Note on “What I’m Reading”

As I’m sure you’ve noticed I have a “What I’m Reading” sidebar with links to the books at Powell’s (yes, I’m in their partner program).

Traditionally I’ve only listed fiction that would seem to have a gaming bent there, but that’s far from all I read.

Today I decided to add the non-fiction book I’m reading right now, Seth Godin’s Linchpin. The reason is much of the book is about work that is also art. Godin defines art as a personal gift that changes the receiver. While I’m not 100% happy with that definition it, and much of Godin’s discussion, applies to roleplaying games in my mind.

This blog actually has an elevator pitch. The one line version is the subtitle above:
Championing tabletop role-playing games as the most accessible form of public creativity and self-expression.

A book about art and connection and creativity is certainly one that fits that pitch. I tend to read books about creativity, self-expression, and art. From now on I’ll consider them fodder not only for Dark Etiquette but this blog as well. That includes adding them to “What I’m Reading”.

I promise not to subject you to my computer and mathematics reading, however.

Runequest Appendix N

I just noticed something last night. I was thinking about posting the Runequest reading list from the appendices. As soon as I sat down I noticed that it is N. Bibliography. That’s right, RQ maintained the tradition of putting reading material in Appendix N. For general interest and comparison here it is.

[Appendix] N. Bibliography

Bibby, George. 4000 Years Ago – check your library for other titles as well; anything by Bibby is recommended.

Byfield, Barbarbara N. The Book of Weird (formerly The Glass Harmonica) – a delightfully-written and illustrated encyclopedia of things fantastical.

Coles, John. Archeology by Experiment – excellent description of the practical side of archeology, easily relatable to FRP games.

Conally, Peter. The Greek Armies, The Roman Army, and Enemies of Rome – three educational picture books of incredible detail and content.

Draeger, Donn F. and Smith, Robert W. Asian Fighting Arts – an excellent survey of what it really takes to master a weapon.

Foote, Peter(ed.) The Saga of Grettir the Strong – on version of the making of a hero, direct from the Age of Heroes of Iceland.

Funcken, Lillane and Fred. Arms and Uniforms: Ancient Egypt to the 18th Century – first-class illustrated book of historical costumes and weapons.

Howard, Robert E. Conan (and others) – the archetypical noble and savage barbarian written with muscle and guts; his notes have been finished with less gusto by other writers as well.

Keegan, John. The Face of Battle – the descriptions in this book are a must for anyone wanting to know some truth in grisly detail about ancient and medieval warfare.

Leiber, Fritz. Swords in the Mist (and others) – a basic source of modern fantasy; the stories about Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser are classics.

Magnusson, Magnus (ed.). Njal’s Saga – an excellent look at a Dark Ages culture, and some rousing fighting besides.

Malory, Thomas. Le Morte d’Arthur – more information on heroic actions, though of a limited cult. Useful too for inspiration on possible event for FRP.

Moorcock, Michael. Elric (and others) – a basic source of modern fantasy.

Smith, Clark Ashton. Hyperborea (and others) – more standards of fantasy fiction, which everyone should at least taste.

Stone, George Cameron. A Glossary of the Constuction, Decoration, and Use of Arms and Armor – heavy emphasis on Japanese fighting gear, but worth it anyway.

Sturlasson, Snorri. King Harald’s Saga – a superb epic tale by Iceland’s most famous saga writer, proving you do not need fantasy to create a legend.

Tolkien, J. R. R. Lord of the Rings – a modern fantasy classic. Tolkien is rightfully accorded as the Master of fantasy, and if you have not yet read LotR, please do yourself a favor. Of his other works, see also The Silmarilion – notes of the Master compiled posthumously by his son, Christopher. These are a chronicle of the earlier ages of Middle Earth.

Chivalry & Sorcery; Bunnies & Burrows; Flash Gordon & the Warriors of Mongo; Starships & Spacemen – all from Fantasy Games Unlimited, PO Box 182, Roslyn NY 11576.

Empire of the Petal Throne; Knights of the Round Table; Space Patrol; Superhero 2044 – all from Gamescience (Lou Zocchi & Associates), 1956 Pass Rd., Gulfport MS 39501.

Advanced D&D; Dungeons & Dragons; Gamma World; Metamorphosis Alpha; Star Probe; Star Empires – all from TSR Hobbies, Inc., PO Box 756, Lake Geneva WI 53147.

Bushido; Space Quest – Tyr Gamemakers Ltd., PO Box 414, Arlington VA 22210.

The Fantasy Trip (included Wizard and Melee) – Metagaming, PO Box 15346, Austin TX 78761.

Tunnels & Trolls; Monsters! Monsters!; Starfaring – all from Flying Buffal, Inc., PO Box 1467, Scottsdale AZ 85252.

Traveller; En Garde! – Game Designers’ Workshop, 203 North St., Normal IL 61761.

Legacy – Legacy Press, 217 Harmon Rd., Camden MI 49232.

Arduin Grimoire; Welcome to Skull Tower; Runes of Doom – all from James E. Mathis, 2428 Ellsworth (102), Berkeley CA 94704.

Star Trek – Heritage Models, Inc., 9840 Monroe Dr. (Bldg. 106), Dallas TX 75220.

The Society for Creative Anachronism. Write to Society of Creative Anachronism, Inc., Office of the Registry, PO Box 594, Concord, Calif. 94522

Write for prices to Lou Zocchi & Associates, 1956 Pass Rd. Gulfport MS 39501,or see you local hobby or game store.


When contrasting it to the DMG the following stand out:

  • The presence of a lot of non-fiction.
  • The fiction on this list is present on the DMG.
  • The addition of commentary
  • That this list is specific works for all authors
  • The pointers to other games (more about this below)
  • The presence of DIY history in two places
  • The presence of non-modern texts in the form of sagas.

The presence of other games I think is very telling for two reasons. One, it indicates this work is a product of a period when the hobby was one of associates and friends not rival businesses becoming an industry. Second, it provides a context not only for the stories the designers wanted to tell but the games they knew. It is an interesting addition to the context of the game looking back 30 years later.