Sunday, August 10, 2014

RPGaDay #10 Favorite Tie-in Novel/Game Fiction

I've never really been attracted to the idea of game fiction. Part of the problem is that I'm not a big fantasy reader, and most game fiction is published in that genre. I know there are some sci-fi games out there that might have accompanying game fiction, and I might look those up at some point.

The other problem is the fear that the novel is actually the write-up of someone's home campaign. Between meticulously detailed descriptions that make you hear the dice clattering in your mind, and stuff that worked great at the table, but is boring or anti-climactic when it becomes prose.

I tried to read the Avatar Trilogy (a trilogy of Forgotten Realms tie-in novels), and couldn't make it a third of the way through the first book.

I did find myself enjoying The Worldwound Gambit by Robin Laws. I knew his reputation as a game designer and game writer, but I wasn't sure how he's do at fiction. It turns out he actually did pretty good. I never heard the dice roll, though I was able to identify other game-related elements, like figuring out the classes of each character.

I also made a point of tracking down a novel called Curse of the Shadow Beast by Christine Morgan. It first came to my attention as a bit of GURPS game fiction. It was a novelization of the author's GURPS fantasy campaign. As she was writing, she was afraid that too many GURPS-isms were peaking through, so she sent it to Steve Jackson Games for approval. Steve Jackson was apparently impressed enough that he wrote a foreword to the book praising it. It does not use any GURPS logos or trade dress, probably because it does not use the default GURPS Fantasy setting, Yrth.

And while it was a transcript of a campaign, it avoided most of the fatal flaws of such things. The battle scenes did not receive excessive detail. It also seemed written from the perspective of one of the PCs rather than the GM. The main flaw of the book is that it seems divided into two sections. One is the gaming transcript, which includes a modestly sized adventuring party. The other half focuses on two of the characters and reads like a romance novel.

This first outing apparently resulted in a trilogy. And then another trilogy. The first book made me interested to read the rest, though mostly out of curiosity regarding how she developed as a writer after this.

But other than this, if I read a book that has a game associated with it, it is a book that inspired the game. Even if I pick up the game first.

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