Fictional Tabletop Games in Fantasy Novels

Of course tying two of my hobbies together is something I like to do, and try to do it as much as I can. I read a fair amount, having a decent length commute on public transportation. And I choose to fill that time relaxing via really fat Fantasy books. I generally don’t give lengthy reviews about the books I read, but I do generally rate them on goodreads, and will generally consider recommendations for people who read similar books.

Anyway, where I was going with this is it seems that these authors of speculative fiction, understand the importance of table top games in their created cultures. And while none of these authors are game designers, they do give some high level description of how the games work. And sometimes even some specific game examples. While I’ve always noticed and appreciated the game references, early on with the many games Robert Jordan had in the Wheel of Time. I plan to have a recurring series of posts all based around this concept, specifically talking about the game, and some background info on the novel, potential game play choices. And maybe if I’m motivated, even a sample game design.

I think I had considered doing this when Dance with Dragons, book 5 of the (now) super┬ápopular A Song of Ice and Fire, was released and the game Cyvasse had some shining moments in relation to a specific plot element. Cyvasse reminded me of a game I played with my dad called Feudal, that was kinda like chess, but on a huge board, and had some other things mixed into it. I’ll probably even use Cyvasse as my first part of this series, but lost the motivation when I found out there already was a fan-made version of Cyvasse, but it took a ton of different turns than I think I would have.

But recently, I’ve had a few books have some interesting sounding games that resparked the interest. Currently, I’m reading Blood Song by Anthony Ryan (Never trust a man with two first names, unless he’s writing your epic fantasy) where I’m only about halfway into the first book and there was a reference to a game. But what really refired my interest was 9 Kings in Brent Weeks Lightbringer series. 9 kings has some strong comparisons with Magic, which apparently were an inspiration for his descriptions.

Anyway, my plan is to be as spoiler free as possible, but when major plot points surround the game, I’ll try to keep spoilers marked off as I can for those of you who dislike spoilers as much as I do. Really the goal here is to chat about the games, and how they might actually exist, using modern board games as a reference. Many of the games referenced in Fantasy books are abstract games that are Chess-like or Go-like. But there’s a fair amount of selection. In general, if I haven’t read all of the books that have been released in a series, I may not actual talk about a specific game, mostly to avoid spoilers myself.

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