May 4, 2010

A Box Full of Adventure

Time Cave I stopped by my parents’ house last Saturday to say hi and borrow a power-washer.  My dad put me to work and had me climb up into the garage attic to bring down a bike carrier.  While I was up there I found a box full of my old Choose Your Own Adventure books, both official ones, as well as a bunch of clones, including a goodly amount of TSR’s Endless Quest books.  The fact that this box survived my father’s great purging of “junk” a few years back is a miracle (I had to dig my Battle Masters game out of the trash during said purge).  I can only guess that he didn’t make it up into the attic, so this box were spared.

These books brought back a ton of memories.  I knew I had been a huge fan of these books, but I didn’t realize to what I extent. I think Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) books are still being published, but are they popular?  Anyone with kids know? I seem to recall them being very big when I was a kid.

The box had a total of 22 books. Here is the break down:

- 6 Choose Your Own Adventure books
- 5 Endless Quest books
- heartquest 1 Heartquest book (a version of the Endless Quest books, but for girls: “In a HEARTQUEST book, you, the reader, are challenged to PICK A PATH TO ROMANCE AND ADVENTURE.”  What can I say? If it had a D&D-like cover, I would buy it and read it).
- 4 Fantasy Forest books (more on these below)
- 2 Explorer books
- 1 Zork book
- 1 The Choice is Yours book
- 1 The Secret Files of Dakota King book
- 1 Dragontales book (this, not the kiddie cartoon).

I knew I read a lot of these growing up, but I thought I had checked most out from the school library.  Speaking of that, I remember having some sort of library project in 6th grade and having to use certain books from a librarian-provided list.  A CYOA book was on that list (I think it was this one: link), so naturally I choose it.  Oh no, the librarian made it clear that book wasn’t appropriate and shouldn’t have been on the list because it wasn’t a proper book.  She actually had a derogatory term for it, but damned if I can remember it.  Yeah, gasp, heaven forbid someone produce books that encourage kids to read.

Sort of ironically, it was through the Endless Quest books, not D&D manuals, that I first learned of the Satanic criticism of D&D.  I showed Dragon of Doom to one of my neighbors, a young boy from the South (I was living in Wisconsin at the time) and he said, “Oooh… that is a devil book.”  I didn’t know what the hell he was talking about.  Clearly, that was a black dragon on the cover, not a devil. 

On a side note, that kid had quite a handle.  His first name was “Ikey” and his last name, which I won’t post to protect is anonymity, was the most Greek last name I have ever heard.  I also recall telling him we would have flying cars in the future and his response, was no, Jesus is coming back in the future.  I have nothing against that belief (heck, I’m Catholic), but that just struck me as, well, a rather heavy thing to come out of a 6-year-old’s mouth (I was 8).

Anyhow, more than any of the other books, I’m thrilled to have found the Fantasy Forest books, which are Endless Quest books for younger readers.  My wife and I have read two to Chaos so far and she loves them.  I’ll detail them more later this week, but for now I'll just say I think Wizards of the Coast would do well to revisit this style of books.
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