Roll Perception Plus Awareness: Geekomancy, Libriomancer and their RPG identities

Welcome back to Roll Perception Plus Awareness, a column about roleplaying games and their place in a genre reader’s and writer’s world.

This time out, we’re going to do something a little bit different and look at two recent series of ostensibly series. From a 30,000 foot perspective both Jim C. Hines’ Magic Ex Libris (so far comprised of Libriomancer and Codex Born) and Michael R. Underwood’s Geekomancy series (so fra comprised of Geekomancy and Celebromancy) have strong similarity. Both series tap into a fair amount of wish fulfillment and have geeky protagonists whose geekery turns out to be useful for magic. But as you dig into the series, there are two distinct personalities. They take place in two distinctly different roleplaying game universes, and this can be used as a way to critique and example the series and their elements.

Fair warning: This is a somewhat spoilery discussion of both authors’ series.

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Roll Perception Plus Awareness: 13th Age

Welcome back to Roll Perception Plus Awareness, a column about roleplaying games and their place in a genre reader’s and writer’s world.

This time out, we stay near to Dungeons and Dragons as we did last time with Monsters and Magic, taking a look at one of the two big Dungeons and Dragons influenced games coming out this summer¹.

Let me introduce you to a world surrounding a placid inland sea, an Empire run by a powerful Emperor. Powerful forces work within and without the empire. A powerful Lich amasses forces on an island in the Midland sea. A High Priestess seeks to unite all of the worshippers of the Gods of Good together. A Giant Gold Dragon keeps the endless maw of the dark Abyss from spilling its contents onto the world by bodily blocking the entrance. An Elvish Queen rules the elves and listens to their concerns-all the elves, both light and dark. A Dwarf King counts his gold, and old grudges, too, in his Mountain Hall. And there are others, too.

All are seemingly cognizant that the world is on the cusp of change. Big change that the player characters themselves can have a hand in shaping. Massive change to the world is not an unprecedented thing to the Dragon Empire and the lands around it. It has happened 12 times before, you see.

Let me introduce you to the 13th Age.

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Edward Willett writes science fiction, fantasy, nonfiction and plays. He won the Aurora Award for best Canadian science fiction novel in 2009 for Marseguro (DAW). As Lee Arthur Chane he wrote the steampunkish fantasy Magebane, and as E.C. Blake he’s the author of a new fantasy trilogy beginning this fall with Masks (also DAW). He lives in Regina, Saskatchewan. He can be found online at his website EdwardWillett.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter as @EWillett, @LeeArthurChane & @AuthorECBlake.

Playing Nicely With Others: A Novelist Writes for a Computer Game

By Edward Willett

When I was a kid, I was forever disappointed by my fellow children. I always wanted to play a long-running game of detailed make-believe, in which we would each be a specific character and have wonderful adventures repelling aliens, fighting Nazis, guarding a castle, or maybe event fighting Nazi aliens from the walls of a castle.

They wanted to play Yahtzee.
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Welcome back to Roll Perception Plus Awareness, a column about roleplaying games and their place in a genre reader’s and writer’s world.

In the endless new iterations of Dungeons and Dragons, version changes have often been an inescapable, fresh start from scratch. These radical reboots have not always been welcome, especially if beloved or appreciated aspects of previous editions get lost in the struggle, or new aspects are not welcome. Wizards get endless uses of spells now? Everyone roughly does the same amount of damage? I can just buy magic items from a list on the Players Handbook? Why do I have powers that refresh after every ‘encounter’? These changes were not always welcome.

In 2007, the OSRIC (Old School Index and Resource Compilation) was created. The stated goal of the OSRIC was to compile and bring together rules for old-school style fantasy gaming and to reproduce Dungeons and Dragons style rules from the 1970’s and early 1980’s, without the baggage, or the copyrightable elements of those old rules. Thus the Old School Renaissance, the OSR was born. As such, the Old School Renaissance has produced a sheaf of OSR games of various stripes and types. Too, if one takes 3rd Edition Dungeons and Dragons as your baseline, rather than 1st Edition, one might consider the successful and burgeoning Pathfinder Roleplaying Game to be an example of the OSR phenomenon as well.

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LOST: The RPG!

Here’s a video that captures the essence of TV’s LOST…told the way it meant to be told: as a classic videogame RPG.

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Jeffrey Thomas‘ short story collections include Punktown, Voices from Punktown, Nocturnal Emissions, and Unholy Dimensions, and such novels as Deadstock, Blue War, Monstrocity, and Letters from Hades. He has been a finalist for the Bram Stoker and John W. Campbell Awards, and several of his tales have been reprinted in the anthologies The Year’s Best Horror Stories and The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. Visit his blog at: http://punktalk.punktowner.com.

Punktown: The Role-Playing Game

From the start, I saw my setting of Punktown as a creative playground for other people besides myself.

I first came up with the notion for this world while my father was driving me somewhere or other, back in 1980. I noticed a woman in another car, whose face was partly in shadow, making it appear as if her long hair were growing out of black eye sockets. This image became the inspiration for the tentacle-eyed “Tikkihotto” race that appears in numerous Punktown stories. But for whatever reason, this image sparked more than just one alien…no, my muse’s gears didn’t stop turning there. By the time we arrived home, I had developed the idea of writing about a future world into which I could introduce all manner of strange beings, and bizarrely distorted reflections of our own here-and-now. SF as satire, social commentary, but with an unapologetic nod to the tropes of pulp fiction.

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Fantasy novels based on a roleplaying game? You betcha. There’s no shortage of book series that suck money from devoted fans tie in to popular gaming franchises, such as the novels that accompany World of Warcraft, Starcraft, Warhammer 40k, and, of course, Dungeons & Dragons. Paizo‘s Pathfinder Roleplaying Game introduces the world of Golarion which, as many fantasy worlds are, is full of monsters, magic, dungeons, piles of treasure, plenty of traps, and–most importantly–an endless stream of “adventurers” who got conned into believing that the best way to make a living is to throw themselves headlong into danger and pray they come out the other side with all their wiggly bits intact. With Pathfinder Tales, Paizo has unleashed a growing variety of authors on the reality they’ve created to see what stories they can conjure.

So how do game dynamics and rule books translate into novel-length plot and characters?

Pretty durn well, actually. So strap on those boots, grab your walking stick, and prepare to journey through three such literary concoctions from the Pathfinder Tales library. Oh, and you might want to make sure your first aid kit is freshly stocked with healing potions. Just in case.

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Does this need an NSFW warning? You bet!
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Required viewing for all Doctor Who fans…

[via Neatorama]