May 2, 2020

Tim Kaiver

LitRPG influenced by Stargate and Dune.

After returning from a half year teaching English in South Korea, I moved to Iowa for a master’s degree. One roommate offered me any book from his shelf covered in Dune and Warhammer 40k books while another offered me any DVD from his Firefly and Stargate SG-1 collection. Not long after, Ciphercraft was born.

I quickly filled my free time with reading Dune and watching Stargate SG-1, and couldn’t get enough. I loved the expansive adventures of both, crossing through wormholes into new worlds with epic consequences to humanity and overall a fun tone for their stories.

Ciphercraft is a series that has been a labor of love for over a decade. The first book has been rewritten from scratch five times with several editors providing feedback and numerous times was put down to write other series.

I returned to this series to publish with the Dominion Rising box set in 2017. The first novel was titled Ultras at that point, and contributed to a collection of novels that hit both Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller lists. The second book flowed naturally for me, but presented an interesting genre blend from what felt like a scifi adventure in book one with laser beam toting bounty hunters to a portal adventure in book two where advanced technology is lost and our heroes must learn to survive in a new world with new rules.

This reminds me a little of how the Stargate franchise uses a wormhole technology to enter worlds that are either more advanced or bordering on ancient history. The heroes of Ciphercraft will enter a portal at the end of book one that takes them to a world that requires the power they awakened in book one, but isn’t the type of power they are used to wielding in battle and survival.

Dune is a favorite sci-fi series because of how the story crosses many worlds with interesting forms of technology, including those with little technology, such as Arakkis, but which makes up for it with the amazing powers of the spice and giant worms that produces it. In my Ciphercraft series, the mysterious power is called the Cipher, which is a gamelike reality that empowers those who follow its rules. This is where we get the LitRPG elements. The similarity to Dune is that like in Dune where those who rule the spice rule the galaxy, in my Ciphercraft series, those who best rule the powers granted by the Cipher will find greater victories in their efforts to survive.

For those asking “What is LitRPG?” that’s a taste, but I’ve written more to those who’ll click to read my post: “Why I love LitRPG”.