Non-Player Character by Veo Corva

Title: Non-Player Character
Author: Veo Corva
Publication date: 2021

Date started: 25/02/2023
Date finished: 25/03/2023

First sentence: “I was standing on a stranger’s doorstep and wishing my feet were nailed to the ground.”
Last sentence: “I took a deep breath. Rex freed his other hand and sketched the rune that activated the circle. Then together as one, we stepped forward into the rest of our lives.”
Favourite sentence: “Failing a lot doesn’t make you a failure, it makes you human. As long as you are kind, you’re doing well. The rest of it, we’ll work out as we go.”

Summary (spoilers): Tar is an anxious and autistic enby who spends all their free time playing the MMORPG A:RO. That’s where they met their best (and only) friend Arries, who after some time convinces them to join his IPL TTRPG group. At first scared by the idea, Tar soon falls in love with the world of Kin, and before they realized it, they acquired a new group of friends! Their fellow adventurers are Pauline, the disabled DM, Rex, a fellow autistic trans guy, Ken, a funny guy who has a hard time respecting personal boundaries and Hanna, a self-proclaimed “non geek” who still loves to geek out. After the first time Tar hanged out with them outside of their usual game time to celebrate Hanna’s birthday in an escape room, they win a set of dice, which they split up between them, and the next thing they know… they wake up in the world of Kin the next morning! In addition to the six friends is Riya, Tar’s lodger’s daughter, to whom Tar gave one of the dice on the previous night; Riya is very young and it becomes a priority to bring her back to her mother. Everybody looks like their game selves, shiny skins, horns and all; Pauline and Riya also have magical attributes despite not having in-game characters. At first panicked, the group of friends soon creates a plan: go to the nearest city, from which they will teleport to the capital and seek the help of the arch-mage to teleport back home. Thankfully, they realize they have their in-game powers to protect themselves and help navigate the world. They take a while to reach the nearest town, Lundanar, but thankfully don’t encounter much problems except a famished iridescent flying slug (aka a sealorn) that Tar soon adopts and names Silky. In Lundanar, they go to the Honeyhart Inn, where they meet Ordeth, a lovely man who dabbles in magic and is fascinated by this group of extraplanar adventurers; he decides to go with them and assist in their quest. They are also attacked by cultists from the Order of the Third Eye, who recognize Pauline as their promised Oracle… Indeed, Pauline has a glowing eye painted on her forehead, and it seems to give her access to the Kin‘s world information. Is that also the reason she knew of this world while on Earth, even though she thought it was only a product of her imagination?… From Lundanar, they go to Mihilit-dalath and ask for an audience with Tellan Vorugar, the arch-mage. Vorugar tells them that he will help them if they stabilize a planar rift, which they agree to. North, Vorugar’s assistant, helps them settle in and organize their trip to the rift. In the meantime, Rex and Tar admit their feelings for each other and start dating. Once inside the rift, the group encounters two cosmic beings and make the deal that they will use Ken as a vessel to travel the world: Ken had been scared and hurt by his goddess of torture and they can protect him; meanwhile, the Siblings are too big to physically fit anywhere, so it would provide them a way to experience other worlds easily. Upon their return, Vorugar is shocked they were able to defeat the cosmic entities, and the group is surprised that nobody had tried negotiating with them before. Vorugar sends the group back to Earth (not before Tar gets a glimpse of a tattoo on his wrist which means he’s part of the Third Eye Order…), and the Siblings influence the trip so that they come back just when they left! However, they came back in their Kin forms, so they have to cast illusion charms on themselves (they still have access to their magic!), and Tar has to have a complicated discussion with Riya’s mother. The whole group decides to go back to Kin after saying their goodbyes to friends and family!

Opinion: This book was so good! A whole queer cast, with many neuro-divergent, disabled and people of color?! And then it’s about being sucked into a magical TTRPG world? And they use empathy instead of force to solve problems? Hell yes! This was extremely cozy and the characters made me feel like I was just hanging out with my friends. It also made me want to DM or play a TTRPG, which I haven’t done in two long! Maybe I should try out Kin – which the author also released as a TTRPG manual. I really hope there would be another book set in this universe, there are still so many mysteries in this story and I want to see more of all the characters!


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