The D&D Connection: Authors and TTRPGs- Geoff Habiger

This week on Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub I’m talking about the connection between table top role playing games, such as Dungeons and Dragons, and great authors. Today I’m happy to feature some thoughts on the subject from author Geoff Habiger.

When Jodie mentioned she was looking for authors to share their experiences with gaming and writing I jumped at the chance because gaming – especially TTRPG gaming – has been a big part of my life and an influence for my writing since I was in the 5th grade (many, many yahren ago). In that time, I have played innumerable RPG starting with D&D from the days of the Big Red Box up through 4th edition (I’ve not played 5th ed. yet). Other RPGs I have played include: Rolemaster, Pathfinder, Paranoia, Timemaster, GURPs, Traveller, Star Wars (West End Games version), Mutants and Masterminds, and several home brew systems. RPGs allowed me to spend time with my friends, explore new worlds, and helped fuel my imagination and creativity. I’d spend hours (days sometimes) creating dungeons, making characters, and building new worlds to play in. Based on this background it seems only natural that I became a writer.

Though it wasn’t as natural as you’d think. My path to being a writer took a detour through writing for RPGs. Around the time that Wizards released the 3rd edition of D&D and the open gaming license was created, my best friend (and now co-author, Coy Kissee) and I decided to start our own game company and create material for the D&D OGL system. Thus, Tangent Games was born and the creation of our Ados: Land of Strife campaign setting. For several years we created a new world to explore, our own monster manual (Brixbrix’s Field Guide to the Creatures of Ados), rules for a new religion (out of 20+ in the pantheon) (Jute: Faith of Creation), and an adventure module (Temple of the Forgotten God). Not to mention a ton of game supplements. We created alternate rules for using languages in D&D (Ars Lingua) and rules for creating detailed descriptions of gemstones (Gemerator), and we created supplements to get more mileage from alchemy (Better Damage Through Alchemistry) and how to harness magic from gems (Mineral Magic series) plus several others. 

All of this experience in RPG writing gave me a good foundation to move into writing fiction. There are many similarities between the two, and a few differences. The biggest difference being that most RPG writing is instructional – you are writing the rules for playing the game. Your writing must be clear and concise and must convey the rules to the reader so that they can understand and play (and hopefully enjoy) the game. But that sort of writing doesn’t leave a lot of room for creativity. The goal is to explain how to play the game and there is less importance on plot and story, and practically no character development (even when you are rolling up your character!). At the same time, RPG writing does allow plenty of chances for worldbuilding, and when writing an adventure, you do need to understand plot and story, though this process is very different from a traditional novel because you will never understand the actual motives of the main characters you are writing for – the players (and their player characters) that are playing the game. It is like writing an open-ended choose your adventure story where you have no idea who the main character is, what they can do, or even if they are motivated to complete the adventure as you envision it. 

In addition to the foundation from RPGs my experiences as a gamer, game master (GM), and designer helped when I began our actual writing career, especially with our fantasy series the Constable Inspector Lunaria Adventures. As I developed the basic premise for this series – in a world of magic and monsters, how do the police solve crimes – I wondered where to set the story. I knew we wanted a “classic” fantasy setting, reminiscent of the RPG experience I had loved playing in, and I realized that we already had a great setting in our Ados: Land of Strife campaign world. But I didn’t want to write LitRPG so we couldn’t just drop a story into our RPG world. But Ados gave us the world into which we could play with much of the worldbuilding already done. There is a direct line of influence from our RPG experiences to what goes into our stories from how the world functions to how our characters act and react to any given situation. Our RPG experiences dictate our fight scenes, how magic works in our world, and how to pace our stories. It’s even gotten to the point where we make fun of the RPG experience – especially around adventurers – in our stories. (Note for anybody who’s not yet read our books, Reva *hates* adventurers.)

In the end, I don’t know if I would have become a writer if I hadn’t been a gamer first. The characters we played, the worlds we created, and the stories we got to tell during those caffeine-fueled, all-night game sessions, all became the fodder for me to be the writer I am today. 

Where to find us online:

Website: https://www.habigerkissee.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HabigerKisseeAuthors/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TangentGeoff

Our Books: Wrath of the Fury Blade (book 1) and Joy of the Widow’s Tears (book 2) can be found on our website (https://www.habigerkissee.com/books) where you will find links to buy from indie booksellers or corporate behemoths. Book 3 in our series: Fear the Minister’s Justice, will be out (hopefully) in 2022. 

About the author:

The writing duo of Geoff Habiger and Coy Kissee have been life-long friends since high school in Manhattan, Kansas. (Affectionately known as the Little Apple, which was a much better place to grow up than the Big Apple, in our humble opinion.) We love reading, baseball, cats, role-playing games, comics, and board games (not necessarily in that order and sometimes the cats can be very trying). We’ve spent many hours together over the years (and it’s been many years) basically geeking out and talking about our favorite books, authors, and movies, often discussing what we would do differently to fix a story or make a better script. We eventually turned this passion into something more than just talk and now write the stories that we want to read. 
Coy lives with his wife in Lenexa, Kansas. Geoff lives with his wife and son in Tijeras, New Mexico.

