Whispers of the Voidbringer book

TTRPG BOOK review: Whispers of the Voidbringer

Whispers of the Voidbringer by M. Allen Hall is a TTRPG-inspired novel that gives a great example of kids playing D&D.  It follows the epic adventures of a group of player characters as they navigate a classic fantasy world in danger…. And it also follows the parallel journey of the kids playing these characters as they navigate each other, learn the game, and experience this awesome quest.  It was a fun read, and I hope you enjoy it as well!

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What is Whispers of the Voidbringer about?

Simply put, Whispers of the Voidbringer by M. Allen Hall is about three siblings playing D&D together and seeing where their characters go within the wonderful world that they are imagining with their DM.  However, it gets a lot deeper than just three kids playing D&D together. 

A majority of the story is spent in the shoes of the player’s characters on their adventure, but at the end of every main scene or chapter, it flips back to the players – they celebrate victories, vent frustration about bad rolls, or explain certain elements of the game to the newest player (and maybe the reader).  It shows how these kids are discovering the game and learning to work together.

Whispers of the Voidbringer is also an engaging read with humor and drama throughout.  There’s funny moments, like when one of the characters fell out of a tree and the player later vented about getting a nat1, and there’s epic battles where players have to deal with getting downed or choose between saving spell slots and healing NPC’s (non-player characters)…. And there’s the both humorous and dramatic element of sibling squabbles about playing fair or distributing loot mixed in like an aside during the Princess Bride movie.

Who would Whispers of the Voidbringer be great for?

Anyone who loves adventure stories, D&D, TTRPG’s, and the like would be able to get into this, but I particularly think this would be great for middle-schoolers, whether they play TTRPG’s or not.  There’s action and adventure throughout, so there is fighting, but nothing gets past what I would consider PG.  

This whole story also felt like the written form of one of the many very popular TTRPG podcasts out there, so, if you or your kids are into D&D podcasts, this could be a great way to encourage some engaging reading.  Kids are way more likely to read when it is about something that aligns with their other interests, so if they’re already getting into D&D, Whispers of the Voidbringer can be a great option to boost their enthusiasm.

You also do not need to know any D&D or TTRPG rules to read this.  Some basic TTRPG knowledge may help to get a few of the references, but, at the same time, using this as a first intro for kids (or maybe parents of kids who are on the fence about starting TTRPG’s) would be great for picking up a few terms and a gist for what to expect when they eventually do play.  

whispers of the voidbringer book cover

What Whispers of the Voidbringer shows about social elements of TTRPG’s

Player conduct

The story starts with two of the players trying to convince a third to start playing… the third has reservations because of how she’s been treated when she played in the past.  She’s also talked into playing a healer, which she’s not too keen about at first.  There’s also some issues where the players complain about how she’s using her spell slots.

I was a little concerned when this first started, but after a while, I saw the relationship development between the players.  It’s gradual, and some playful ribbing continued, but they learned to be kinder and play fairly.  I think starting with the concerning behavior and then transitioning over time into a “fair play” mentality probably shows more impactfully how you should treat fellow players than if they all started out “playing nice”.  It showed how hurtful some of the behavior was and that being cool outside of the game isn’t actually that hard to do – a great lesson for players of any age.  I am also really curious now to see how this develops further in the series.

Player behavior vs. character behavior

Several times, a player’s character did something other than what the player did off the table, which is a great example of player versus character behavior.  

For example, one of the characters became charmed and needed to complete a task… and the player kept the mission a secret and played their character along like they were supposed to even when the other players urged them to spill the beans.  

That same character also had a hang up about bringing a new person on the team even though the player was OK with it.  The player role-played their character but, because it was frustrating and confusing to one of the other players, explained the difference between what the player wanted versus the character. 

Forging alliances

There are lots of fight scenes through Whispers of the Voidbringer, but there were also a lot of allies formed.  The players don’t always straight out fight every NPC – they befriend characters that tried to attack them, characters that they initially attacked, and, towards the end, teamed up with a character who they could have easily left behind but brought along as a VERY clutch helper.

It showed that although fighting can be a fun element in the game or there are sometimes obvious fights, there is also a lot that can be solved by talking.  The times that the players stopped a fight, it ended up really helping them (at least within this book… we may have to wait and see during the sequel in one case with some wolves).

My favorite parts

First, from an overall standpoint, I loved the phasing back and forth between the players and the characters – having the kids’ commentary on the story, their rolls, and each other was a great way to empathize with the players and break things up into manageable reading breaks.  It also made me feel like I was the one behind the DM screen watching the characters and the players on their adventure.

I loved it when the players, during one of the previously mentioned team ups with an NPC, created a massive illusion to scare off their pursuers – it was one of those epicly tense moments that gets relieved through cunning and lets the players feel triumphant for outwitting the scenario.

Also, this was such a small part, but I loved it when one of the players got obsessed with the “chickens” they found… I like to imagine they were continually rolling insight or perception checks on suspicious farm animals and not getting high enough of a roll to be satisfied.  Little moments like this in the character story really hit home with situations that I encountered in my games and gave the idea of there being some fun player interactions behind the characters.

Overall

Whispers of the Voidbringer was an enjoyable read that simultaneously felt like an epic campaign.  I was invested in the characters, the players, and the story throughout, plus, I was able to connect it with my personal experiences DM’ing and playing TTRPG’s.  It’s a great book, either as an intro to TTRPG’s before taking the leap into an actual game OR to have a fun read about the TTRPG’s you already love.  I hope you enjoy it, and I am very much looking forward to the next book in the series!

To find a copy, check out the book site here!

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