D&D General Most D&D Fiction That Isn't D&D Fiction

Reynard

Legend
I am listening to the audiobook of The Black Company right now (I have read a couple of the stand alone novels in the past, but never managed to get to the original novels), and it is the most D&D fiction I have ever encountered. It could straight up be a 1E campaign diary (except, you know, it's good).

What fiction have you encountered that was not branded D&D fiction that gave you the sense that it was, in fact, D&D fiction?

Difficulty: you can't choose anything from Appendix N or, really, anything from before D&D existed. No inspirational works, just things that have come out since and give you the "that's D&D" vibe. Also, it doesn't matter if it's good or not.
 

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The Old Kingdom books by Garth Nix.

It has classes (though technically they're more like clans): the Wallmakers, the Clayr, the Abhorsen family, the royal family, regular necromancers, regular charter mages, etc. It has an extant (though not very explicitly-defined) magic system, one which permits the creation of magic items including both temporary consumables and permanent enchanted objects, based on the use of special symbols. It has (in-story) bestiaries and complex classifications of both dead/necromatic beings and "free magic elemental"-type beings, which require certain specific actions to defeat or contain. There are even familiars (called "sendings" IIRC) and ritual magic effects. The bells absolutely feel like they share a lot in common with spell levels, though with a more "maneuver"-like twist (particularly the techniques that require ringing two bells at once.)

Then, from a narrative perspective, it absolutely reads like a good piece of fiction based off of a couple of campaigns. The weird gymnastics required for Lirael to be Sabriel's half-sister, for example, look a lot like a DM's post-hoc retcon to bring together an old campaign and a new one. Both stories have a clear "final boss" (Kerrigor for the first book, for example) and involve both NPC allies and PCs (Touchstone, Sabriel, and Mogget for the first group; Lirael, Sameth, the Disreputable Dog, and Mogget for the second group.) Some of the swerves absolutely have a smell of "DM improvising wildly as she goes," like the Disreputable Dog's appearance in Lirael.

The Old Kingdom is by far the most D&D-like fiction I've ever read. It helps that the stories are also quite good.
 

Reynard

Legend
The Powder Mage (at least the first book) definitely felt like someone's homebrew campaign in novel form. It wasn't good and I couldn't finish the first one, but it qualified as "D&D like" for sure.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Joel Rosenberg's Guardians of the Flame series (first three and best three books The Sleeping Dragon, The Sword & the Chain, and The Silver Crown) is a series first published starting in 1983, about a group of college students playing Not-D&D (just D&D with the serial numbers filed off) who get transported into their campaign world and the bodies of their characters, and have to deal with it. Surprisingly good, and dark.

Elizabeth Moon's excellent The Deed of Paksennarion (first published 1988) is a series of books about a young woman running away from her sheepfarming home to become a mercenary soldier, and from there an adventuring fighter and then a paladin. Written by a former USMC officer, clearly inspired by D&D and the desire to better represent what a medieval fantasy military and training would look like, and what Paladins would really be like. She goes to the extent of diagetically explaining (first in a classroom instruction scene, and shown in practice in multiple scenes) why paladins need a lot of charisma! The second book also famously features a town which is basically a revamp of Hommlet and a short dungeon crawl type sequence clearly inspired by the moathouse, both from module T1.
 
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Reynard

Legend
Joel Rosenberg's Guardians of the Flame series (first three and best three books The Sleeping Dragon, The Sword & the Chain, and The Silver Crown) is a series first published starting in 1983, about a group of college students playing Not-D&D (just D&D with the serial numbers filed off) who get transported into their campaign world and the bodies of their characters, and have to deal with it. Surprisingly good, and dark.
This was my first "adult" fantasy novel series. I was 11, which was definitely too young for it, but it made a huge impact on me. I love these books enough not to read them again as an adult.
Elizabeth Moon's excellent The Deed of Paksennarion (first published 1988) is a series of books about a young woman running away from her sheepfarming home to become a mercenary soldier, and from there an adventuring fighter and then a paladin. Written by a former USMC officer, clearly inspired by D&D and the desire to better represent what a medieval fantasy military and training would look like, and what Paladins would really be like. She goes to the extent of diagetically explaining (first in a classroom instruction scene, and shown in practice in multiple scenes) why paladins need a lot of charisma! The second book also famously features a town which is basically a revamp of Hommlet and a short dungeon crawl type sequence clearly inspired by the moathouse, both from module T1.
I keep meaning to read this series. I have the first one in paperback, actually, but keep getting distracted by writing, Skyrim and Disney+.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
This was my first "adult" fantasy novel series. I was 11, which was definitely too young for it, but it made a huge impact on me. I love these books enough not to read them again as an adult.
I got into them a little older, and have re-read them. They hold up far better than some of my other teenage reading, like Dragonlance. Not the best things I've ever read, but genuinely still good.

I keep meaning to read this series. I have the first one in paperback, actually, but keep getting distracted by writing, Skyrim and Disney+.
They're really worth it. You can usually only buy the first three books in paperback as a collected omnibus now, but 10 or 15 years ago Baen did a promotional release of the first book in softcovers for $2. I think I bought ten copies to distribute to friends who hadn't read the series yet.
 
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Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Robert E. Feist's Midkemia books. In some of the fight scenes you can almost hear the dice rolling. There's another scene where a named character splits off, and a not-NPC suddenly steps forward and gets a name.
Ah, it's been years since I thought of these, but yeah. Especially the first few books.
 

Reynard

Legend
Robert E. Feist's Midkemia books. In some of the fight scenes you can almost hear the dice rolling. There's another scene where a named character splits off, and a not-NPC suddenly steps forward and gets a name.
Yeah. the early ones at least are explicitly based on their campaign from the early 80s.
 

Reynard

Legend
Robert E. Feist's Midkemia books. In some of the fight scenes you can almost hear the dice rolling. There's another scene where a named character splits off, and a not-NPC suddenly steps forward and gets a name.
Also: it's Raymond E Feist. I think Serpent War Saga is my favorite cycle in those books.
 



Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Elizabeth Moon's excellent The Deed of Paksennarion (first published 1988)

Yep. This is a good one.

I can add Villains by Necessity by Eve Forward. It is the story of what happens in a D&D world, based on the struggle between Good and Evil... and Good wins...
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
I can add Villains by Necessity by Eve Forward. It is the story of what happens in a D&D world, based on the struggle between Good and Evil... and Good wins...
I remember a friend of mine asking me if that was actually set in a published campaign setting, since it was so evocative of D&D.
 



WayneLigon

Adventurer
The Ethshar books by Lawrence Watt-Evans. Magic is a respectable profession, like being a carter or mason. Mages takes apprentices who only know a handful of very low-power spells to start out with. There are a dozen or more different magic systems.

The Barrow and it's sequels by Mark Smylie. (Same guy who does the Artesia graphic novels, and set in that same world). The prologue is the 'idol in the lizardman temple scene' from the AD&D PHB cover.

The Deed of Paksenarion by Elizabeth Moon. They have clerics and paladins, etc etc.

The War God series by David Weber - starts with Oath of Swords. World with humans, elves, dwarves, halflings, and hradani - which are kind of like beefed-up half-orcs. Our hradani hero becomes a paladin of the war god, something no hradani has ever done. Very, very cool descriptions of interactions between deities and their agents on Earth.

Throne of the Crescent Moon - Ahmed, Saladin. - Very much that 'd&d-party' flavor

The Malazan series - Steven Erikson and Ian C. Esslemont
 


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