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Lord_Kimboat
2009-07-21, 07:30 PM
Hi all

I'm just wondering why there aren't any 4e novels around? There is the Spell-Plague series but nothing that seems to be true to the 4e rule set (or at least that I've been able to easily find).

I think novels with good storylines would go a long way to convince the 4e nay sayers that the system isn't just a minitures wargame but an actual role playing game where story is important and can be carried.

I'm working on something myself but I'm no real author and really don't have the time or ability to do justice to the project, it's just as a hobby for me.

mistformsquirrl
2009-07-21, 07:51 PM
One thing I think is key - that must be lodged firmly in your mind - is that the rules simply do not matter.

They never have when it comes to novelizations; because the rules are a gross abstraction of reality - regardless of which edition you use. The only reason a work like say, OOTS, uses the rules at all, is for comedic value. In a work that's played rather straight though, it doesn't matter which ruleset you are under.

What might matter is the naming conventions for some spells. You aren't likely to hear a fighter in any edition (unless the fighter is a hambone) shout "Charging grapple attack!" or in 4th, the names of their various maneuvers. So following the convention of "Show, Don't Tell", the audience doesn't need to know specifically which maneuver was just used.

What they do need to know is "Thorg swept his axe skyward and brought it down on the hapless goblin, the tremendous force ripping the creature in half and cracking the basalt stone floor for several feet in every direction."

Spell naming conventions are important only in that it helps us identify effects; and this is the only area I can see any issue arising, as some effects are a little different between 3.5e and 4e.

This is where the good writer simply fudges it so that the effect is understood regardless of if it's a bit off from it's in-game incarnation.


---

To make a potentially enormous post relatively short:

You may never see any '4th edition novels' for the same reason I never really saw any 3rd edition novels. Or 2nd edition novels. Because the story has to be durable beyond the scope of an edition of a game and it's ruleset changes.

So when you write your story - don't worry about the specifics of "How big is an Otiluke's Freezing Sphere's effect in 3.5e vs 4e" or whatever the concern is - describe it as makes sense to you.

It's why, for example, if someone tossed a fireball in a novel, and it took out a 40ft wide room; no one is likely to mention that he was a 3.5e wizard with Enlarge Spell.

Instead he's a tremendously powerful mage who just *blew up an entire room* - and obviously someone you should be looking out for.

I hope I'm making sense, I have a bit of a headache and my writing can get confused when I'm like this - but the point I'm trying to make is that the rules edition needs to be largely ignored when writing a story. The story needs to fulfill it's own purpose - what you need to pay more attention to than the rules, is the fluff.

Look at the descriptions for spells and abilities and work those in where you can. An astute reader (assuming you've done your job as a writer) will probably pick up on what just happened. When something doesn't fit the rules, but does fit the story - most people will happily give you a pass for "Rule of Cool".

Of course I'll add that you'll *always* find people who'll hate you for not following the rules to the letter <x,x> but these aren't worth worrying about too much, because you will never please everyone when writing - or doing anything creative.

/ramble ramble - Yes I am a former English major/writing minor - whatcha want? >.>

*Edit*

Forgot to mention -

Part of the point of the above was to say:

"Thusly - any D&D based novel at all could be a 4th edition novel. Or it could be a 3e or 2e or OD&D novel".

The only way that would be untrue is in the areas where the fluff has changed - and in those cases it depends on the campaign setting the novel is set in; as that presents alternate fluff for a lot of things anyway.

HamHam
2009-07-21, 08:07 PM
[snip]

Except that the difference between a vancian system and the 4th edition system should be pretty freaking obvious.

Lord_Kimboat
2009-07-21, 08:18 PM
I'm not sure I completely agree Mistform. Most novels mention class (such as assassin, ranger, etc), there are also the other races, such as Dragonborn and Eladrin which there are not mentioned in even the most recent books.

I do agree that plot and characterisation, not rules should star in any novelisation. But I would say that the rules drive the story - what options are available to the characters.

The new options brought out in 4e are not following through to stories and I feel that that is a bit of a pity.

mistformsquirrl
2009-07-21, 08:22 PM
In a novel, it's not going to come up most of the time.

I mean really - how many books written during 3.5e is memorizing spells really paid much attention? Obviously I've not read them all; but I can only think of a few instances.

Usually, the plot dictates when a spellcaster runs out of magic - the same is true for 4e. You're either casting spells until you have no more memorized, or you're rotating through your Daily and Encounter powers until you're down to your "At Will" abilities.

The difference, from the perspective of the reader, is minimal. The only time you'll see questions arising are say... casting 2 fireballs in a row. In which case I again say - this is where things like Rule of Cool are more important, and why the story itself must supersede the rules.

