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Fiction you found through RPGs


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#1 BigJackBrass

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Posted 04 April 2015 - 06:20 AM

Gary Gygax's famous "Appendix N" from AD&D has attained a near-legendary status amongst "old-school renaissance" types, who carefully pore over his list of influences and recommended reading as though it were a holy text. Nonetheless, it's a good place to start if you've bought a game and want to understand what the designer had in mind when he wrote it, as well as being a useful pointer towards books you might not have read.

 

Plenty of other RPGs and supplements include a bibliography (GURPS is particularly strong in this area, while Forgotten Futures includes not only a bibliography but also a large number of the original stories); some are based on literary properties you might have otherwise missed. I was wondering what books and authors you've discovered because of gaming and what you thought of them. A few from me:

 

H.P. Lovecraft: Like many people, Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu was my first exposure to Lovecraft and his squamous, rugose, unnamable horrors. I picked up a three volume set of paperbacks and never looked back (which is wise, since you can't be sure what's lurking just behind you). While all things Cthulhu may have reached an almost zombie level of overexposure these days, I still enjoy the original stories.

 

Jacques Futrelle: American mystery writer Futrelle is remembered today largely for two things, creating the character of Professor Augustus S. F. X. Van Dusen aka "The Thinking Machine," and, less happily, sailing aboard RMS Titanic... Consequently the world lost him at the age of only 37. The game Mercenaries, Spies & Private Eyes by Mike Stackpole is dedicated to him, Stackpole being a huge fan of the Thinking Machine stories. They're highly cerebral tales, not action-adventure types, and the main character is remarkably unlikeable, being even more sure of his own abilities and superiority than Holmes. Not all have aged well, but you can find ebook versions easily and they're worth a read.

 

Dream Park: There are now four Dream Park novels by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes; despite owning the most recent, which appeared after a twenty year gap, I haven't actually read it yet. The first three, however, I've read several times. Largely enjoyable despite some goofs, oversights and occasional plodding, they're set in a futuristic amusement park where people are effectively LARPing, but there is a real-world mystery in place which impacts the game, such as a murder in the first book where the killer is believed to be a player, leading the head of security to join the game in an attempt to flush them out. Mike Pondsmith turned the setting into the Dream Park RPG from R. Talsorian Games, which I saw at its 1992 Gen Con release. Much like the original novels, the game is flawed but fun anyway.

 

 


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#2 Lucky_Strike

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Posted 04 April 2015 - 10:38 AM

Jack Vance - as cliche as it may be I am just that amount younger that without "Vancian" spell casting I would not have heard of the Dying Earth series.

Fritz Lieber - I met Lankhmar in a set of TSR 1on1 game books and was intrigued. It took years to find a good set of his books from a used book store.

G. K. Chesterton - one of my gaming buddies in college ran GURPS for us a number of times and was always great. Man Who Was Thursday was a key inspiration to him and once we knew we got into it to figure out where the campaigns were headed. It didn't help much but we all particularly liked Chesterton.

Lord Dunsany - I ran into Lovecraft before CoC when a friend insisted I read mountains of madness. I learned of Dunsany from the dreamlands info in CoC and further exploration. His historical pieces on the Great War are particularly excellent.
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#3 Lucky_Strike

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Posted 04 April 2015 - 06:33 PM

Also:

Tim Powers - It would have taken me a lot longer to find Tim Powers excellent weird modern fiction without the recomendations in the Unknown Armies book.
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#4 kendoyle659

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Posted 06 April 2015 - 09:12 AM

I came across Lovecraft because of the RPG.

I read a Dreampark novel in the early 90s (one with Cargo cults if I remember correctly) but wasn't aware of the RPG til over a decade later.

 

I certainly read Dragonlance and maybe some Forgotten Realms stuff before I was really aware of RPGs.

 

I am going to read some Jack Vance very soon.

 

Having just had a look at the DnD 5e Appendix E Inspirational Reading I think I will have a large number of books that I should read. Although I am aware that some are not too my taste. I think that the inclusion of these bibliographies is a great way to give ideas about the kinds of things you could do in games,


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#5 PrestoJeff

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Posted 06 April 2015 - 02:13 PM

ElfQuest - As a prerequisite to playtesting the game, I read the comics. I was very impressed with the original story, less so with the subsequent material.


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#6 Lucky_Strike

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Posted 08 April 2015 - 09:54 AM

Along these lines and on the topic of appendix N I just found out from getting back on Twitter that my old GM who introduced me to Chesterton actually does a podcast of that name. Link below.

http://www.thetomesh...ory/appendix-n/
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