GameNight by Jonny Nexus (book review).

October 24, 2017 | By | Reply More

Many years ago, someone invented the game of ‘Dungeons And Dragons’. In the 1970s, university students would waste many a night sitting around a table following the instructions of the Dungeon Master and seeing their characters live or die by the roll of a dice. We didn’t have on-line games. The Internet hadn’t been invented. Now the gaming industry is huge and students still play role playing games, albeit not in the same room or with paper and pencil. ‘GameNight’ is a throwback to those times.

The players in this novel are gods. What else would you call those who manipulate their chosen characters within a fantasy world? The creator of this world is the AllFather and ‘dungeon master’. He has the final say as to the dangers of the world, the shape of it and whether the characters live or die. The players have their chosen characters: a barbarian, an evil knight, a rusty knight (his player is asleep through most of the game), a female magic-user and a halfling. The latter rides a dog which in the game-room lies under the table.

In the game world, the characters turn up at a gate and need to solve a riddle before they can be let through into the ‘game’ proper. However, the evil knight kills the Gatekeeper before he can recite the riddle. Game over. Except that the players argue about it as the AllFather resets the game. This is a pattern throughout with alternate scenes in the game world interspersed with those of the players, usually bickering amongst themselves. While those who are familiar with this kind of role playing scenario will appreciate the banter, up to a point. Because of this, it takes a long time to move the ‘game’ along.

This book is humorous at the start as it deals with a recognisable situation of players arguing about their moves and the unexpected consequences forced on the adventurers. After a while, though, it becomes less so as the plot here is very sketchy. The players are at the mercy of the Game Master and the adventurers don’t know what their purpose is. This format is a difficult one to sustain. There is very little character development. The adventurers are ciphers and their handlers not much more. The most interesting character isn’t really part of the game. It is a simian that turns up near the start and has a life of his own.

‘GameNight’ will be appreciated by aficionados of this kind of role playing game, perhaps seeing themselves and their friends amongst the players but anyone to whom this activity is a mystery, it will remain so.

Pauline Morgan

October 2017

(pub: Wild Jester Press, Brighton, UK, 2011. 203 page paperback. Price: £ 6.99 (UK), $ 9.99 (US). ISBN: 978-1-50879-510-0)

check out website: http://wildjesterpress.com/

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Category: Books, Fantasy

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