This is a question that I have long pondered over: What are the real differences between a great FRPG (i.e. Wiz1, Ultima II, Wiz 7, ...others) and a great Fantasy book (i.e. David Eddings, Weis & Hickman, Terry Brooks, Piers Anthony, ... many others)?
I always read the books first, then if I reread them, it is usually with the thought "how could you turn this into a game?" in mind.
To me, a lot of the elements are sometimes the same: an overall plot, characters that you associate with and that develop over the course of the game/book and an ending (or lead in to the next book/game.
To me the main difference is one follows a script, the other (to some extent) you control the direction things go within the parameters of the script. The other main difference is the travel. Books can "fast forward" through a long desert trek or monotonous ocean voyage, games usually don't (e.g. the Sea of Sorrows )
I bring up this topic, because I think many of us would love to write a FRPG (or dream of it anyway) and for me, most of the inspiration I have, comes from fantasy books. I wonder where other people derive their inspiration (besides the obvious answer, other computer games.
It seems a lot of writers have a system, like a template, framework or mold (for lack of a better explanation) that a lot of their work comes from. Terry Brooks' Shannara series (both of them) and David Eddings' Belgariad and Mallorean series are two examples of this. I really enjoyed both authors works, but after the reading the second series, I felt a real sense of déjà vu.
Terry Brooks, for example, seems to have this framework, where a human, an elf and a dwarf all meet on a joint quest. They encounter a druid who reluctantly helps them. They wrestle with internal turmoil. They enlist the help of others and eventually beat down the evil coming from the North. This is greatly simplified, but I don't think anyone that has read his stuff, could say that doesn't describe either series. The same kind of thing for Eddings, grab one hero/champion from each kingdom, get them together, quest all over the world, defeat the bad guys.
Yet, both authors really keep the whole thing interesting, with the twists and turns and I really enjoyed reading (and re-reading their works). In contrast, someone like Piers Anthony, seems to have no such "framework". I have read many of his series and can draw no such easy parallels between any of them.
So, do I have a point? I was just wondering that myself I guess not much of one, just a lot of rambling … anything to keep me from finishing my taxes
Ok, one last question: how important is it, if you were making a game, to "travel". By this, I mean the "fast forward" kind of stuff a book can do (i.e. "The six week journey across the great waters was boring and uneventful"). Sure, the first time across the Sea of Sorrows you need to see every square, but after that, wouldn't you rather just "fast forward"? Sure, you should be stopped if you encounter a monster or NPC, or if something has changed (i.e. a new building or a new fork in the road). The same could hold true for overland travel. Wiz 7 takes care of this in some ways with a few teleporters, but I really liked this aspect of Star Trails. They gave you an overview map and you selected your next destination. Whenever there was an encounter, you broke out of the "fast forward" and resolved the encounter. Once you were in a city, cave, swamp, … you were in first person mode again.
I don't think "fast forward" should be the only way, but as an option I sure think it is the way to go.