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1A GenreBusting scifi/mystery/fantasy/[=LARP=]ing series by Creator/LarryNiven and Steven Barnes, the Dream Park novels take place in and around a futuristic theme park dedicated to hyper-realistic simulation games, illusions, thrill rides and "experiences" that put [[Ride/DisneyThemeParks Disneyland]] to shame. Central to each novel are the Park's spectacular live-action Game events, based on exotic mythologies or realms of fiction, in which both GenreSavvy veteran Gamers and wide-eyed novices live out elaborate adventures against a backdrop of Park actors, animatronic perils, and interactive holograms. Meanwhile, behind the fantasy-game curtain, industrial espionage and sabotage within the Park's operations pose deadly challenges of their own.˛˛The first novel, ''Dream Park'', has been a CultClassic beloved of role-players since 1981. Later books in the series include ''The Barsoom Project'' (1989), ''The California Voodoo Game'' (1992), and ''The Moon Maze Game'' (2012). The non-Park-related novel ''The Descent of Anansi'' is set in the same Verse.˛˛Inevitably, the novel series gave rise to a tabletop [=RPG=] by R. Talsorian Games. ˛˛!!Tropes featured in the Dream Park novels include:˛˛* ActionGirl: Acacia, Mary-Em, and Holly play ActionGirl characters in the first book. Eviane, Trianna and Charlene fulfill this role for the second, and Tammi and Twan join Acacia and Mary-Em for the third. In book four, Angelique is this in-Game, while Celeste and Darla are that way in the out-of-game plotline.˛* AIIsACrapshoot: A horror attraction at the Park uses this scenario in its waiting-room intro, making it sound like the computer in charge of the scenario has turned evil and is planning to scare a guest to death. Deconstructed in ''Barsoom'', when the notion that the Game computer could've "killed out" Eviane on its own initiative is poo-pooed, as only deliberate sabotage could ''really'' achieve such a "glitch".˛* AirVentPassageway: The OffTheRails Army/Tex-Mits team use one to navigate between Game areas.˛* AllPartOfTheShow: Used twice in ''The Barsoom Project''. When Eviane's in-Game rifle is loaded with real bullets, she assumes its gory results are special effects and keeps on shooting. Likewise, the delegates assume that the Mars-crawler [[spoiler: moving towards and lifting Ambassador Arbenz]] is part of Cowles Industries' demonstration, not a narrowly-foiled assassination attempt.˛* AlmostDeadGuy: Players often take the opportunity to pass on some "dying" advice or useful equipment when their characters get killed in-Game. Or, if they're Draegar, Bowen the Black, or Kevin, to bitch about the fact they got killed out.˛** Trevor Stone tells an anecdote about an outdoor [=LARP=] participant who got "killed out" in a patch of cacti. He stood around telling people, "Don't mind me, I'm dead", because there was no way he was going to lie down on a bunch of cactus needles.˛* AmusementParkOfDoom: The horror attraction from book one plays with this trope, slipping a holographic ringer among the guests' group so her "death" can be staged as part of the sequence.˛* AnachronismStew: Generally averted in the Games, as Game Masters go to great lengths to build internally-consistent settings and mythos. Teams of characters ''within'' each Game, ironically, can have contradictory backstories; in South Seas Treasure, there were [=PC=]s with roots in Myth/ClassicalMythology, [[{{UsefulNotes/Charlemagne}} 8th century France]], and [[Literature/FafhrdAndTheGrayMouser Newhon]]. Clavell calls out the anachronism when Bishop hands out the 21st century diving re-breathers (stolen from a Park employee's no-go apartment) in a place supposedly abandoned back in 1995.˛* AncientAstronauts: The hidden source of supernatural knowledge and forces in California Voodoo.˛* {{Arcology}}: The California Voodoo Game takes place inside MIMIC (Meacham Incorporated Mojave Industrial Community), a massive one-building city which was built during the 1990s. It was so badly damaged by The Quake that it had to be abandoned. It was later acquired by Dream Park to used as the operations base for the Barsoom Project--the {{terraform}}ing of Mars.˛* TheArtfulDodger: Mouser from ''California Voodoo'' is a 13-year-old boy Thief for the Troglodykes, who's more than capable of slipping away to explore and steal a talisman while the other teams aren't watching.˛* AsHimself: Happens in-Verse when actor Robin Bowles plays himself in the Fimbulwinter Game. The Gamers speculate that he does it because the "Fat Ripper" will help him lose weight for an upcoming movie role.˛* AugmentedReality: Used in ''The California Voodoo Game'', as the Gamers are adventuring outside the Park's environment.˛* BackFromTheDead: How Eviane was re-inserted into the Fimbulwinter Game, ostensibly as a ''tornrait''.˛** Characters who die in a particular Game can still be used again in future Games (but see DeaderThanDead for an exception).˛* BargainWithHeaven: In ''The Barsoom Project'', Yarnall is a game actor who becomes "stranded" in the Fimbulwinter Game due to sabotage. He makes a bet with the Game Master that he won't be killed out by the end of the day, and the Game Master seals the deal by sending a (holographic) heavenly arm to reach down from the clouds so they can shake on it.˛* BattleCouple: Ollie and Gwen, Chester and Gina, Tammi and Twan. The Radichevs are described this way, although they die off-camera so aren't actually seen fighting as one.˛* BawdySong: A favorite activity of many Gamers, particularly Mary-em in ''Dream Park''and Kevin (to Orson's horror) in ''The Barsoom Project''.˛* BecomingTheMask: Griffin eventually finds himself falling into his role as one of the adventurers in ''Dream Park''. Eviane from ''The Barsoom Project'' deludes herself that the Fimbulwinter Game's fantastic end-of-the-world scenario is really happening.˛* BehemothBattle: ''Barsoom'' has two: the War-Bots scenario (rival diplomats in simulated HumongousMecha) and the GrandFinale of the Fimbulwinter Game (monster-form BigBad vs. ticked-off Inuit deity).