By Adam Glendon Sidwell
Way back in 2016 I sent an email out of the blue to Soda Pop Miniatures to ask if they were interested in doing novelizations of Super Dungeon. I’d never met any of them before and I didn’t even know their names yet—I just loved the art, the charm of the characters, and the complexity of the world of Crystalia. And, to my delight, someone responded!
It wasn’t long after that Deke sent Zac, my co-author and, at the time, the Project Manager at Future House Publishing, a dump of google docs, games, and reading material. It was encyclopedic! I loved how thorough it was and the passion everyone at Ninja Division/Soda Pop had for the lore.
So Zac and I pored through it, reading in-depth about every creature from Ice Kobolds to the Deeproot Tree, and every location from the Dragonback Peaks to the Wandering Monk Mountains. It was a lot to absorb!
I even took a trip up to Boise, Idaho in the middle of winter at Christmastime (I slept in a yurt) to see the Soda Pop warehouse and offices. Deke showed me around and I met John and the rest of the team. They had these glass cases with tons of painted minis from all their games. It really gave you a glimpse into just how big the world of Super Dungeon is.
So Zac and I started drafting up story arcs for a 5 book series. We were pitched a couple of ideas but the one that stuck was a story centering around the five Princesses of Prophecy: Sapphire, Citrine, Emerald, Ruby and Amethyst. They would each go missing in search of their sister, and King Jasper III was determined to recruit heroes to find out what happened to them. It gave us an overall structure and turned the story into a mystery too. What could have possibly happened to each princess?
Zac and I co-wrote the first book in the series: The King’s Summons. The interesting thing about writing in this world was that there were already lots of archetypes and races: Ember Mages, Crook Eye Trackers, Rimefrost Orcs, Snowball Chuckers, Ice Pick Kobolds, and dwarves from the Dwarfholm Bastion, all needed to be turned into actual characters with names, histories, emotions, motivations, backstories, and relationships.
Like turning a generic Ember Mage into Blaze. Her personality started from just a few lines written on the back of her card: “The soul of the mage reflects the magic they are able to harness” and “Ember mages are quick to anger.” These lines were the impetus for Blaze’s character arc.
The line “Their destructive magic is highly sought after” sparked the idea that King Jasper would go to great lengths, even risking his own life, to find the right Ember Mage to go on this quest for him. That’s where the idea for Chapter 1 in The King’s Summons came from. This was all part of turning Blaze into a real person.
We enjoyed writing character quirks and fleshing out Blaze’s personality. We made her hot-tempered and gave her a chip on her shoulder because she hates orcs (for reasons you’ll read about in the book). We wrote her casting spells out loud, like “Fireball!” or “Magma Strike!” when she was in the middle of a fight. It fit with her cocky, brash, in-your-face personality and fighting style, but it was one of those things where we had to ask Deke, “Can we do that? Does that make sense to cast spells that way in the magic systems of Crystalia?” Luckily, Deke was on board with it. Casting out loud fit really well with the sensibility of the tabletop game. It felt very much like you were playing your turn.
There was one scene where I wrote about Blaze and Dreck taking shelter in a hot spring in the Frostbyte Reach. A gang of snow monkeys stole Blaze’s clothes. Deke vetoed that. “It’s got to be goblins,” he said. That made sense. Everything we wrote was designed to fit tightly into the established lore.
After we constructed the overall arc of the five books, we gave some thought to which author would be a good fit for each book. Wendy Vogel made sense for The Forgotten King because she writes adventure really well in her Horizon Alpha Series. An adventure in the Fae Woods with the Deeproot Tree also made sense for her to write. (She’s also pretty great at painting Super Dungeon miniatures!) David West has written a lot of horror fiction and weird westerns, so of course he was a perfect fit to write The Glauerdoom Moor and dive into Von Drakk Manor. Dan Allen writes hilarious adventure stories, so he was great to develop the dwarf Gork and all the antics with Nyan-Nyan the Chaos Kitty in The Dungeons of Arcadia. He’s also a physicist, so he knows how to develop complex rule systems for fantasy. Christopher Keene writes really fast, and writes LitRPG very well (He has a book called Stuck in the Game and has written the whole Dream State Saga.) so of course he was a fit for writing the conclusion of a series based on a game. Overall, it was a complex process to coordinate all five stories and keep them lined up with Super Dungeon canon. Emma Heggem, the managing editor on the project, did a fantastic job and lost many nights of sleep working on it, no doubt.
I think we, as authors, are all very excited about the Super Dungeon Series and world. I know I’d love to write more about Blaze and explore some of the backstory behind the Midnight Queen. I want to explore the events that were happening behind the scenes, the secret stuff that you don’t get to read about in the novels. I’d also love to delve further into the Clockwork Cove.
If you want to see more Super Dungeon books, then write a review on Amazon and tell a friend about the books over social media. That helps people discover the books and gives us a good reason to write more!
About the Author:
Adam Glendon Sidwell
In between books, Adam Glendon Sidwell uses the power of computers to make monsters, robots, and zombies come to life for blockbuster movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean, King Kong, Pacific Rim, Transformers, and Tron. After spending countless hours in front of a keyboard meticulously adjusting tentacles, calibrating hydraulics, and brushing monkey fur, he is delighted at the prospect of modifying his creations with the flick of a few deftly placed adjectives. He once lived in New Zealand with the elves, so feels very qualified to write this fantasy series.
Adam also wrote every single word in the Evertaster series, the picture book Fetch, and the unfathomable Chum.