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Author Topic: Influence on magic systems: D & D and video games  (Read 6091 times)


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    • Kingfisher Labs
on: August 03, 2018, 02:21:31 AM
I recently finished working my way through NPR's Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy Novels ( list as part of a bet with a friend of mine, and I noticed something of a shift in some of the fantasy novels. This is in regards to world-building and how magic operates in the stories.

What I noticed in a lot of books that were written since, say, 1975 or so, were systems of magic that seemed to be influenced by Dungeons and Dragons or similar RPGs. That is to say, magic that worked through spells with finite effects, and specific items, artifacts, and weapons that had special abilities or significance.

In a couple of more recent novels that were written by Brandon Sanderson, it seemed like there was more influence from video game mechanics. The two that spring to mind are Mistborn and The Way of Kings. In Mistborn, characters that can use magic do so by burning certain metals, and are granted specific powers based on the metals they consume. So using magic consists of collecting a resource and then getting a specific effect for one character when it's used. The magic in The Way of Kings stems from magic suits of armor and magic weapons. The armor grants abilities (strength, speed, durability, stamina) but takes damage. It can be broken for good, or can regenerate if given enough time without taking damage (I think). The weapons can be summoned at will, although there's a delay before they actually show up, and they can be cast away, causing them to disappear.

Both of these magic systems, and the imagery Sanderson conjures in the books, reminded me strongly of the mechanics and visuals of modern video games. I thought that could be evidence of a generational shift in the influence on younger writers who might have grown up getting more non-book fantasy inspiration from video games rather than tabletop RPGs.

What do you all think? Are there other examples like the Sanderson novels that have a video game influence in one way or another? Or am I way off base here?

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