Friday, April 18, 2014

“Gaming” Fiction

My current read.
Erik Tenkar, over at Tenkar’s Tavern, brought up a subject a while back that had me thinking about stuff (this happens a lot). The idea that some modules, or series of modules, can be ruined by novels that are written based on them. I have never had any personal experience with this, as I have never played in a game or campaign based on a series of books I have read. But, this is mainly due to the fact that most people share Erik’s view.

Case in point, I am an unabashed fan of the Dragonlance Chronicles. But, I have never played any of the DL modules because no one will run them. Everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) I ask about the idea says the same thing: If you’ve read the books, it will ruin the modules, and you will feel railroaded. I will have to concede the point, since I will obviously never get to experience it myself.

The problem, as I see it, is that this opinion bleeds over into peoples’ views of game-based fiction in general. Even tangentially. Generally speaking, everyone seems to deride books based on RPGs. Ok, not everyone, but large swaths of my associates, both gamers and non, feel that this sub-sub-genre isn’t worth their time. And I find that really sad, since some of the books I have read have been amazing. Personally, I enjoyed Chronicles more than I enjoyed Lord of the Rings.

My current read is a Pathfinder Tales novel written by Howard Andrew Jones, Plague of Shadows. I am really enjoying it. It’s got good characters, a suspenseful plot, and it’s well-written. Unfortunately, I know several people, some of whom are current or former gamers, who will just pass it by simply because it says “Pathfinder” on the cover.

Often times I will see reviews of these books on Amazon or Goodreads, and they will snobbishly label it as “just gaming fiction.” I saw one “reviewer” who said that Chronicles read like nothing more than some fanboy’s diary of his gaming sessions. Really? I have to question whether the person actually even read any of the books.

On a related side-note, one complaint I see a lot is that these books do a poor job of representing magic that is based on an RPG rules system. I couldn’t disagree more. I have never read a game-related book where the magic system felt like dice-rolling. Maybe that's just the gamer-conditioning kicking in.

I don’t know, maybe I’m being too sensitive. But I often find game-related novels more enjoyable than their more “literary” cousins. A lot of fantasy literature is pretentious, verbose, and filled with needless details (Game of Thrones, anyone?). If that’s your bag, go for it, baby. But it isn’t mine. Give me some trite, geeky reading any day of the week.

1 comment:

  1. The Dragonlance series really set the bar for this connection. In Dragonlance though, the novels came first, then the very railroady adventures of which I have all of them I believe. We tried to play them back when they were still new and when you mixed people who read the novels with those who didn't there was this battle of expectations. "A kinder wouldn't act like that." "Goldmoon wouldn't do that." The major problem with the adventure series is the used the people from the story and the adventure was the same story. Just not a good recipe for an adventure.

    Because of this experience I think I've been very hesitant to get into a novel based adventure. I think this stuff works as long as you're not trying to recreate the story that has been written. An adventure should explore new areas of the world.