Joe Dever

Joe Dever

Joe Dever in 2016
Born 12 February 1956
Chingford, UK
Died 29 November 2016(2016-11-29) (aged 60)
Occupation author, game designer
Genre fantasy, science fiction
Notable works Lone Wolf

Joe Dever (12 February 1956 – 29 November 2016)[1][2] was a British fantasy author and game designer. Originally a musician, Dever became the first British winner of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Championship of America in 1982.

He first created the fictional world of Magnamund in 1977 as a setting for his Dungeons & Dragons campaigns. In 1984, he released the first book of the Lone Wolf series of young-adult gamebooks, and the series has since sold over 11.5 million copies worldwide (as of September 2014). He experienced difficulty with his publishers as the game books market began to contract in 1995, until publication ceased in 1998 before the final four books (numbers 29–32) were released. Since 2003, however, the series has enjoyed a strong revival of interest particularly in France, Italy, Germany, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Poland following the re-release of the gamebook series in these countries.

From 1996 onwards, Dever has been involved in the design and production of several successful computer and console games. He also contributed to Lone Wolf: The Roleplaying Game, a Dungeons & Dragons-style roleplaying game for Lone Wolf published by Mongoose Publishing (UK) from 2004 to 2013 and Le Grimoire (France) in 2006–2013. In 2013, he wrote the story and in-game text for the Joe Dever's Lone Wolf video game series specifically designed for tablets and smartphones. Entitled Lone Wolf: Blood on the Snow, it was developed by Forge Reply (Milan, Italy) and published by BulkyPix. In February 2014, it won two Golden Dragon Awards from the Italian Video Game Developer's Association of Italy (AESVI) for Best Game Design and Best Indie Game of the Year 2013.[3] In April 2014, it was a finalist in the Develop Industry Excellence Awards. On 27 November 2014, it was released via Steam for PC's and Mac computers. On 11 January 2016, the developer Forge Reply announced that Joe Dever's Lone Wolf had achieved 2.5 million downloads since its release in November 2013.

At the time of his death, Dever was authoring supplements for the Lone Wolf Adventure Game with Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.,[4] and writing the final books in the core Lone Wolf series. Following his death, his son Ben announced that his family would work to publish the remaining three books of the saga.[5]


Dever was born in Chingford and educated at Buckhurst Hill County High School. In 1976, he joined the studio-based orchestra of a record company in London known as Pye Records which provided accompaniment to prominent solo singers and artists. After 18 months, the orchestra disbanded and Dever then freelanced for a year before joining Virgin Records as a recording engineer based at Manor Studios in Oxfordshire. He was at Virgin for five years, working with a diverse mix of artists such as Frank Zappa, Peter Gabriel, and The Sex Pistols.[6] Dever has two children, Ben (b. 1981) and Sophie (b. 1987).[7]

Dever was an accomplished bass guitar player and attempted to get a record deal when playing for Essex-based band 'Seventh Seal'. This led to him getting involved briefly with Public Image, the break away band formed by John Lydon, acted as road manager and tour manager when P.I.L. toured in Europe.

He was also an enthusiastic wargamer with an extensive collection of both 15mm and 25mm metal miniatures, of which he had painted the vast majority.

During June–August 2005, Dever underwent extensive surgery for bi-lateral kidney cancer, involving a partial nephrectomy of the right kidney, and a full nephrectomy of the left kidney. Seventy percent of his remaining kidney was saved.[8] The surgical team was directed by J. L. Peters of Whipps Cross University Hospital in London. It proceeded without complications on 10 August 2005,[9] and subsequently Dever made a swift recovery, having retained sufficient kidney function to lead a normal life without any need for dialysis.[10]

In August 2016, Dever underwent a bile duct surgery which caused important side effects. In late October, he announced his admission to hospital for a series of treatment to correct these complications.[11] He passed away on November 29, 2016, following those complications.[12]


Joe Dever was seven years old when he became a fan of the comic strip "The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire" which appeared in a magazine called Look and Learn. He also built up armies of Airfix Roman soldiers and converted their spears to laser rifles long before he was introduced to fantasy.[13] Dever was first introduced to "science fantasy" in 1970 by his Grammar school English tutor.[6] He was the first and perhaps only British person to compete in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Championship of America, which he won in 1982.[7]

Dever originally developed the fantasy world of Magnamund in 1975, and in 1977 he began using it as the setting for his Dungeons & Dragons campaigns. Originally called "Chinaraux", at first the world consisted of only the northern continent of Magnamund.[6] Dever stated that his earliest inspirations for Lone Wolf were English medieval classics such as Beowulf, Ivanhoe, and The Once And Future King. In his teenage years J.R.R. Tolkien, Michael Moorcock and Mervyn Peake, along with a keen interest in military history and Norse mythology, all contributed to the creation of the Lone Wolf series.

