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Dread TridentTabletop Role-Playing Games and the Modern Fantastic$
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Curtis D. Carbonell

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781789620573

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789620573.001.0001

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Beyond Borders with Miéville, Borges, Wolfe, Ligotti, and Numenera

Beyond Borders with Miéville, Borges, Wolfe, Ligotti, and Numenera

(p.195) Chapter 7 Beyond Borders with Miéville, Borges, Wolfe, Ligotti, and Numenera
Dread Trident

Curtis D. Carbonell


This chapter examines a final case study, the TRPG Numenera. It finds in writers such as China Miéville and Gene Wolfe precursors of how literary studies can inform and understanding of the imaginary worlds found in a game like Numenera. Miéville, for example, finds roots for his Bas Lag trilogy in elements from TRPGs like Dungeons and Dragons, articulating a granular style of textured detail like that found in the best of Lovecraft. With Wolfe, this chapter reads his blending of science fiction and fantasy elements, especially how he embraces a magical impulse. Numenera incorporates these elements into a post-anthropocene setting that imagines a post-human far future. Its cosmicism, though, lacks the pessimism of Lovecraft or a writer like Thomas Ligotto, who this chapter sees as moving beyond Lovecraft, yet retaining much of his insistence in resisting drawing the ultimate horror. This chapter ends by arguing that realized worlds such as those inspired by Lovecraft, e.g. Numenera, can also be seen in the first season of the HBO series True Detective, a series that valorized a pulp fantasism, yet refused to acknowledge it in the end.

Keywords:   Fantasy, Science Fiction, Wargaming, Tabletop role-playing games, Numenera, China Miéville, Gene Wolfe, True Detective, Thomas Ligotti

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