Exploring Influences: Dungeons & Dragons

Let’s be real, here. I write fantasy. How could I not have D&D; on my list of influences?

Long regarded as a game for nerds, quite a few people overlook the fact that books set in the worlds created for D&D; often present fantastic stories and memorable characters. Dungeons and Dragons has been the proud parent of good books and the victim of terrible Hollywood ventures, but it’ll never stop being a staple of fantasy.

D&D; is a great starting point for introducing people to the stereotypes in fantasy. But really, it’s sort of funny how everything goes full circle. Many things that have become staples in  D&D; started with Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings. The difference resides in that D&D; takes the time to expand and elaborate on a number of ideas introduced to us in much older fiction, giving new aspects to old ideas that we, as fantasy writers, can continue to develop and grow on. Sadly, I wish this was something I’d realized a long time ago.

Years and years ago, I was actually offered the chance to co-author a Forgotten Realms book. I fired a few email messages back and forth with a representative from Wizards of the Coast and the other author I’d be working with. But the more they told me about what they wanted, the less I felt like I could do it. They had a specific storyline in mind, they just wanted me to write the long form. A lot of character concepts had already been put together, and I didn’t feel like the opportunity was going to give me the creative liberty I hungered for in writing fiction.

I can’t really say I regret the choice to pass on the offer, it wasn’t right for me at the time. But there’s still a small part of me that wonders what things would be like if I’d realized then how much liberty the D&D; setting really offered me. But then I remember that the more time I spend writing in other people’s worlds, the less time I spend writing in my own, and I feel that I did make the right choice.

Last week: Lunar: Silver Star Story
Next week: Grandia II

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