The story is based around Lone Wolf, who is a young cadet in a monastic order of warriors known as the Kai Lords who defend their home of Sommerlund from the forces of evil, embodied by the Darklords of Helgedad. After a surprise invasion, all of the Kai are massacred and only Lone Wolf survives the final battle. The rest of the book series follows Lone Wolf and, later, his successor in their attempts to take revenge on the Darklords and then to thwart the plans of Dark God Naar to control their world for evil.


Original publication

Lone Wolf had originally been intended to be an RPG system for Games Workshop, before Dever negotiated a better deal from Beaver Books, an imprint of Hutchinson Publishing Ltd., and released it as a connected series of solo gamebooks.[14]:46 Dever was originally contracted by this London-based publisher Hutchinson to write four books, but he had already planned for there to be twenty in the series. The first two books in the gamebook series were published simultaneously in July 1984. They sold in excess of 100,000 copies in the first week of release. Subsequently, the Lone Wolf series has been published in over 30 countries, translated into 18 languages, and has sold in excess of 12 million copies to date. The series was awarded the Gamemaster International "All Time Great" award in 1991 and also won "Game Book of the Year" awards in 1985, 1986 and 1987.[15]

With the help of Joe Dever, Paul Barnett (pen name John Grant) wrote twelve novelizations of the Lone Wolf books known as the Legends of Lone Wolf, several of which were heavily edited before publication.[16] In 2004, the Italian publisher Gruppo Armenia (Milan) reprinted all 12 novels in 5 volumes of anthology. Random House ceased publishing the novelizations when "the books weren't selling".[17] Dever has stated that as the game books precede the novelizations chronologically, they are the "authoritative" versions.[6] He also developed the character Grey Star, and a sub-series of four gamebooks were written by Ian Page using this principal character (according to a 2008 interview with Joe Dever, Grey Star was Ian Page's player character in Dever's D&D campaign, and Dever convinced Page to write game books using this detailed character and his background).[6]

Only the first four volumes of the Legends of Lone Wolf were made available in the United States (though Sword of the Sun was divided into two separate volumes, The Tides of Treachery and Sword of the Sun), and only the first 20 of the Lone Wolf gamebook series were printed in the United States. The American editions of books 13–20 were abridged versions and are shorter than the UK editions which have color maps. In The Magnamund Companion, all the countries of the Lone Wolf world are described in some detail, as are Lone Wolf's main enemies - the Darklords of Helgedad - and their Giak language. There is also a Ragadorn Tavern Board Game, and a solo adventure where you play as Banedon the Magician.

The later 'New Order' Lone Wolf gamebooks (no.s 21–28) were printed in the UK in smaller volumes than the earlier editions, and have subsequently become highly sought after by readers eager to complete their original Lone Wolf collections. Copies of these scarce titles regularly sell for over US$100 each on the internet auction site eBay. Publisher Red Fox ceased publishing the Lone Wolf series in 1998 after book 28, The Hunger of Sejanoz, citing fading interest in the interactive gaming genre, despite hundreds of requests for the reprinting of several Lone Wolf books that had gone out of print.[6] It would be the last original Lone Wolf book for the next 18 years.

