You are Lone Wolf. In a devastating attack, the Darklords have destroyed the monastery where you were learning the skills of the Kai Lords. You are the sole survivor.
The Lone WolfGamebook series (plural, containing the Kai, Magnakai, Grand Master, and New Order series) were written by Joe Dever; the first book came out in 1984. As the opening quote tells us, the hero is the Last of His KindFighter/Ranger/Psionic Knight Lone Wolf, who escapes the Big Bad's destruction of the monastery where he and the rest of the Kai Order lived. In the course of his many adventures, Lone Wolf has to avenge his fallen brethren, foil the Darklords and other Evil Overlords, try to rebuild the Kai Order, and otherwise save his Sword and Sorcery world Magnamund many, many times.The books take many RPG elements and incorporate them into playing/reading, such as Hit Points (called Endurance points), "Combat Skill", skills (Kai / Magnakai / Grand Master Disciplines), and an inventory system. Each book can be read as a standalone adventure, but finishing a book allows one to gain an extra Discipline and carry over most (usually) of his inventory. You can cheat, but you can cheat at Solitaire too.There are 20 books out that follow Lone Wolf himself, then 8 after that following a student of his, with more being written. There's also a four-books World of Lone Wolfspin-off (most often just called Grey Star) that takes place in the same world, with Grey Star the Wizard as the hero. There are also 12 Legends of Lone Wolf novelizations roughly covering the first 8 books, fleshing out characterization and the series mythology, as well as a Magnamund Companion guidebook. There are even twoTabletop RPG versions of the books and a graphic novel spin-off, The Skull of Agarash (situated between the Magnakai and Grand Master series). A computer game is in the works, though it's been stuck in Development Hell for some time. Another videogame adaptation has been released on Android and iOS in late 2013.
All the gamebooks up to Vampirium and a few of the others can, with the permission of Dever, be played online at Project Aon.Also of note is Joe Dever's Freeway Warrior series, which uses similar rules, but exchanges Magnamund for a Mad Max-inspired post-holocaust setting.Not to be confused with the famous Lone Wolf and Cub manga series, which has no connection.
Lone Wolf and its spin-offs provide examples of the following tropes:
Adipose Rex: The late Zakhan Moudallah, as mentioned in Shadow on the Sand. A statue of him provides lot of cover.
Alien Non-Interference Clause: The Shianti are forbidden from interfering in human affairs, even though Wytch-King Shasarak, one of their number, is doing just that. Of course, when a human baby accidentally lands on their island, there Ain't No Rule about teaching him to use magic and "allowing" him to go into the world to deal with the threat.
The novelizations introduce several key characters such as Naar or Alyss. (Good luck knowing who or what Alyss is otherwise.)
Also the Magnamund Companion; nothing really vital, or that doesn't come up elsewhere, but loads and loads of awesome world-building. As well as a Lone Wolf board game and a short Choose Your Own Adventure with Banedon as protagonist, providing some backdrop to Book 1.
The Drakkarim, the Darklords, the Giaks and too many others to count.
But not the Szalls, a Giak sub-race who fled enslavement by the Darklords and settled in the Wildlands. There's a spot in Book 2 where Szalls try to warn you not to go near a monster. (Though the little bastards do steal your horse afterwards.)
The novelizations feature Carag, a Giak who turned against its masters and joined Lone Wolf. Unfortunately, he is implied to have been killed by the Darklords by the end of The Claws of Helgedad.
Lone Wolf's star apprentice takes over in Book 21, starting over from relative scratch. And if you don't want to name him, you can use a table to combine two words to give him a supposedly cool name. Or more likely, something absurd like "Sword Shield"note roll a 5 and a 9 for the Kai name prefix and suffix respectively.
The World of Lone Wolf books feature Grey Star the Wizard, a young wunderkind trained in magic by the Shianti, beings so good at magic that the gods had to ask — nicely — for them to leave humanity alone. He's an orphan marooned on the rocks of their island by a storm, and finding him was serendipitous since they are forbidden to leave their island, yet there's this evil sorcerer taking over the world right outside. So they rear him, train him in their ways and send him off to topple an empire.
The Updated Re-release usually has a mini-story at the end with a character tied into the plot. Although there is a reoccuring hero named Dire, a Revenant Zombie that Lone Wolf met in The Captives of Kaag.
Annoying Arrows: Largely averted in the series. It is possible to have arrows only causing mere scratches and a loss of a few Endurance Points, but it's not common and usually the result of a very lucky roll (when Lone Wolf is the target) or a poor one (when he's the one shooting). More often than not, arrows or bolts tend to be quite deadly, either for the hero or enemies, even giant monsters if you manage to strike a weak spot like the eye or mouth. The only exceptions are with beings utterly immune to normal weapons, like Zakhan Kimah or Demonlord Tagazin.
Darklords Zagarna (Book 2) and Gnaag (Book 12) are destroyed without a fight by the power of the Sommerswerd. In gameplay terms an anticlimax, but the satisfying and incredibly badass descriptions of these literal embodiments of evil being annihilated in a blast of holy sunfire makes up for it.
Wytch-King Shasarak and Agarash the Damned from the World of Lone Wolf books starring Grey Star might end up being these. The former can have a fearsome Combat Strength of 30, but that can be reduced to 10 if you take certain options in the pre-fight, making him significantly weaker. Grey Star beats the latter by simply throwing the Moonstone at the gate Agarash is trying to pass through, thus preventing his escape.
Darklord Gnaag's appearance between Book 8 and Book 12, which is primarily due to the change in illustration artists. The Updated Re-release changes his appearance further, again due to a new artist.
Gwynian the Sage is hardly recognizable in illustrations between his first appearance in Book 4, and his later one in Book 8.
The Chaos-master's illustrations in Grey Star's series and then in The Prisoners of Time are also wildly different, but here it's completely justified in-story, since the Chaos-master is an Eldritch Abomination who keeps changing shape all the time.
Artifact of Death: The Doomstones and Death Staff. If not already undead when starting to use them, you may become one soon.
The Atoner: The Redeemers, a silent order of healers that helps Lone Wolf from time to time, are atoning not for their own misdeeds, but for the misdeeds of their ancestors, the Patar. The Patar played a key role in the near extinction of their former masters the Elder Magi by plague. Ashamed, they vowed that they and their descendants would dedicate themselves to fighting disease in all its forms.
Attack Reflector: The Sommerswerd can sometimes be used to volley a magical attack back at the caster. An example from Shadow on the Sand is the Vordak riding a Zlanbeast and firing on Banedon's skyship with a magic staff, who subsequently gets a taste of its own Fireball.
Authority Equals Asskicking: Constantly. The highest-ranking officer in any group will have the strongest combat stats. Each of the heads of state Lone Wolf eventually has to confront (Zakhan Kimah, Baron Shinzar, High Warlord Magnaarn, Archdruid Cadak...) is certain to be either a Mid Boss or Final Boss (and likely That One Boss too). And the Darklords are among the toughest customers around, of course.
The Ironheart Broadsword in The Prisoners of Time. If you don't have the Sommerswerd, it gives you a fighting chance against the Chaos-master. After this combat, however, Lone Wolf is politely asked to return the sword to the tomb you've looted... ahem... where you found it.
The Death Staff in The Legacy of Vashna. It gives an even bigger bonus than the Sommerswerd, but you won't keep it past the end of the book. In this case it's good riddance, however, because it's also an Artifact of Death and using it drains your Endurance like crazy.
Back from the Brink: Books 1 and 2 cover this for the country of Sommerlund, which Zagarna made his first target in his war. Books 8 through 12 seem to cover this for the entirety of Northern Magnamund, as it seems Gnaag is saving Sommerlund for last.
Bad Boss: The Darklords, all over. They generally abuse their Mooks about as much as you'd expect, sending them into a trap-filled tomb just to set said traps off, or torturing underlings for kicks.
Balance Between Good and Evil: Mentioned in some places, particularly as one of the reasons for the Exile of the Shianti. Their Moonstone had to be returned to them after being borrowed by Lone Wolf for a while because his home nation started to have way too many "good" things happening to it at once, like winter and autumn disappearing into an eternal spring.
When Lone Wolf defeats the Rahkos in Book 7, it will immediately kill him if he turns his back on it.
A Double Subversion occurs in Book 11 when Lone Wolf fights the Scarlet Warrior. The subversion occurs if Lone Wolf gets a one-hit KO on the random number table and actually kills him. It's doubly subverted since the incredibly contrived way the enemy dies means that the last Lorestone is stolen anyway.
Grey Star's fight against the Kleasa ends up being one of these as well. Even if Grey Star "wins" the fight — which he might not, considering it's very though — the Kleasa still kicks his ass. The Love Interest Tanith has to make a Heroic Sacrifice to save Grey Star but she recovers at the end of the second book.
Bears Are Bad News: One rare actual bear Lone Wolf meets in the series (depending on if he has Animal Control or not) will either just leave him alone when he gets attacked by a pack of hungry Akataz, or he'll come to Lone Wolf's aid and curb-stomp them. So it's bad news for Lone Wolf's enemies, making this a nice change of pace from Everything Trying to Kill You.
Belly Mouth: Darklord Zagarna is described in the novels as having a fanged maw in the belly, which is constantly feeding on Giak or human flesh.
