Friday, December 17, 2010

Fluff Fiction In Game Books? Luv It or Hate It?

It's a fairly simple question.  You either enjoy fluff fiction or not, or maybe you're somewhere in between.  When I say "fluff fiction"  I mean the short stories that writers and game designers put in their games and settings.  I enjoy fluff fiction for the following reasons.  One, it helps me understand the setting a little better.  Two, I really like to read.  Three, good fluff fiction can be inspirational; and it can get me motivated to work on the old sandbox, create NPCs, or stock the ubiquitous mega-dungeon, or even do some writing myself.

The odd thing is, despite being a voracious reader, gamer, and geeky to the max; I've never really gotten into reading the novels featuring gaming worlds.  I've read a couple, but the different Dungeons and Dragons settings weren't all that entertaining to me.  Maybe I just picked the bad ones?  Dunno...  Or perhaps I would rather be playing in the worlds, than reading about them?

Then again I've never really read many of the novels in the Star Trek universe, or Star Wars.  Hhhmm... maybe I'm not as geeky as I thought I was, but I'll hold on to my Geek Card for now.

However, I may give them another shot.  Since I've been exploring the Warhammer 40K universe, I've been thinking about reading the novels.  It seems to be a diverse and rich game setting.  There's even a website/store that covers the GW novels, The Black Library .  There's also a new Star Trek novel that looks intriguing, but I can't remember the name right now.

I hope everyone enjoys their weekend.  Take care, and if you haven't made a suggestion for my Reader's Choice Challenge!  I encourage you to do so.


  1. I like the setting that fluff adds to a rulebook. Does it belong in a list? Well, that's much debated. Many people choose their armies based on the fluff and look though, so a little extra is nice.
    A rulebook without fluff is like playing chess. You know the units, but there's no story to draw you in. Fluff is just as much a promotional tool.

    Fluff novels can be a good time, assuming they're written by people with the interest of the system in mind. The quality of author is sometimes touchy... there aren't many Eldar books out and the first I read was by CS Goto and *retching sound*

  2. Stories in rulebooks I can take or leave - the descriptive text is plenty to set the mood, without all the real-world contamination and cliche. I've never really been interested in tie-in fiction either. The Black Library for example has never persuaded me to read a modern 40K novel, despite the rave reviews so many of them get. That said, I would recommend the old-school Inquisition War Trilogy (Inquisitor, Harlequin and Chaos Child) and Space Marine, both by Ian Watson. They're very rich, and get under the skin of the setting; the latter is for me a definitive look at the making of a space marine. The Black Library probably still has Space Marine available as print on demand.

  3. Do yourself a huge favor and read the Ravenor trilogy and the Eisenhorn trilogy, both by Dan Abnett, and both are in the 40k universe.

    I'm not a huge reader of 'brand fiction' myself, but the two above are top notch. As far as fluff goes in the game books, it really depends on the subject matter, but for the most part I'm all for it.

  4. Harking back a LONG time, the "fluff" in Shadowrun was some of the very best around. Excellently written, fantastically on point, and it really brought the grit home. It and First Edition Vampire- the snippets, the conversations, the quotes- breathed a life and mood into the game in a way I haven't seen in a long time.

  5. I like many of the examples in the World of Darkness because I use them as a gauge to see what a chronicle might feel like. They aren't always great, but at least I can get a sense of the tone and feel of a game.

  6. Fluff text in the sidebars, like GURPs, or in a 'setting' chapter is ok. Fluff all through the rules text, like various Warhammer rule books, is annoying, especially when you're trying to find a rule in a hurry. Most fluff is pretty crap writing (I know, I wrote fluff pieces for Flames of War 1e only to see my bits mangled by the editors for space reasons) If I'm dropping $NZ80+ for a rule book, I want the rules and the setting first, not a lot of average fanfic writing as padding.

  7. Thanks for the comments and suggestions! I wonder if publishers should have both a generic rulebook ( no "fluff" or flavor fiction ), and a deluxe rulebook ( with plenty of "fluff" )? The generic rulebook could cost less, and maybe increase sales?