The real question that needs to be asked in such a situation, is how does the campaign setting handle magic - and in particular, the difference between 3.5e and 4e spellcasting. Is there a fluff-wise difference? Or are we looking at the exact same thing, but by a completely different method of abstraction? (Ie: Are we looking at an apple and an orange, or are we looking at an apple, but from a different angle?)

That's going to vary by setting.

*edit*

Class mentions are going to vary as well.

Some classes remember, have social standing attatched to them. A Cleric, Paladin or Ranger is a specific position.

An assassin however - regardless of if you have levels in the class - is an occupation.

*double edit*

As to the other... Options have always been there.

Always.

Ask yourself this: Does one need an Avenger class in order to have an Avenger type character in a novel? (This is obviously just an example)

Of course not. The same character you see as a 4e class could be built purely in the imagination without any rules - it's not a "new option" from a novel writing perspective (which is what I'm pointing out here).

It's a character archetype that is available as soon as someone imagines it and writes it down. The same goes for new races or new special abilities.

Mando Knight
2009-07-21, 08:29 PM
The new options brought out in 4e are not following through to stories and I feel that that is a bit of a pity.

http://images2.wikia.nocookie.net/forgottenrealms/images/2/27/Swordmage_Cover.jpg

Gnomo
2009-07-21, 08:35 PM
I think the major nerf that Magic took on 4E is going to play against the coolness of 4E based stories, I mean how uncool is a character that can go invisible for just about 6 seconds? or a transmutation effect that lasts like 2 turns with luck?

HamHam
2009-07-21, 08:48 PM
The difference, from the perspective of the reader, is minimal. The only time you'll see questions arising are say... casting 2 fireballs in a row. In which case I again say - this is where things like Rule of Cool are more important, and why the story itself must supersede the rules.

If you need to ignore the rules to write a good story, this would seem to be a problem with the rules.

mistformsquirrl
2009-07-21, 08:59 PM
I would disagree - the rules are designed for a roleplaying game. That requires some limitations that a novel simply does not.

Think of it this way:

At the gaming table, rules are generally necessary to keep things interesting and a bit random. After all - the purpose of playing a game rather than reading a story is to participate and influence the outcome of said story.

Reading a novel is altogether different. The writer already knows what happens (a DM, barring a super-railroader) - won't. A DM needs a way to balance the character's power in relation to the monsters, and vice-versa, because if one or the other is too powerful, it'll get boring.

An author does not need that balance.

An alternate example - If I'm writing a story, and the protaginst attacks an orc, should I be rolling a d20 before I determine if they hit?*

Generally speaking, no. You probably had in mind, before the scene ever came up, how it was going to evolve. Is the attack going to be successful? Perhaps the first blow will miss and result in the orc grappling the protagonist?

To shorten it up:

The rules are needed for most tabletop gaming. They do not however work very well as a novel writing tool; most especially since they're based on concerns that do not actually make sense from the perspective of the characters. (The concerns being balance and playability - both of which result in a great deal of abstraction.)

*edit*

A secondary example:

You have a character fighting a Giant; but they manage to slay it with a single well-placed blow. A longsword to the heart?

Verisimilitude says that's probably lethal. Most D&D giants however aren't going to die from a single crit with a longsword - not unless you've got a ton of strength behind it.

If you went by the rules, it'd still require several more attacks before going down for most characters; unless their weapon is suitably enchanted/exotic.

HamHam
2009-07-21, 09:03 PM
I would disagree - the rules are designed for a roleplaying game. That requires some limitations that a novel simply does not.

Think of it this way:

At the gaming table, rules are generally necessary to keep things interesting and a bit random. After all - the purpose of playing a game rather than reading a story is to participate and influence the outcome of said story.

Reading a novel is altogether different. The writer already knows what happens (a DM, barring a super-railroader) - won't. A DM needs a way to balance the character's power in relation to the monsters, and vice-versa, because if one or the other is too powerful, it'll get boring.

An author does not need that balance.

An alternate example - If I'm writing a story, and the protaginst attacks an orc, should I be rolling a d20 before I determine if they hit?*

Generally speaking, no. You probably had in mind, before the scene ever came up, how it was going to evolve. Is the attack going to be successful? Perhaps the first blow will miss and result in the orc grappling the protagonist?

You certainly need to be able to at least fake uncertainty within a story.

Furthermore, magic systems should actually represent how magic works in a setting.

Corvus
2009-07-21, 09:07 PM
For me personally a series of stories revolving around the new Primal power source would be awesome. It is so thematic and different than in older editions of D&D that is just cries out for some novels.

