The Dead Heroes Rise Again
We admit that we release a lot of game materials about the world of Dystopia Rising. But did you know that there are also novels based on the game that you know and love? If you didn’t, do us a favor: start reading. The novels are pretty spectacular (and we’re not just saying that).
Peter Woodworth recently released the last novel in his Dead Heroes Trilogy, which are three books based on the world of Dystopia Rising. If you like horror, zombie-bashing and survival, you’re sure to love these books. Combined with a colorful cast of characters (some of whom who are based on actual people from the Dystopia Rising LARP), this is one trilogy you’re not going to want to pass up.
Woodworth’s journey into the Dystopia Rising world didn’t begin as an author, though; it began as a player. After about two years of playing at the Dystopia Rising: New Jersey LARP, Woodworth was approached by co-creator Michael Pucci and was asked if he would be interested in writing a series of novels set in the Dystopia Rising world. Woodworth jumped at the chance.
“Michael actually gave me a lot of freedom to tell exactly the sort of story I wanted, so I wanted to make it one that would be something the players could relate to, but that would also be interesting to people who’ve never played the game at all,” said Woodworth.
The result is a gripping narrative that follows the adventures of Tribeca Rockaway, a woman attempting to survive in the post-apocalyptic version of New York City, a place called Old York. Journeying from there to the city of Aysea, Tribeca must now save Old York in Woodworth’s third and final novel.
While writing the trilogy, Woodworth drew inspiration from all types of sources—the LARP, his own experiences, and those around him. He admits that there are even a number of characters from the Dystopia Rising LARP: New Jersey chapter of the game that show up in roles throughout the series, and that many of the other characters are based on his friends.
“Rockaway is heavily based on my wife—yes, she’s wonderful and sweet, but really, don’t ever get on her bad side, trust me—and especially a character she plays at the NJ chapter,” said Woodworth. “Doomsday is sort of a mix of Agent Scully, Sydney from Alias, and my friend Sam. And Jimmy Three Ex is especially dear to my heart—he started out as a character of mine in a Hunter: The Reckoning tabletop game years ago, then I played him in a Hunter LARP for a while, and since then he’s shown up in various forms in a few others LARPs as well.”
Woodworth doesn’t just take his own experiences and events to mold his novels, though. His novels have also molded events around him. In his trilogy, Shambletown makes an appearance as a type of ghost story told among post-apocalyptic survivors—a place where an entire town of the dead exists. And guess what? Shambletown has now shown up at the Dystopia Rising: New Jersey game.
“I know quite a few players probably want to beat me up in the parking lot for coming up with Shambletown, but man, I love it,” admits Woodworth. “And the way it was been incorporated into the game world by the staff has been absolutely mind-blowing—they really took the idea and ran with it!”
Yet crafting these novels wasn’t easy. Woodworth faced the demands of creating a massive story, linking three novels together in a cohesive narrative. He had to track character progression and make sure that they responded naturally to the story as it unfolded.
“I think it really helped my sense of pacing as well as my sense of perspective—making sure that the story moved along but also that it included all the beats I was after, and that it felt like each of the first two books reached a satisfactory resolution while still leaving room for more afterward, and that the conclusion of the third book delivered on the promise of the series,” said Woodworth. “So a lot of the growth I experienced was really in the nuts and bolts of plot and character development—I’d never undertaken anything that ambitious, and so I had to learn a whole new skill set to pull it off.”
At the end of the day, though, it was all worth it. Woodworth (and his readers) are more than happy with the trilogy.
Want to start reading? You should (seriously, it's worth it). You can find the trilogy available on Amazon.