Some of you may remember the massive Abandonware site known as the Home of the Underdogs. A few of you may even remember that it had a section devoted to the low-tech predecessors of interactive fiction games: the gamebooks.
After HotU's demise, numerous revival projects came into existence -- but so far, the gamebook collection is missing from every one of them.
to prevent this content from vanishing from off the face of the internet, we decided to host a copy of the collection here on Abandonia.
Note: Some of these gamebooks were planned for addition but never made it to HotU. They were posted by Sarinee in the copy of the partial backup of gamebooks she made available in 2009.
As a child, I grew up with a lot of "Choose Your Own Adventure" gamebooks popular in late 1970s and early 1980s. This page showcases some of the best gamebook and solo adventure/RPG series ever made, including some rare gamebook comics. Since there is a very small chance that these books will see the light of day again, especially since many copyright holders (such Byron Preiss) no longer exists and all these books have been out of print for over a decade, I have decided to scan and compile these gamebooks from my own collection into PDF format, so that old-timers can relive the old days, and younger visitors will have a chance to experience first-hand this primitive-but-fun form of interactive entertainment that was popular long before the rise of computer games.
All books have been scanned and compiled in Adobe PDF format. You can either print it out or play it on-line in Adobe Acrobat Reader (version 4.0 or higher required). Hyperlinks have been added in most books for your convenience, so you can jump to page X or box X by just clicking on "Go to X" passages.
Many gamebooks, especially "solo RPG" adventures such as the Fighting Fantasy series, require you to roll dice to determine combat outcomes. If you don't have any RPG die (6-sided typically), feel free to use this handy RPG Dice Roller or the D&D Dice Roller.
Recommended gamebook links:
Iron Crown Enterprises (I.C.E.) got a license from the Tolkien estate to produce role-playing games based on the Middle-earth property. This resulted in the acclaimed MERP (Middle-Earth Role Playing) RPG system and games, which lasted quite a while. In 1985, they released a pair of Tolkien Quest gamebooks. In 1986, they followed up with a third book, changing the series name from Tolkien Quest to Middle-Earth Quest.
It was somewhere around this time that the Tolkien estate objected to these books -- apparently they considered them to be books, not games, and thus not covered by I.C.E.'s license. The books quickly disappeared from the market and I.C.E. presumably lost quite a bit of money. It seems that the licensing issues were eventually sorted out, though, because in 1988, the Middle-earth Quest series rose again, starting at #1 as if the original three had never existed. Four titles were published (and five more announced but left unreleased) before the series disappeared again. Interestingly enough, I.C.E. cited the Middle-Earth Quest licensing disaster as a major reason for their decision to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1999. Since then, the company has been re-organized and re-launched with a new line-up of RPGs based on original titles.
Books in both the Tolkien Quest and Middle-Earth Quest series are very well-written and challenging. The books could be played by themselves using the built-in QuestGame system, or they could be used as solitaire modules for the MERP system, which incidentally is one of the best RPG systems I have seen. Every book ships with a map (included as color insert in the book) of hex locations you can move to as you play the game. With solid writing, excellent RPG system, and sheer length (over 400 paragraphs each), this series remain one of the best gamebooks ever made, and one of the most sought-after. Thanks once again to Zarkob Martianbeast for scanning these rare oldies for us :)
Discuss this series on our forum!
Recommended Middle-Earth Quest links: