Rather belatedly, Day 10 of #RPGaDAY.
10. Favourite Tie In Novel/Game Fiction
The first series of books I’m going to talk about strangely didn’t really cross my mind until a friend talked about another series in the same setting. We’re going into the grim, dark future of the 41st Millennium.
The story of the Tanith First and Only Imperial Guard regiment, the Gaunt’s Ghosts novels really capture the atmosphere of the Warhammer 40,000 setting, and showcase its varied worlds to great effect. As with the Ciaphas Cain novels (although nowhere near as light-hearted), they tone the grimdark down a little to make a more coherent setting, one you could actually believe people could live in. And by doing so, Dan Abnett really get you to invest in the fates of the soldiers of the First and Only, the citizens of the Imperium they fight to protect, and their successes and failures.
I’ve not read the whole series, but so far it’s done an excellent job of showing the sprawling bureaucracy of the Administratum, the uncaring upper echelons of the Imperial Guard, the deep faith in the Imperial Creed that pervades the setting, and how uncomfortably strange yet familiar the forces of Chaos can be. The numerous worlds the First and Only visit are all pleasingly distinct from one another, and bring across a lot more character than just another battlefield.
So why didn’t this series initially cross my mind? Because I inherently associate it with wargaming rather than roleplaying, despite the excellent Warhammer 40,000 RPGs that have been produced by Fantasy Flight. The RPG Only War is even designed specifically to tell stories about the men and women of the Imperial Guard.
If nothing else, the Gaunt’s Ghosts novels are the starting point I’d recommend for anyone wanting to get into the Warhammer 40,000 setting for the first time. While they assume a little prior knowledge, their “Sharpe in Space” aspect make them an easy entry point to the sprawling and complex setting of the 40k universe.
So, what’s book’s my favourite RPG fiction? I’m going to go for A Hunger Like Fire, the first of the Vampire: the Requiem novels that White Wolf produced.
It’s written by Greg Stolze, which is always a good starting point in my opinion, and follows the stories of several Kindred in Chicago. The two main characters are Bruce (“Bruise”), a very recently Embraced Nosferatu, and Persephone, the favoured childe of the Prince of Chicago.
Through the eyes of these two neonates, we’re introduced to the complexities of the highly political society of the Kindred, see the benefits that status and recognition bring, and experience the deprived existence of a new vampire with no pull. It’s an excellent introduction to the setting, and is almost required reading for anyone planning on running a Vampire: the Requiem game.
The second book in the series – Blood In, Blood Out – isn’t as well done (partly, I suspect, because of a change in author), but does introduce more of the Covenant politics and has some of the best and skin crawling descriptions of a mutual blood bond. Unfortunately I’ve not yet read the third title – The Marriage of Virtue and Visciousness – but I’m optimistic about it as it’s written Greg Stolze once more.
The Gaunt’s Ghosts novels are available online from a number of sources. The Black Library website is probably the most complete collection of them, and includes a number of ebook and audiobook options.
A Hunger Like Fire is now out of it’s original print run, but you can get it from DriveThruFiction in PDF format. There’s no shortage of second hand copies on Amazon if you prefer physical books.