Between 1990–2011, four scripts were developed of Lone Wolf for a potential film release, but did not proceed beyond the pre-production phase.[18]


In 1999, Dever gave his permission for the Lone Wolf books, numbers one through twenty, to be published for free on the internet by the non-profit organization Project Aon. Joe Dever later gave his permission to publish the New Order series and The Magnamund Companion.[19] In July 2014, on the 30th anniversary of the first publication of Lone Wolf 1: Flight from the Dark, the 28th book in his Lone Wolf series was released online by Project Aon. The World of Lone Wolf series, The Magnamund Companion and several other Lone Wolf related written works are also available for free download from this site.[20]

Mongoose Publishing reprinted the original Lone Wolf gamebooks in Collector hardcover volumes beginning in 2007; besides expanding some of the volumes, Mongoose also promised to publish Lone Wolf through its entire 32-book arc - as Dever had originally intended - rather than just the 28 books of the original series.[14]:400 The first seventeen books in this series were published by Mongoose Publishing before it was announced that Mongoose had lost the license to publish the Lone Wolf line on 27 February 2013.[21] Shortly after this, it was announced that German publisher, Mantikore-Verlag, had acquired the rights to continue publishing the Collector series hardcovers in English from book 18 to 28. The 22nd book in the series, The Buccaneers of Shadaki, was published in September 2015 and was the last one released by Mantikore-Verlag.

On April 1, 2015, it was announced that book 29, The Storms of Chai, would be published for the first time in the fall of 2015 in both Italian and English. The Italian edition was published on October 29, 2015.

On December 1, 2015, Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd acquired the license to publish the Lone Wolf Gamebooks from Mantikore-Verlag, pushing the publication of book 29 in English to spring 2016.[22] However, on January 29, 2016 Cubicle 7 announced that they had come back on their decision and that they would not publish the Lone Wolf series of gamebooks.[23] On April 1, 2016, Joe Dever announced that he would publish the remaining Lone Wolf's books himself with his own imprint, Holmgard Press, starting with the publication of book 29 later the same month, which was finally released on 12 May 2016.[24] The remaining three gamebooks of the series are planned to be released in the upcoming years.

The first of the new Lone Wolf Collector Editions (Book 1: Flight from the Dark) was thoroughly revised and expanded by Dever with the addition of two hundred new sections. It was shortlisted for the 2008 Origins Fiction Award (Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design). In April 2010, the German language translation (Einsamer Wolf: Flucht aus dem Dunkel) won the Best Fantasy Gamebook Award at the RPC Event in Cologne, Germany.

On 1 November 2015, Dever was awarded a plaque on the Lucca 'Walk of Fame' (Lucca - Tuscany, Italy) for his writing and games design. He also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the organisers of the Lucca Comics & Games Show.

On January 14, 2016, French Publisher Gallimard Jeunesse announced that their Loup Solitaire editions have sold in excess of 2.8 million copies since first publication in 1986. They have remained constantly in print in France for the past 30 years. The French edition of Loup Solitare 29 will be published 2017.

On March 4, 2016, at the Mantova Comics & Games Show (Mantova, Italy), Dever announced that the Italian edition of Lone Wolf 30, Dead in the Deep was scheduled for publication at the Lucca Comics & Games Show 2016 (Oct 28 - Nov 1), but his ill health and untimely death prevented this. Following his death, his son Ben announced that his family would work to publish the remaining three books of the saga.[5]

Other creations

In addition to Lone Wolf, Dever has also created two other role-playing gamebook series (Freeway Warrior and Combat Heroes) and designed several best-selling computer and video games for PCs and consoles. The Freeway Warrior series of gamebooks are set in a post-apocalyptic, Mad Max-like world. The series was revived in Italy in October 2015 and the first book was published on October 29 and the second book was published on March 3, 2016. The Combat Heroes gamebooks are illustrated adventures where each paragraph is a full-page picture representing what the player sees, with two modes. Alone, the aim is to escape from a maze. In one-on-one play, two players are dueling in a maze. Each player has a different book ; at a given page, the illustration shows an empty corridor; when the other character is in sight (i.e. the players read given page numbers), the player has to turn to another page showing the other opponent's position in the corridor. Combat is then resolved before the game continues.

Among Dever's many video game contributions is the best-selling Killzone game.[25] for which he wrote the backstory and created the principal characters.


Lone Wolf

Companion Book

Freeway Warrior

Main article: Freeway Warrior

Combat Heroes

The World of Lone Wolf

Legends of Lone Wolf

It should be noted that book 3, The Sword of the Sun, was split into two smaller volumes by Berkley in the US: The Tides of Treachery and The Sword of the Sun.