The D&D Connection: Authors and TTRPGs- Zack Argyle

I am so excited to be talking Dungeons and Dragons with Zack Argyle, author of the Threadlight series. He’s an incredibly talented writer, as well as a fan of D&D.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with me! Will you talk a bit about the Threadlight trilogy?

Of course! I wrote this series as something I would enjoy reading. It takes inspiration from some of my favorite authors: Anthony Ryan, Brandon Sanderson, Brent Weeks, and Brian Staveley, but also takes the theme of family, which is important to me, and brings that to the forefront.

The story originated while thinking about the parents of the chosen one. If they knew when the child was a baby that it was key to saving the world, what would they be willing to do to keep that child safe? But also, what if they failed? Chrys Valerian is a father who will burn the world to protect his family.

When did you start playing ttrpgs?

I joined Pinterest as a software engineer in 2015 and shortly after found out that they had a few D&D groups. One of them had two of my teammates, and they invited me to join. None of us work there anymore, but I do still play with those two teammates who invited me, even though we all live in different states! That group is the three of us and our wives, currently running the Ghosts of Saltmarsh 5e campaign.

Has gaming inspired you in any way?

Being a dungeon master is what gave me the confidence to go all-in on this years-long storytelling adventure! There was a particular moment that I’ll never forget.

Each of the players provided me with backstories at the start of the campaign which I used to weave into the greater arc of Storm King’s Thunder. One night, on the streets of Gauntlgrym, the party had just defeated a powerful foe when a high level member of the Zhentarim faction—their greatest enemy throughout the campaign—appeared. The man dropped to a knee in front of one of the players, then bowed and whispered, “First Lord.” The players gasped. Those two words changed everything in the campaign. It changed the player dynamics, the plot focus, and the tone of the story.

Since you weren’t there, it probably seems like nothing. But in that moment, I knew that I could write a compelling story. I knew that I could take complex arcs and weave them together to create moments of awe. Shortly after, I started seriously writing Voice of War.

As someone who has been on the player end of a moment like that, I absolutely get it. My husband once ran a campaign in which he wrote separate visions for each player of how their character would die (if the visions were correct). They ranged from sweet and satisfying to violent or completely unexpected. Mouths dropped open. One player teared up. It was such a cool moment! 


On the opposite side of that, has publishing books made you more confident in your gaming?

It’s actually quite interesting. As a character, I do think it has helped me be more confident in creating and role-playing more complex, interesting characters. On the other hand, there is an added pressure now when I am the dungeon master for the story to be great! Which is a lot of pressure for something that’s supposed to be fun! The same goes for writing. If you publish a book that people love, there is a lot of pressure to make the next book better. If you succeed, the pressure is compounded for the third book. In a way, it’s given me a bit of empathy toward Patrick Rothfuss. With the acclaim of his first two books, I’m sure he’s freaking out about ending the series well. Same goes for popular TTRPG personalities, like Matthew Mercer (Critical Role) or Griffin McElroy (Adventure Zone). The pressure on their shoulders as DMs is insanely high.

I never would have thought of it that way, but that makes perfect sense. Although, when it comes to the next book in your series, I really don’t think you need to worry. 🙂

Are there any parts in your books that are a direct result of a D&D campaign?

I’ve reused a lot of names between campaigns and the Threadlight series. My first D&D character was Sir Atticus Endin, which led to the Great Lord Malachus Endin. There were also characters named Alverax and Corian. But none of the plot points have yet to be taken from a campaign.

I’ve noticed that many great fantasy authors play D&D. Do you think there is a connection between gaming and writing?

If you enjoy being a dungeon master, which requires a ton of hard work, worldbuilding, juggling of complex scenarios, as well as a wild degree of creativity, then you almost certainly enjoy writing. It doesn’t surprise me at all that so many fantasy authors love TTRPGs!

What are some similarities and differences?

Extensive worldbuilding, characterization, magic-filled fights, and mysteries are all quintessential building blocks of both.

Does gaming help with writing creativity or vice versa?

True role-playing—I believe—does help your writing, because it forces you to learn how to think and make decisions based on the perspective of another person. If you can learn to put yourself into the mind of a character that does not think or act like you, then you will be that much better of a writer.

What do you love about gaming?

For me, it’s the camaraderie. I love being in a situation where people can let down their defenses, where they can be silly, creative, dorky, anything. Mix that in with moments of unpredictable, collectively-inspired storytelling, and it’s just wonderful fun.

I totally agree! I love that you mention the storytelling being collectively-inspired, because it is such a group event. You could take the exact same campaign and play it with two separate groups and the stories would end up being two completely different stories. Do you have a favorite character class, or do you like to mix it up?

Definitely love variety! I’ve played a Gnome Barbarian (Corian), Changeling Sorcerer (Alucard), Tabaxi Rogue (Boots), Human Paladin (Atticus), and Vedalken Druid (Keltrovac). My two current characters are a Firbolg Wizard (Marsh) and an Eladrin Rogue (Rael). I have no shame, so I’ve also done different character voices for each one.