The Berserker: Some enemies are described as entering fights in a state of rage, making them immune to basic psychic attacks. This is common with the Drakkarim; they're sometimes seen hacking at lowly soldiers on their side, like Giaks, just to reach their main foe.
Big Bad: While Naar, the King of the Darkness, is the ultimate Big Bad of the setting, each series also has its own Big Bad.
Darklord Haakon is the Big Bad in the Kai series, though he's not challenged until Book 5 and most of the Kai series sees "the Darklords" as a whole as the threat.
Darklord Gnaag emerges as the main villain of the Magnakai series after he claims the title of Archlord in Book 8.
Naar himself takes a more direct role in the Grand Master series.
The vampire Sejanoz becomes the Big Bad midway through the New Order Kai series.
Further south, the evil Wytch-King Shasarak runs the Shadakine Empire in the World of Lone Wolf books and he's Grey Star's nemesis.
Big Bad Ensemble: Most of the time, Naar is essentially a Bigger Bad, operating through various minions such as the Darklords, Archdruid Cadak, the Demoness Shamath and Agarash the Damned. They don't usually work together or have anything to do with each other, and some individual villains (Deathlord Ixiataaga as the prime example) act as independent Big Bads of their own books but are only remotely linked to Naar.
Bilingual Bonus: Some of the books include messages written in the Giak language, which can give interesting hints if you can read them (with the help of the Magnamund Companion).
Black Magic: Right-handed Magic, the evil counterpart to the Left-handed Magic used by Banedon and the other wizards of the Crystal Star. Used by the Nadziranim for such fun things as demon summoning, transformation, various destructive spells (though to be fair, the Lefties have these too), and necromancy.
The Giak language, lingua franca of the Darklands and Drakkarim.
There is also a "dark tongue" that only the Darklords have been seen using. It is described as a harsh, guttural language, with words and sounds that the mouths of men could never form.
Black Swords Are Better: The Drakkarim and other Darklord soldiers use weapons with black blades, made of Kagonite. The most dangerous of them all are of course the Darklord swords like KraagenskŻl's Helshezag or Gnaag's Nadazgada. (They still pale before the Sommeswerd, though.)
Blessed with Suck: Or possibly The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard, though replace "The Computer" with "The Author". The Sommerswerd, mentioned below, makes the next few books in the series much easier, but after that, Dever began compensating by making some fights harder, or taking away non-combat options, if you have it. Perhaps the most egregious example is in Book 11, where having the Sommerswerd forces you into a battle that is almost unwinnable without cheating or massive good luck.
And in Book 12, if you try to use it too soon... you just die. Since, if you draw it from its Korlinium scabbard in the Darklands, the release of holy energy will tell the entire forces of darkness where you are. The same goes for Books 17 and 20. Even an Infinity+1 Sword is of little good when you're lit up like a Christmas tree and ripe for every evil creature in an entire realm of evil to converge on your location. On the other hand, if you do bring it along it will vaporize the Big Bad.
You know it's bad when there're fan justifications for the hero not to have his Infinity+1 Sword for Book 11, and for continuity's sake Book 10 as well.
Bullet Time: In Book 9, during an escape from jail, it is possible for Lone Wolf (on a very high roll helped by Huntmastery and the Circle of Solaris) to see time slowing down as arrows fly toward him, and cut them into matchwood with his sword in one strike.
Buried Alive: In Book 15, The Darke Crusade, High Warlord Magnaarn traps Lone Wolf inside an underground temple, which he brings down on the hero. Lone Wolf isn't killed by the collapse but is buried alive and has to tunnel a way out during sixteen days with only the food and water he was carrying. He still survives thanks to his Magnakai powers and determination, but is severely weakened by the ordeal.
But Thou Must: Since each book has to have 350 entries (except Book 5) and there's only one good ending, it's inevitable that some choices don't actually matter (you'll end up at the same destination page in a couple turns regardless of the choice). The entries are well-written enough (usually) that this doesn't seem like too forced.
Canon Discontinuity: One of the novelizations (all largely written by John Grant with input from Dever) had an epilogue which was placed at a Distant Finale where a character drove a car and had a digital watch. Any and all suggestions of a technological future for Magnamund were not written by Joe Dever, and have been purged as heresy. (Not to say that advanced technology and Magitek don't exist, they just will never get widespread on Magnamund.)
Carnivore Confusion: Book 14 has Lone Wolf storming the fortress city of Kaag. References are made to the Giak-spawning vats used to spawn Giaks as cannon fodder... and as an unlimited source of meat. The other Giaks that handle and cook the meat in the kitchens don't seem to mind handling the flesh of their own kind. It is never stated if the Giaks also eat it, but it's quite likely.
The Magnakai Psi-Surge power cost 2 EN every turn it is used. This makes it not terribly useful in a fight unless the enemy is immune to the ordinary Mindblast. It becomes more interesting by the rank of Archmaster, where it only cost 1 EN for a stronger CS increase, or with the Grand Master upgrade, Kai-Surge.
Lone Wolf using his healing powers on someone else can also cost him Endurance if the wounds are extensive.
Some spells work by burning Endurance in the adventure where you play Banedon, and sometimes too in the Grand Master books, with Kai-alchemy and Magi-magic.
Celibate Hero: Lone Wolf doesn't appear to have a canonical love interest in the main books, though Legends of Lone Wolf gives him a couple of female companions.
Charles Atlas Superpower: In the first batch of Kai Disciplines, "disciplines" such as Hunting and Camouflage are listed right alongside powers like Sixth Sense and Mindblast.
As a staple of Gamebooks, any item found by the protagonist (even seemingly useless trinkets) can prove surprisingly useful later in the book — or sometimes, one or two books further in the series. However, there are also plenty of random items that serve no purpose but to take up space in the backpack, and thus you must choose wisely what you keep. Also, it is quite possible to miss the specific path were any item happens to be used.
That Kazim stone Grey Star gets tortured with in Book 1 of his series? Those things become much more significant in Book 4.
The Chessmaster: Darklord Gnaag, as revealed in The Claws of Helgedad and The Dungeons of Torgar.
Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: The Darklords, as evidenced by Archlord Gnaag's reaction when he walks in on Lone Wolf (in disguise as Darklord Ghanesh's minion) slaying Darklord Taktaal: "Your master would be proud of you!" The fact that Darklord weapons like Helshezag and the Dagger of Vashna give combat bonuses when fighting other Darklords — and are among the very few things, besides the Sommerswerd, which can kill a Darklord — is further proof of their treacherous nature.
Lone Wolf can make a bunch of these with the new discipline of Kai Weaponcraft once he reach the rank of Kai Supreme Master. In the New Order Kai books, the protagonist receive one of these named weapon (an axe, sword or broadsword). These "Kai-weapons" all offer +5 CS normally and provide bonus CS depending on enemy type, environment, or time of day.
Counterpart Artifacts: The Lorestones and Doomstones. The Doomstones were explicitely created by Agarash the Damned in mockery of Nyxator's Lorestones.
Cower Power: In The Cauldron of Fear, when confronted by guards, the first reflex of Sogh (the thief helping Lone Wolf escape the jail) is to cower behind the hero and use him as shield.
Creepy Crows: It is mentioned that ravens are considered a bad omen in Sommerlund, and indeed whenever they show up in the books, it is in a quite negative light. The fact that some are used by lieutenants of the Darklords as scouts, as seen in Book 1 with a Vordak, sure doesn't help things. In Book 4, the finding of a murder of crows feasting on corpses reveals the fate of the Redshirt Army preceding Lone Wolf.
Cutscene Power to the Max: This can happen if you have the Sommerswerd. Although it sometimes make a combat much harder, or attract enemies you wouldn't have confronted otherwise, it can also allow you to skip some fights entirely, usually with a description of the Curb-Stomp Battle ensuing.
Notably the case with a couple of Vordaks (see the Diagonal Cut entry) and a gaggle of Drakkarim in Shadow on the Sand.
The game spends several books hyping up Darklord Gnaag. And when you finally fight him, well, if you brought the Sommerswerd with you it isn't so much a fight as it is a very cinematic and fulfilling vaporization.
Deadly Disc: Razor discs are used as weapons by some Vassagonian brigands in book 4.
Deadly Dodging: Rarely comes into play, as most fight sequences are straightforward.
There's an example in book 6, however: in the ruins of Castle Taunor, if Lone Wolf flees from the enraged monster waiting in ambush, you can lure it into jumping down a precipice by dodging at the last moment.
In book 7, pushing the Rakhos into a magical trap is the only way to finish off for real the horrific undead flying hand.
In book 10, you can end up interrogated by Eruan soldiers while a crossbow is aimed at your back. If Lone Wolf gives an unsatisfactory answer... he can spring away fast enough for the bolt to miss him, hitting instead the captain he was facing. Maybe they should revise their interrogation methods....
Deal with the Devil: The malevolent Chaos-master, who grants wishes with the expected Monkey's Paw twists.
Death World: The goal of the Darklords is to turn Magnamund into this for everyone but themselves.
