Daily Illuminator

January 6, 2024: The Works Of Travis Baldree

I admit it – I'm one of those people who gets way too involved in creating characters for TTRPGs. It's not enough for me to optimize their stats so it works well for their class. I have to know why they're so strong, charismatic, or intelligent. (I'd say wise, but I'm fond of playing characters who lack street smarts. It's led to some hilarious moments.)
I think this love of character is why I've become so fond of the works of Travis Baldree. He's published two books so far – Legends & Lattes and Bookshops & Bonedust – both of which focus on an orc mercenary named Viv. The genre is cozy fantasy, but don't let that dissuade you. While the books are good natured and feature kind characters, the stories themselves are anything but twee.
So what's the appeal of a fantasy novel that doesn't feature epic battles, terrifying villains, or gratuitous violence? If you're someone who wonders what your adventuring party would get up to between fights, these novels provide some fun answers. It's a delight to watch a character like Viv subvert expectations, and Baldree does an impressive job of imagining what a fantasy world would be like for everyday people. Game masters who struggle with worldbuilding and creating NPCs can take inspiration from these books when creating towns for their players to explore.
Travis Baldree's books are available at major booksellers. You can probably find them at your local independent bookstore too.

-- Katie Duffy

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