Oh, kudos for the firbolg! I actually had to look that one up. I have yet to do the voices for my character myself (I’m working up to it). The amount of creativity that can be put into making a character is one of my favorite things about D&D. The sky (and the DM’s final word) is the limit! 

What first drew you to writing?

I’ve always loved storytelling. Despite having a degree in electrical engineering, I actually started out my college career in Journalism. Fifteen years later, the itch to write never left me. Mix that in with my love of learning and trying new things, as well as an unhealthy dose of stubborn tenacity, and here I am with a full-time hobby job.

Is there a particular gaming memory that always makes you laugh or smile?

There was a moment in one of our campaigns where the party really grew attached to one of their traveling companions, a hill giant named Moog. One session, Moog had been captured and was going to be killed, mostly as a way for me to simplify the campaign. The sorcerer in the group said “No!” and rushed to save her. I only allowed it because he said he had a spell called Tree Stride that allowed him to move one mile per minute through the forest. He got to the hideout, blasted the captors, and then quickly fell to the floor dead. While rolling for death saves, he rolled a nat 20, got up, and killed the captors, saving their friend. It was already an epic moment that became even better when we realized that he’d mistaken the spell, and he did not actually have Tree Stride—he couldn’t, it was too high level. The sorcerer and Moog became best friends after that, and we still laugh about the wonderful mistake.

What would you say to someone who hasn’t played before but is curious about it?

Do it! Find a group you can feel comfortable with, and just have fun. Play a character that acts just like you would if it helps, then, when you’re ready, try a new character that is wildly different. The friendships you make and the fun you’ll have outweigh any of the fear of getting started. Make it happen!

About the author:

TTRPG’s that are Based on Books

Tomorrow marks the beginning of a week of interviews with authors who enjoy table top role playing games, or TTRPGs. In many ways, TTRPGs and books go hand-in-hand. While the most well known TTRPG is Dungeons and Dragons, you can find books as TTRPGs as well. So, after you’ve read and enjoyed the book, maybe play in its world yourself. Here are just a few:

The Lord of the Rings

Smaug has been defeated, the Battle of Five Armies has been won, and Bilbo has returned to the Shire. But much danger still remains, and from the Orc-holds of the mountains to the dark and corrupt depths of Mirkwood a darkness waits, recovering its strength, laying its plans, and slowly extending its shadow…
The One Ring Roleplaying Game is the newest fantasy roleplaying game set in the world of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, allowing you and your friends to set out on your own adventures in Middle-earth. (taken from Amazon)

Who wouldn’t want to adventure in Middle Earth? Tolkien created a rich setting that is perfect to explore in. There are several different editions of LotR roleplaying books, ranging from affordable to “well, let me sell my kidney so I can buy this book”. I’d suggest grabbing the affordable ones and keeping your eyes peeled the next time you’re used book buying.

To buy:

The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game Core Book on Amazon

Jane Austen

Romance. Scandal. Manners. Welcome to Good Society, the Jane Austen Tabletop Roleplaying Game. (taken from Story Brewers Role Playing)

Who says classics can’t be played? This is a pre-order right now: the game should be available in October. This has some definite potential and it’s an indie game! If you decide to give it a go, let me know what you think!

To buy:
Good Society

The Dresden Files:

Tell Us Your Story
Beneath the “normal” surface of the world are things and people which most of us don’t want to know about, and will do our best to forget about if we ever come near them. People won’t see what they don’t want to see.
But that’s most of us. And you—you’re not most of us.
What’s Your Story?
Whether you’re a champion of God, changeling, vampire, werewolf, wizard, or plain “vanilla” mortal human being, this volume of The Dresden Files RPG gives you all the rules you need to build characters and tell your own stories in the Dresdenverse. Inside, you’ll uncover the secrets of spellcasting, the extents of mortal and supernatural power, and the hidden occult reality of the unfamiliar city you call home.

I’ll be honest: I really haven’t read much Dresden Files. I think I’ve read one, maybe two books in the series. However, I know a lot of people would love gaming in this world.

To buy:

Evil Hat Productions

Mouse Guard

I love Mouse Guard! This graphic novel series is a surprising combination of adorable illustrations and breathtaking, rather brutal, fantasy. I would expect the TTRPG to be just as great.

To buy:

Mouse Guard Roleplaying Game

Frankenstein

What if Frankenstein got it right?
What if Victor Frankenstein had embraced his discoveries rather than seeking to destroy them?
Rejected by his peers and his family, hunted by the Creature, Victor slips into the background of history. Manipulating people, events, whole countries, Frankenstein slowly plans and executes his revenge.
Carved out of the Balkan conflicts of the mid-1800’s, Victor Frankenstein hijacks the unification of Romania and creates his own country: Promethea. Established on high ideals of equality and scientific advancement for the good of all, the reality is very different.
Creating Promethea saw Victor make deals that compromised the integrity of his vision. Almost literally walled off from the rest of Europe, Promethea is a nightmare where the rich elite feed off the beauty and strength of the poor. While incredible advances across all scientific disciplines promise a bright future, the land is blighted by a new feudal regime – the Harvest.
Even as Frankenstein moves to bring Promethea in line with his original vision, so he is stalked by the Creature. Seeking to destroy all his creator’s works, the Creature and the resistance movement he leads often find they share Frankenstein’s goals. Both Victor and the Creature know that Frankenstein’s gift must never escape the fortified borders of Promethea, bringing the dark harvest to all the world. (taken from Drive Thru RPG)

This particular TTRPG seems to be very loosely based on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I think this could be a really interesting game setting, but I don’t expect it to be much like the original book. Either way, it’s intriguing.

