Thursday, September 16, 2010

Endless Quest books

I've got a small collection of TSR's old Endless Quest books. I'm thinking I'll do a little review series of them, both as books for kids and as fodder for RPG games.

Anyway, two things to note--first off, I was not too surprised to see on that WotC tried to bring them back a couple years ago. Also not surprised that despite hanging out in gaming circles, and having an elementary school librarian for a mother, I heard NOTHING of this until today. Good old WotC (It's a sport for your brain/Zee game eez steel zee same) marketing.

Secondly, I just ordered Dragon of Doom, Return to Brookmere, Revolt of the Dwarves, Raid on Nightmare Castle, The Endless Catacombs, Mountain of Mirrors, and Revenge of the Rainbow Dragons from a used vendor. $4 a pop, not too bad. That'll double my collection. (Thanks to libraries and borrowing from friends, I have read some of these before, but don't remember much.)

Endless Quest books, like the Choose Your Own Adventure books that inspired them, have some failings. Not that they're written for kids.
#1 was that the protagonists are almost always children. When I was a kid, I really loved the books, but I always liked the ones where "you" were a competent adult rather than some meddling kid.
#2 were all the moralizing Jimminy Cricket talking animal/worthless halfling/whatever sidekicks. Sure, these are for kids, but do we really need heavy handed morality plays? I think not. Again, when we were kids a common review of one of these books was "it was cool, except for the talking muskrat."

On the good side, usually threats are dealt with creatively, rather than through brute force. Sometimes the brute force carries the day, but other times it leads to one of those bad endings.


  1. WotC marketing is legendarily lame. You should see some of the crap they tried to make Magic: the Gathering seem hip. I played competitive Magic for a long time, and trust me, it isn't hip. Yet WotC somehow made it seem even less so.

  2. I think I had one of the Ravenloft Endless Quest book. Even in 5th grade, I couldn't help but notice that the author had to use the word crimson a minimum of twice per page.

  3. Man, I've only got one more of these for the Endless Captions series of posts on DnD. They're pretty terrible generally, but a nice trip down memory lane.

  4. I had the first two, Dungeon of Dread, and Mountain of Mirrors. Both books had some scenes and ideas that have remained with me to this day, and find their way into my dungeon design thoughts on occasion. I believe I had these (and had watched the cartoon, and bought the action figures) before I'd ever actually played D&D.

    And for the record, at least in the first book, they let you play an adult warrior character, not a kid! In the second you are an elf, but he is illustrated more like a halfling, and I seem to recall they say he is a young elf.

    Hope you enjoy your books!

  5. Yeah, the EQ books were better than some other series at having adult or at least young but competent adventurer protagonists than say the CYOA or Twist-a-Plot books.

    Wizards, Warriors & You was another favorite series of mine. I only own 3 of those, might have to order some of the others some day.

    I'm planning on passing them all on to my son in a couple years.

  6. @Ze Bullette--yeah, your series was one of the two things that inspired this crazy idea of mine.

    The other was using my EQ, CYOA, and WW&Y books with a jr. high kid I tutored for a while earlier this year.

  7. I remember that Revolt of the Dwarves was my first EQ book, but the Wizards, Warriors & You were great! I had the first two. I loved the weapon/spell choices they had to play with.

  8. I'm in full agreement with the weak points of the Endless Quest series that you listed. Annoying sidekicks are just no fun. As a kid I didn't hate having a kid for the main character every once in a while, but I always liked the ones where you were were a seasoned adventurer the best.

    I think that's why Wizards, Warriors & You were so great. The Wizard and the Warrior were both presented as renowned heroes, but still retained an air of mystery about them. They had some backstory fleshed out in bits and pieces in various stories, but still remained generic enough to let your imagination shape who they were. Even the artwork added to this by never showing the warrior's face (as far as I know).

  9. Wizards, Warriors & You were pretty cool, and had some really good artwork. The greatest concept I take away from them was the concept of evocative spells, a lot of which had potentially random durations, etc. and some potentially lethal side effects if used improperly. For example, the fly spell that placed the Wizard at the mercy of the wind currents, possibly carrying him far away, or dropping him suddenly. It made magic into something mysterious and dangerous, yet still a powerful tool in the right circumstances, if used wisely.

  10. I had "Dungeon of Dread" and "Revenge of the Rainbow Dragons" as a kid. I re-purchased them through an Amazon reseller not to long ago. I'd always wanted the Gamma World one--"Light on Quests Mountain", which is pretty good. Still looking for the Star Frontiers story "Captive Planet".

    WotC's effort in recent years is not the first attempt to revive the EQ books, TSR tried again in the 90s.

  11. I don't think I ever read Captive Planet. I've got Villains of Volturnus, which is so-so. Not bad, in that there's a good overview of some of the things going on on Volturnus and some creative 'encounters' but again you're just a wimpy kid in it.

    Oh, and for those wondering, my collection I've had since I was a kid contains:
    Dungeon of Dread
    Pillars of Pentagarn
    Light on Quest's Mountain
    The Dragon's Ransom
    Villains of Volturnus
    Spell of the Winter Wizard
    Stop That Witch (Crimson Crystal series)