Alternate Lives: RPG Novels

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Desslock puts on his reading glasses and sinks into his Lazyboy for our monthly Alternate Lives column, letting us in on some impressive game based fiction. This month, Desslock flips through the pages of the newest novels based in the fantasy world of The Elder Scrolls and The Witcher.

In early RPGs, exchanges with NPCs generally consisted of being told where to go to dispatch the evil wizard mastermind. Thataway, Avatar. These days, however, NPCs have become downright loquacious, and you’re just as likely to hear characters spout deep philosophical musings or attempt to seduce you as you are to get quest directions. BioWare’s RPGs, in particular, have effectively evolved into interactive novels that feature some first-rate writing and storytelling.

Alternate Lives: Dragon Age 2

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The ones we love always hurt us the most, and the roleplaying genre has, over its many years, inflicted its rabid adherents with a few post-traumatic stress disorder-inducing moments. The most infamous occasion was the 1994 release of Ultima VIII: Pagan, the sequel to one of the most beloved RPGs. It completely abandoned the renowned features of its predecessor, and its reception prompted a written apology by series creator Richard Garriott. The simplified Deus Ex: Invisible War was another PTSD moment, as was Bethesda’s transformation of the Fallout franchise (for isometric perspective turn-based combat fans, at least).