Degraded Boss: This happens to the Helghast within the same book. In Fire on the Water, the first Helghast (which you can't skip fighting) is very much That One Boss. Even with the highest CS possible and the best combat options, you'll come out of this at best very blooded. Later, a group of six Helghast lay waste on the armored knights who are escorting Lone Wolf (you can fight one if you're feeling brave, but it's safer to flee). Then, close to the ending, you can stumble upon another Helghast aboard Vonotar's ghost fleet... except this time, you're at full health and armed with the Sommerswerd. Between the CS increase and the double damage against undead (and the Helghast is apparently so scared of the sword it forgets about using its psychic powers), you can safely and very satisfyingly crush the monster.
Dem Bones: Skeletons warriors constitute the main troops of the Ixian Undead.
Demonic Invaders: The Agarashi, and to an extent the Darklords and their more inhuman minions.
Departure Means Death: The Darklords of Helgedad cannot survive outside the polluted atmosphere of the Darklands without special apparati, which can be magical, but can also include special breathing tanks. Of course, they are attempting to expand the Darklands through conquest.
Diagonal Cut: This is the fate of a Vordak in Book 5 if you have the Sommerswerd.
You strike again, curving the golden blade in a great arc. It bites into the Vordak's neck, tearing through its unnatural body, and severing it diagonally from collarbone to hip.
Book 11 has Lone Wolf take on the aforementioned Chaos-master, the equivalent of the Devil in the Daziarn. Even other physical gods are afraid of it. On the other hand, if you brought the Sommerswerd with you on this adventure, it's probably not a fight you'll win.
Doom Magnet: Whatever you do, never board the same ship/boat/ferry as Lone Wolf. You'll either be attacked by pirates, be the victim of sabotage, sunk by an ironclad battleship, attacked by a hungry sea serpent, captured by a giant fish-shaped boat crewed by a horde of Undead, ambushed and dragged to your death by hungry frogmen, have a necromancer stir up havoc in the taproom, or any combination of the above. Justified to an extent: Lone Wolf is such a powerful force for good that he naturally attracts evil.
And of course Book 4: The Chasm of Doom (guest star: Barraka the Doomslayer).
Furthermore, in Book 5:
Haakon: Look on your doom, Kai Lord!
The Dragon: Big Bad Naar has had several Dragons in the Back Story and throughout the series. The most notable was Agarash the Damned, described as his most powerful champion of evil. Agarash in turn had his own Dragon, the Deathlord Ixiataaga, the Big Bad of Book 17. Ixiataaga even had his own Dragon, Demonlord Tagazin.
Drunk on the Dark Side: Baron Shinzar from Book 10, The Dungeons of Torgar, wields a huge magical flaming battle-axe in the Battle of Cetza. He is so intoxicated by the awesome power of his weapon that weaker psionic attacks like Mindblast can't affect him.
Dug Too Deep: Kicks off the plot in Fall of Blood Mountain. The greedy crown prince of the dwarves dug too deep into the mountain to mine its valuable veins of Korlinium. The same veins of Korlinium that were keeping the Sealed Evil in a Can sealed. The dwarves even knew that said Evil was sealed deep in the mountain, making the prince seem even more greedy and foolish.
Also, at the very end of War of the Wizards, the armies of the Big Bad are winning despite everything Grey Star have done. So what can the hero do? You use your magic to teleport directly to Shasarak and kill him personally.
In Book 4, the squad you bring with you is slowly killed off, and will be entirely dead by the end regardless of what path you take.
Same thing in Book 3 with the three guides and sled dogs helping Lone Wolf travel the icy wastes of Kalte. By the time he reaches the title Caverns of Kalte, he's alone. However, there are paths where the guides actually survive and just turn back without Lone Wolf.
Dying Race: The Elder Magi. In the second book of the New Order series, the Grand Master can attend the funeral/ascension of one of the Magi. It is mentioned that fewer than a hundred Elder Magi remain, and their power is fading with each passing year. The Elder Magi accept their eventual demise, secure in the knowledge that the New Order Kai stand ready to take their place in the fight against evil.
First and foremost, the Akraa'Neonor summoned by Vonotar in Book 3. It even has the Combat Tentacles.
The Agtah and their master the horrific Chaos-master of the Daziarn boast twisted misshappen forms.
And then there's the Crypt Spawn....
The Kleasa from the World of Lone Wolf series. A Living Shadow from another dimension that eats souls like candy. Worse, the only way you can beat it is by setting it free, to reap evil elsewhere.
Elite Mooks: The Drakkarim, in comparison to the lowly Giaks. Further in the series, the ante is upped with the elite of Drakkarim, the Death Knights.
Emergency Energy Tank: Touching a newly-discovered Lorestone instantly heals Lone Wolf fully — but only this one time. Other circumstances allowing a complete healing can be found in the books, but they are always plot-related and can't be brought along (to be used, for example, during the fight against That One Bossinvoked). The one exception is Shamath's potion, but it is found near the end of Lone Wolf's adventures, and it has another use anyway.
Though no obvious evidence is presented in the books, the actions taken by the Sommerswerd to protect both its wielder and itself may prove that it has a spirit of its own. It will also blast any evil creature who tries to pick it up (as in Book 7) and Book 2 states that it will lose its powers if wielded by one without the Kai gifts.
A darker variant is the Darklord sword Helshezag. The sword actually tries to compel Lone Wolf to butcher his enemies, bearing more than a passing resemblance to other cursed swords in fiction, such as Stormbringer — which Joe Dever states was in fact the direct inspiration for Helshezag.
The Darklords really needed a system of succession that didn't involve a massive civil war every time someone whacked the current Archlord.
It gets even worse after all the Darklords are exterminated; most of the Darklands cities are then stuck in a state of civil war between various factions, until some new, upstart Big Bad manages to get on top.
Energy Absorption: The blade of the Sommerswerd can harmlessly absorb most offensive spells directed at its wielder. Sometimes, the energy is even used to heal Lone Wolf. However, the protection can rarely be foiled if the attack comes from an artifact at least as powerful as the Sword of the Sun, like with Kimah's Orb of Death or Vonotar's Ring of Power.
Book 2, Fire on the Water, has a whole ghostly fleet maned by undead as the last obstacle of the story, including zombie crewmates. Since this is just after Lone Wolf gains the Sommerswerd, they really aren't much of a threat.
Book 6, The Kingdoms of Terror, has evil lordling Roark raising zombies from a cemetary to try killing Lone Wolf, but he quickly lose control and they attack his men.
Book 17, The Deathlord of Ixia, is filled to the brink with undead, including Drakkarim Zombies. Unlike previous zombies in the series, those can be very tough, even with the Sommerswerd.
The number of death traps, cold-blooded assassins, evil armies, cursed artifacts, hostile fauna, poisonous (and man-eating) flora, malevolent undead, and hidden ancient evils sealed all over the place that Lone Wolf runs into means something is always trying to kill him. Even when he isn't in a war.
Book 1: Lone Wolf may barely escapes sinking in a bog that claims his horse, just to be attacked by a very poisonous snake next. Even lampshaded in the text:
It seems that nature and the Darklords have conspired against you, but it does not shake your determination to reach the King.
Book 6: Though it requires a series of choices you'd have to be a complete idiot to actually make, Lone Wolf can get killed by an evil taxidermist.
Book 7: Castle Death is probably the worst about this trope. It's possible to run into magical cobwebs that try to kill Lone Wolf.
There are three rules to live by in all the books: Someone offering you hospitality and food? That's poisoned. Someone offering to help you? Is going to try and kill you in your sleep. Someone desperately begging for your help? Of course he's a Helghast, how many times are you going to fall for that trick?
Remember this is the series in which you can die fighting a door. Not even a magic/sentient/evil/cursed door, but die trying to open a boring, rusted, ordinary door. Well, it's a door that you're trying to force open after failing the mandatory puzzle lock, while caught in a torrent of acid rain, so it's the rain that's damaging you rather than the door itself. Which doesn't take anything away from the fact that yes, there is an honest-to-Kai combat sequence with a door, complete with Endurance and Combat Score, and you will die if you lose.
Grey Star the Wizard has these too. The first book alone has: a room so evil just standing in it can kill you; prehensile swamp plants trying to eat you; man-sized frogs with poison skin that can fly(!!); a soul-eating Kleasa demon; a valley full of poison mist; and worst of all, a hive of thousands of giant acid-spitting preying mantises that you inevitably piss off and have to escape by climbing out of their lair — from the bottom up.
"Bronin" is a metal that looks like bronze but will not tarnish with age or use like ordinary alloys of copper and tin. Lone Wolf can find a Bronin Warhammer (+1 CS, though non-magical) and a Bronin Vest (replacing the Chainmail Waistcoat) during his travels.
"Kagonite" is a black metallic mineral, light as wood yet ten times harder than steel. It is what gives the Darklord troops' weapons their black appearance. Lone Wolf can loot a Kagonite Chainmail from a fallen enemy, and "Because it is so light, it can be worn beneath any padded or metallic body armour you may possess."
Fiction 500: High-Mayor Cordas. Said to be the wealthiest man in Magnamund and able to order the construction of a skyship to be finished within a month for the sole purpose of helping Lone Wolf travel home more quickly.
Fictionary: The Giak language, which has some fun grammar.
