewhere on Project Aon); it's a great little program for re-reading the books, as it handles all the calculations automatically (so if you have Healing, for example, you bump up an Endurance Point per entry automatically). Plus you have to start again from the first entry if you die, so it kind of ups the stakes a bit! Great fun, but it only goes up to Book 7 at this point.

    Specific to your post, I think that's a great idea. I've considered similar projects myself. In a way, it's the best of both worlds, taking the unbound imagination of our young selves and melding them with the focus and maturity of adulthood. I'll be interested to see what you come up with!

  3. Seventh Sense is a super cool little utility with only one small flaw: it won't let you go back a page to avoid your stupid goddamned death by random Giak lance. I appreciate the replay value, but come on.

  4. Continuing on even though Blogger ate my comment...

    I find Seventh Sense's hardcore approach to be a feature rather than a bug. Kind of like re-playing a video game you've beaten on the toughest difficulty level. I enjoy seeing how the replays go, what with certain Random Number Table junctions coming up differently and such. I've explored alternate paths in some of the books that I've never read before. To each their own, of course. :)