One of the short stories I wrote (The Hall of Black Trees) has a character who has aspects of the warden class about him - assuming forms to aid in combat, entangling foes in wild growth, that kind of thing.

Mando Knight
2009-07-21, 09:08 PM
You certainly need to be able to at least fake uncertainty within a story.

Yes, but a writer does not care about hit points or to-hit bonuses, or AC, unless they're writing a story that parodies game systems that do. The Giant doesn't have exact character sheets for everyone in OotS, he just adjudicates the combat as would be dramatically appropriate for the situation.

mistformsquirrl
2009-07-21, 09:14 PM
Well yes you need to fake the uncertainty - but that has nothing to do with the rules - that's purely based on writing skill.

As for magic system - this depends on the campaign setting: Not the RPG it's based on.

Ask yourself this:

Is magic the same in Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, and Eberron?

The effects are certainly similar; which means that no matter what the underlying system is, the actual spells we see are going to be roughly the same.

But what about the underlying system? In Faerun, you've got magic handed down directly by gods (cleric spells). In Eberron, it's not the god that hands you your spells - but rather your belief in that divinity. (Again assuming Cleric)

In 4e "base" setting (is there a name for it? Is it considered Greyhawk still? Been awhile) - Clerics get their power from their investure by the church.

Fundamentally different for all 3 when you get down to it, right? But the actual effects that people see - those are relatively similar.

Remember - a person who's living the experience isn't going to ask "Am I using a healing surge or getting healed for 3d8+ caster level?" when the cleric heals you. What they see is:

"A soft golden glow flows from the priests hands and the wound begins to close, then fades away entirely."

To address the other point:

The nature of magic does not care what the rules are for the RPG - it cares as to how the universe is actually organized.

3.5e Eberron and Faerun both use Vancian spellcasting; but their divine casters get their power in a very different fashion. What the reader is going to see, when those differences are explored, is not the Vancian system - but rather the difference between Faerunian faith and Eberron faith.

An internally consistent magic system within the context of a story is not the same as a magic system by which you roleplay. The former is an explanation of the "why's" and "how's" of magic. The latter is a means to allow a player or DM to use magic in their game in a manner that's actually relatively understandable.

HamHam
2009-07-21, 09:16 PM
Yes, but a writer does not care about hit points or to-hit bonuses, or AC, unless they're writing a story that parodies game systems that do. The Giant doesn't have exact character sheets for everyone in OotS, he just adjudicates the combat as would be dramatically appropriate for the situation.

Except that all of those exist only to mimic the act of taking a sharp metal object and swinging it at someone's head. They do not introduce anything unique to the setting.

The same is not true of magic systems. The limitations of what mages can do or not do and how all that works is handled in great detail in any setting with Functional Magic. This is true whether you are talking about a novel in that setting or an RPG of that setting.

Ridureyu
2009-07-21, 09:33 PM
Forget the magic system, I just want to know when I'm going to see the Elemental Chaos, Shadowfell, or Feywild in a novel.

PairO'Dice Lost
2009-07-21, 09:40 PM
An internally consistent magic system within the context of a story is not the same as a magic system by which you roleplay. The former is an explanation of the "why's" and "how's" of magic. The latter is a means to allow a player or DM to use magic in their game in a manner that's actually relatively understandable.

In 3e novels, however, it's obvious that the novels follow the rules to a good extent--I mean, when someone's casting a fireball they actually mention pulling out bat guano and sulfur, for gods' sake! If 4e magic can't be represented well in the narrative despite the at-will/encounter/daily magic hewing closer to more fantasy tropes, while the the atypical Vancian magic of 3e can be integrated seamlessly, then as HamHam said that implies an issue with the rules being mimicked.

mistformsquirrl
2009-07-21, 10:30 PM
Maybe I'm just reading different novels I guess. Most of what I read has never made me think of the rules at all; which is in my mind a good thing. (I mostly read Forgotten Realms as I enjoy the setting; though I dabbled in Dragonlance some time ago - been awhile though; actually been awhile since I got to read much of anything *grumble*)

Stuff like material components is something I'd expect to be dependent on setting, rather than the RPG rules. Really not sure how that's necessarily a convention of Vancian magic specifically; as historically magic has often included various physical components.

I mean, if a setting asks you to have material components - why *wouldn't* a 4e novel in the exact same setting use those components to? Likewise if a setting does not require those components, why would a 3e novel use them? The rules of magic for a given universe need to be consistent across the story - or in this case, meta-story of the universe.

What I'm saying - boiled down a bit:

Following the fluff of a given universe is more important than following the crunch on which that universe operates when played as an RPG.

