Sunday, January 6, 2013
What if TSR's Dragonlance...
...Had Done It Like This?
So depending on who you talk to, the Dragonlance saga (the original three novels by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman and the tie-in series of modules by TSR) was the beginning of the end for TSR or a fantastic experiment in cross-media marketing. Or maybe it was both. That really doesn't matter.
Many of us have read the novels. I'm guessing a much smaller number of us played the modules. Regardless of your opinions of either, I think that it's fair to say that the modules are some of the most railroading-est railroads put to the gaming public. Basically, the modules force you to relive the novels. Each adventure's beginning and end are scripted from the books, so even if you completely went off on your own in one adventure, the next one forced you to start where it needed you to start. For some, that was probably fun. Or not.
There was a time, back when I was a young, naive, and perhaps completely clueless individual, that I fully believed that the modules were written first, and that TSR had a group of people play them, and then had MW and TC write the novels based on what had happened at that gaming table. That the personalities of the characters in the novels came from the personalities that those players had developed for the characters during play. That the modules were not railroads (Didn't know that term at the time.) but merely open-ended adventure settings that the novels were born from.
I believed (before ever seeing the modules and seeing the error in my thinking) that the novels were a gigantic play report. Wouldn't that have been cool? (I know that I thought so.) (I wonder if I was the only person to think this?)
So here's the real point of this post: What if someone or some company actually attempted to do such a thing? What if someone created a sandbox setting, had a party play in it for months or years, kept a series of play reports, and then converted them into a novel?
Assuming that the author was actually a decent writer, I wonder what the product of such an effort would look like. Could it be done? Has it ever been done before? Would it be any good? Would it "find an audience"?
I truly believe that such a novel could be a pretty good read.