To buy:

Dark Harvest: Legacy of Frankenstein

These are only a few of the books that have been reinterpreted as roleplaying games. There are so many others: Watership Down, The Song of Ice and Fire, and others also have TTRPGs. And of course, there are gaming systems for series such as Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, and Ravenloft. These books were originally written to tie in with gaming systems, although they have their own self-contained storylines and don’t really fall into the RPGlit category.

What books would you love to see get the roleplaying game treatment? Have you played any of these?

Now for Something Different: Unique or Bizarre Books

Sometimes I enjoy a book that is really different, possibly even a little – dare I say it? – bizarre. I like to be surprised by books, and sometimes I want a book that challenges my expectations. Here are some utterly unique books that I’ve enjoyed.

Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You by Scotto Moore

Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You is a story of music, obsession, violence, and madness by Scotto Moore

I was home alone on a Saturday night when I experienced the most beautiful piece of music I had ever heard in my life.
Beautiful Remorse is the hot new band on the scene, releasing one track a day for ten days straight. Each track has a mysterious name and a strangely powerful effect on the band’s fans.
A curious music blogger decides to investigate the phenomenon up close by following Beautiful Remorse on tour across Texas and Kansas, realizing along the way that the band’s lead singer, is hiding an incredible, impossible secret.
At the Publisher’s request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You is a book that goes straight past unique and right into weird. I mean that as a compliment. I would bet money that no one could possibly figure out where this book is going. It’s twisty and disconcerting and I was on board for all of it! You can find my review here.

Duckett and Dyer: Dicks for Hire by G.M. Nair

Michael Duckett is fed up with his life. His job is a drag, and his roommate and best friend of fifteen years, Stephanie Dyer, is only making him more anxious with her lazy irresponsibility. Things continue to escalate when they face the threat of imminent eviction from their palatial 5th floor walk-up and find that someone has been plastering ads all over the city for their Detective Agency.The only problem is: He and Stephanie don’t have one of those.Despite their baffling levels of incompetence, Stephanie eagerly pursues this crazy scheme and drags Michael, kicking and screaming, into the fray only to find that they are way out of their depth. They stumble upon a web of missing people that are curiously linked to a sexually audacious theoretical physicist and his experiments with the fabric of space-time. And unless Michael and Stephanie can put their personal issues aside and fix the multi-verse, the concept of existence itself may, ironically, no longer exist.

I read this one with Beth from Before We Go Blog and we had a blast discussing the odd goings-on. I laughed so stinking hard! In a time where laughs are sorely needed, this one definitely fits the bill. You can find my review here.

Around the Dark Dial by J.D. Sanderson

Take a trip around the dark dial with eleven original and thought-provoking short stories that invoke the wonder and mystery of old-time radio dramas. Forget all that you know about modern sci-fi. In Around the Dark Dial, it’s all about the unexpected.

“Around the Dark Dial is a good old-fashioned science fiction, full of twists and surprises and the sense of wonder, but leavened with modern sensibilities-there’s a lot to recommend here, with stories ranging from the present day to the far future, from the promise of new technology to the dystopic future we all dread.” – David Wellington, author of The Last Astronaut

This collection of short stories by J.D. Sanderson was creative and fascinating. Each story was different and it really is unlike anything else I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. This was a different sort of science fiction, one that was very thought provoking. You can find my review here.

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.

There is one other person in the house―a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.

For readers of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane and fans of Madeline Miller’s CircePiranesi introduces an astonishing new world, an infinite labyrinth, full of startling images and surreal beauty, haunted by the tides and the clouds.

Piranesi was beautifully written. It was also a little bit confusing. Author Susanna Clarke deliberately gives only bits and pieces of information. I was left with almost as many questions as answers. The prose was magnificent, though. You can find my review here.

“The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat” by Brooke Bolander from Uncanny Magazine

This is by far the best fairy tale about dinosaurs that I’ve ever read. It’s also the only fairy tale about dinosaurs that I’ve read. It shouldn’t work, but it does. It’s odd and clever, and so much fun! You can read my review here.

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

This story is so flipping weird, but I love it! It’s thought-provoking and one of the few “classics” that I think actually benefits from being picked apart in a school setting, just because it’s so fascinating to get other opinions on this one.

What about you? What “odd” books have you enjoyed?

And Now This

A while back, I thought it might be cool to do a week of reviews, cover reveals, and book spotlights focused solely on self-published authors. I shared this little idea with some others, and Self-Published Authors Appreciation Week was born. So many people joined in and made it amazing! I tried to gather (hopefully all of) the posts in one place, which you can find here: Self-published Authors Appreciation Week. The fun isn’t over, though. Let’s talk about Indie August!