(With that, I'ma take my leave for now as I need to sleep <x.x> been up too long)

DragonBaneDM
2009-07-21, 10:41 PM
Forget the magic system, I just want to know when I'm going to see the Elemental Chaos, Shadowfell, or Feywild in a novel.

I like where Ridureyu is going here. There's a lot of new gods and storyline changes that would make good novels.

The Fall of the Nerath Empire, Bael Turath's and Arkhosia's Grand Campaigns, The Rise of Tharizdun, and Orcus's Triumph over the Raven Queen.

I could see a lot of the stuff put out as the generic 4e setting used in the PHB1 as fuel for an author's mind.

Is that more or less what you were getting at, Kimboat?

Ridureyu
2009-07-22, 12:05 AM
I want to see an accomplished novelist describe something like a Fire or Storm Titan.

Lord_Kimboat
2009-07-22, 01:15 AM
Is that more or less what you were getting at, Kimboat?

Very much so. Things I'm thinking about are:-
Races - Dragonborn, Deva, Genasi and all the rest - using their racial abilities. We've all seen the Drow faerie fire and darkness in various novels but there haven't been any Dragonborn breath weapons or Eladrin feystep!

Classes - There are stories that talk abou the difference between sorcerers and wizards but what about warlocks? We've had lots of explanation of rogues backstabbing but I've never seen marking (in various ways) in any book!

Powers - Aside from the spells which can be represented in a lot of ways, I'd like to see things in print about fighter's stances or how a swordmage uses his magic and melee prowess to protect people.

There are a lot of people out there that don't like 4e, the reasons they state is that it is too much like a MMORPG. They may be right but if we can get the game (and thus gamers) to focus more on story and less on rules I think the whole system will be better off.

The New Bruceski
2009-07-22, 04:11 AM
I was going to ask what about the Dragonlance books pin down their edition, but Caramon was a big useless idiot kept around for Raistlin's amusement, so I guess that's a bad example.

Burley
2009-07-22, 07:42 AM
http://images2.wikia.nocookie.net/forgottenrealms/images/2/27/Swordmage_Cover.jpg

I thought about getting it. Can anybody tell me if it's any good? Seems right up my alley.

PairO'Dice Lost
2009-07-22, 07:56 AM
Stuff like material components is something I'd expect to be dependent on setting, rather than the RPG rules. Really not sure how that's necessarily a convention of Vancian magic specifically; as historically magic has often included various physical components.

I mean, if a setting asks you to have material components - why *wouldn't* a 4e novel in the exact same setting use those components to? Likewise if a setting does not require those components, why would a 3e novel use them? The rules of magic for a given universe need to be consistent across the story - or in this case, meta-story of the universe.

My point wasn't just that the 3e novels use material components, it's that they mimic the rules very well, to the point that they specifically mention the material components that many players gloss over.

If you look at the War of the Spider Queen series, for instance, there's a duel between a powerful drow wizard and a lich. They describe some pre-battle buffs, some reconnaissance, and so on--not in rules-heavy detail, but you can tell what spells they're using if you know D&D. In the duel itself, the author mentions contingencies, antimagic field, gate, using staffs, shapechange, globe of invulnerability, and other staples of the rules--again, not in a blatant this-is-based-on-a-game way and most often not even by name, but if you play D&D you can identify every one of those spells and tell that they're accurately depicted, and it doesn't bring you out of the narrative at all.

In contrast, in Swordmage, powers are described in two ways, from what I remember. (Keep in mind I just re-read the WotSQ but haven't read Swordmage in a while.) Either a power is described in such a way that you don't have a clue what it is but know they're using a power--such as a few "with a great burst of effort..."-type clauses they recycled a few times--or it's described in a way such that you recognize the power but it breaks immersion a bit (instead of "oh yeah, he just used a fireball, cool" it's "well, I know power X slides you 2, but couldn't you have made the description flow a bit better?")

Maybe it's just that Swordmage deals with a martial character, for whom it's difficult to justify daily and encounter powers and signify you're using a limited resource without either making no sense or repeating the same phrases (it's doable, I know, just difficult in a novel form where readers can look back and see you repeated yourself) rather than a wizard for whom "it's magic, you can use it once" makes sense. Either way, I definitely think the 3e novels do the system better justice than the 4e novels.

Burley
2009-07-22, 08:19 AM
Maybe it's just that Swordmage deals with a martial character... ~snip~

Maybe I'm reading too far into this... But, Swordmage deals with martial and arcane characters. I'm sure it'll be easier to spot Greenfire Blade and Lightning Lure than you make it out to be.