˛* BellyButtonless: In ''The Barsoom Project'', Martin Qaterliaraq is an Inuit shaman character in the Fimbulwinter Game. His lack of a navel is an early indication that his character was crafted from molded lava by the Raven, not born.˛* BellyMouth: The amartoqs have faces in their bellies. Lampshaded when Eviane shoots one in the forehead, and Max muses that it could be the first time a BoomHeadshot was ''also'' a gut shot.˛* BerserkButton: [[spoiler: Orson Sands]] goes berserk and starts knocking down Amartoqs like bowling pins when his brother is endangered.˛* BewareTheNiceOnes: Fekesh assumes Dream Park is too ethical to retaliate against him via assassination. [[spoiler: He's right to think that they won't simply kill him, but wrong to assume they won't use high-tech Dream Park manipulations to make him kill ''himself'' in an elevator shaft or succumb to oxygen-deprivation-induced brain damage.]]˛* BigBad: In-Game for ''Barsoom Project'', it's Ahk-lut. ''Out''-of-Game, it's Kareem Fakesh.˛* BigBeautifulWoman: Trianna, Gwen and Eviane from ''Barsoom'' are all good-looking, with Trianna in particular radiating ''serious'' sex appeal. By the time of ''Moon Maze'', this trope has become the ideal (Fit/Fat).˛* BiTheWay: Alan Leigh. ˛* [[BigBookOfWar Big Book Of Gaming]]: Nigel Bishop wrote the definitive example, basing it on Sun Tzu.˛* BigFatFuture: Zigzagged in ''The Moon Maze Game'', in which standards of beauty in 2085 have swung the other way, making plumpness desirable in women. Instead of being unhealthy, however, the ideal ''zaftig'' woman adheres to a "Fit/Fat" model, in which well-padded curves overlie toned muscles and a blood chemistry maintained at the peak of physiological health.˛* BigGame: Every novel features a Game, but California Voodoo and Moon Maze are unusually well-hyped events: the former, a major tournament between five competing teams; the latter, the first off-planet Game run under Dream Park's supervision.˛* BizarreAlienLocomotion: The paija from Fimbulwinter has one central leg ending in a clawed foot with a suction-cup pad. It's boneless and flexible like an elephant's trunk, allowing her to hop or to grip the cavern's icy floor.˛* BookEnds: The opening scene of ''Barsoom'' is the same GrandFinale battle that caps off the in-Game part of that novel, and some of the narrative repeats word-for-word.˛* BreakingTheFourthWall: S.J. Waters gets on Lopez's nerves with his habit of breaking character to comment on the Game simulation's quality.˛* BrownNote: The Park's "experiences" and Games use a ''lot'' of these - sonic, visual, olfactory - to manipulate the moods and attention of participants.˛* BuryYourDisabled: Asako's life-support capsule proves less vacuum-resistant than she'd been led to believe, resulting in her HeroicSacrifice.˛** Mary-Martha's brain-damaged brother Patrick dies off-page between ''Dream Park'' and California Voodoo.˛** Inverted in the first book's concluding battle, when a zombie horde only succeeds in killing Gina out ''because'' one of the undead actresses is disabled. The actress had removed her prosthetic limbs to play a badly-decomposed zombie, and Gina was so startled when she realized the one-legged, one-armed walking corpse wasn't a hologram that she dropped her guard.˛* TheBusCameBack: Gwen and Ollie from the South Seas Treasure Game return as Game actors for Fimbulwinter. Acacia, Mary-Em, Holly and SJ all take part in the California Voodoo tournament Game, which Richard and Chi-Chi Lopez return to operate.˛* CaliforniaCollapse: The Quake of '85 / '95.˛* CallBack: In ''The Barsoom Project'', Dream Park technology has advanced to the point where it can make all, or all but one of, a person's organ systems appear to vanish - a breakthrough in medical imaging - or make Charlene "invisible" in a slow-paced stealth scenario. In ''The Moon-Maze Game'', [[spoiler: this same method has progressed enough that Xavier can make ''all'' of someone vanish even while in rapid motion, simulating ''in-combat'' invisibility for Scotty and Wayne.]]˛* ChainMailBikini: Worn by Lt. Philips for California Voodoo's pre-Game briefing, presumably to encourage the other teams to not take her seriously. She swaps it out for practical explorers' garb once the actual adventure gets started.˛* ChangingOfTheGuard: ''Moon Maze'' is set thirty years later than the previous books, and features Alex Griffin's son Scotty as lead protagonist.˛* CharacterClassSystem: Warriors, magic users and thieves appear in all four novels, and clerics appear in the first and third. Engineers feature prominently in ''Dream Park'', as do scouts in ''California Voodoo''. Multi-class characters turn up in the original novel (Holly Frost) and the California Voodoo tournament.˛* CheatersNeverProsper: Felicia and Bowen sneak off to snoop at upcoming Game challenges during South Seas Treasure, so as to gain an unfair advantage in the scenario. This leads to [[spoiler: Bowen unwittingly roasting himself with his own sorcery, having misjudged the nature of the monster he and Felicia observed.]]˛* ChekhovsGun: Griffin's ulcer in ''Barsoom'', which forces him to give up caffeine. Played as a RunningGag until ''Barsoom'''s climax, when [[spoiler: he's the only member of Security ''not'' to get incapacitated by drugged coffee at a critical moment.]]˛** Of ''course'' the lone apartment-unit that dangles precariously halfway up MIMIC's modular wall turns out to have a valuable talisman inside it.˛* ChessmasterSidekick: Orson Sands is the brains to Max's brawn, but lets his brother take the lead because Max is more athletic and socially-adept. Captain Cypher is a genius at puzzles and functions as Acacia's second in the Crystal Maze, but is too uncharismatic and physically inept to lead a team.˛* ClimbSlipHangClimb: Clavell has a ''very'' close call when his climbing rope breaks, forcing him to free-climb across MIMIC's giant letters to join Poule in a lower floor's modular apartment. A rescue hovercar is sent at once when he falls, but he refuses assistance to stay in the Game.˛* ColdFlames: The South Seas Treasure Game scenario features a form of "reverse fire", that un-burns ashes and causes frostbite on contact, as a plot device.