Figure It Out Yourself: "Let us say that the wisdom of the Kai and the lore of the Magicians' Guild can surpass the limitations of even time itself." Loi-Kymar seems to think that "We got here so fast because we teleported." is too easy.note The Italian translation of that passage (which appeared at the end of the 3rd book) was even more heavy-handed, sounded something like this: "A Kai knight and a Guild magician have little patience for the constraints of such weak barriers like space and time!"
The Sommerswerd has holy sunfire on its edge when it faces particularly evil foes.
The Darklord blades, like Helshezag or the Dagger of Vashna, are surrounded by black flames when used.
In the Grand Master series, if Lone Wolf is a Sun Lord with Grand Weaponmastery, he can set any normal weapon's edge aflame for extra damage in battle.
Flaming swords are the favored weapons of Nadziranim under the ice dragon form.
Forced Prize Fight: In book 21, the New Order Kai Grand Master must fight Dromodon the Invincible, the champion gladiator, after accidentally killing his intended opponent due to drinking from the wrong fountain. While the Grand Master is initially sorry to have to kill the man to earn his freedom, he "looks into his eyes" and somehow realizes that Dromodon is a worshipper of Naar, meaning it's okay to kill him. A fairly transparent attempt to keep the Grand Master from appearing too morally grey.
Forged by the Gods: More specifically "a race that men would now call gods" for the Sommerswerd.
From Dress to Dressing: On their (possibly second) meeting in Shadow on the Sand, Lone Wolf tends to Banedon's wound with strips of the wizard's journeymaster robes.
The World of Lone Wolf books serve as this, following the wizard Grey Star who lives at the very southern tip of Magnamund, whereas Lone Wolf hangs out mainly in Northern Magnamund.
Also, most of the newly re-published old books have a new short adventure at the end where you take the role of one of the characters you have met during the course of the main adventure, each having their own unique gameplay style.
Genre Savvy: After 20 books, Lone Wolf realizes that Naar and his minions are obsessed with him. He knew that if he tried to take the Moonstone back to the Shianti, then every servant of Naar would be trying to kill him before the week was up. So Lone Wolf passes the job to someone else, thinking that Naar's followers would be focused on himself instead. It works. Most of the threats the New Order Grand Master encounters in Book 21 are coincidences; he only meets one Naar worshipper, and that is by accident.
Giant Flyer: Zlanbeast, Kraan, Itikar, Lavas... and a few dragons.
The various currencies can usually be spent interchangeably... but woe betide you if you try using the wrong currency as a bribe. Kika, the currency of the Darklands, takes this a step further: you can't spend it at all (except as a bribe in said Darklands). Basically, its purpose is to take up space in your Belt Pouch and to convince the naysayers at the Kai Monastery that, yes, these fiends do have an economy.
One tavern in the New Order series will only accept Gold Crowns or Silver Lune. The felt currency your companion carries is useless and the tavernkeeper will kick you out if you offer Ren from the Autocracy of Bhanar since Bhanarese soldiers killed the tavernkeeper's son.
Good Thing You Can Heal: The Kai Discipline of Healing is a favored choice amongst most players, and for good reason. There are so many ways for Lone Wolf to get sliced and diced, stabbed, concussed, burnt, frozen, poisoned, contaminated, mind-fried, life-drained or just generally hurt, to make it a very good thing he can heal.
Good Weapon, Evil Weapon: Very much enforced on Magnamund; you can tell which side most troops are just from a look at their weapons. Just for the Sommlending, you have a prevalence of "clean" weapons like swords, longbows, crossbows, spears and lances for the knights. The evil Giaks, on the other hand, use curved knives and swords, warhammers, spears and pikes as well as bows and arrows, all forged in a black metal. Same thing with the Drakkarim, usually wielding swords, axes and polearms with a strong preference for serrated edges. The morally ambiguous Vassagonians are mostly seen with scimitars and curved knives, and so on....
Great Big Book of Everything: In the beginning of Book 20, the Elder Magi give Lone Wolf what is essentially a travel guide to the Plane of Darkness. It's pretty much the only reason Lone Wolf has even a snowball's chance in (literally) Hell of succeeding.
The Guards Must Be Crazy: Although even smart guards would have a hard time against a psychic hero specialized in infiltration and camouflage, some over the series display the typical incompetence associated with this trope.
For example, in Shadow on the Sand, two Vassagonian gaolers believe their prisoner has escaped when they can't see him through the peephole, just because Lone Wolf is sitting against the door. And he isn't even doing it on purpose, but still gets the opportunity to ambush them when they open the cell.
In Dawn of the Dragons, the Eldenorian guards capturing Lone Wolf and bringing him before Prince Lutha take his gold, backpack and weapons... but not the weapon-like special items. Including the Sommerswerd!note This one was so glaring that the French version actually changed the scene by adding an Eldenorian traitor who brings back his special items to Lone Wolf. The collector reedition explains this by having the soldiers being quite superstitious of touching magical artifacts or weapons.
Guns Are Worthless: Completely averted in this series. Anytime an enemy has one of the "primitive" Bor Muskets, Lone Wolf will either die instantly or face a random number roll that could still result in instant death. Apparently, wielding awesome Psychic Powers granted by the Sun God doesn't count for much against guns.
Laumspur, which you can find over most of Magnamund.
Oede herb is considerably rarer, but powerful enough to qualify as Panacea.
Healing Potion: A staple of the game; the most common kind is the Laumspur potion. There are other varieties, more or less efficient, like Rendalim's elixir, Larnuma oil or liquor, Kourshah wine, Oxydine tincture, Oede herb, etc. Very useful even with the Healing discipline, since it's quite easy to get mangled beyond what your Healing Factor can quickly repair.
Heel-Face Turn: The Slavemaster of Aarnak in Book 12, who has had enough of the Darklords and their destructive ways. Later becomes the first president of Magador under his birth name, Kadharian.
Hell Hound: Pretty much every dog in this series could count. Especially Demonlord Tagazin, a huge sabretoothed jackal, and one of the strongest foes in the series.
The novelization of Fire on the Water also describes the severed limbs of the zombies from Vonotar's ghost fleet still moving on their own until hacked to pieces.
Heroes Prefer Swords: While there are other types of magic weapons, a few of which are even halfway decent, the best magic weapons are swords.
Hero of Another Story: Banedon is implied to be on his own adventures when he's offscreen, such as winning an airship staffed by gun-toting dwarves. You find that one out when he rescues Lone Wolf in Shadow on the Sand. He starts out, like Silent Wolf, as a slacker student, and eventually becomes Guildmaster of the Brotherhood of the Crystal Star.
Humanoid Abomination: About every one of the Darklords qualify. They have quite varied appearances, but are usually humanoid (or close enough; Darklord Taktaal is a Snake Person). Darklord Gnaag is essentially the Brundle Fly. Darklord Haakon is the closest to this since the Legends of Lone Wolfnovels reveal that he has the face of a young human man under his black helm.
Idiot Ball: This being a Choose Your Own Adventure type of series, the player can make Lone Wolf hold it if he's faced with a situation where some of the choices are clearly dumber than the others. Some examples:
Book 1: If you fall into a tomb in a graveyard known for being the home to ancient horrors... why yes, do open the sarcophagus please, what could go wrong?
Book 2: If a zombie captain (that you've known when he was alive) asks you to put down the Sommerswerd so his soul could be freed... of course you can trust him and discard your magic weapon while on a ship full of undead.
Book 3: If you find a pretty golden bracelet on the body of an obviously mind-controlled Ice Barbarian, when it is known his people lacks metal and never fancied any jewelry, you can safely put it on your own wrist... Vonotar would just love to have a word with you.
In the iOS games, the Sommerswerd is retooled and requires Kai power (magic points) to unleash it. It's still a powerful weapon, but it's no longer a Game Breaker.
InfinityĖ1 Sword: Skarn-Ska in book 20, so you'll have a potent magic weapon to use against the more resilient members of Naar's entourage, but not quite as good as the Sommerswerd so you'll still have a reason to read the series from the beginning.
Joker Jury: Lone Wolf gets one such mock-trial in Book 7, Castle Death. The sentence? "The Maze!"
Kleptomaniac Hero: Maybe he's not as bad as some video-game heroes, but still, Lone Wolf always has the option to thoroughly check for loot wherever he goes. It's part of the Inventory Management Puzzle, as many items, precious or not, won't come into play and just waste space in the backpack. Nonetheless, if you want to drag along that bag of silver nuggets or that ingot of platinum for the rest of the adventure, you can! The Kai monastery can always need some rebuilding/refitting, after all.
Knockout Gas: In Castle Death, such a gas is filling some trapped rooms or delivered by an ugly dwarf blowing it in your face through a brass tube.
Laser Blade: Darklord Haakon summons one from his magic stone to fight Lone Wolf.
Last of His Kind: Lone Wolf is the only survivor of the Kai Lords, until he rebuilds the Kai Order in the Grand Master books.
Letter Motif: If it has a double A in it (whether "it" is a creature, character or place) then it's trouble. Possibly justified if one assumes that the only language in Magnamund that contains the "double A" phoneme is the one used by all of Naar's minions. If all the really evil stuff is being named by the really evil people using words in their evil language, the similarity makes a lot more sense.
Characters: Gnaag, Haakon, Ixiataaga, Kekataag the Avenger, KraagenskŻl, Magnaarn, Naar, the Shog'aash, Taktaal.