Person_Man
2009-07-22, 09:13 AM
For what it's worth, a lot of the 2nd edition rules were used directly in the characterizations of the novels (especially the Drizzt novels), which in turn had a huge impact on how 3.0 was written. I had a huge collection of D&D books when I was growing up, and they motivated me to play the game more.

While the 4E rules are far more elegant then 3.5, they do not lend themselves to storytelling. A lot of rules have very little "in world" explanation for why they do what they do:

There's a very thin fluff explanation for the Per Day/Encounter/At Will use of powers.
Why would every character of a certain level of experience or higher have the exact same number of abilities?
The Saving Throw mechanic (which effects virtually every multi-round ability). Why would a kobold have the same chance of ending a power as Orcus?
There's very little explanation about what powers look like, how they work, etc.


Now I'm not advocating any change to the 4E rules. WotC set out to make a game that's easy to learn and fun, and they succeeded. But I do agree with the sentiment of PairO'Dice and others. Previous editions of D&D went to great lengths to model "world simulation." That's great for story telling, and horrible for balance and ease of mechanics. 4E has easy mechanics, but makes little attempt to model the "physics" of the game world.

PairO'Dice Lost
2009-07-22, 09:37 AM
Maybe I'm reading too far into this... But, Swordmage deals with martial and arcane characters. I'm sure it'll be easier to spot Greenfire Blade and Lightning Lure than you make it out to be.

Well, when I say "deals with a martial character" I mean that what's-his-name the main character tends to mostly fight in melee and supplement this with spells, so you see more martial stuff than arcane. The lich at the end didn't get enough screen time to tell if magic is better portrayed in general, but I hear the sequels have more arcane characters (don't know, haven't read them) so it might be just this book in particular.

mistformsquirrl
2009-07-22, 05:46 PM
If you look at the War of the Spider Queen series, for instance, there's a duel between a powerful drow wizard and a lich. They describe some pre-battle buffs, some reconnaissance, and so on--not in rules-heavy detail, but you can tell what spells they're using if you know D&D. In the duel itself, the author mentions contingencies, antimagic field, gate, using staffs, shapechange, globe of invulnerability, and other staples of the rules--again, not in a blatant this-is-based-on-a-game way and most often not even by name, but if you play D&D you can identify every one of those spells and tell that they're accurately depicted, and it doesn't bring you out of the narrative at all.

In contrast, in Swordmage, powers are described in two ways, from what I remember. (Keep in mind I just re-read the WotSQ but haven't read Swordmage in a while.) Either a power is described in such a way that you don't have a clue what it is but know they're using a power--such as a few "with a great burst of effort..."-type clauses they recycled a few times--or it's described in a way such that you recognize the power but it breaks immersion a bit (instead of "oh yeah, he just used a fireball, cool" it's "well, I know power X slides you 2, but couldn't you have made the description flow a bit better?")

See - here's where I think we're missing each other's points:

I'm saying that - regardless of how it works in tabletop, the actual effect on the 'reality' of a story by a given spell is going to be roughly the same.

For example:

A fireball cast under 4e rules as opposed to 3.5e rules is still a fireball to the guy who just got nuked with it.

A healing spell is still a healing spell.

A magical sphere that blocks spells is still a magical sphere that blocks spells.

I'm not quite understanding your argument that "you could tell they followed the rules"; because if it's written in an in-universe way, the effect is going to remain the same even if the rules underpinning that effect are radically different.

The only time there's an issue as I see it, is if a spell has been altered to unrecognizability (ie: same name, fundamentally different effect)/deleted altogether. (New spells should be easy enough to fit in.)

--

As for Swordmage - I've not read it, so I can't judge.

I think part of the problem here is that we're using very different perspectives though. I'm looking this, first and foremost as a writer of fiction*. Specifically as someone who's interested in creating good, durable fiction that - even if it is pulpy - could be enjoyed even if the RPG had never been attached to it.

In other words: I see no reason for the shift between 3e and 4e, or 2e to 3e for that matter, to make any difference in the writing beyond the addition of effects perhaps. To me: A fireball is a fireball; regardless of if it's a 3rd level spell or an Encounter power or what have you. If a spell has vanished between editions, then the author needs to decide if that is due to some change in-universe or not - and if it isn't, decide how to implement a given effect.

At any rate though >.> sorry for the derail of the thread. I got a little carried away as I sometimes do <>.<> Just trying to help.


*I write fiction - I'm not great at it by any stretch; and I'm not published. I just wanted to note that despite this being my perspective <,< I'm not using this to claim any kind of high ground. It's just one perspective; and as with all aspects of creativity... there isn't really a right or wrong way to do something; though there are ways I certainly feel create a better story. Basically I don't want to sound like an arrogant jerk while explaining my opinion >.> which I realize I sometimes do despite best efforts <x,x>m

HamHam
2009-07-22, 06:11 PM
A healing spell is still a healing spell.