˛* CombinationAttack: When the Nibek shrugs off conventional weapon attacks and Bowan's fire-blasts, Chester tag-teams with Bowan to crack its hide open with a frost spell and then incinerate the soft tissues thus exposed.˛* CorruptCorporateExecutive: Kareem Fekesh.˛* CreepyCentipedes: The ''terichik'', Ahk-lut's OneWingedAngel form from Fimbulwinter, has this look to it.˛* CripplingOverspecialization: Captain Cypher is a genius-level puzzlemaster and math whiz, but completely inept at melee combat [[spoiler: at least until he gets hold of a ''lot'' of salt to throw on zombies]] and various athletic Game challenges.˛* DangerousForbiddenTechnique: Although poisons and magic are both employed liberally by Game Masters to pose deadly Game challenges, ''magical poisons'' are virtually unheard-of, as they're so lethal - unnaturally-hard to detect or to cure - that no adventure-designer would ''want'' to use something prone to result in a TotalPartyKill debacle and loss of the time and capital invested in the scenario.˛* DeadPersonImpersonation: Tomisuburo Izumi helped cover up the fact that Calvin died in the Park by donning make-up and posing as his brother, laying a false trail to a staged accident-scene in the mountains.˛* DeaderThanDead: Killed characters are overlaid with a holographic black aura in-Game. In the California Voodoo Game, zombies slain by the heroes are overlaid with a ''double'' black aura, in a punning reference to this trope.˛** Also from ''California Voodoo'': Areas of [=MIMIC=] that are off-limits for players are marked out with Nekro-seal radiation symbols. Any character who violates a "radiation area" is not only killed without a saving throw, but their character is declared '''permanently''' dead by the International Fantasy Gaming Society, never to be played again.˛** S.J. Waters recounts how he'd permanently lost his Engineer PC, who'd undergone UnwillingRoboticization in a cyberpunk Game and then had his program erased.˛** In the Fimbulwinter Game, Snow Goose instructs the players in how to "dismember" Kevin's corpse so he can't be reanimated by the enemy. PlayedForLaughs in that Kevin the ''player'' is still alive, and keeps protesting as the necessary faux-blows "remove" his limbs.˛* DeadlyGaze: The ''bidi-taurabo-haza'' from South Seas Treasure.˛* DeathFakedForYou: Some characters' in-Game death scenes are enhanced by complex animations that overlay their actual, intact bodies with imagery of wounds, burns, or other grisly effects. [[spoiler: This capacity of the Park's becomes plot-relevant in ''The Barsoom Project'', where it's used to rouse Eviane's memory of the traitor and spur the traitor to confess.]]˛* DefectorFromDecadence: Coral helps the Gamers escape the Mallbeasts because she blames Thaddeus Dark for her brother's death.˛* DemonicPossession: A hazard posed by hostile ''loa'' in the California Voodoo Game. In-Game, the possessed turn on and viciously attack their own companions; out-of-character, the "possessed" player is ordered to do so by the Game Masters.˛* DeweyDefeatsTruman: The Quake of 1985, which had to be re-scheduled for 1995 by the third novel. When it didn't happen then either, the series became AlternateHistory.˛* DisabledCharacterDisabledActor: An in-universe example. During the course of the first novel's South Seas Treasure Game, one of the attacking zombies has only one arm and one leg -- and is being played by a one-armed, one-legged actress. The fact that she's real and "solid" rather than just a special effect (most of the attacking zombies are holographic) shocks one of the players into inaction long enough to allow the amputee zombie to "kill" her.˛* DisastrousDemonstration: Fakesh's scheme in ''Barsoom'' is to discredit Cowles Industries by having one of the robotic Mars vehicles "malfunction" and kill Falling Angels' ambassador during a display of Project technology.˛* DisposablePilot: A rather common trope in Games, judging by its use in the opening acts of South Seas Treasure and Fimbulwinter.˛* DisproportionateRetribution: Among the Inuit dead encountered in the Underworld by the Fimbulwinter players are several women who were damned for all eternity for the sin of ''having bad tattoos''.˛* DistractedByTheSexy: Even hyperwary Al the Barbarian can't keep his eyes off the ladies during the rooftop pool ceremony, for which they're expected to go topless.˛* DungeonmastersGirlfriend: Ali's father paid off one of the writers of the Moon-Maze Game, which "coincidentally" featured a lot of encounters designed to make Ali look good. Xavier is ''not'' happy when he finds out his co-author had been feeding him suggestions that would favor one player over the rest, and Ali himself is deeply embarrassed to discover this.˛** Dreagar accuses Chester of opting to resurrect Gina merely because she's sleeping with him, but Chester smacks him down by pointing out that not only is Gina still hovering on the brink of death, hence easier to save, but ''she'' didn't get killed out by her own stupidity like Dreagar did.˛** Possibly a mild case for Charlene Dula, as it's ''very'' complimentary to her uncle that materials from Falling Angel happen to be a source of great power in the Fimbulwinter Game's mythos.˛* DwindlingParty: Averted in the early rounds of standard Games, until the time or supply of replacements runs out. Averted in "Fat Rippers" until the final hours, to ensure participants' psychological conditioning can run its course. Played ''painfully'' straight in the California Voodoo Game, which is an absolute slaughter.˛* EmotionBomb: Neutral Scent from book one, which enhances whatever emotions a person is already feeling.˛** The Park attractions use these all the time, employing subtle sounds, light-flashes, and aromas to evoke feelings of tension, glumness, dread or excitement.˛* EndlessWinter: The Fimbulwinter Game takes place on an Earth where the sun is shrinking due to evil magic and humanity is faced with a planet-wide winter.˛* EveryoneKnowsMorse: The Gamers in the fourth book use Morse to signal Xavier's closed-circuit cameras when there's no audio contact. Justified because one of the Gamers is an historical-aviation buff.