Loophole Abuse: The Shianti have sworn to the godess Ishir that they would no longer get involved in the world of mortals and never leave the Isle of Lorn. However, the serment said nothing about adopting a human child serendipitously washed ashore their island, teaching him their magic and then sending Grey Star fighting against Wytch-King Shasarak....
Lost Forever: Any item you don't grab in its book (or any item from a book you skip) is generally lost forever.
Loyal Phlebotinum: If a truly evil creature makes the mistake of simply holding the Sommerswerd — as an ugly dwarf servant of Lord Zahda painfully discovers in Castle Death — it will cost it a few fingers.
Mad Scientist: The Cener Druids are the medieval equivalent of Mad Scientists. They specialize in experiments that surpass Josef Mengele in sadism and really love biological warfare. In the Back Story they nearly wiped out the mighty Elder Magi with a plague and in Book 13 they plan to do the same to everybody else.
Naar, King of the Darkness is the real Big Bad of the entire series, and the one who created the Darklords. Possibly subverted; though he's not mentioned in the first twelve books, being a god of evil, his existence was probably widely known already. He is heavily mentioned in the novelizations.
Mauve Shirt: Don't get too attached to any of the named characters who get characterization and accompany Lone Wolf on any of his adventures. If they stick around for more than a few page turns, chances are they're going to die horribly. Depending on the path taken, examples of ill-fated Mauve Shirts can be found in Books 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, and 18. In other words, more than half the series. The guy's called "Lone Wolf" for a reason.
There are exceptions, however, notably Vakeros Warrior Paido, Guildmaster Banedon and Captain Prarg. If one of them happens to die while they accompany Lone Wolf, the hero meets his end shortly thereafter (making these books somewhat Escort Missions). The three of them get captured by the enemy at some point, but are later rescued by Lone Wolf. Sadly, Paido isn't an exception to the end. He was killed off-screen by Gnaag at the end of Book 10. Lone Wolf learns this in Book 20 when he finds Paido's soul being tortured in the Plane of Darkness. Ouch.
Maximum HP Reduction: Rare, but some situations can result in permanent reduction of Endurance or Combat Skill. Notably, surviving the explosion of a Vordak gem, trying to climb bare-handed out of the icy Caverns of Kalte, or getting addicted to Adgana herb.
Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Grey Star is incredulous at Kundi magic rituals; he can't actually sense any sorcery being performed whatsoever by their kooky shaman, yet the mantiz bite on his leg heals somehow and their shaman does manage to point the way to the Shadow Gate. One possibility is that the Shianti use Magic A and the Kundi use Magic B, but it's never confirmed.
The Maze: Lone Wolf faces this scenario in Book 7, after being caught by yet another evil overlord, stripped of his weapons, and sentenced to a maze. The maze isn't actually that big, but it's certainly riddled with lethal monsters. It is tricky in the sense that actually reaching the center kills you. To continue with the story, Lone Wolf has to cheat.
Medieval Stasis: Right from the Word of God, as Dever has stated that Magnamund does not have a "technological" future. The idea was hinted at in one of the deuterocanonical Legends novels, and was Fanon Discontinuity among most fans even before Dever confirmed it. This doesn't stop a mecha wolf, a time bomb, and power-armored warriors wielding laser spears from appearing in Book 19, among other things. Of course, this all takes place on the moon of a different planet.
Mega-Maw Maneuver: In The Deathlord of Ixia, Lone Wolf's ship is "swallowed" by a huge sea vessel shaped like a giant fish, and dry-docked inside. Then Drakkarim Zombies board it and slaughter the crew.
However, it is even more prominent with beings of chaos, like the Daziarn's Agtah or the Plane of Darkness' Chaos-horde and Demons. The Chaos-master is a mix and match of many animals, all of which keep changing shape all the time.
Money for Nothing: Though it never becomes completely useless, money does become less useful in the later books. Justified since some of them are set in places that have little use for currency, such as an icy wasteland populated by The Undead, a jungle moon orbiting another planet, and the Plane of Darkness (the series' equivalent to Hell).
Mook Carryover: The death of all the Darklords at the end of the Magnakai series sure throws their troops in complete disarray and makes them an easy pick for the forces of Good, but it doesn't lead to their complete destruction. Thus, in the Grand Master series, slews of Drakkarim, Giaks, Kraan, Zlanbeasts, Vordaks, Helghast, Nadziranim and other foul monsters still exist, although for the most part locked in civil wars in the Darklands. The aim of some of the new antagonists, like Archdruid Cadak or High Warlord Magnaarn, is precisely to regain control of these armies and resume conquest of Magnamund.
Mordor: A few examples in the series, most especially the Darklands.
Moses in the Bullrushes: How Grey Star ended up on the Isle of Lorn being reared by the Shianti. Despite the magic winds and illusions usually preventing mortals from reaching the island, after an especially violent storm a baby is found among some wreckage by the demigods. Seeing the hands of fate behind this unlikely event, they adopt the child and teach him their magic, in the hope he could one day deal with the evil of Wytch-King Shasarak.
Mugged for Disguise: It is not unknown for Lone Wolf to kill some Evil Minions for clothes before sneaking into enemy strongholds. This can happen in Book 5 to a Vassagonian messenger, in Book 12 to a Drakkar horseman, in Book 13 to a Cener Druid or in Book 16 with a Disciple of Vashna. It helps that most enemy Mooks are either Faceless Goons or In the Hood.
Mugging the Monster: Various rogues (robbers, thieves, bandits, pirates, backstabbers, grave diggers, pickpockets, brigands...) regularly try to mug Lone Wolf or his lieutenant in their travels. More often than not, it's the hero who ends up richer and the cutthroats dead. Later in the series, the book may not even involve the player in such encounters. You get an off-hand paragraph that you're set upon by bandits, demanding gold but instead "receiving a harsh lesson in the powers of a Kai Master".
Multi-Melee Master: The Magnakai or Grand Master Weaponmastery disciplines give bonus with a wide array of weapons. Even though it isn't mandatory, considering that there are two weapon slots in the inventory it is probable Lone Wolf will have at least two weapons around, not counting the "special item" ones. Even with the Sommerswerd as favored weapon, some places exist where using it is unsafe, forcing you to rely on a secondary weapon.
Maybe a mild example here, but most people probably wouldn't be too eager to meet beings named "KraagenskŻl" or "Haakon", even if they weren't Darklords. (On the other hand, Haakon was/is a fairly popular name for Norwegian royalty for more than 1000 years.)
Another example is the eponymous "Castle Death" from Book 7, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Book 7 is one of the harder books in the series; the castle is full of monsters and traps, and that's before Lone Wolf gets to the Maze...
Then there's the Deathlord of Ixia. Even the Darklords feared this guy. So will you.
The Necrocracy: Ixia — malevolent kind, with both ruler and subjects undead.
Destroying the Rune that controls the Soultaker in Rune War also left it stranded in Magnamund. As if having a pissed-off demon trapped on your world wasn't bad enough, said demon kidnaps Lone Wolf at the end of the book.
Grey Star prevents Agarash the Damned from escaping onto Magnamund by hurling the almighty Moonstone into the portal before the demon can go through. Later, Lone Wolf finds out that the Moonstone has ended up in the hands of Naar himself, allowing him to create portals to and from the plane of evil at whim. You have to wonder if Grey Star's victory gambit is what ultimately allowed Naar to find it....
Book 11 concludes with three boss-level fights in close succession (one of which is virtually impossible if you have theInfinity+1 Sword) with hardly any chance to heal between the last two.
Book 17 is pretty bad too. Nearly every enemy encounter verges on Demonic Spidersinvoked territory, and the battles against the Big Bad and his Dragon are some of the hardest in the series. And just like the battles in Book 11, there is almost no chance to heal in between the boss fights. And in this case you might actually need the Infinity+1 Sword to beat the boss.
Noble Wolf: Lone Wolf himself draws on this symbolism with his name.
No Fair Cheating: Very rarely, when a situation calls for the Random Number Table to be used, turning to the page reserved for landing a 9 (which usually means the best outcome, period) will instead give you a Non-Standard Game Over. Of course, these being a literary medium means that it's not all that effective.
No-Gear Level: This can happen to the hero every couple of books early on. Notably in Book 2, after you get shipwrecked; in Book 5, 9 and 17, if Lone Wolf has to get out of jail; and unavoidably in Book 7, Castle Death, when thrown into The Maze.
No Hugging, No Kissing: The Lone Wolf series follows this trope. Grey Star, on the other hand, has an implied romance between Grey Star and Tanith, but it only became fully canon when they married in supplementary material.
Non-Standard Game Over: If you inadvertently put the fortress of Ikaya on alert in Book 3, you get an ending where you escape back home without dying or completing your mission to capture Vonotar — the only place in the whole series where you can fail your mission without dying.
Not-So-Harmless Villain: When Roark first shows up in Book 6, Lone Wolf takes him down a peg or two with no effort. Later he turns out to be a demon worshipper who sics undead after Lone Wolf. Then if you meet him in Book 10, he actually manages to summon Demonlord Tagazin back to Magnamund. Finally, Lone Wolf meets Roark again in Book 18, where he shows up as a ghost. A ghost with powerful telekinetic abilities who has a surprisingly high Combat Skill. Not bad for someone who isn't originally a supernatural being or sorcerer.