Not really. I haven't read many D&D novels, but I would guess that one's using 3rd would include things like a Cleric just going "bam, you heal" because that's how healing works.

On the other hand, Wheel of Time has magical healing leave you tired and weak and thus the d20 WoT system has healing spells that change damage to non-lethal damage.

In a 4th ed book, you would need to involve healing surges and crap.

Mando Knight
2009-07-22, 06:18 PM
In a 4th ed book, you would need to involve healing surges and crap.

No, you don't. Healing Surges are an abstraction for the purpose of balancing the game system. You don't need to explicitly include gamist abstractions in novels unless it's a rather metafictional book.

Faleldir
2009-07-22, 06:24 PM
Illusion spells in 4e are not an abstraction. They could have easily been more open-ended and had nonviolent applications. Now they are mind rape. There is a huge gap between the mechanical effects of 4e powers and what they represent.

HamHam
2009-07-22, 06:34 PM
No, you don't. Healing Surges are an abstraction for the purpose of balancing the game system. You don't need to explicitly include gamist abstractions in novels unless it's a rather metafictional book.

But what are they an abstraction of? The fact that there is a limit to how much you can heal in a day?

Because that fact itself would be the distinguishing feature. In 3.5, and thus a book using that magic system, you can heal over and over again as long as you can find someone to cast the spells. In 4th, and thus a book using that magic system, you couldn't do this.

Tiki Snakes
2009-07-22, 07:04 PM
But what are they an abstraction of? The fact that there is a limit to how much you can heal in a day?

Because that fact itself would be the distinguishing feature. In 3.5, and thus a book using that magic system, you can heal over and over again as long as you can find someone to cast the spells. In 4th, and thus a book using that magic system, you couldn't do this.

That seems a sound understanding. In 4th, you can only heal someone so much, there is a point beyond which healing becomes...difficult. You could squeeze more healing out, via certain classes and powers, because I'm sure one or two allow the healer to spend their 'energy' (healing surges) to heal the wounded in question.

Conversely, depending on how you understand hp to work, it's more difficult to heal a nearly slain Hero than a commoner of the lowest, weakest order. *shrug*

I don't read DnD novels for many reasons. The simple fact that I suspect they aren't (by my taste, of course) the highest quality stuff is possibly the main reason. The idea that they have obvious call-outs to the way the RPG functions, including spell names and what have you...does not help. :)

That goes reguardless of what 'edition' the book has been published during.

mistformsquirrl
2009-07-22, 07:19 PM
Not really. I haven't read many D&D novels, but I would guess that one's using 3rd would include things like a Cleric just going "bam, you heal" because that's how healing works.

On the other hand, Wheel of Time has magical healing leave you tired and weak and thus the d20 WoT system has healing spells that change damage to non-lethal damage.

In a 4th ed book, you would need to involve healing surges and crap.

See I think this is where there's some mis-conflation of in-universe rules (WoT's method of healing) - with RPG rules (healing surges).

WoT's method is something that occurs in-universe. It's part of the way magic works within the setting.

Healing surges? No setting I know of references them. They're an abstraction of two seperate things put together:

1) The body's ability to push itself further than expected (Second Wind; healing surges used out of combat)

2) The shift in focus of healing itself from a resource primarily of the caster - to a resource of the player being healed. (Exceptions exist of course) - This being by and large a rule consideration.

The former is a concern that can be represented (and indeed, even in fiction unrelated to D&D is represented) purely in an in-universe fashion.

Ex: "Moments after the last troll fell, Molvon set down his axe and then fell to the floor, sprawled on his back. His breathing was loud and full, and his sweat mixed with dirt and troll blood to create a thin slime across his skin... but he was alive.

He rested for several minutes, recovering himself both physically and mentally for the journey ahead, and soon thereafter forged deeper into the labyrinth."

That could represent the use of an out of combat healing surge... Or it could be from just about any piece of fantasy fiction really. Resting after a fight is commonplace, no?

Magical healing doesn't change this - the way it looks to the reader is the same; the only time it may become an issue is the 'limit' (ie: the target has run out of healing surges) - which honestly isn't much different than the caster running out of spells.

4e, as a gamist concern, shifts the resource burden a bit - but from a fluff standpoint the power is still mostly coming from the caster; and so a description is likely to look at it from that angle.

Like I said though - above anything, my goal is to create good (or at least readable) fiction.

Again though, that's just my PoV.


*edit*

To address the concern above -

I think this is getting into a question of how much you're really going to need this is the average novel to begin with. Most novels that I've read tend to be rather light on heals; because they remove a lot of dramatic tension.