˛* EvilVersusEvil: The horror attraction from the first novel pits man-eating sharks against ravenous underwater zombies.˛* ExpressDelivery: A loa-spirit in the California Voodoo tournament adventure impregnates [[spoiler: Mary-Martha]], and its offspring grows to full term over the course of a few dozen hours. Subverted in that the semi-divine fetus changes its mind at the last minute and decides to stay put, inverting this trope into the LongestPregnancyEver (possibly permanent).˛* FakingTheDead: Happens as an inadvertent result of technology in ''The Moon Maze Game'', in which Darla is "killed out" of the scenario just before armed kidnappers interrupt the proceedings to take the Gamers hostage. As she's in the process of crawling out of the play area on her belly, remaining unseen while her slain [=NPC=] persona's holographic "corpse" is left behind, she's already undercover when the thugs arrive and they don't realize her faux-body had previously been a living actress.˛* FauxActionGirl: Lt. Madonna Phillips of the Army team looks GenreSavvy and competent enough at first glance, but inexperience buys her an ignominious death in the first combat scene.˛* FictionalSport: The park's Games are extremely popular, with fans worldwide, and gamblers bet on their outcomes as avidly as on conventional sporting events.˛* FifteenPuzzle: ''The California Voodoo Game'' throws out one of these in a timed situation. The trick is that it's a word-version and there are two R's: "RATE, YOUR, MIND, PAL". Put the Rs in the wrong place and the puzzle is uncrackable.˛* {{Fingore}}: Scotty isn't willing to kill two captured terrorists outright, so he breaks their thumbs to ensure they can't put up a fight again even if their comrades untie them.˛* FlamingSkulls: A player in the California Voodoo Game uses a magic spell to make his head appear as a flaming skull in order to scare off a loa.˛* FlippingTheBird: Performed by a ''cleaning robot'' in ''The California Voodoo Game'', in which a pair of such machines are disguised as cyborg octopi (long story) and sent to hinder S.J. Waters' crawl through a ventilation duct. The machines have no voice synthesizers, so after SJ overcomes the first in hand-to-pincer combat, the Game Master uses the second robot's hologram-illusion pseudopodia to express its defiance as it retreats.˛* {{Foreshadowing}}: During its first scene, the Haiavaha wades through water, causing its wet lower body to turn blue-black while its dry fur remains bright fiery orange. This hints at its role as [[spoiler: the guardian of fire ''and'' ColdFlames]]. ˛* ForHalloweenIAmGoingAsMyself: Ali, heir to the throne of the African nation of Kikaya, participates in the Moon-Maze Game under a false name. The character he plays is a young African prince from the kingdom of Kikaya.˛* FriendlyPlayfulDolphin: The Nommo prefer dolphin-form so they can indulge in being this trope. [[spoiler: Indeed, the young Nommo visitors originally got stranded on Earth because they were ''so'' caught up in goofing around as dolphins that they didn't realize their flatfish-forms were growing too big for their spaceship.]]˛* GameMaster: Each Game is coordinated by one or more experts who give radio directions to its actors, and control holographic effects, animatronics, and environmental elements remotely. The Lopezes run the South Seas Treasure Game, Dwight Welles is controller for the Fimbulwinter Game, the Lopezes, Whitmans, and [=McWhirter=] oversee California Voodoo, and Xavier is leader of the Moon Maze Game's team.˛* GasChamber: Used in ''The Barsoom Project'' [[spoiler: to eliminate Fekesh]].˛* GiantSpider: Encountered in the Cabal's Arctic fortress in the Fimbulwinter Game.˛* GivingThemTheStrip: Ali wriggles free of the royalist Selenites' sticky binding-secretions, although he has to leave some of his outer clothing behind.˛* GoodGirlsAvoidAbortion: Trianna, in ''The Barsoom Project'', [[TarnishingTheirOwnBeauty gained weight to keep men away]] after a botched abortion led to her being sterile.˛* GoodOldFisticuffs: In ''The California Voodoo Game'', the AwesomeByAnalysis villain winds up in a one-on-one fight with Alex Griffin. Although the villain's sophisticated martial arts training has always served him well in the game, Griffin is so furious at the man for murdering one of his trusted employees that he throws caution to the wind and ''tackles'' his opponent, pounding him so viciously without regard for his own injuries that his foe has no chance to utilize his fancy moves. "Two cats in a sack" is how the narrative describes it, and the villain proves the weaker cat.˛* GravityScrew: Griffin is briefly disoriented when he stops off at R&D, only to find himself an apparent giant, standing in an upside-down desert. One of the techs is testing the repairs to a Total Environment holoprojector, components of which he could only access by setting the device upside-down.˛** An oft-mentioned ride at the Park, the Gravity Whip, uses parabolic-arc movements to simulate weightlessness.˛* HeroicSacrifice: Bishop convinces Corrinda to sacrifice her character by opening a door with a Nekro seal, telling her she'll become famous for saving the rest of the group from a terrible monster. [[spoiler: He ''doesn't'' tell her that this will kill her character DeaderThanDead, or that she'll be remembered for getting suckered into throwing away a character it took her eight years' Gaming to develop.]]˛** Black Elk of the Army team tries to heal S.J.'s poisoning by absorbing the toxin into himself, only to expire when his healing magic fails him.˛** Some ''real'' HeroicSacrifice deaths happen in ''The Moon-Maze Game'', including Asako Tabata and [[spoiler: Shotz, who shuts a pressure door on himself so the depressurization won't kill his comrades as well]].˛* HitMeDammit: General Poule from ''California Voodoo'' apparently makes a habit of ordering junior officers to punch him in the belly. Subverted when S.J. suggests Poule try it with Bobo, as the General admits that Bobo looks damn strong.˛* HoistByTheirOwnPetard: Bowen the Black [[spoiler: is killed by own spell when he tries to transfer the Haiavaha's power to himself. Too bad its power was ''fire''...]]