I am not the originator or organizer of Indie August. That credit goes to the fantastic Literature & Lofi. While Self-Published Authors Appreciation Week focused the spotlight on self-published authors, Indie August includes indie and small press as well. It also runs for the entirety of August!

How can you participate in Indie August?

1. Whenever you write a blog post/review/cover reveal etc. about an indie or self-published book, use the hashtag #IndieAugust.

2. Buy indie books!

3. Practice safe social distancing: yell loudly from your window at random passersby, sharing (or bombarding them with) the love of great indie books.

I can’t wait to read all the fantastic posts that will be coming out during Indie August.

From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- The Night Circus

This week Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub has been the host of many discussions on magic systems in fantasy. I’ve been joined by some amazing contributors, both bookbloggers and authors. Before I close out the week, though, I have to talk about The Night Circus.

I love this book! I mean rereading, paraphernalia-owning love. Reading The Night Circus is like wandering though a beautiful dream. I’m going to attempt to talk about magic in the world of The Night Circus, but please forgive me if the post rapidly dissolves into gushing. I promise I’ll try to keep it in check.

What makes the magic in The Night Circus different from other magic systems is not the how but the what. Magic doesn’t exist in the world of The Night Circus, magic is the world. The stage is set, the circus a playing board for a duel between two separate schools of thought. Two powerful magicians battle each other to see whose magic is better- that of Marco, who uses glyphs and symbols; or Celia, who uses her own mind as the focal point.

There are rules to how the magic works, but the reader is drawn into the magic itself. Everything is a product of one magician or the other, from the black-and-white striped tents, to the cloud maze, and everything in-between. Words and creativity become real. And, holy crow, author Erin Morgenstern is creative! Her words themselves weave a magic spell around the reader.

“When the battle are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang Souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they could never predict. From the mundane to the profound.”-Erin Morgenstern

And here’s the crux of it: every book is magic. Every author has the power to draw a reader into a world both different and new. As readers we know the power of words. The books we’ve talked about this week are samplings of some of the incredible magic that words can cast on the reader. A book can entertain, it can teach. It can open a path to new worlds, or comfort someone during a difficult time.

I am incredibly grateful to bloggers who gave their time and energy to a discussion on magic, and to the authors who were willing to talk about their magic systems. Each book we focused on has a unique, creative magic system. I hope you found some new books to add to your tbr and some new bloggers to follow.

What magic system has completely floored you? Tell me what you loved about it. I’m a glutton for punishment, go ahead and add to my tbr!

“There are many kinds of magic, after all.”– Erin Morgenstern

About the blogger:

 Jodie is the creator of the Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub blog and a contributor to Grimdark Magazine. She either lives in Florida with her husband and sons, or in a fantasy book-she’ll never tell which. When she’s not reading, Jodie balances her time between homeschooling her hooligans, playing Dungeons and Dragons, and lamenting her inability to pronounce “lozenge”.

Find her online at :
Blog: https://wittyandsarcasticbookclub.home.blog/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WS_BOOKCLUB

More from this series:
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Wheel of Time
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- The Coldfire Trilogy
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Magic for Mercenary Kings
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- The Weather Warden
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- And Now This
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Blood, Fire, and Death
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Teaching Physics to Barbarians
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Discworld
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic-Let’s Talk Mistborn
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Fae Magic

From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic in Fantasy- Magic ex Libris

Over the last week, I’ve been focusing on magic in fantasy. I am in no way an expert, just an appreciative fantasy fan. I have been fortunate in that many amazing authors and bloggers have been generous with their time and have talked about some great examples of magic in fantasy.

Today, Beth from Before We Go Blog makes a compelling case for moving Jim C. Hine’s Magic ex Libris series to the top of the never ending to be read pile.

Before We Go Blog:

As a huge lover of fantasy novels, I have read about a magic system or two. There are some that stick out that have been extraordinary in one way or another. 

One often mentioned is the magic of Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. He created the magic called allomancy, where the ingestion of certain metals gives the user certain powers. How much metal is consumed, and who consumed them, and whether they can be digested is where things get interesting. Not everyone can walk up to an ingot of silver, chow down, and hope to digest it. The powers are all different with different combinations of things. It gets fascinating, and the possibilities are endless. It is an excellent example of the creativity that magic systems can have. However, it is not as cool as Jim C. Hines’s series, Magic ex Libris. 

“…bookstores, libraries… they’re the closest thing I have to a church.” 


It is essential to call out again; I am a big reader. I love escaping into books, literally escaping into new worlds. But what if, instead of escaping into a world, I can pull something from stories into reality? It seems like the ultimate expression of power. For example, I am battling a foe. We are sizing each other up as foes are want to do. This person has really pissed me off by eating my favorite silver necklace. Grabbed it right off my neck and started swallowing it. “You wanna battle do you? I liked that necklace.” We happen to be battling in a library. Don’t laugh; lots of rough people go to libraries. I reach into Harry Potter and grab harry’s wand from inside of the book. I use that to whip up a wind vortex, then I grab Peter Bentley’s Jaws off of the shelf, and pull the entire great white shark out of the book and drop it on their head. I am sorry for the whale. Sacrifices need to be made. Don’t worry, I know my foe is still chewing a piece of silver and wouldn’t notice the giant shark that I lofted them. 