"He was struck a nearly mortal blow... but the cleric standing behind him playing positive-energy patty-cake with his back put him back to fighting trim."

I don't think on average you'll be hitting any sort of absolute limit under either system - and like I said, spells tend to run out when it's convenient for the plot. (Similar to 'bottomless magazines' in action movies)

The New Bruceski
2009-07-22, 07:31 PM
One could also consider healing surges as the new nonlethal damage, putting 4e healing closer to the WoT method. Using the body's own resources to heal itself (or in the case of martial healing, inspiring the person to grit his teeth and work through the pain). A full discussion on that is something for another thread, though. It just occurred to me as a way to translate a game mechanics concept to something people would more easily accept appearing in a novel.

As for good D&D literature, I've enjoyed all the Dragonlance novels I've read. I think in part that's because they defined the world (while still being D&D books) and then the campaign setting was built around them. I don't know if the Forgotten Realms books were the same, or more constrained to established lore.

HamHam
2009-07-22, 07:41 PM
and like I said, spells tend to run out when it's convenient for the plot. (Similar to 'bottomless magazines' in action movies)

If the work is poorly written maybe.

If it isn't, character abilities should be fairly consistent. If the protagonist can make a dozen fireballs before he tires out or runs out of magic one day, then he should be able to do the same thing the next (assuming he rested obviously).

If the protagonists fights twenty orcs and kills them easily in one chapter, he shouldn't somehow lose to five orcs later on in the story.

PairO'Dice Lost
2009-07-22, 08:07 PM
I'm not quite understanding your argument that "you could tell they followed the rules"; because if it's written in an in-universe way, the effect is going to remain the same even if the rules underpinning that effect are radically different.

The only time there's an issue as I see it, is if a spell has been altered to unrecognizability (ie: same name, fundamentally different effect)/deleted altogether. (New spells should be easy enough to fit in.)

The argument isn't "you can tell they followed the rules," but rather "you can tell they followed the rules without breaking suspension of disbelief." In the 3e novels, someone waves their hands and poof! Fireball! In a 4e novel, someone waves their hands and poof! Fireball! The straight-up damage stuff is the same.

However, when it comes to things like forced movement or healing surges, the descriptions--not all of them, mind, just enough to be readily noted--are obviously game rules translated to a novel, to the point where you can say "Okay, by the writing I can tell he just used 3 surges there" and such. I don't have the book on hand for a particular quote, but you get the idea. It's kind of like some of Salvatore's fight scenes in the early Drizzt books, where the writing basically looks like he's trying to take "Drizzt attacks X, hit, hit, miss, hit; X attacks Drizzt, miss; Drizzt attacks X, hit, hit, kill" and faithfully represent that instead of making it more fluid and "real-time."

mistformsquirrl
2009-07-22, 08:14 PM
I agree - but remember you're touching on upper limits of character ability - which only get displayed when the plot actually demands it.

There aren't too many scenes where a character is actually going to go through 12 fireballs (for example). When it *does* happen - it's usually close to an important plot point.

Either they've been fighting for awhile, and are worn down; or their magic has been drained somehow, or some other limiting factor comes into play. You very rarely end up in a situation where a character consistently runs out of 'ammo' as it were, because most encounters, despite the time it takes to actually describe them, are generally rather short.

Even most RA Salvatore fights - which can get needlessly complex, probably only last about 2-3 minutes; maybe as much as 10 in some extreme examples. (Exceptions of course for siege situations and large field engagements - but again, these are usually major plot points)

As for the 20 orcs example: That varies widely now doesn't it?

What if those orcs are the chieftain's elite guards, equipped with magic armor and enchanted halberds?

Or what if those orcs get the drop on said character?

Perhaps they have someone important hostage?

There's going to have to be some mitigating factor to why they'd lose to a smaller number of the same enemy they've been walloping of course - but discounting it as a possibility on the whole doesn't quite work.

I probably didn't do a very good job explaining what I meant before though by "spells run out when it's convienent".

What I should have said - to clarify - was that even in an internally consistent fashion, spells aren't likely to run out until it's convenient *because* unless the author isn't paying attention - they aren't liable to put the character in a situation where all of that ability will be used - unless there is a plot point to be had thereby.

In other words - the character won't run out of magic until it's convenient, because even though the magic system is internally consistent - the writer won't put them into a position where they'll run out of magic *unless* there's a reason to do so.

A possible example of a plot point that isn't necessarily "the climax":

The character is relatively new to their trade - we'll say they're a Fighter/Mage type, and they've been fighting for hours; perhaps all day. They've tossed all their fireballs. The energy simply is not there to cast more. (Insert your in-universe reason why this is so here - this reason is of course going to determine how the rest of the encounter plays out - so it's kind of a big deal.)