˛* HollywoodVoodoo: No surprise that zombies and sympathetic-magic dolls make an appearance in California Voodoo, although the religious component and diversity of voodoo traditions are also acknowledged.˛* {{Homage}}: The Moon-Maze Game is an in-Verse Homage to the works of Creator/HGWells.˛* HumongousMecha: Deconstructed in ''The Barsoom Project'' with the War-Bots simulation. Ostensibly a chance for two bickering diplomats to face off in a duel-between-giant-robots scenario, it's actually a psychological ploy to show them just how terribly their conflict will harm innocent bystanders if they keep up their hostility.˛* ImAHumanitarian: Kasan Maibang doesn't deny his Daribi fellows are cannibals. Many of the [[spoiler: Fore zombies]] died of kuru, which they're implied to have contracted this way.˛** The opening act of the Fimbulwinter Game has the Gamers fleeing a horde of cannibals.˛* InfractionDistraction: This is part of the plot in ''The California Voodoo Game''. Bishop lets everybody [[spoiler:including his accomplice]] think he's trying to fix the Game, but in reality [[spoiler:he's committing industrial espionage]]. Subverted in that nobody believes for a second that's all Bishop is really up to, [[spoiler:but [[KansasCityShuffle double subverted]] in that, while they think he's trying to steal information, he's actually trying to find a way to circumvent [=MIMIC=]'s security system so that his handlers can steal anything they like in the future]].˛* InstantSoprano: Referenced when Bishop gives Al the Barbarian a glare so hateful that, if looks could cut, he'd have become eligible for the Vienna Boys Choir.˛* {{Invisibility}}: Used by Charlene during the final events of the Fimbulwinter Game, thanks to Park technology and a sealskin talisman. [[spoiler: Also used by Scotty and Wayne in ''The Moon-Maze Game'', when Xavier breaks out all the stops and allows them to use a simulation of Wells's ''Invisible Man'' potion against the terrorists.]]˛* {{Irony}}: Tobacco is illegal without a prescription, whereas pot is perfectly legal. Outlaw tobacco-growers who conceal their crop amid legal marijuana fields are mentioned.˛* JuryOfTheDamned: ''The Barsoom Project'' features a sequence where the Gamers are put on trial by the [[AnthropomorphicPersonification manifestations]] of humanity's sins and crimes, as defined by the literal {{Theme Park|s}} version of the Eskimo religion.˛* KarmaHoudini: [[spoiler: Skip O'Brien]]˛* KidnappingBirdOfPrey: South Seas Treasure Game guide Kaisan Maibang is nearly carried off by a giant hornbill.˛* {{LARP}}: The original novel did a lot to popularize [=LARP=]ing, being something of a TropeCodifier for that hobby.˛* LetsGetDangerous: The Gamers and Park staff from ''The Moon Maze Game'' all Get Dangerous when confronted by real terrorists seeking to kidnap one of the players. Somebody should've warned the terrorists that people who ''make a hobby'' of fighting the forces of evil might not wish to comply passively...˛* {{Lightworlder}}: Charlene Dula and other visitors from Falling Angels are used to lighter gravity than Earth's.˛* LostInCharacter: Eviane/Michelle˛* LetsMeetTheMeat: Used in the Fimbulwinter Game as part of its "Fat Ripper" life lessons.˛* MagicAIsMagicA: Learning the rules by which magic operate in the context of each Game is a key part of its challenge.˛** In South Seas Treasure, the Gamers must use table ceremonies, acquire mana, and adhere to the "copyright" rule to win.˛** In Fimbulwinter, knowing that well-traveled objects accumulate power is crucial to the Gamers' success.˛** In California Voodoo, the winning Loremaster learns enough about the Game's HollywoodVoodoo to turn it against two rivals at once.˛* MagicalNativeAmerican: Snow Goose, Martin, and the Cabal are Magical Alaska Natives. Black Elk ''plays'' as this trope (magic-user/cleric for the Army team), but is an ordinary Army soldier out-of-Game.˛* MaleToFemaleUniversalAdaptor: In ''The California Voodoo Game'', two conspirators meet at a sleazy hotel called the Mate & Switch. Each room is equipped with sensory-simulation bodysuits that let the wearer experience the sensations of being the opposite gender, making this a literal example.˛* ManInWhite: Wannis's initial appearance.˛* ManipulativeBastard: Bishop and Dr. Vail. Chester has tendencies in this area too.˛* {{Megacorp}}: Cowles Industries, which owns Dream Park, is by far the most influential company in post-Quake California.˛* MeaningfulName: Marty Bobbick names his Fimbulwinter character "Hippogryph", in reference to his boss Alex Griffin and to Alex's prior Game persona, ''The'' Griffin.˛* MercyMode: Some Games, besides a standard version, are also re-engineered as "Fat Rippers" designed to help participants lose weight or overcome other dependencies. Because their players are usually out-of-shape, distances to be traveled on foot are reduced [[spoiler: and nobody gets killed out until the last day to ensure they have more time to learn better habits]].˛* MisplacedVegetation: Gaming Area A is stocked with ''Brazilian'' vegetation for South Seas Treasure, not New Guinean. Lampshaded by S.J., whose remarks about it annoy people because it's BreakingTheFourthWall.˛* MixAndMatchCritter: The Wolfalcons.˛* TheMole: [[spoiler: Tony [=McWhirter=]]] infiltrates the Park's R&D lab while posing as an ordinary Gamer, and Griffin takes on the role of a Gamer to identify the culprit. In-game, one of the bearers for the South Sea Treasure Game is a spy for the enemy.˛* TheMostDangerousVideoGame: The loa-possessed arcade from California Voodoo.˛* MovingBuildings: The Cabal keep their CosmicHorror-inspired city continually shifting from location to location around the North Pole, racking up more travel-miles (a potent source of power) for their mystical artifacts.˛* MyKungFuIsStronger: Averted up the wazoo in ''The California Voodoo Game'', where hypercompetent Bishop's martial arts techniques vastly out-class the limited training of Alex Griffin, [[spoiler: yet Griffin still kicks Bishop's ass because he's [[RoaringRampageOfRevenge so pissed off]] that he doesn't care if his ribs or fingers get broken: he just keeps smashing his opponent into the walls, denying Bishop the elbow room required for his fancy dojo-ballet moves]].