Chronicles of Magnamund

Lone Wolf Multi-player Gamebook System

First published by Mongoose Publishing

Mongoose Publishing lost their license to publish Lone Wolf on 27 February 2013.

Lone Wolf Adventure Game (LWAG)

Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd., announced in early March 2013 that it had secured the rights to develop a new Lone Wolf roleplaying game entitled "The Lone Wolf Adventure Game" in conjunction with Dever. Following a successful Kickstarter campaign August–September 2014, the new RPG was launched at Gen Con 2015 (Indianapolis USA) in late July / early August 2015. It went on general sale worldwide in September 2015. The Italian language version was published on 29 Oct 2015. On 7 March 2016, Dever's Lone Wolf Adventure Game was nominated for 'Game of the Year' and 'Best Art & Presentation' in the prestigious Golden Geek Awards. On 14 April 2016 it was nominated for 'Best RPG of the Year' in the Origins Awards (Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design) for 2016.[27]

Graphic novels

"PhoneQuest" Interactive Telephone Adventures

Lone Wolf Audiobooks

Lone Wolf Maps of Magnamund

The Maps of Magnamund Collection:

Computer and video game design



  2. Slater, Anna (2016-11-30). "Legendary fantasy author Joe Dever dies". East London and West Essex Guardian Series. Retrieved 2016-11-30.
  3. "Joe Dever's Lone Wolf on Touch Arcade". Joe dever's Lone Wolf. 26 April 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-13.
  4. "Joe Dever and Cubicle 7 announce major Lone Wolf deal". Cubicle 7. 26 April 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-13.
  5. 1 2
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Blake, Jonathan (1 January 1998). "Joe Dever". The Kai Monastery. Retrieved 2006-07-03.
  7. 1 2 Baylis, Chris (1 January 1993). "Interview with Joe Dever conducted by Chris Bayliss" (PDF). Role-Player Independent Magazine. Retrieved 2006-07-03.
  8. Gordon, David (1 April 2004). "Project Aon Forum". Project Aon. Retrieved 2006-07-15.
  9. Dever, Joe (8 September 2005). "Update on Joe". Tower of the Sun. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 2006-07-15.
  10. Blake, Jonathan (1 May 2005). "Kai Grand Sentinel" (PDF). Project Aon. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 June 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-15.
  11. Dever, Joe (22 October 2016). "LUCCA COMICS & GAMES SHOW 2016". Facebook. Retrieved 2016-11-30.
  12. Dever, Ben (30 November 2016). "Announcement of Joe Dever's death". Facebook. Retrieved 2016-11-30.
  13. "Dicing With Death". Warlock Magazine. 1 July 1986. Archived from the original on 1 May 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-03.
  14. 1 2 Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7.
  15. "Lone Wolf: Celebrate a decade of award-winning excellence" (PDF). Project Aon. 1 January 1994. Retrieved 2006-07-15.
  16. Dannenfelser, Randy M. (1 January 2006). "Under hot lights and a falling sky welcome to the life and times of paul barnett". John Grant Paul Archived from the original on 5 May 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-03.
  17. Egelstaff, Julian (1 September 1997). "Paul Barnett". Kai Monastery. Retrieved 2006-07-03.
  18. Dever, Joe (1 July 2004). "Joe Dever Interview". Retrieved 2006-07-03.
  19. "Project Aon will publish the New Order series!". Project Aon. 18 May 2006. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 2006-07-03.
  20. Dever, Joe (1 January 1999). "Joe Dever Permission Grant". Project Aon. Retrieved 2006-07-03.
  21. Dever, Joe (1 March 2013). "Cessation of the Lone Wolf Collector Editions by Mongoose Publishing Ltd.". Retrieved 2013-03-07.
  22. Dever, Joe (1 April 2015). "Happy Fehmarn!". Retrieved 2015-04-01.
  23. McDowall, Dominic (2016-01-29). "Cubicle 7 and the Lone Wolf Solo Gamebooks". Retrieved 2016-02-01.
  24. Dever, Joe (1 April 2016). "FANTASTIC NEWS FOR FEHMARN!". Retrieved 2016-04-01.
  26. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Schick, Lawrence (1991). Heroic Worlds: A History and Guide to Role-Playing Games. Prometheus Books. ISBN 0-87975-653-5.

External links

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