Why did the author set this situation up in the first place (because nothing in a book "just happens" - there's no completely 'random encounters' in most novels; at the very least they are there to provide padding and entertainment)? Most likely to do one of two things:

1 - The author wants you to see what the character does when the magic runs out. Possibly just an excuse to 'show off' their combat writing; othertimes it's just important to see how potent or weak the character is sans-spells.

2 - The author wants to do something to the character, but doing this while the character has access to magic is nigh-impossible. Sometimes they need to be captured to advance the plot.

Other times they need to be made to see that they can't win every battle alone - when the magic is gone perhaps they have to retreat and find their comrades.

It's also possible that it's the catalyst to convince the character to work harder at mundane combat.

Etc...

I hope I'm making sense here >.< I'm trying to explain that - while I agree the magic usage needs to be consistent - you're not going to hit those upper-tier limits of ability until the author deems it proper.

Everything serves a purpose in a book - even if that purpose is just to show off a character to a reader; or an attempt to entertain a particular audience with something deliberately targetted at them. (manga fanservice being an example)

Tabletop isn't like that - sometimes you have a DM who runs out of material, or is just winging it and tosses whatever they can think of at you until the end of the session. (Sometimes because you went off the rails and he or she is too busy going "DAMN YOU!!!" in the back of their head)

Thus - where your characters resources in a tabletop game may regularly hit their limits... a protagonist in a book is hitting those limits when the author deems it right. The smart author makes sure those limits are consistent with the setting the story is told in (or provides a good reason that they aren't) - but nevertheless that's how it works out.

As a quick example:

A character can cast fireball just once per-day; Colorspray three times, and grease twice. (I'm just making this up off the top of my head here)

The author isn't going to be using all of those spells at once on a regular basis - they'll pace the encounters the character has until either it's time for the plot point to come up (ie: out of resources!) - or let them rest and recover if it's not yet time.

That said in a book, you're also going to - usually - get less combat than a dungeon crawl too.

*edit*

Not entirely sure I follow you there... I'm not really arguing that 4e novels are good or bad here. I've not really read any that I'm aware of.

If the books are poorly written, then I'd argue the problem lies with the author, and too much attempt to be faithful to RPG rules when good writing should take precedence.

Mostly I'm arguing that the game rules cannot be the ultimate determinate for fiction; and that trying to use them as anything more than the barest of guides is going to cause consistency problems because the editions will keep rolling - which means if you want to follow the actual RPG rules in-story, you have to keep re-making the universe.

*double edit*

>.> Just in case anyone replies to this later; I'm gonna back out of this thread now hehe <@[email protected]>m it's been surprisingly enjoyable debating this with you all <~_~> kinda just need to back away from argument mode for awhile though. Wears me out <>.<>b

PairO'Dice Lost
2009-07-23, 07:34 AM
Mostly I'm arguing that the game rules cannot be the ultimate determinate for fiction; and that trying to use them as anything more than the barest of guides is going to cause consistency problems because the editions will keep rolling - which means if you want to follow the actual RPG rules in-story, you have to keep re-making the universe.

Well, Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms have certainly taken the "When in doubt, apocalypse" route, and each time it did so an interesting story resulted, so it's not necessarily a bad thing to reboot things. (Though I'd argue FR's Spellplague wasn't so much a reboot as a polymorph any object into Eberron-lite, but that's another issue.)

Saph
2009-07-23, 08:07 AM
I hope I'm making sense here >.< I'm trying to explain that - while I agree the magic usage needs to be consistent - you're not going to hit those upper-tier limits of ability until the author deems it proper.

It works differently in 4e, though. A wizard in 3.5 can have pretty much any combination of spells, dependent only on power.

In 4e, though, they can have only one per day of their powerful spells. A 4e wizard casts Fireball? That's it, he can't cast another until he's rested. I disagree that you're going to go a long time before running into those limits - you'll run into them almost immediately!

On the other hand, a 3.5 wizard is going to run out of magic eventually, after enough encounters. A 4e wizard, on the other hand, literally can't run out of spells; it's impossible. He can keep on firing his At-Wills until he falls asleep on his feet. And again, this is something you're going to notice very quickly; one guy has to worry about running out, the other doesn't.

So a wizard in the 4e world is going to function very differently from a wizard in the 3.5 one. Apart from anything else, tactics work completely differently in the two systems; 'run the guy out of resources' is a valid tactic in 3.5 and a hopeless one in 4e. And this carries over into the novels.

- Saph