Open Call: Drama & Dragons/Fans & Fantasy

Stories About Games, the People Who Play Them, and their Imaginative Worlds

Deadline August 5th, 2018

From its humble beginnings as roughly printed booklets a half century ago, Dungeons & Dragons has gone on to become a global phenomenon and has inspired many writers, including George R. R. Martin, to fall in love with fiction and to think deeper about their characters and the worlds they inhabit. The London Reader is looking for stories that explore this connection.

The London Reader is issuing an open call for creative writing and other artwork where fantasy and fantasy games are central to the story, such as in Ready Player One, Stranger Things, Neal Stephenson’s The Big U, Tad Williams’s Otherland novels, Mazes & Monsters, Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim, the 2017 Jumanji movie, or many episodes of TV sitcoms where the characters sit down to play Dungeons & Dragons.

There have been many novels featuring games, but now the game has changed. LitRPG is a genre of fiction that developed in Russia over the last five years, first pioneered by Vasily Mahanenko and Alex Bobl. In LitRPG stories, a character inhabits a game world, overcomes its challenges, and “levels-up”. This issue will have a special feature on LitRPG stories, and we encourage LitRPG submissions as well as other experimental approaches to the fantasy genre.

While this call for submissions is open to fiction about all kinds of games, the issue will focus on stories featuring fantasy games in particular, such as in Stranger Things. Stories can also explore the social relationships of groups of players as both table-top and video games bring groups together on an adventure, leading to both inter-personal conflict and life-long friendships.

This issue will feature short stories, minifiction, experimental works, poems, and artwork that explores games and the fantasy worlds they inhabit. Traditional fantasy fiction inspired by roleplaying games will also be considered, but most submissions should feature the relationship and dynamics between players and fantasy games.

Story prompts and inspirations:

  • A bad break-up and the impact it has on a group of gaming friends.
  • A bullied teen finds themselves trapped in a virtual reality game and learns from the exp.
  • An existential crisis is caused when a divorcee realizes all there is to her life is a game.
  • Real world politics threaten to rip a virtual game world apart.
  • A gamer falls in love with their character.
  • The imaginary nations in a complicated game of thrones spills over into the real world.
  • A new research chemical causes players to experience a game in a vivid and real way.
  • A re-imagining of the “Satanic panic” of the 70s and 80s when fanatical Christians believed that games were tools of dark magic and the devil.
  • Four players gather for one last game after the death of their Game Master.

What to submit: Creative works can be stand-alone pieces or collections, but should be fewer than 5,000 words, or no more than 5 poems. Multiple submissions are welcome. Artwork should be favourably viewed on a tablet or single A5 page.

How to submit: Email submissions as word attachments to  coordinator@LondonReader.uk and place “Drama & Dragons SUBMISSION” in the subject line. Please include a short biographical statement in the body of the e-mail and indicate whether the submitted pieces have been previously published and whether you hold publication rights to them.

The deadline for submission on this theme is August 5th, 2018

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