The Fiddleback Trilogy was the official ‘tie-in series’ to Dark Conspiracy and was written at the same time as Lester W. Smith was drafting the roleplaying game for GDW. While the two properties share many elements, and the novels are seen by most as an example of the post-Greater Depression Dark America, they also diverge in others. To quote Lester from a 1998 post on the Dark Conspiracy mailing list, “At the same time, they asked Mike Stackpole to write some novels, but both projects were done pretty much separately. Mike’s stuff tends more toward cyberpunk and high action, while mind tends more toward universal dystopia and a setting that can incorporate pretty much any horror story you might read or view.”

The Fiddleback Trilogy

From the author’s (Michael Stackpole) website

The Fiddleback Trilogy Omnibus is a collection of three novels by Michael A. Stackpole. Mike wrote these books for Game Designers’ Workshop as the debuted their roleplaying game Dark Conspiracy. He was writing the first novel as the game was being developed, and developer Loren Wiseman pulled elements from the novel for the game (as well as brilliantly extrapolated from there).

Set in what was, at the time they were written, the near future, the three novels take place in a dystopic future where corporations not-so-secretly rule the world, and who actually are the puppets for fantastically powerful Elder beings who are battling to possess Earth. Coyote and his intrepid band of adventurers wage a secret war against forces of evil, frustrating, thwarting, defeating and destroying a number of Dark Lords as they go. These fastly-paced books are full of intrigue and action, in a genre GDW dubbed “techno-horror.” To put it simply, Vampires (who do not sparkle) have sunblock 88, and humans have automatic weapons.

A Gathering Evil (GDW 2150)

Book One of The Fiddleback Trilogy
Author – Michael Stackpole
Published – 1991
Page Count – 327 pages
ISBN – 15-58780-92-0
Site Review[Review] A Gathering Evil – A Dark Conspiracy Novel

Tycho Caine is a man on a mission. He’s sure of that. But, waking up in a body bag with amnesia, he’s not sure of much else. Except that someone wants him dead…

The time is the near future. The place is Phoenix, Arizona. The streets are roofed over with giant solar power panels called “Frozen Shade” by the street people. Giant corporate fortresses dot the landscape. A privileged few enjoy pampered luxury, while the vast underclass suffers. Behind it all, unspeakable abominations carry out a convoluted, centuries-old plan of invasion and conquest.

Caine’s search for his identity and his mission uncovers an invasion from another dimension, an invasion so subtle, so covert, that most of the world has not noticed. The invaders are the stuff of nightmares – every “mythical” monster is only a pale, dimly viewed reflection of their unimaginable reality. Worse of all, Caine discovers that he may be one of the dark minions of A Gathering Evil.

Evil Ascending (GDW 2151)

Book Two of The Fiddleback Trilogy
Author – Michael Stackpole
Published – 1991
Page Count – 319 pages
ISBN – 15-58780-99-8

“I feel Fiddleback,” Rajani said. Her heard came up. “He’s here.”
Sinclair heard the bubbling rush of water and turned to face the black tunnel behind him. “Where?”
Suddenly, Rajani saw a segmented serpentine for rear up through the sludgy water. Mandibles clicked once, then Sin cried out as something slashed across his chest. It sliced through his shirt, suspenders and flesh, then withdrew. “Where, Rajani, where?”

The daughter of an ET who escaped domination by the Dark Ones, Rajani struggles across a ruined Earth to destroy the Dark Lord Fiddleback.

A former puppet of Fiddleback, Tycho Caine assumes the identity and mission of Coyote, the man who stole his memory and set him free. Caine’s mission leads him to a Tibetan monastery, where the dimension-walking monks help him search for his true nature.

In Coyote/Caine’s hire, Sinclair MacNeal travels to Tokyo to find the enclave of assassins where Caine was forged as Fiddleback’s tool.

Where these three paths converge, Dark Lords clash, and reality bends like heated wax.

Evil Triumphant (GDW 2152)

Book Three of The Fiddleback Trilogy
Author – Michael Stackpole
Published – 1992
Page Count – 342 pages
ISBN – 15-58781-20-X

Pygmalion pointed his index finger at one scot like a child making a gun from his hand. His thumb fell once, and the scout crumbled to dust. A second twitch, and a scout evaporated; a third, and a scout burst into flames. Pygmalion gestured one last time, liquefying the fourth scout, and then raised his finger up and blew on it before tucking it away in an imaginary holster.

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Or so the conventional wisdom goes…

The Dark Lord Fiddleback and Coyote need each other to defeat Fiddleback’s rebellious protégé, the sculptor Pygmalion. This alliance, however, could prove to be Coyote’s – and Earth’s – death-knell.

Pygmalion now has a pupil of his own – the godling Ryuhito, the grandson of the Japanese emperor. Through him, Pygmalion’s horrific power is amplified. But the fires of betrayal burn within the newly apprenticed Ryuhito. And the emperor wants him back. Deceit, treachery and revenge fester in this war of Dark Lords and their minions, in which Coyote and his warriors against the Dark do battle to prevent the nightmare of… Evil Triumphant.