The #RPGaDAY prompt was concocted by Dave Chapman of Autocratik. Grab the list and join in!
I was reading role-playing game tie-in fiction before I knew it was tied in to anything. At the time, I thought Dragonlance was purely a gloriously long list of interconnected books to collect and devour. Then TSR published a series of Spelljammer novels to go with their new setting of the same name. The first one was set on Krynn, so that was an easy buy. I was more leery of the second, Nigel Findlay’s Into the Void, since the back cover blurb promised it would feature the Forgotten Realms, which I had studiously skirted for no real reason. And yet, it wound up being my favorite of the Spelljammer novels, and possibly of all tie-in fiction that I can recall reading, because it was so different and novel. Quasi-sailing ships flying through space, the infamous tinker gnomes with their hamster-powered paddlewheeler, alien menaces in the shape of the neogi and the illithid, Into the Void had a great mix of elements to appeal to me at the time.
I’m a little afraid of what I would think of the novel now. Not that it would hurt my memories of enjoying it then, because I don’t buy into the notion of “this new thing, or revisiting an old thing, ruined my perception of my childhood,” but my perception of the novel as an adult would drown out my fond memories of how I enjoyed it then. I’d be amazed if there were extant copies out in the world, but if I ever run into one in a used book store, I’ll give it a familiar nod, like seeing an old acquaintance, and move on.
Now, my favorite retroactive tie-in novel is another story. That’s the novel that was clearly the genesis for a role-playing game, or campaign framework. That title easily goes to Tim Powers’ Last Call, which became a cornerstone of the cosmology and occult ethos of Unknown Armies. Powers has written more novels in his self-created patch of secret history and improvised symbolic sorcery: Declare, Three Days to Never, On Stranger Tides, The Stress of Her Regard. I like to think of them as the unofficial fiction line for Unknown Armies — which does have a novel of its own, Godwalker, written by Greg Stolze. I highly recommend reading Godwalker and honestly regret writing a whole post about Into the Void before remembering that Unknown Armies had a companion novel.
Most Honorable Mention
And holy cow, how could I miss the opening fiction in Break Today, also part of the Unknown Armies line? It’s a tight little vignette that’s so engaging, my coworker at the time loved it and wanted the whole book to be the rest of the story.