˛* MythologyGag: Among the fantastic characters that can be conjured up at a Dream Park wedding chapel are Moties. This is a reference to ''Literature/TheMoteInGodsEye'', another work co-authored by Niven.˛* NarrativeProfanityFilter: When S.J. teased [[spoiler: Mary-Em]] about her character's magic-induced pregnancy in ''The California Voodoo Game'', her reply did have something to do with motherhood, but could hardly have been considered complimentary to S.J. (Or to S.J.'s mother, one presumes.)˛* NeverMessWithGranny: Margie from ''Dream Park'', a senior-citizen Gaming veteran who chops through zombies like a tornado despite being of a non-combat character guild.˛* NiceJobBreakingItHero: Mouser tears right through an airlock door using SuperStrength granted by the Necklace of Ogun, only to find he can't ''close'' it again to impede the monster that's on the other side.˛** The Nommo prevented their human friends/worshipers in Africa from developing firearms and other weaponry to keep them from harming each other, only to leave the continent vulnerable to invasion and exploitation by the rest of the world.˛* [[spoiler: NiceJobFixingItVillain: While the Frost brothers' kidnapping scheme does facilitate regime change in Kikaya, it also makes Ali an international hero who will very likely be elected President of their nation in a few years.]]˛* NobleBirdOfPrey: The Thunderbirds, while normally evil, are honorable enough to help the Fimbulwinter players in exchange for the Gamers having saved some of their eggs.˛* NobodyHereButUsStatues: Mouser successfully pulls this off to avoid the attentions of an animated junk-and-bones monstrosity. Having protective magics and the abilities of an experienced Thief helps, as does the monster's lack of much brainpower.˛* NoEndorHolocaust: Averting this trope is what the War-Bots scenario (see HumongousMecha) is ''really'' all about.˛* ObfuscatingStupidity: Gina plays up her ditsy image for Yali, only to knock his riddles out of the park. Alphonse Nakagawa's own wife calls him out on his "dumb Texas shitkicker" routine, which belies a level of cunning that [[spoiler: wins the California Voodoo Game by outfoxing ''Bishop'']]. Griffin himself plays dumb while dueling Poule in his role as Bobo, and when being interviewed by a "reporter" he strongly suspects is a spy for Bishop.˛* OffscreenMomentOfAwesome: Tony Lampshades how disappointing it is that [[spoiler: none of the five California Voodoo teams return to the roof, to discover the giant alien flatfish in the swimming pool]].˛* OffTheRails: Bishop talks the UC/Apple alliance into leaving the intended play-zones of [=MIMIC=], taking a short cut through its residents' apartments. The Tex-Mits/Army alliance opt to quickly rappel down the front of the building rather than traverse its interior passages, thus getting ahead of the opposition and avoiding whatever hazards the [=GM=]s have set up inside.˛* OneWingedAngel: Ahk-lut manifests as the Terichik for the finale of Fimbulwinter.˛* OnlySmartPeopleMayPass: Common in the Crystal Maze.˛* OpenSaysMe: Mickey finds out that you ''don't'' try this trope on the Moon, where doors are built to be very, ''very'' solid.˛* OrganicTechnology: The Selenites from book four use this.˛* TheOtherDarrin: In an InUniverse example, Griffin swaps places with the actor who plays Bobo when he realizes he needs to get close enough to watch Bishop. Most of the Gamers take this in stride, assuming it's a routine substitution for an actor who's ill or has some private emergency to deal with. ˛* OurDwarvesAreAllTheSame: Mary-Martha "Mary-Em" Corbett reads like an homage to this trope. Though human, she's 4'1" tall, is built like a muscular fire hydrant, wields a halberd (~battleax), is TheBigGuy of her adventuring party, guzzles beer like a pro, calls a spade a spade, and sings repetitively while she's marching. Although her songs tend to be a hell of a lot raunchier than this trope usually allows.˛* OurSoulsAreDifferent: In Fimbulwinter, the characters must send forth their "spirit-selves" to battle the paija. It's clear that this is also part of the "Fat Ripper"'s psychological programming, as the "spirit-selves" are holographic projections of what the players ''could'' look like - strong, fit, confident - if they adopt healthier eating habits and stick to them.˛* OurZombiesAreDifferent: Reanimated corpses that appear in the first two novels differ from ''each other'', as befits their respective scenarios' radically-different mythos. South Seas Treasure zombies are rotting and decrepit, often laugh eerily (due to having died of kuru), and keep fighting until dismembered. Fimbulwinter zombies ''look'' like living humans in a trance, can open their mouths unnaturally wide, and only need dismemberment to prevent them from arising in the first place. MIMIC zombies are loa-possessed, with animalistic (baboon, crocodile) features, and their wounds leak nasty black ooze. Zombies from the horror attraction in book one are classic Romero-style flesh-eaters with a taste for shark, and vice versa.˛** In all Games where players' characters return as undead, they differ from NPC zombies in being independently-sentient. Draegar and Bowen from book one both target Chester because they blame him for how they were "killed out", while Gwen quietly urges Ollie to finish her off so ''she'' won't have to kill ''him''. Zombie Twan, conversely, relishes the chance to duel Tammi as much as vice versa.˛* PerpetualMotionMachine: The Haiavaha's cave features a circular trench, half filled with ashes and half with firewood. An open fire moves continuously around the trench, burning the wood to ash, while an open blaze of ColdFlames on the other side circles around, un-burning the ashes back to firewood.˛* ThePlan: Some brilliant ones, both in-Game and out.˛* PlotCouponThatDoesSomething: The various talismans from ''California Voodoo'' provide information or enhance the capabilities of the players who bear them, and gathering them is also necessary to complete the scenario.