These are the words (or the Magnamund equivalent at least) that probably go through the minds of all the villains when Lone Wolf inevitably shows up to hand them their asses, and it shows. Book 12 has some good examples.
The best one is probably from Vonotar the Traitor in Book 3:
"Who dares disturb me?" he hisses, rising from the Brumalmarc throne, his eyes searching for an intruder. Upon seeing you, he emits a horrified gasp and fumbles for his black staff. He has the look of a criminal who has been discovered in the act of some dreadful crime.
Each time Lone Wolf meets the Crypt Spawns, the text makes it clear that this is his reaction.
Lone Wolf also has this reaction to the Mech-Wulf in book 19.
In Shadow on the Sand, the Vassagonian envoy who escorts Lone Wolf to Vassagonia reacts with horror when he finds out that Kimah is the new ruler of Vassagonia. The unlucky envoy barely has enough time to warn Lone Wolf that he's been Lured Into a Trap before Kimah's soldiers behead him.
Each book read about the same character gives bonuses to "rank", equipment, and one skill for each book. Except for whateverdoesn't carry over, presumably for game balance. Although everything can be carried over until Book 13.
Whether or not you recognize returning characters depends on whether or not you've played the previous gamebook(s) featuring that character.
Omniscient Morality License: Turns out the Crocaryx in Book 9 were created by Kai for the sole purpose of guarding a Lorestone. Once said Lorestone is no longer in their possession, the narration announces that this is the beginning of the demise of their race. Makes one wonder when humans will outlive their usefulness.
Once per Episode: Starting with Book 16, The Legacy of Vashna, a dive through a Shadow Gate and a visit to the Plane of Darkness is mandatory for Lone Wolf in every book.
One-Handed Zweihšnder: Sun Knights with Grand Weaponmastery are able to wield two-handed weapons with full effect, using only one hand.
One-Winged Angel: The Nadziranim ("dark sorcerers") always adopt a more appropriate combat form before entering a fight; their favorite is that of an Ice Dragon (sometimes wielding a Flaming Sword in addition to the deadly cold Breath Weapon).
Only Smart People May Pass: Constantly. Sometimes the series gets cheeky by giving you a riddle with a numerical answer and asking you to turn to the page with that number.
Only the Chosen May Wield: The Sommerswerd can only be used to its full potential by a Kai Lord. If wielded in combat by anyone else, it is said that its power will fade and be lost forever. Being the last of the Kai Lords at the beginning of the series, Lone Wolf is naturally The Chosen One.
Order Reborn: Lone Wolf eventually rebuilds the Kai Monastery and trains several apprentices.
Orphaned Etymology: In Book 4, a demonic enemy was briefly described as "satanic", even though Magnamund is a world totally unrelated to Earth and Christian tropes. The term is never used again.
The Lavas in the Grand Master books (which bear a passing resemblance to D&D Draconians).
In the appropriately-titled Book 18 Dawn of the Dragons, the dragons Naar intends to unleash on Magnamund to kill everything.
Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Although Magnamund lacks most classical fantasy races (elves, gnomes, halflings...), the dwarves from the mountain kingdom of Bor are pretty much standard fare. They're even known for their mechanical prowess and invented guns.
Our Liches Are Different: Deathlord Ixiataaga. Fits within the undead sorcerer mold, but he obviously never was human to begin with.
Outscare the Enemy: It is explained in The Magnamund Companion that Giaks are much more afraid of their officers than of the enemy. Which proved a weakness early on, as the Sommlending archers were quick to figure out that if you targeted and killed the Giak commanders, their troops would readily disband in panic. This forced the Darklords to look for stronger, arrow-resistant platoon leaders, which they found in the huge Gourgaz lizardfolks.
Phlebotinum-Handling Equipment: Korlinium, a fibrous mineral looking like strands of polished silver, can hide the radiations of Good artifacts. Lone Wolf gets a Korlinium scabbard for the Sommerswerd, and in the New Order series his lieutenant carry the Moonstone in a Korlinium-laced satchel. The problem with those good radiations isn't that they are dangerous, but that many creatures of evil can readily detect them, and thus they would immediately swarm the protagonist if not for this precaution.
The Glowing Crystal from The Caverns of Kalte, in fact a Doomstone. If Lone Wolf keeps it on his person for too long, its radiation will kill him.
The Black Crystal Cube from Shadow on the Sand. It's not until later in the book that you learn a) it attracts your enemies to your location, and b) it is going to explode in your hand if you don't throw it away fast enough. A similar one can be found in The Masters of Darkness, and if you keep it too long, it just kills you outright when exploding.
Powered by a Forsaken Child: The Lake of Blood in Helgedad, the capital city of the Darklands. A sea of supernatural flames fed by the pain of those thrown into it. Even worse, the victims aren't able to die and remain trapped in a state of undying agony. Fortunately, Lone Wolf blows up Helgedad and the Lake at the end of Book 12.
Agarash the Damned — except in the World of Lone Wolf series, where he is The Man Behind the Man. Agarash's legacy in the form of the evil artifacts, weapons, and servants he left behind continues to trouble Magnamund even after he was defeated and sealed thousands of years ago by the Elder Magi.
Archlord Vashna, the most powerful and influent of all the Darklords, who launched the first invasion of Sommerlund in the past. He even has his own Religion of Evil with the Disciples of Vashna. Preventing him from coming back is the aim of no less than two of Lone Wolf's missions.
Previous Player-Character Cameo: In the New Order series, Lone Wolf typically appears in the prologue to give the Grand Master his mission brief for the book, along with appearing for maybe the first few paragraphs in the story if the book begins at the Kai Monastery. In Trail of the Wolf, though, he is kidnapped by the Soultaker and taken to the Darklands, where the Grand Master has to rescue him. Even then, he's a badass, resisting a full-on psychic assault from the Soultaker and a direct funnel to the Plane of Darkness for several days and still having enough juice to propel his Sommerswerd through his magic prison barrier like a bullet to destroy the Soultaker while the Grand Master has him distracted.
Puzzle Boss: Some enemies have no standard battle, or are better off avoided by using certain items or tactics. Two of the four Grey Star books have puzzle boss fights, for example, and the other two tend to fare better if you go into them with your thinking cap on.
Rage Helm: The Drakkarim always wear metal helmets with skull-shaped facemasks in battle. To the point this is often the main feature used to describe them.
Rail Roading: There's usually more than one direct path to victory, but all books begin and end the same way, and if any major character dies as part of the plot, there's no way to save him. Sometimes the books draw out your attempts to save the doomed character, though. Also, the adventures get a lot more linear over time. Compare the pathways through early installments like book three, The Caverns of Kalte or book seven, Castle Death, versus later installments like book seventeen, The Deathlord of Ixia.
Rays from Heaven: At the end of Book 17, after the defeat of the Deathlord, rays of sun are described piercing the sky of Ixia for the first time in centuries.
The Red Mage: Vonotar the Traitor, who studied both the left-handed magic of the Crystal Star brotherhood, and the right-handed magic of the Nadziranim, making him one of the most powerful wizards on Magnamund.
Red Shirt: Lone Wolf shouldn't get too attached to any unnamed characters that travel with him either. For examples, see Book 17 and...
Reflective Eyes: The Shianti have pupils reflecting light like a mirror. It's a plot point at the end of Book 1 / beginning of Book 2 of World of Lone Wolf. The Kundis ask Grey Star a riddle based on this little-known fact, to make sure the wizard has indeed been in contact with the Shianti.
The Psychic Ring in Book 9; if you lack any magic weapon, it gives the only other fighting chance against Zakhan Kimah.
Vonotar the Traitor (in Book 11) and Prince Lutha (in Book 18) also have evil Rings of Power, which they try to kill Lone Wolf with.
Roof Hopping: Toward the end of the first book, you can use the "Roofways" to reach the king's citadel while avoiding the crowded streets. It is mentioned the citizens of Holmgrad were familiar with this way of travel before a royal decree forbade it because of too many accidents. Indeed, an unlucky roll can result in yet another untimely death for Lone Wolf.
Royals Who Actually Do Something: Or Grand Masters Who Actually Do Something — after the Magnakai series, nobody would blame Lone Wolf for wanting to sit back and train his acolytes in peace and let someone else handle the brushfires. But whenever a crisis emerges, he's always the first to step up to the plate to take care of business. It isn't until the New Order Kai series and his ascension to Supreme Mastery that he starts delegating the crisis du jour to his lieutenant.
Scary Black Man: Samu, who manages to be almost more badass than Grey Star without needing magical powers.
Schizo Tech: Magnamund may not have a technological future, but it sure gets a lot of technology in places. The Darklands are heavily industrialized, while the good guys' lands are locked in Medieval Stasis.
Science Is Bad: The bad guys use a lot of technology; the Darklords use ironclad steamships and mechanical foundries, which have the double effect of fueling their war machine and polluting the environment for them (since they're weakened in clean, pristine environments). Science-fiction technology is also used on other worlds controlled by Naar. But Magnamund itself is kept in Medieval Stasis if the Kai win, and Lone Wolf never uses any technological weaponry or devices except for a very few examples of Magitek, such as Skyrider and the Crystal Explosive.
