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Spotlight on Interactive Fiction: Choice of the Deathless by Max Gladstone

Spotlight on Interactive Fiction: Choice of the Deathless by Max Gladstone

Between keeping up with my usual webcomics, Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and several writing projects (one of them my own current work for Choice of Games), I haven’t had as much time to play games (or review them) as I’d like. But back in my December 20 post, I promised an upcoming review of Choice of the Deathless by Max Gladstone. Max is a writer friend of mine and I’m not shy about proclaiming my love for his Craft Sequence — of which Choice of the Deathless is a corollary. Since Max is currently a John W. Campbell nominee, and his Three Parts Dead just made Reddit’s list of under-read fantasy, I thought now would be a great time to spend some time on Choice of the Deathless¬†— and mention his novels as well.

Choice of the Deathless, art by Ron Chan
Choice of the Deathless, art by Ron Chan

The world of the Craft Sequence is one in which human wizards — usually necromancers, most of whom wear pin striped suits and run corporations called Concerns — rose up against the gods in a huge war and won, leaving most of the gods dead. Lest you think this means the conceit of the world is all about the virtues of Progress over Faith, I assure you I don’t read the stories at all that way. Progress has its own failings, Faith has its strengths, and the stories told in Max’s books and game strike me as being about characters who try to find a way to reconcile the two to make the world a better place. Also: necromancers who are, effectively, lawyers, and fantasy novels that are also legal thrillers. Sometimes about ecoterrorism, corporate espionage, or just trying to find a good cup of coffee. What’s not to love?

Choice of the Deathless gives the player a chance to take part in that world of exciting corporate magic, beginning at the low rung of a Concern’s ladder with hopes of climbing all the way up to Partner. But while student loans, crappy apartments, and a lack of sleep all add flavor to the game, things really start to get interesting when the PC starts dealing with literal demons. In one case, the PC needs to keep demons from finding a contractual loophole that would allow them to gain an unlimited foothold in the human world. In another, an oppressed demon wants out of an abusive contract, without getting sent back to the demon lands. In a third, the PC must decide whether to advise a minor goddess to seek out her own lawyer or take her to court for everything she has. And the larger story arc gives PCs the chance to eventually become a skeletal, undead, master of magic — if they play their cards right.

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Last Minute Gift Ideas for your Game Geek or Webcomics Lover

Last Minute Gift Ideas for your Game Geek or Webcomics Lover

It is the time of year for presents. If you celebrate Hanukkah, I’m late on giving you any gift ideas, but for people rushing to get gifts for friends in the next few days, here are a few last minute gift ideas. Do you know someone who loves interactive fiction? Someone who digs webcomics? If you’re shopping for someone who would rather have a digital gift than a package to open, you might encounter some gifting hurdles — but it can be done!

Happy holidays! Play a game!
Happy holidays! Play a game!

Games

I’ve already mentioned some games I like in this column, so anything I’ve already spotlighted is something I recommend. Here are a few games I’m planning to cover in upcoming posts:

  • Today’s just released Choice of Deathless by fantasy author Max Gladstone is an awesome mix of corporate espionage and demon fighting. I got to playtest this one (disclosure: Max is in my fiction critique group, Substrate) and I’ve already played it probably five times. I can’t wait to play it again. (Max is also the author of two amazing fantasy novels, Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise, which you can pick up at your local bookstore or use the expedited shipping option from your favorite online bookseller to get them in time for Christmas.
  • Choice of Ninja is exactly what you’d expect: lots of martial arts, magic, and stealth, and your choices help decide the fate of two warring shoguns. I’m still playing this one (so author Katherine Buffington may have some surprises!), but I’m really enjoying it so far.
  • I had so much fun playing a real-estate agent for a haunted house in Gavin Inglis‘s short game Eerie Estate Agent that I bought his novel Crap Ghosts. The book is downloadable without DRM via Kobo, which means if your friend is local, you can buy it and load it to your friend’s device (or send it via e-mail) rather than muck about with online gifting.
  • Failbetter Games (of Fallen London) is releasing a tie-in 2D adventure game, Sunless Sea, available now for pre-order. Best thing about this one is it comes with a “gift” option right from the order page.

Purchasing

So how do you send someone a digital game as a gift? It depends on the device, but here are a few tips:

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