˛* PreserveYourGays: In the third book, while Twan gets killed out of ''California Voodoo'', she out-lives the majority of its participants, and her partner Tammi is one of the very few survivors. Also Sharmela in book four.˛* PsychoForHire: The kidnapper/terrorists from ''The Moon Maze Game''.˛* PsychoPsychologist: Research psychologist Dr. Vail lacks empathy and is willing to risk others' sanity in order to protect the Park (because where else would he have absolute control of subjects' experiences?). Be ''very'' glad he's on the heroes' side, because what he does to the villains in the end ain't pretty....˛* RecruitingTheCriminal: The culprit from the first novel [[spoiler: (Tony [=McWhirter=])]] is recruited by Griffin to work for the Park after serving time, as anyone who can beat the Park's security is worth it. [[spoiler: Also, Griffin feels guilty that Tony got blamed for Rice's death to cover up O'Brien's involvement.]]˛* RevealingCoverup: The traitor in ''The Barsoom Project'' tries to cover up a previous act of sabotage by having Eviane, a key witness, killed out of the Fimbulwinter Game. [[spoiler: But nobody'd told him that you ''can't'' get killed out of a "Fat Ripper" until the finale, so his tampering only draws Griffin's attention to her, leading to his exposure.]]˛* ReverseWhoDunnit: ''The California Voodoo Game''. Readers see the villain kill someone to help cover up a theft, but have to keep reading to discover why it was worth stealing.˛* RuleNumberOne: Nakagawa's Law #1: ''Something in the next shadow is waiting to eat your face''.˛* RiddleMeThis: The "neck riddles" challenge with Yali. The door-opening challenge with the Mooncow matriarch.˛* ScavengerWorld: The [=MIMIC=] residents' clothes, equipment, weapons and artwork are a mix of scavenged refuse and primitive homespun.˛* TheScottishTrope: Heroes participating in the [[ShowWithinAShow South Seas Treasure Game]] were barred from speaking the name of the enemy New Guinea tribe, as using an enemy's name or magic without permission would invite retribution by supernatural forces. Subverted in that the ''players'' could name the [[spoiler: Fore tribe]] as much as they liked, so long as they did so when the Game was on hold for time-outs or overnight.˛* SeaMonster: [[spoiler: The aliens responsible for all the weird in-Game events of the California Voodoo tournament were stranded on Earth because they'd grown into adulthood since their ship crashed. Their mature forms were those of massive flatfishes more than 50' long, so they could no longer fit into their spaceship.]]˛* SeldomSeenSpecies: Giant ''hornbills'' attack the Daribi village early in South Seas Treasure.˛* SeriousBusiness: Some Gamers take their Games a lot more seriously than others.˛* ShackleSeatTrap: Captain Cypher gets caught in one when he sits down to play the Oggun-possessed arcade game.˛* ShapeShifter: The Cabal, Nommo, and Mallbeasts.˛* ShoutOut: ˛** There's an [[Creator/HPLovecraft Old Arkham]] section in the Park. [[spoiler: Cthulhu himself gets a cameo in ''The Barsoom Project'''s Fimbulwinter Game.]]˛** Ollie and Gwen first met when he was cosplaying in homemade ''Literature/StarshipTroopers'' PowerArmor.˛** A whole series of VideoGame and pop-culture characters make appearances in the arcade scene from ''California Voodoo''. The scene itself is reminiscent of the "Bishop of Battle" segment from ''Film/{{Nightmares}}''.˛** The collective works of Creator/HGWells are featured in the Moon-Maze Game. [[spoiler: Including his essays on wargaming and ''Literature/TheInvisibleMan''.]]˛** Upon seeing an obsidian sacrificial knife, one of the characters in ''Dream Park'' asks "Literature/WhatGoodIsAGlassDagger"˛* ShowWithinAShow: Each novel features a major Game with its own adventurous plotline, playing out alongside the espionage plot happening behind the Park scenes.˛* SirSwearsALot: Kevin from ''The Barsoom Project'' really needs to wash his mouth out with soap.˛* SpaceElevator: In ''The Barsoom Project'', Cowles Industries host a major conference to recruit nations' and other megacorps' support of a Mars-terraforming program that would use a SpaceElevator in its operation. The possibility of building one on Earth after a Martian version has been proven safe and reliable is also discussed, and may be the reason why [[spoiler: Ecuador took an interest in [=MIMIC=] in the third novel]].˛* SpoilerOpening: Happens in-Verse during the pre-Game recitation of the rules of play, due to the stipulation about killed-out players' return as undead. It's mandatory that potential casualties be informed how many lost points such a resurrection will let them reclaim, but it ''also'' gives away the fact that the Game will include zombies, ''tornraits'', etc. Thus, when Draegar is killed out, Chester rightly predicts he'll be returning as a zombie, even though no zombies had yet been encountered in-Game.˛* StableTimeLoop: One short adventure, played out by a few Gamers as a warm-up for a major Game, involved characters being drawn back to the Mesozoic by a "time key" they'd found on a human skeleton: one that, inexplicably, turned up inside a dinosaur's fossilized remains. Sure enough, the NPC who carries the time key get eaten by a dinosaur, which then gets buried by tons of mud, ensuring its conversion into a fossil.˛* StakingTheLovedOne: Undead-Gwen has to prompt Ollie to take her down, as he can't bring himself to fight back against the love of his life. Subverted with Tammi, a hardcore Game-veteran who doesn't flinch for an instant when zombie-Twan attacks her. Indeed, they're both ''thrilled'' to have the chance to duel one another in-Game.˛* {{Steampunk}}: The motif of the Moon Maze Game.˛* StockLateralThinkingPuzzle: ''The California Voodoo Game'' uses the stock "What color was the bear?" riddle as the basis for a really tough logic puzzle. The measurements are the same, but the hunter runs down a bird instead of shooting a bear. [[spoiler: Obviously [[PolarBearsAndPenguins he's near the south pole]], but the solution is that he's a distance (the answer is a formula) that causes his "sideways" walking to carry him back to his original longitude.]][[note]] The starting point must be 1 + 1/(2πN) miles north of the South Pole, for positive integer N.