Noisms of Monsters & Manuals and SirLarkins of RPG Corner have both posted today about the dearth of truly excellent RPG fiction. I have nothing to add to that conversation -- aside from one Dragonlance book and the odd short story in Dragon I haven't read any fiction with direct RPG connections (though once or twice in my feverish youth I wrote my own game inspired short stories).
However, on the subject of the campaign background stories he wrote as a teenager, Noisms commented, "Most of them involved lots of severed limbs, blood...if I remember correctly." That sounds awful familiar. Only my stories weren't written for gaming purposes. No, they were for the creative writing unit in my 6th grade class at St. Joseph Elementary. I'm proud to say that with the stirring tale "My Life as an Axe" I single-handedly kick-started a fad among my classmates for violent splatter-gore. For a few weeks a classroom full of Catholic kids in tasteful uniforms was churning out head-chopping, vein-ripping, blood-spraying mayhem like we were auditioning for Fangoria. That we got to read our two page murderfests aloud in formal presentations only spurred us on.
To her credit our teacher handled it with utter composure. Never once was she ruffled, not even when the chirpy Summer (or was it her twin sister Daydream?) read aloud a tale that featured an unlucky time traveler getting bitten in half by a tyrannosaurus (I was extremely annoyed that the T. rex picked up its meal with its forearms before chomping it. I'm certain you will sympathize.). No, the late Mrs. Matasky tolerated our grade school Grand Guignol with mild amusement and a deflating unflappability. If she was shocked or disgusted by us she was far too stern and savvy to let on, and put the whole craze to a stop one afternoon by calmly instructing us to find a different subject. We did; we knew better than to test her patience.