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Creating Games Within Your Novel

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Laurence, Jul 9, 2016.

  1. Laurence

    Laurence Inkling

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    I'd like to create and incorporate a card game in to my WIP, for the sake of foreshadowing and showing certain traits in some of my characters. It's essentially a combination of Top Trumps and Rock Paper Scissors, so as to be easy enough to describe.

    I was wondering if you guys knew of any authors who had pulled this off nicely, or had any other advice.

    One question that springs to mind is on dialogue vs description for the duration of the game. It's worth noting I'm writing in third person omniscient.
     
  2. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    I've tried to do that in one of my novels with a game called Corpse, a card game/drinking game played by evil vampires who enjoy feeding from humans. I was sure I posted a description of the game here somewhere for comments, but I can't seem to find it in my list of threads I started.

    Aha, found it: http://mythicscribes.com/forums/writing-questions/4663-including-games-story.html Don't feel you need to reply there, since the thread's been dead since 2012.
     
    Laurence likes this.
  3. I wanted to have a board game the characters play for my work in progress, but I haven't had a chance to use that idea.

    There's a lot you can do with inventing a game, though. People talk while playing games, so you can use that to reveal information or to develop character. Also, it can have symbolic significance. you can use the game to symbolize/reveal the fact that a character is manipulating another character, using them as a pawn...

    I know that doesn't really help, but it's a thought I had.
     
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  4. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

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    I remember a fantasy story with a card game in which the cards were kings, queens, priests, priestesses, swords and cups. How the game was actually played didn't matter much but some of the characters corresponded to different cards and the power relations mirrored how the cards worked. Queen trumps sword so the femme fatale was more powerful than the warrior character. King trumps priest so when a political institution fought with a religious institution, it was clear who was going to win. And so on and so forth.
    I kind of got the impression that the writer wanted to use tarot motifs but couldn't make it work so he made-up his own card game.
     
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  5. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I use Liar's Dice for a scene in my WIP. I like to dig up old or obscure tidbits from history (or across cultures), which would include games. The game is also called Mya. What I don't do is try to explain the rules of the game to the reader. I picture the reader as standing among the crowd, watching, but focused on the action rather than asking a spectator what the rules are.

    But no, I can't point to a published work that does this.
     
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  6. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

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    I don't know anyone famous who's done this. Drizzt was playable in the XBox Baldir's Gate, but that's a game company adding an RA Salvatore character to their game.

    I keep toying with an idea for a card RPG, but one creative project at a time...
     
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  7. RedMetalHunter

    RedMetalHunter Minstrel

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    Not quite the same thing, but The Witcher 3 video game added a fully playable card game in the game. It is a fun addition.
     
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  8. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Inkling

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    One thing to determine is whether the game is new to one of the characters in the scene. If it is then I allows you to have someone explain the game play ad rules to that character and reader. If it's a familiar game to all the characters then the closer you make the game to one commonly played by real people the easier it will be to understand. Also consider how much the reader needs to understand about the game. Sometimes all that needs to be known is who's winning, who's losing the most and if anyone is cheating.
     
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  9. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    I use a game I call Hawk & Snake, over-under, which kind of resembles craps, except 4 dice and gamblers place their bet on how many times the dice will come up over or under the target number determined by the first roll. That's the basics anyhow, all 1's & all 6's are an auto win for the roller, hitting the target i also a win. First draft through I wrote detailed info on the game, as much to make sure I was keeping it straight, and then scaled back, but always tried to keep it from the character's POV, with minimal detail. Lines like this:

    "Bones hit the cave floor with a clatter and bounce, flipping pips until coming to rest. The dice totaled sixteen. The hollers and groans of monks and priests echoed through the dark reaches of the cavern. Tôkôdin clenched his jaws, saving his curses for the next roll if it came in over seventeen."

    Simple and clean, we know the character is gambling on dice, and we know what he doesn't want, a roll over 17. Yeah, there's other scenarios to lose, but good enough, LOL.

    I know I've read gambling scenes in books years ago, but for the life of me I can't recall them. Non-fantasy, Ian Fleming's Bond books would, I assume, contain gambling scenes.
     
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  10. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

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    Oh, duh... I totally missed the point. Well, doesn't Harry Potter have games within the story? I guess there are plenty of famous work that have games which are humanly possible to play. For some reason, I think ASoIaF has a chess-Shogi-ish game. I have no idea how to play (or if what I'm thinking is even from GRRM's work), but that doesn't mean the author didn't fully develop the game/rules. The reader just doesn't get that information.
     
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  11. Letharg

    Letharg Troubadour

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    One novel that immediately pops to mind is Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch, second in the Gentlemen Bastard series. As I remember it, different type of games play a major role in the beginning of the book and are described to quite some detail. Besides the series is actually very good so it's worth reading in any case!
     
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  12. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    I just remembered that Terry Pratchett does this a few times in his Discworld books. There's even a book named after one of the games: Thud!, a board game with pieces shaped like trolls and dwarves. The game itself memorializes a long-ago battle between the two races, which is integral to the book's plot. And now it's been defictionalized into an actual board game: Thud | Discworld Emporium

    There are also the games of Cripple Mr. Onion and Stealth Chess.
     
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  13. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    >Non-fantasy, Ian Fleming's Bond books would, I assume, contain gambling scenes.

    Casino Royale, his first book, does. It contains a ridiculously detailed description of the rules of baccarat, very contrived. I was amazed his editor did not demand he trim that back. Then again, Fleming ain't exactly Great Literature.
     
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  14. valiant12

    valiant12 Sage

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    I like the idea.
     
  15. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    There's Pai Sho from the Airbender tv series, a complicated tile placement game. I mention it because they make good use of characterization with it - at one point in Legend of Korra two characters were arguing about whether you needed play fast and aggressive or slow and deliberate, only to discover that everyone plays with different local rules.

    There's a lot you can do with these kinds of games. I would suggest you figure out the rules but never explain them. Game design is a complicated endeavor, and if you try to explain the rules, you risk opening up criticism of your weak game design. There's an advantage to mystery.
     
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  16. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

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    No one does this better than Steven Erikson in the Malazan Book of the Fallen. He incorporates a card game called which uses something called the Deck of Dragons. They are modeled after tarot cards but are associated with each divine house. So Dark would have High House Knight, High House Queen, etc.

    Interestingly, the characters depicted on the cards were characters. Anomander Rake was Knight of High House Dark. Mother Dark was Queen of High House Dark. Depending on how the characters interpreted each hand significant implications on the story.
     
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