10 August 2014

#RPGaDay: Day Ten - Favorite Tie-In Novel/Game Fiction

The best Dark Sun novel out there.
I'm going to tell you a horrible secret. You have to promise not to tell anyone. Okay? Are we golden? Your lips are sealed? Do you solemnly swear? Right.

I don't tend to read tie-in novels or game fiction. There. I said it.

What this means, dear reader, is I've never read any of the Forgotten Realms novels (and that includes the ones my friend Bob Salvatore wrote about some mini-maxing Drow). I've purposefully avoided the Dragonlance books. I tried reading Troy Dennings' Dark Sun novels, The Prism Pentad, but I hated pretty much every single character and couldn't get past the first part of book two.

Now that I've spilled my guts, let me add that I have read game fiction/tie-in novels and enjoyed them, but there are only a handful of them.

The one at the top of that list is The Brazen Gambit by Lynn Abbey, with her second Dark Sun novel, Cinnabar Shadows, at number two. The Rise and Fall of a Dragon King trails close behind those. Lynn has a way of writing that has always drawn me in, and it doesn't matter what she's writing about. I cared about Pavek, precisely because he was an anti-hero. Lynn makes that world--Athas and the city state of Urik--come alive, grounding it in such a way that it's utterly believable.

That's not to say other authors who write game fiction won't be the same way. I'm positive I could pick up a Drizzt novel and enjoy the hell out of it. Thing is, I never did, and it's not because I don't like Salvatore's writing (because I do). It's because I was never interested in reading about the Forgotten Realms, so I never invested money in the associated novels. With Dark Sun, it was different because I was running a DS campaign at the time. When I started reading the tie-in novels, I was doing it as a form of research and immersion. Once I realized I was enjoying the books, particularly Lynn's, it was already too late to turn back.

Starfall was an awesome Star*Drive anthology.
I guess the take-away is that if I'm interested in a setting, generally because I'm running a game in that world or working on a freelance project related to it, I will definitely pick up and read the associated fiction (if I haven't already).

As an aside, I also enjoyed all the Alternity/Star*Drive related fiction that was released by TSR in support of that game line. I absolutely adored Alternity, and I still do. It might very well have been my favorite game that I never get to play if my tenure with Cyberpunk 2020 hadn't lasted so much longer. I really wish the game had done better out of the gate, because it had a lot going for it. I still have all my books, so there's that.

So, yeah. Lynn Abbey's Dark Sun novels are pure shining gold. Go buy them.

Want to tell me about your favorite tie-in novel/game fiction? Feel free!

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