The Lone Wolf Adventure Game is a box set designed by Cubicle 7 to be the best intro to RPGs for new players. Despite stiff competition, it may have succeeded.
Role-playing games are a hobby on the rise. Critical Role is growing into a genuine cultural movement, Stranger Things has D&D in its DNA, and Steven Spielberg is making a movie out of a novel that has intimate knowledge of a 1978 Dungeons & Dragons adventure as a core plot device. But with 40 plus years of history, where should a newbie break into the hobby? Cubicle 7’s Lone Wolf Adventure Game may be the intro we’ve been waiting for.
The game is based on a series of choose-your-own-adventure novels from the 1980s by Joe Dever and featuring Lone Wolf, last of the Kai Lords (think Jedi) who must fend off the rise of the Darklords.
So why is the Lone Wolf Adventure Game so great for newbs? Four big reasons.
Firstly, the game is beautiful, but relatively inexpensive. Cubicle 7 used Kickstarter in a truly unique way to fund the product. Instead of using Kickstarter to simply fund a print run of the game, the Kickstarter funds were used to lower the sticker price of the game at brick and mortar stores.
This means that a 12 year-old who saves a few weeks of allowance can buy a gorgeous, full-color boxed set that will make a gamer out of her for life. And while the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set is cheaper, the quality of the product is markedly less. The Starter Set contains three stapled booklets and a sheaf of black and white character sheets, whereas Lone Wolf contains three beautiful full-color books, and equally gasp-inducing character sheets, each of which has a portrait of the character to fuel a green player’s imagination.
Lone Wolf uses an incredibly simple system. Roll above a six on a ten-sider and you succeed. The game comes with a box and pog system which works like a ten-sided die, and is a ton of fun. Combat consists of subtracting combat skills, making a roll, and looking at a chart. That single roll determines if you hit and how much you damage your opponent.
Better yet, the first adventure teaches you the rules as you play. A new group of players could open the box and be playing the game within ten minutes.
Role-Playing, Not Roll-Playing
This simplicity allows The Lone Wolf Adventure Game to focus on character and story, not mechanics and crunch. The entire product sends the message that role-playing is about being another person and experiencing another world, even if only in the mind’s inward eye.
The pregenerated character sheets give each character a history and personality. Furthermore, the Kai Lords portrayed by the players live by a code which their characters must not violate. In other words, the game discourages players from acting like Genghis Khan. The sharp end of the sword is not the solution to all problems in Lone Wolf.
The Intro Adventure
The first adventure in the boxed set is a mystery which must be solved. A caravan has disappeared on the road, and it is up to the characters to find it. They must use their wits, powers, and role-playing to find the caravan. And yes, there is a grand fight in there too, but the intro scenario has something for every player at the table, not just the combat munchkins.
This stands in stark contrast to the first encounter in the D&D Starter Set, which in a striking coincidence also involves a caravan. But in the Starter Set, the players are guards who must fend off an attack. While combat is fun, beginning with it in a starter product is a bit like throwing a toddler into the deep end of the pool to teach her to swim.
What is your favorite starter RPG product? Let us know in the comments below!
All images courtesy Cubicle 7.