Need some inspiration for your next D&D or Pathfinder game? Feeling some creative burn-out and not sure what to introduce in the next session? Trying to figure out your next character?
Sure, you could create another reskinned Aragorn, or run another Battle of Helm’s Deep. The trouble is that there is only so much you can take from Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Star Wars before it begins to feel hack. Freshen up your D&D inspiration with this list of books that will help you think of your world in a whole new way.
The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss
The Name of the Wind is a fantasy classic. A part of the longer The Kingkiller Chronicles, the story of Kvothe is one known by thousands of fans across the world. If you haven’t read this series, I highly suggest you get on it right away to enjoy the story yourself.
A big reason why I suggest this as a read is because it shows the rule of cool in action. Think something is going be so cool it will change the tide of the battle, the nature of the game? Then run with it! The Name of the Wind knows how to do this while also keeping people invested in the story. There is a balance of context and adventure – something that every DM should master.
Kings of the Wyld, Nicholas Eames
If you are planning a more light-hearted adventure, then Nicholas Eames is the writer for you. Kings of the Wyld is a comedy high fantasy adventure where adventuring parties are treated like rock stars. When one of the members of the former legendary adventuring party Saga finds out his daughter is in danger… it’s time to get the band back together. Featuring phallic puns, heist like hijinks, and other odd ball adventures, Kings of the Wyld is your next step towards a D&D game like no other.
The Troop, Nick Cutter
The Troop is not your typical horror novel, and may not seem to lend itself to D&D or another fantasy setting. However, why The Troop is such a great addition to your D&D world is because of the great sense of alienation this book gives to it’s world. All of the ‘creatures’ that the characters face in the story truly make you feel ill – they are just so disgusting and alien that they become horrifying. Being able to describe monsters like this makes it especially useful when you want to introduce monsters from places like the Far Realm, or monstrosities in general.
Plus, if you like a good scare, this book has it in spades. Definitely consider it if that’s your bag.
Locke & Key Series, Joe Hill
The Locke & Key graphic novels are a great study in making the story about the characters while facing immense odds. The story follows three kids as they begin discovering keys that allow them to perform supernatural things. Their plans for these keys are thwarted by ancient creatures that wish to obtain the keys for a much darker purpose…
But the story isn’t dominated by the big bad and their plans. It has a lot to do with the characters trying to live their own lives, and how their decisions affect others. If the story were all about how the kids have to save the day, it would be dry and over done. The story gains stakes because you become invested in their lives.
This is a special lesson for DMs to learn. Let the characters take the lead of the story, not the arc. The arc is your job – the characters are your players. Let them do what they want. It will leave you all more invested than before.
Saga Series, Brian K. Vaughn & Fiona Staples
What is there to say about Saga? This story is the perfect mix of sci-fi, fantasy, and family drama. It covers both the controversial and not with delicacy and ease. It makes the story about the characters, about their morals, and about their lives. They face staggering odds time and time again, yet the main characters survive with the help of their friends, family, and luck.
This is a great story to get ideas for NPCs and world building. The narrative juggles so many different kinds of conflict and how they influence one another. It is a great way to get an idea of how the world at large can affect personal relationships, and vice versa. I truly cannot suggest this series enough.
Any other books worth mentioning not in this list? Tell us down below in the comments!
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