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WORTH THE CANDLE

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By Khauvinkh, member

Dec 13, 2017: I’m not a big fan of "protagonist gets transported to another world" stories, but this one really speaks to me. The worldbuilding might feel inconsistent in the beginning, but this is intentional. This "chunkiness", as well as the way it strives to avoid fantasy cliches all serve to reinforce the premise of the story.

A tabletop roleplayer called Juniper Smith is transported to another world called Aerb. Almost immediately he realizes that Aerb contains numerous products of his own imagination, most of them on the nightmare part of the spectrum. As a seasoned Dungeon Master, Joon has created countless places, characters, and, of course, monsters for tabletop campaigns he used to run for his friends. Now he gets to experience all of that as a player character in a deadly RPG with unknown stakes. However, the natives of Aerb have their own explanations for such solipsistic delusions . . . 

The story is narrated through two channels. The first one tells us about Joon’s adventures in the world of Aerb. The second one shows us flashbacks about his interactions with his tabletop group. These flashbacks are not only relevant to his current situation, but are also the most realistic description of a real life tabletop troupe I’ve ever read. By its’ nature, tabletop roleplaying as a hobby is obscured to an outside observer. A troupe of players shares entire saved or broken worlds, memories of allies and enemies, victories and failures, and inside jokes. Worth the Candle lets readers peek into this little universe that would otherwise stay hidden from them forever.

Character-wise, things make sense. Incomplete information and trust all factor into the choices they make, and choices have consequences. Combat, magic and pretty much everything else is approached in a rational and satisfying manner. The story even has a legendary magical helicopter that is probably decorated with cat bones. I could sing more praise to the numerous virtues of this text, but let me just say this: At its’ core, Worth the Candle is a story about stories. It is not afraid to go meta hard and fast, and ask interesting and scary questions in the process.

I suggest you give it a try, it’s definitely worth it.

3 of 3 members found this review helpful.
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