Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lone Wolf Multiplayer Game Book #1 Review

I'm a HUGE fan of Lone Wolf. I have all of the D20 RPG gamebooks but when I heard that Mongoose was releasing a rules-lite version of Lone Wolf I was very excited.

The Lone Wolf Multiplayer Game Book is around 110 pages and presents the basics of what you need to play the Lone Wolf Multiplayer RPG. What the creators attempted to do what literally copy the simple rules system from the original 1980's solo gamebooks into an RPG.
The book does a good job introducing the concept and the basic operational procedures of an RPG.

The section on creating a character is simple and straightforward. I think anyone could make a character with how it is layed out. Unfortunately, the only class included in this book is the Kai Lords which means that if this is the only book you have everyone in the party must be a Kai Lord. Not that big of a deal at level 5 (you start at level 5) but by level 10 everyone will be almost identical. Also, not all of the character-relevant information is presented together. Chapter 6 has tips on using disciplines, Chapter 4 on Kai ranks, and Chapter 2 on creating a character. Why isn't this all together?

The combat rules are very simple. Unfortunately, I don't think the direct translation of the rules from the solo gaming book works well. There aren't enough examples to show exactly how combat should go. The heroes are the only ones that roll which basically turns all of the enemies into passive grunts without special abilities. Also, as per the solo adventure books, healing only happens at the end of the adventure and zero endurance means dead. This equates to an incredible deadly game. Four low level Giaks can take out a hero just by ganging up on him. Even if they don't, the damage they do will weaken him considerably so that his chances of surviving the next encounter are greatly reduced. Also, they need to clean up their language in the text, specifically using "character" "player character" "NPC" "enemy" and "ally" when they mean them. In some places they simply say "character" but they don't mean all characters - just a specific category of characters. Also, the character sheet provided, although reminiscent of the original books, is almost completely worthless in a functional sense.

Outside of combat, everything else is resolved with TESTS. What's confusing is that sometimes tests are resolved with a simple difficulty 0-10 that the characters roll a D10 and add a bonus due to a skill or ability. But other times tests are resolved with difficulties in the 30's or higher and they add their combat skill or Endurance as a bonus. Why not just have one simple system and avoid the confusion? Once again, the information on tests isn't simply grouped all together but provided piecemeal throughout the book.

The book provides a simple listing of common monsters, creatures, and foes found in Magnamund. The history and geography sections provide a quick primer for those who are unfamiliar with the world.

The adventure provided in the book is simple enough and is straightforward. I'd say it is a nice introduction to being a "Game Master" and also to playing the the Lone Wolf world.

I REALLY REALLY want to love this game. $20.00 is a little steep for a 110 page digest sized, black and white book. I think many of its problems are easily fixable with homebrew rules. Unfortunately, until that happens, I have to lower my rating to...

1LR Rating: 14 out of 20 - It's a Hit!

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