Thursday, September 8, 2011

Inspiration: Furies of Calderon

I'm deep into Jim Butcher's first book of the Codex Alera pentalogy: The Furies of Calderon.

Now, I'm a fan of Jim Butcher's other series work involving Harry Dresden, and there are certainly echoes of the strengths of those books as well: interesting primary and secondary characters, clever interpretations in the nuances of magic, interesting dialogue exchanges, and multi-sided confrontations of individuals with their own agendas. Actually, that latter one seems to be ratcheted up a bit more here, given that the POV is in 3rd person omniscient manner, unlike the Dresden 1st person POV.

However, there are also echoes of another aspect of Butcher's writing -- the long, let's-speculate-all-the-possible-plans-of-the-various-factions explorations either in mindscape (the thoughts of one of the characters) or in dialogue. At the right length, these are fine, but sometimes they ramble on quite a bit and I find myself skipping over them.

Gaming Uses

Of course, Butcher himself is a gamer (though I can't recall the exact gaming history in those articles) so for this series more than other fantasy novels, I try to look for applications in FRPGs.

First thing that comes to mind is -- of course -- the magic system: crafting. Crafting seems to be a take on element-based spellcraft but with wood added to the traditional water-earth-fire-air grouping. Also, this is achieved by bonding with spirits of those elements and essentially commanding them to effect those abilities.

Second thing that comes to mind is the light use of the Roman culture (an empire of humanity against the barbaric hordes, legionnaires, slaves, and a pseudo-senate) merged with the more traditional feudal system we're familiar with. A little bit of flavoring to change the pace just a smidge.

Lastly, the first book has two ways it starts the action where it has traditionally begun in these multi-book series: in the wilds. One is a mission into the woods to find out what mischief a rumored ghost legion is up to; another is the classic farming / borderlands community with the young boy who turns out to be not-so-ordinary after all.

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