Two libriomancers had been disciplined for trying to get an early copy of the last Harry Potter book.”

Or maybe I am feeling sassy and grab Moby Dick instead of Jaws, and I drop a whale on them. Oops, darn it. I grabbed the wrong book. This whale said, “Oh no, not again.” Before falling from a great height, followed by a very confused flower pot. Same effect. I have the power and the entirety of literature to pull from, and right now, I am just working with aquatic animals. Maybe, they would like a kracken instead? There are plenty of those in literature. 

All I am saying is they can go ahead and eat their piece of metal. I’ll throw a shark at them, followed by a whale, then another whale, and a flowerpot. Don’t get me started on movie adaptions, Sharknado anyone? Then I will pull the tea and the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland and have a nice lunch. 

Obviously, there is some plotting that Hines does around this brilliant magic system. It isn’t all fun. Pulling whales from books does take some work. But I love that at its core, this magic system speaks to lovers of reading. It feels like being a well-read person is rewarded with the ability to do magic, and that is amazing. That is pretty much living the dream, reading a book, taking knowledge from the book, and becoming a badass. This is why Magic ex Libris is my favorite system, and I recommend it to anyone who is a big reader. Where else would trivial knowledge of JawsMoby Dick, and Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy come into use all at once?!  

About the blogger:

Elizabeth Tabler runs Beforewegoblog and is constantly immersed in fantasy stories. She was at one time an architect but divides her time now between her family in Portland, Oregon, and as many book worlds as she can get her hands on. She is also a huge fan of Self Published fantasy and is on Team Qwillery as a judge for SPFBO5. You will find her with a coffee in one hand and her iPad in the other. Find her on: instagram.com/elizabethtabler https://beforewegoblog.com/ https://www.pinterest.com/scottveg3/ https://www.goodreads.com/Scottveg3 https://twitter.com/BethTabler

More From this series:
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Wheel of Time
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- The Coldfire Trilogy
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Magic for Mercenary Kings
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- The Weather Warden
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- And Now This
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Blood, Fire, and Death
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Teaching Physics to Barbarians
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Discworld
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic-Let’s Talk Mistborn
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Fae Magic

From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- The Kate Daniels series

It’s been a magical week on Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub! Magic is often a staple in a good fantasy world. One of the many things I love about magic in urban fantasy is the dichotomy between magic and machine. Can they coexist? And if so, how would one interact with the other?

Tabitha from Behind the Pages weighs in on magic in the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews.

Tabitha:

When I found out Jodie over at Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub was doing a project based on magic systems I had to join in! Unique magic systems are a key element to the fantasy books I truly enjoy. While characters certainly play a large part in what I love, I need the magic system to be a worthy component as well. Today we’ll take a look at the magic in the urban fantasy Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews.

The series takes place in Atlanta, Georgia after a magical apocalypse has accosted the world. People tried to advance technology and did not take the proper precautions. Now waves of magic are tearing the world apart. When a wave of magic hits, all technology dies. Cars, phones, guns, electricity you name it. When the magic is up, the tech is down. And the skyscrapers that cities were known for? Those have been turned to rubble unless enough people shell out the money and magic to protect them. People have developed magical vehicles (noisy as hell), that can clunk around and run when the magic is high. But when the magic wave ends, you’ll still be stranded. 

The main rule of magic in the world of Kate Daniels is that technology and magic cannot coexist. Anyone with the slightest bit of power can use magic, and sometimes that means those who are a bit foolhardy may summon nasty creatures from another world. You might even wake up a God who starts destroying the city. My advice is to not dabble in magic unless you know what you are doing.

And while there aren’t exactly spells, wards can be drawn for protection and certain individuals can use their magic in specialized ways. Take for instance the vampires. They are undead mindless killers. However, if you can use your magic to pilot them, they are weapons and tools. The Masters of the Dead are a group of magic users who keep hoards of vampires locked up for their uses. While piloting a vampire they can see and hear everything their chosen vessel can see, and they can even use its vocal cords to talk. But sending a vampire into battle can be tricky. If it is destroyed and the magic user piloting it does not remove their mind from the vampire in time, it could have devastating results for the magic user.

Then you have Kate Daniels, whose magic is in her blood. As part of the mercenary guild, she is called in to clean up the magical messes the police can’t handle. She can manipulate a vast amount of magic due to her heritage, and she has an affinity for the undead she is loath to use. As the series progresses, you’ll find that her blood can be used in a variety of ways. For the sake of keeping this a spoiler-free post, you’ll just have to read the series to find out. 😉 But it’s never a good idea to only rely on magic, so Kate is a skilled swordswoman for when the magic is down.