Sdrawkcab Alias: In Book 11, the Beholder of Yanis used to be known as Sinay.
Sealed Evil in a Can: Quite a few of these appear as major and minor foes in the series. Two notable examples in the Back Story are Agarash the Damned, a powerful demon created by Naar that killed Nyxator and was sealed in another dimension by the Elder Magi, and Darklord Vashna, the mightiest of the Darklords and the first to be defeated by the Sommerswerd. The remains of Vashna and his army, along with their vengeful spirits, were sealed in the Maakengorge (a.k.a. the Chasm of Doom). These two examples subvert the usual path of this trope since, canonically they never escape. Yes, they stay sealed, thanks to Lone Wolf and Grey Star.
Sealed Good in a Can: Not quite a true example since they weren't actually sealed away, but the goodly gods Kai and Ishir are relegated to their own dimensions and can only provide aid to Magnamund indirectly. It is revealed in Book 19 that their Evil Counterpart Naar can bypass the same limitation by using the Moonstone to open Shadowgates, allowing his minions to constantly harass Magnamund and Lone Wolf in particular.
Soft-Spoken Sadist: Darklord Zagarna's voice is described in the Legends of Lone Wolf novels as "quiet and bubbling, as if he spoke through a foot of water", in sharp contrast to his huge imposing form.
Both played straight and subverted. The Kai and Magnakai skills of Books 1-12 are rendered almost obsolete by the new Grand Master Disciplines. Noncombat related Magnakai skills don't cut it against the new threats in the Grand Master books. Subverted since the gameplay bonuses from the Magnakai skills are still relevant such as the Healing Factor from Curing and the bonuses from Psi-Surge and Weaponmastery (though Weaponmastery is replaced by Grand Weaponmastery for balance issues).
Many powers that you can select as Magnakai or Grand Master are simply improvements over existing powers. Yet there's no reason offered why you can't use Hunting in lieu of Huntmastery. In fact, even some of the gameplay benefits of discipline you should have disappear when improved versions of these powers become available. (Why do you still need to carry meals around when when you don't have huntmastery? You should still have Hunting which also allows you to get your own food.) The Project Aon versions have clarified that you should get the benefits of hunting as an Old Save Bonus — but Hunting doesn't work in wastelands, so it won't work in Book 8 at least.
Some magical items fall victim to this too. The Grand Master series has a limited list of special items you can bring with you, which omits some trinkets that were very useful in the preceding books, like the Kalte Firesphere or the Psychic Ring. It is implied that Lone Wolf's newfound skills are making them obsolete — by that point he can now see in the dark or create fire by himself, making the Kalte Firesphere redundant, and his Psychic Powers are so great that an Amplifier Artifact like the Psychic Ring no longer makes any difference.
Grey Star's fourth and final book does provide him with a whole bunch of new magical powers that, surprisingly, do not replace his old ones, but act as new applications to the old abilities. Options to use the older powers still exist and sometimes you're better off with the weaker versions since they often burn less willpower points.
The defeat of the Darklords has the unfortunate side effect of angering their god Naar, who starts giving his remaining agents on Magnamund more direct support. When that fails, Naar's personal armies attack Magnamund directly.
The trope is often played with: Lone Wolf can sometimes encounter something way too powerful for him to fight. However, the text is usually kind enough to warn you through imposing descriptions, names like "The Akraa'Neonor", and action options such as "If you want to run like a frightened bunny, turn to 113."
The Sixth Sense tree of disciplines, which often allow for Kai Lords to sense danger before it's too late.
Grey Star gets his "Prophecy" spell, too, and also a "Psychomancy" spell that lets him examine objects by laying his hands on it. All of these abilities help remove forks in the road when you're at a crossroads in the books.
Spikes of Villainy: The Drakkarim's armors are rarely lacking in spikes, horns and other pointy edges.
Spin-Off: The World of Lone Wolf series starring Grey Star would be a textbook example of this.
Grey Star. He doesn't get armor, the only weapon he's any good with is his staff, and once he runs out of Willpower points he's pretty much boned. He also does not get Lone Wolf's regenerating health skills; apparently Shianti magic just doesn't cover healing.
Banedon too, in the Magnamund Companion adventure featuring him. He's a bit more adept with weapons than Grey Star, but the few opponents he can fight hand-to-hand are tough, even with the Status Buff spell Vigour. In Shadow of the Sand, his Journeyman magic sure lay waste on enemies, but when forced in close-combat against a Drakkar he's severely wounded and would be dead without Lone Wolf.
Stab the Sky: With the Sommerswerd at the very end of Book 2, just before blasting Darklord Zagarna with a ray of holy sunfire.
The most common form are "Ability Up" potions which increase Combat Skill, especially those made from the Alether fruits, as well as the more dangerous Adgana Herb.
Banedon has a few with his "Brotherhood Spells", notably Vigour for direct combat, or Invisible Shield and Counterspell as defenses. Them being Cast from Hit Points, you have to carefully weight down the cost versus usefulness.
A few other spells are available to Kai Grand Masters with Kai-alchemy and Magi-magic. That are quite situational, though, and can only be used when the text allow it, even those augmenting Combat Skill and Endurance.
Steam Punk: The Drakkar ironclads in Book 12, as well as the "Lajakeka" juggernaut.
The Darklords and evil sorcerer types love to summon nasty things in a pinch.
For the good guys, extra help can come from Shianti Elementalism magic. Which elemental shows up is a bit random, and sometimes they hurt more than they help. Earth Elementals are notoriously stupid and slow.
Super Reflexes: The Magnakai discipline of Huntmastery, and furthermore the upgrade Grand Huntmastery, give a Kai lord increased celerity and agility, sometimes allowing to dodge fired arrows or even to slash them in mid-flight.
Super Senses: The discipline of Huntmastery augments a Kai Lord's senses at higher Magnakai ranks, giving telescopic vision to a Principalin, and enhanced hearing, smell and night vision to an Archmaster. Grand Huntmastery upgrades them even more, with vision in complete darkness and heightened senses of touch and taste.
Sword Beam: That's how the Sommerswerd blasts any Darklord if it can get a ray of sun. Or just from the energy accumulated by not using it for most of Book 12 until the end.
Tactical Suicide Boss: There are very few weapons that can kill Helghast-level undead, and even less for Darklords or worse. (In the remake, it's commented that the Sommerswerd is the only Good weapon that can kill a Darklord.) If you don't have the Sommerswerd, there's almost always some way to use the villains' own magic weapons against them.
Especially apparent with the Helghast attacking the king in the updated remake of the first book. If he hadn't nonchalantly thrown a magic dagger at some poor sod, there would have been no way to stop it.
Darklord Haakon can be vanquished without the Sommerswerd by turning his magic gem against him, banishing him to another dimension.
Likewise, if you have neither the Sommerswerd nor the Dagger of Vashna to fight Darklord KraagenskŻl, your only hope is to seize his own sword, Helshezag, and uses it to kill him.
Thieves' Guild: In The Cauldron of Fear, Lone Wolf can have to deal with Tahou's Thieves' Guild in order to reach the title Cauldron if he can't go there by legal means.
Throwing Your Sword Always Works: The opportunity to throw your sword is very rarely given, since Lone Wolf has usually plenty better opportunities, like bow and arrow or offensive magic in the later books.
There is however one noteworthy occurrence in Book 12, The Masters of Darkness. If you draw the Sommerswerd in front of Darklord KraagenskŻl to fight his Crypt Spawns, Lone Wolf is forced to throw the Sun Sword at his back before he'd alert Darklord Gnaag. It never miss and KraagenskŻl is badly wounded either way, but on a low roll he's still able to warn his master, making "your life and your mission end here."
In Trail of the Wolf, part of the New Order series, Lone Wolf (as a Previous Player-Character Cameo) also throws the Sommerswerd to bring down the Soultaker.
Happens when Lone Wolf discovers the Grand Master disciplines previously unknown to even exist (which even Sun Eagle couldn't do before him).
In the New Order series, there are mentions that heavily imply that Lone Wolf is developing his own Supreme Master disciplines; this after a point where he ages less than a year per decade, is on Kai's personal Christmas list and is already the next best thing to a demigod on Magnamund.
Vonotar the Traitor, who gets his comeuppance twice in the series.
For the good guys' side, on the other hand, there's the Slavemaster of Aarnak.
The Back Story mentions the Patar, the servants of the Elder Magi, who allowed the Cener Druids access to the Elder Magi's knowledge, which they used to engineer a plague to almost wipe them out, ending the Age of the Old Kingdoms.
Naar the King of the Darkness is never seen in his true form for most of the series. Being one of the Powers That Be (an evil one), he might not have a true form. His preferred form, described in Book 19, is pretty damn creepy especially if the reader hates spiders.
Another example from Book 1 is the timeless evil in the Graveyard of the Ancients. Which is revealed to be Naar itself in the rewrite.
The Undead: Very common henchmen among Lone Wolf's various enemies. Book 17 in particular is rife with them.
In Book 2, you can miss getting the Magic Spear, and even if you do get it, choosing to do the right thing and give it to an ally to let him survive guarding a tunnel means that you will die about 5 page turns later. Thankfully fixed in the project Aon version (if you have Animal Kinship — otherwise, you're still screwed and will die).