[[/note]]˛* SuperWheelChair: Asako Tabata, a veteran Gamer stricken by muscular dystrophy, participates in the Moon Maze Game using a body-encasing mobile capsule with tracks and articulated arms. It's given a {{Steampunk}} motif and a backstory involving [[Literature/TwentyThousandLeaguesUnderTheSea Captain Nemo]] to justify its presence in a Victorian-scifi scenario.˛* SwallowedWhole: The Nibek's shockingly-tiny mouth can open up like a flower to attack in this manner.˛* TarnishingTheirOwnBeauty: Trianna, in ''The Barsoom Project'', gained weight to keep men away after a botched abortion left her sterile. It was of limited effectiveness, her natural beauty shining through anyway.˛* TastesLikeChicken: Selenite fungi taste like chicken... [[SubvertedTrope but only if your chickens taste like tofu]].˛* TemptingFate: When the Martian animations "attack" the terrorists in book four, one of them starts screaming when a "heat ray" strikes him, then realizes it's harmless and jumps up shouting "I'm alive!" ... just in time to get shot in the throat by one of the Gamers. (Guess he was wrong.)˛* ThatOneCase: While Harmony's not a cop, he's been haunted for years by the unsolved killing of Calvin Izumi.˛* ThemeParks: Pretty much everyone who's read the first novel would ''love'' to go there if they could.˛* ThemeParkVersion: Literally applies to the Games' depictions of New Guinea, Inuit, and Voodoo traditions.˛* TheThunderdome: The Crystal Maze is specifically designed for teams of Gamers to challenge one another. Gaming Areas A and B are used as this trope by the U.S. military for training scenarios, and [=MIMIC=] is converted into a temporary example for the California Voodoo tournament.˛* TightropeWalking: Acacia crosses a rope strung over a chasm in the Crystal Maze. The narrative mentions that she's actually capable of such a feat for real, although in-Game it's her character's skill that determines her chances.˛* TimeSkip: ''Moon Maze'' is set three decades after the other novels.˛* TooImportantToWalk: The Selenite interrogator who "tortures" the captive Gamers is not only too important to walk, she's too important to ''turn around'' for herself. The worker-caste Selenites who carry her litter have to walk in a tiny circle so that she can inspect each captive in turn.˛* TookALevelInBadass: S.J. Waters is a goofy nerd who can't resist breaking character in ''Dream Park'', but by California Voodoo he's built up his stamina and discipline as an Army corporal, and defeats a robotic enemy one-on-one.˛* TotalPartyKill: Subverted with South Seas Treasure, only because Harmony agreed to let Griffin and his prisoner remain in the Game for the conclusion. ''Invoked'' when Bishop [[spoiler: leaves his team under the command of Trevor Stone, whom he'd deliberately been needling all day to goad him into stupid mistakes]].˛* TownWithADarkSecret: A minor character in book 2 recounts how, in her own "Fat Ripper", her group uncovered the presence of vampires who'd taken control of an isolated mountain village.˛* UnderdogsNeverLose: [[spoiler: Al the Barbarian wins California Voodoo, brilliantly taking out two rival Loremasters in a row and keeping one of his followers (Mary-Em) alive to the very end. Prior to the Game's beginning, Vegas odds had ranked his Texas Instruments/Mitsubishi team dead last.]]˛* UnderwaterRuins: One of the attractions of the titular park is a walk through the (simulated) underwater ruins of Los Angeles.˛* UnusualEuphemism: "Drown it!"˛* VasquezAlwaysDies: The two main ActionGirl characters in the South Seas Treasure Game (''Dream Park'') are the sexy Acacia and the indefatiguable Mary-Martha. Both acquit themselves well, but only one of them makes it to the end of the Game, and it's not the middle-aged, 4'1" veteran with the battleax.˛** Inverted in ''The California Voodoo Game.'' Mary-Em makes it out alive and with a massive experience boost, while Acacia's character suffers [[spoiler: permanent]] CharacterDeath, causing her to go through a HeroicBSOD.˛* VolumetricMouth: The Inuit zombie that attacks Robin Bowles reveals its nature by opening its mouth ''way'' too wide. The Nibek's mouth is ''tiny'' for its size, but can open up like a morning glory to engulf corpses or living victims.˛* WeaksauceWeakness: The California Voodoo zombies' tissues melt on contact with salt. A double subversion, as salt ''would'' have been almost impossible to find ''in the designated Game areas'', but once the Apple/UC/General Dynamics alliance goes OffTheRails, they find a huge stash of it in somebody's kitchen.˛* WeHaveReserves: As a Lore Master, Chester tends to put novice players on his starting team so he can use them to spring traps, trusting that he'll have the setting's dangers worked out by the time he runs out of replacements.˛* WeightWoe: Most of the participants in the Fimbulwinter "Fat Ripper" are overweight, save for dangerously-skinny Kevin, who suffers from bulimia.˛* WeirdSun: In the Fimbulwinter Game, the Sun has shrunk so much that a Gamer from the asteroid belt thinks it looks normal-sized. When the Gamers travel to the Inuit spirit-world to correct this, they realize that [[spoiler: the missing Creator-spirit, Raven, has been bound to the spirit-Sun's surface]].˛* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: Kevin and Hebert don't attend the post-Game party, and (aside from Gwen's recall that both of them ''did'' show improved eating habits) last appear during their Fimbulwinter "death" scenes.˛** It's never stated if Felicia and Bowan ever faced any ''lasting'' consequences for having cheated in South Seas Treasure, or whether their infraction was ever reported to the [=IFGS=].˛* WrenchWench: Darla˛* XanatosSpeedChess: Bishop's specialty [[spoiler: both in-Game and out]]˛* YiddishAsASecondLanguage: Top Nun's trademark˛* {{Zeerust}}: In the first book, Griffin has Millicent print out information for him on ''fanfold paper''.


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