A million years ago, if you were stuck in a place where you couldn’t even imagine getting enough kids together for a D&D group and really, seriously, desired to get into the whole “man, I wanna play a game of D&D!” thing, you pretty much had but so many options.
Foremost, of course, were the gamebooks of Steve Jackson.
Specifically, the Sorcery! (exclamation point included!) gamebooks.
The basic idea was that you’d buy the book (only $3.95!) and have a couple of regular, old six sided die in the house lying around anyway, and be able to sit down with a pencil and paper and have a good, old-fashioned, gaming sesh. Even if you were all by your lonesome.
And, you know what? Even if you didn’t have any die in your household (hey, some don’t!), you could close your eyes, face your head towards the ceiling, then thumb through the book and stop on any given page… and there would be the image of the top of a six-sider for you. Maybe you rolled high. Maybe you rolled low. But you, technically, didn’t even need dice for this sort of thing.
But, seriously, you’d probably want dice. You probably have some in your house *RIGHT NOW*.
Anyway, it was like a Choose Your Own Adventure kinda game mixed in with some serious “Okay, you want to roll dice, do you?” mechanics. Stuff like “you encounter this particular event… how do you repond?” and you choose some variant of belligerent, intellectual, or sneaky and the book would then tell you whether you chose wisely.
For the record, you didn’t.
Anyway, you then started rolling die and figuring out whether you choose to turn to the next appropriate page. At which point you were read a lovely description of the environment, told to make a decision, then given another 3 or so pages to turn to.
And, seriously, if all you had were a bunch of Dragonraid characters pre-made up with no one to play with? That book was the sweetest book ever written.
In any case, the books have been made into IOS/Computer games in the last few years. Specifically, Sorcery 4 has recently come out (and, seriously, if you could only play Sorcery 1-2! and Sorcery 3!, why bother?) and I am now downloading the set and preparing myself for such things as the magic spell that involves putting a gold coin on the back of your hand and then having the benefit of a shield for the next fight. And the best part? I remember that they put weird and silly spells in there.
If you didn’t read the spell book and memorize it, you might find yourself summoning a skeleton! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Anyway, it’s a computerized experience of 1985 (or, if you want to go old-school, an experience experience), and it’ll take you through an epic long-level single-player game and leave you wishing that Steve Jackson was born in 1990 something rather than 1950 something.
So… what are you playing?
(Picture is HG Wells playing a war game from Illustrated London News (25 January 1913[/efn_note]