Also in Book 2, you are given a seal ring that will show that you are on a quest to retrieve the Sommerswerd. If you lose it, due to selling it or getting robbed, you will die. The path continues beyond that, until you try to get a red pass. The forged paperwork a kid will sell you isn't enough, and will just get you killed.
In Book 3, if you ignore the old man in the cell and end up in section 276, you're doomed — there is no path to the winning page from that point onward. Despite this, that path continues for some 30-odd sections, including several completely useless battles, events, and chances to use your items.
Book 8 has you fight a timed battle against two Vordaks, with individual Combat Skill and Endurance scores (meaning, overkill won't help you for the other guy). For players starting with that book, you absolutely need a completely massive string of luck for both your Combat Skill that you rolled at the beginning and all four rounds you had to fight — and all the CS-increasing items you could obtain during the journey — and the Weaponmastery ability for the weapon you use against the enemies. Roll a 3 for your CS or get anything below an 8 during battle, you're screwed.
In Book 17, The Deathlord of Ixia, it is more or less impossible to win if you do not have the Sommerswerd from book 2, since you have two fights against opponents with much higher Combat Skill than you and far more Endurance, and you have to fight them in a row with no healing, having already gone through the demonlord before the 2-round survival battle. This is particularly fun as the Sommerswerd will make several other books much harder.
Updated Re-release: To go with getting a new publisher, all previously released books are being rereleased with new art, fixed typos, and a bonus adventure tacked on to the end. In the case of the first book, this also involves heavy re-writing in many areas — notably having Lone Wolf participate in the doomed defense of the Kai Monastery rather than sitting it out due to an errant tree branch.
Grey Star's Prophecy and Psychomancy are pretty good at eliminating variables when faced with a choice — sometimes. Psychomancy can just give you a warped riddle that may or may not be right, and Prophecy sometimes completely fails to illustrate the nature of your impending doom. Use it when you're in a valley of poison gas, it just goes "GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT" without saying which way to go.
The New Order series adds on "Astrology" to the list of Kai-Disciplines. It's supposed to let you look into the far future rather than the immediate future like Sixth Sense does, but the opportunities to use it come up so rarely it's like the author forgot he put it in the list (only once in the first New Order book, and not at all in the next two). The few times it comes up, you tend to get a Vagueness Is Coming reading, too.
Kai-alchemy (which has nothing to do with mixing magic chemicals, just go with it) is full of utility spells that help you out in a pinch, but not so much combat magic (that would be Magi-magic, which at its highest level lets you do things like crush a man in armor like a paper cup).
Elementalism (the Kai version, not the Shianti version) lets you do a number of things with small amounts of flame, dust, water and puffs of air, so it too falls under the "Utility Magic" label.
Over the course of the series there are times Lone Wolf can do things that are... morally grey at best. The penalties for such decisions take the form of difficult battles, losing out valuable items, or dying horribly. Lone Wolf is canonically a Messianic Archetype, he should act like it.
Averted in Book 2; when one of your travelling companions (you don't know which) tries to have you poisoned, you're better off killing the merchant than the one who actually did it. But played straight if you pick anyone else. The mercenary woman is bad enough, but if you pick one of the Knights of the White Mountain, he and his brother team up and become the hardest fight in the Kai books. They're even tougher to beat than Darklord Haakon! And this takes place before you get the Sommerswerd. Aside from cheating or being very lucky, there's no real way to win this fight.
Villain Pedigree: The Drakkarim, fierce evil warriors wearing death masks, are more or less the same power level throughout the series, but Lone Wolf keeps getting better and they become less and less able to oppose him. In the "Kai" books, a single Drakkar can put up a good fight. In the "Magnakai" series, Drakkarim are only a real challenge if they attack in a group. In the "Grand Master series", they're completely out of their league: the only Drakkar that can still put up a fight against Lone Wolf is their War God in Book 20, and Lone Wolf can still kick his ass and throw him into a lava pit.
The Helghast, who are capable of mimicking human form, and are immune to non-magical weapons. Considering that their preferred form of attack is choking victims with their skeletal hands, it's probably best that Lone Wolf never invokes the Shapeshifting Squick trope.
Also the Nadziranim, who are fond of adopting a combat form before a fight through their Black Magic, since in their natural state they're basically formless specters. The result ain't pretty.
The Liganim, Nadziranim's familiars, appear to have many different shapes.
The Deathstalker and its mate, introduced in the New Order Kai series, went on a killing spree in a city and used its shapeshifting abilities to evade detection. Its natural form is some sort of horrible ape-like thing. Hunting down a supernatural shapeshifting murderer in the dead of night in the middle of a small city is hands-down one of the best parts of Book 21.
Walking Armory: Not necessarily so, but it's possible for Lone Wolf to be this if the player wants. At best, just going with the special weapons, by the end of the Magnakai series you can carry the magic spear, the Sommerswerd, the Dagger of Vashna, a jeweled mace, a bronin warhammer, an enchanted bullwhip and the Darklord sword Helshezag — all at the same time.
Weaksauce Weakness: The Darklords are severely weakened in clean and pristine environments. Since Magnamund is a world in Medieval Stasis (no huge polluting industries)... In Book 12, they create a device that negates this weakness, allowing the Darklords to curbstomp most of Magnamund. Lone Wolf's goal is to get rid of this device.
The Sommerswerd, devastating against undead, and deadly even for the Darklords. It is stated later it could be lethal even against Naar.
The various evil weapons favored by the Darklords have one thing in common: they give combat bonus against other Darklords, and are among the very few things able to kill them permanently. Those guys truly had their priorities in order.
The jewelled mace from book 5 gives a bonus against illusory creatures.
The enchanted bullwhip from book 10 can hit (and gives a bonus against) specters.
The Dessi Stone is a magic gem that, when merged into the hilt of any ordinary weapon, can turn it into an undead slayer.
Several of the weapons forged by Lone Wolf with Kai Weaponcraft in the New Order series have a CS bonus when used against specific creatures, like reptiles, undead, stone beings, magic-users, flying monsters or fire-breathers, respectively.
What Happened to the Mouse?: In The Cauldron of Fear, you have about a one in two chance of having to deal with Tahou's Thieves' Guild to reach the underground city of Zaaryx. In exchange for his help, the guildmaster only ask for one thing: to return the ring worn by his son, who had ventured there and likely gotten killed some time ago. Which is, in all likehood, the Psychic Ring later found on the finger of a mutated psychic ghoul. However, once back on the surface Lone Wolf never hears of the Thieves' Guild any more, and can keep the Psychic Ring for further adventures.
Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Here it's more like "Why did it have to be flying flesh-eating tentacled brain monsters?" The Crypt Spawns are one of the few enemies that Lone Wolf actually fears throughout the series.
The World Is Always Doomed: Sort of a justification, as after the first twelve books the Big Bads Lone Wolf fought before are now dead and the other factions fight amongst themselves. However, the rest of the country has more than enough new ones to make up for it.
There are many ways to break ordinary weapons in the series. In general it's a really bad idea to attack powerful supernatural entities, like the Darklords or Demonlord Tagazin, with a non-magical weapon.
A few special weapons can also be damaged or outright destroyed if they encounter even more powerful magic:
In The Legacy of Vashna, Helshezag and the Dagger of Vashna will not survive to the end of the book if you bring them with you.
In Vampirium, your Kai Weapon is damaged after a failed attempt to destroy the Claw of Naar. In gameplay this means that its Combat Skill bonus is permanently reduced by either one or two points. Conveniently, this means that there is actual incentive to use the unique weapons that can be found in the previous book.
Writers Cannot Do Math: The difference between your Combat Skill and the enemy's is called the "combat ratio". It's not a ratio.
Xanatos Gambit: These appear several times in the series; the Evil Plan of the Big Bad in Book 10 is a great example. Gnaag knew Lone Wolf would try to retrieve the last three Lorestones at Torgar and was lying in wait the entire time. If Lone Wolf didn't make it in time, Gnaag would have succeeded in destroying the Lorestones. If Lone Wolf DID make it in time (which, canonically, he does) Gnaag would have a chance to send all of them into the Daziarn (which segues into Book 11). While this gambit fails to kill Lone Wolf, it does buy the Darklords eight years to undo all of the progress Lone Wolf made against them. By the time Lone Wolf escapes the Daziarn, the Darklords have all but conquered the world, leading into Book 12.
Zahda uses a Doomstone and a Lorestone in conjunction.
Lone Wolf himself can use the Sommerswerd and Darklord weapons like the Dagger of Vashna and Helshezag.
You Are Not Ready: The goddess Ishir sending the powerful Shianti away in ancient times, fearing that they were interfering too much with the destiny of mere mortals, even though they meant no harm. Well, most of them meant no harm — Wytch-King Shasarak is a rogue Shianti. Maybe Ishir was onto something...
We learn in Book 12 that Darklord KraagenskŻl likes to whip out his Agony Beam when his servants disappoint him.
Demoness Shamath, Archdruid Cadak, and Darklord Gnaag in Book 20 are good examples of what happens when you let down Naar. In the cases of Gnaag and Cadak, Naar wasn't satisfied with death; only eternal torment was enough to express his disappointment. And it turns out that this happens to everyone who worships Naar if they fail him and die.