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Biology and MannersEssays on the Worlds and Works of Lois McMaster Bujold$
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Regina Yung Lee and Una McCormack

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789621730

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789621730.001.0001

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date: 29 July 2021

The Naismith Stratagem

The Naismith Stratagem

Authenticity and Adaptation in Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga: Sourcebook and Roleplaying Game

(p.249) The Naismith Stratagem
Biology and Manners

Jennifer Woodward

Peter Wright


This chapter critically considers Genevieve Cogman’s Vorkosigan sourcebook for Steve Jackson Games’ tabletop Generic Universal Roleplaying System (GURPS). It examines how the sourcebook reframes Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga as an immersive environment through six key processes employed typically in TRPG adaptation: distillation, accentual emphasis, nomenclatural qualification, statistical quantification, ludic systematisation, and fictional gazetteering. The chapter assesses how the adaptation balances the requirements of the GURPS ruleset with the need to facilitate immersion in an authentic version of the saga, and analyses how Cogman preserves and adapts the novels to promote and sustain imaginative, immersive gameplay faithful to the saga’s structural, narrative, and shifting intergeneric qualities. The chapter further shows how the game allows players to immerse themselves in the saga; conceive, develop and enhance character types from the novels; and experience plots and story structures reflecting the unique tenor of Bujold’s work. In its emphases, the game reveals what it assumes to be the most appealing aspects of the books: its characterisation, relationships, locations, and the emotional immersion central to Bujold’s treatment of the science fictional family saga.

Keywords:   Lois McMaster Bujold, Vorkosigan, Science fiction, Adaptation, Roleplaying games (GURPS), Genevieve Cogman, Steve Jackson Games

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