I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned that I’m both a Game Master1 (GM) and a player of Tabletop Role Playing Games (TTRPG), specifically Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition (D&D) and Pathfinder 1st edition. But there’s a whole plethora of TTRPGs out there that aren’t D&D2, such as Shadowrun, Powered by the Apocalypse, Vampire the Masquerade, Deadlands, Honey Heist, Call of Cthulhu, and so so many more3.
I could go into excruciating detail on how each of these systems differs. I could wax poetic about how shared experiences at the table help form lasting friendships away from it. I could regale you with tales of the shenanigans that my library D&D group is getting up to trying to solve a murder mystery/stop a devilish pact4 while being entirely too chaotic for their own good5. Ask in the comments if you want some details, and I’ll see if the party is willing to share.
This spooky season I find myself falling headlong back into the clutches of vampire fiction, a turn of events spurred on by the fantastic new television adaptation of Interview With the Vampire. Ever since HBO’s bonkers True Blood ended, I’ve been craving something that truly gets the horror, the thrill, the sheer camp of vampires. Pop culture needed a bit of a break from them, but this fall we have four new vampire book adaptations airing. We’re back, baby! And we (vampire fans) are getting everything our goth little hearts desire. For too long it’s been all about zombies. Enough. Time for the return of decadence.
For the past couple hundred years, vampires have enjoyed a stable presence in literature, waning in and out of fashion. And while people might still roll their eyes at the concept of vampire romance, probably bemoaning the cheesiness of Twilight, the fact of the matter is that for as long as there have been vampires in fiction, they have been intrinsically tied to romance—or at least, to desire. In 1700s Western Europe, the novel as we know it was in its fledgling form, and much of the written content was meant to be lurid and titillating (often under the guise of morality-teaching) for a newly widespread audience (think Fanny Hill or Pamela). Around the same time, Eastern Europe was gripped by a “vampire epidemic”; a sort of mass hysteria that caused townsfolk to exhume corpses they were convinced were coming back to life. Shortly after this time period came Gothic literature. The motifs are familiar: decaying castles or abbeys, vengeful murder, damsels, lascivious villains, and so on. Basically, Gothic fiction was the height of melodrama (for a crystallization of all of these themes and more, see 1796’s The Monk by Matthew Lewis).
My quest to immerse myself in romance novels continues! Last time, I focused on historical/Regency romances. Today, I bring you paranormal romance: vampires, werewolves, gods, and so much more!
I’ve got to be honest, I’ve had a hard time finding paranormal romances I could get into. It’s not that I’m not interested in this stuff – I am a diehard Buffy fan, after all, and I did enjoy the whole Twilight saga, almost despite myself (100% team Jacob, by the way). The thing I have learned about paranormal romance is that it very often takes place in large, complicated worlds that make it hard to just step into as a casual reader. I don’t want to get invested in a whole series, because that’s just not what I’m looking for in romance – I want worlds that I can dip into when I feel like it, without having to remember too much politicking. Continue reading