Updated: Jul 5, 2022
A long, long time ago, but in a galaxy we are all familiar with, a game called Neverwinter Nights (NWN) came out on the PC. What made this game so unusual at the time was that it was decked out with the tools that made modding very easy. It also coincided with the time when broadband speeds in many parts of the world were getting to the point where downloadable content could be a thing. Bioware, the makers of NWN, embraced this by making their expansions for that game into digital content.
These factors combined into making a very vibrant community of amateur modders, producing very high quality games & stories. Some, like myself, went on to write professionally under contract for NWN and other games in the Atari stall. Many became friends of the sort you never actually meet, either through working together on collaborative projects, or in supporting the lively community.
And many have gone on to become writers. I've just been reading the new series of books by Tony Andarian, one such writer. Tony was always a keen advocate of using NWN as a way to tell interactive stories. Back then, there was definitely a kind of snobbery that writing for roleplaying games was not ‘proper’ writing, in that it was somehow easy or didn’t involve much writing. Having done both I can say that isn’t so.
It’s definitely different, but Wyvern Crown of Cormyr for example, the expansion I wrote for NWN, actually has as many words as Firstborn does. Tony was always a strong advocate of the story, and his Sanctum of the Archmage series was a big hit for NWN, taking several awards.
I guess it is no surprise then that Tony (and indeed several other authors) have decided to take their NWN worlds into books. In Tony’s case this has led to a vibrant, fleshed-out world, not only with a detailed backdrop, but also with a pleasing sense of bubbling politics and intrigue in the background. He keeps this light; subtle, whilst the action unfolds so it never feels heavy, but at the same time prevents characters from being one dimensional.
I’ve made my way through the first three novellas in the series at rapid pace, and just bought the next two. Handily, they come in very affordable bite-sized chunks for those who just want to dip their toes in and try them out (and they cost less than a cup of coffee, so why not?). Maybe I’ll also take a look at some of the other authors from that time too…