The magic system of the Kate Daniels series increases in intensity with each book. Ilona Andrews has paced the series to gradually show the increased strength and chaos of the magic that has been unleashed. As readers progress, they will find all manner of supernatural creatures and magical mayhem cropping up from the magic waves. And Kate Daniels is right there in the thick of it trying to keep her city together as best she can.

About the blogger:

Hello everyone! My name is Tabitha and I run a review blog called Behind the Pages. It’s my little corner of the internet where I geek out about books. I’m an avid fantasy reader, but dabble in other genres from time to time. Book blogging has allowed me to connect with so many other people who love reading as much as I do. I hope you enjoy this snippet of my bookish thoughts!

Check out my review blog at www.behindthepages.org
You can also follow my random bookish thoughts on my Twitter: @behindthepages1
And if you prefer to follow along with reviews on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5863594-tabitha

For more from this series:
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Wheel of Time
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- The Coldfire Trilogy
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Magic for Mercenary Kings
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- The Weather Warden
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- And Now This
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Blood, Fire, and Death
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Teaching Physics to Barbarians
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Discworld
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic-Let’s Talk Mistborn

From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- The Invisible Library

Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub is focusing on magic in fantasy novels all week. I have been fortunate to have guest authors and bookbloggers discussing the magic systems in books. It’s a broad subject and one that I find fascinating.

As all readers know, words have power. They can teach, evoke emotion, or even change a person’s perspective. Well, words have power in Genevieve Cogman’s Invisible Library in a more literal way. Today the Book Pyramid has joined the conversation to talk about magic in her excellent fantasy series.

The Book Pyramid:

Thank you Jodie for having me on your wonderful blog! There are so many intriguing and fascinating magic systems out there. When I start a new series, I am always hopeful that I will discover a new, interesting one, as it is one of the main elements of the Fantasy genre that really hooks me in for the ride. One of the most unique one I have discovered recently comes from the Invisible Library series, by Genevieve Cogman. In it, we are introduced to this inter-dimensional library that collects rare texts and books for parallel dimension versions of our world by sending their Librarians (really more like field agents) to retrieve their targets. These agents have been trained in many disciplines to survive the always different environments and threats of the many worlds they must travel to, but perhaps their most valuable skill is the power to use The Language.

The Language is the main magic system we are introduced to in The Invisible Library. I say “main” here as there are other forms of magic in the worlds our main character travels to, but the one at the centre of it all, the one being used by our protagonist, is The Language. Now what I thought was super interesting about The Language is that it has a set of very specific rules and boundaries. It cannot be used to summon elemental creatures or cast a fireball at your enemies, but instead it lets its users manipulate the world around them by talking to it, by issuing it commands. So while in some fantasy novels, magic users can be all-powerful gods who can wreck havoc on entire armies and lay waste to kingdoms with a flick of the wrist and an uttered word, our Librarian has to use her powers within the limits of what they can accomplish and that makes for some very compelling situations. 

That is not to say that The Language is not a versatile tool to have in your toolbox. Quite the contrary actually, as there are millions of ways you can interact with your environment and to make it do what you need to do. For example, you might speak The Language and say “Door, close and Lock!” If you are being pursued, but be careful, as every door that can “hear” your command will obey it. You might command Water to boil, museum figures to Come alive to help you out, or tell a gun to Jam and explode, but one who commands The Language always must be careful of using it in the exact way they need it to avoid what could be catastrophic consequences. 

While I am not one to look down on a good old fashion lightning bolt or healing spell, I found the intricacies of The Language to be very compelling. The fact that it allows its user to manipulate almost everything around them gives them an almost infinite array of tools to use in the right situation, while keeping the power level in check to maintain the sense that anything could go wrong at any time. An all powerful mage might be a very cool character, but they also might remove the sense of threat and danger that keep me invested in our character’s well being. I have read the first two book of this series and in each one the author finds new, unique ways for her heroine to use The Language to get herself out of all kinds of crazy predicaments. Magic systems are such an important part of the Fantasy genre and it always feels special when you find one you enjoy so much that you wish you were able to use it yourself. That is why I choose Genevieve Cogman’s The Language for this article. 

Maybe if I try…

Reader, Follow Witty and Sacrastic Bookclub’s blog.

… did it work? 

About the blogger:

Max is a career book seller and long time book reader and collector. His passion for books is only rivaled by his unease at writing about himself in the third person. 
When he is not out camping or playing board games with his family, he can usually be found sitting near a window, wrapped up in a blanket and reading a Fantasy or Mystery novel, with a glass of his latest single malt found and his three-legged cat Peggy nearby.
You can read more of his stuff here:https://thebookpyramid.wordpress.com

Follow him on Twitter at: @BookPyramid

For more from this series:
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Wheel of Time
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- The Coldfire Trilogy
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Magic for Mercenary Kings
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- The Weather Warden
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- And Now This
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Blood, Fire, and Death
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Teaching Physics to Barbarians
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Discworld
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic-Let’s Talk Mistborn

From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic – Fae Magic

I’ve loved tales of the wilder side of faerie legend since I was young. Books such as Good Faeries/Bad Faeries by Brian Froud (who also did the concept art for the amazing movie, The Labyrinth) caught my imagination. Not much has changed in the respect. Give me a mysterious, wild force, and I’m good to go.

E.G. Radcliffe, author of the The Coming of Áed trilogy, has a fae-like magic source in her world. It makes me think of all things wild and mysterious. She’s been kind enough to give a breakdown on magic in her fantasy books.


E.G. Radcliffe:

The Fae magic at work in The Coming of Áed trilogy–and most fully expressed in The Wild Court–is a naturally occurring phenomenon inherent in certain types of life on the non-human side of the veil. Much of it is understated: some mushrooms develop healing potential under the light of a full moon, some minerals possess connective magic that enables all of the rocks in a deposit to glow in unison, etc. Some of this naturally occurring magic occurs at a larger scale, with creatures like the water horse wielding power over certain lakes or rivers, enough to control the water itself and any vessels on the lake’s surface. However, the most powerful magic belongs to the fae.

The fae are inhuman creatures who live across the veil from the inhabitants of the Gut (the home region of the MC). Fae culture is complex and ancient, but from a purely physical standpoint, they are divided into two groups. The Low Fae and High Fae live separately, like mostly staying with like, and there are a number of differences between their magics.

Fae, as a whole, have two very important forms of innate magic. The first is the one most commonly portrayed in the folklore of the world: every faerie is born with the ability to summon fire. The fire of the Low Fae manifests in oranges and reds, reminiscent of a natural woodfire. It is either confined to the faerie’s body, or it can be sent out in a billow. This fire, like any ordinary blaze, causes no harm to other fae. The fire of the High Fae, on the other hand, is uniformly white, more akin to the color of daylight at high noon. High Fae fire has two distinct peculiarities, aside from its hue: firstly, it can burn Low Fae the way ordinary fire burns a human. Secondly, it can be cast into shapes so long as it maintains contact with the wielder–popular uses are as fiery spears or shields.

The second of the fae magics is much less flashy, and much more unnerving: their power over the mind. In most faeries, this power presents itself as the capability to read emotion very accurately. However, some fae have the capacity to cultivate this ability to a higher level. In its most terrifying form, it can be trained into the ability to induce emotion. This can be as straightforward as pulling up painful memories, or as twisted as inciting madness so targeted as to induce specific hallucinations. The latter is often perceived as illusion magic, and it is the extraordinarily rare faerie who is capable of using it. Magic surrounds the fae, generated like body heat; faintly, it permeates even the human realm.

For humans, magic is never inborn. Practicing it requires a concentrated mind and a certain ability to tune into the residues of fae magic, and is therefore highly difficult, mastered only by a few.  Human magic, however, is far more flexible than fae magic. While the fae are extremely powerful in two arenas, humans are limited only by their own concentration; wherever they are able to channel the magic, they can use it. After all, it isn’t theirs–a river cannot change its course, but the one who fills a bucket from it can put it to any number of uses.

To channel magic, there are a number of techniques. The most common is by learning a verbal ‘spell.’ The spell itself holds no inherent meaning: it is usually a series of nonsense syllables which, by their sound and shape, help the concentration of the user to flow along certain mental channels. Those channels of concentration are the same channels through which magic will be directed, producing a result. It is not dissimilar to meditation. In fact, a truly powerful magic-user will be able to achieve results without the guidelines of a spell, if their concentration and vision of the spell’s execution are adequately strong. Other techniques include motions (which fulfill a similar purpose to a verbal spell) and drawings (which are most useful when attempting to use magic to build something, like following a blueprint).

Usually, to master magic one must begin as a child. The reason for this is that children tend to be able to channel less magic, and therefore are less likely to hurt themselves in the stage of learning when errors are common. An adult attempting to learn magic for the first time would find that they could call upon too much–they would likely not be able to channel it, and it would slip out of their control, usually with destructive results. Culturally, magic use is seen as something occasionally necessary, but its practitioners are widely regarded with a degree of distrust.

Each character in the series is either a wielder of magic, a victim of it, or a student of it–for better or for worse. They are warriors; they are kings; they are sarcastic teenagers; they are queens, and consorts, and healers, and family.

About the author:

E.G. Radcliff is a part-time pooka and native of the Unseelie Court. She collects acorns, glass beads, and pretty rocks, and the crows outside her house know her as She Who Has Bread. Her fantasy novels are crafted in the dead of night after offering sacrifices of almonds and red wine to the writing-block deities. 

You can reach her by scrying bowl, carrier pigeon, or @egradcliff on all major social media platforms. 

Links
Twitter
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Facebook
Reddit
Goodreads 

Books:The Hidden Kinghttps://getbook.at/thehiddenking
The Last Princehttps://getbook.at/thelastprince
The Wild Courthttps://getbook.at/thewildcourt

Where to Buy:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Waterstones
Bookshop.org

For more from this series:
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Wheel of Time
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- The Coldfire Trilogy
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Magic for Mercenary Kings
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- The Weather Warden
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- And Now This
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Blood, Fire, and Death
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Teaching Physics to Barbarians
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic- Discworld
From Merlin to Mistborn: A Discussion on Magic-Let’s Talk Mistborn