What books unrelated to TTRPGs are the most useful to you for TTRPGs?

Dumboldt

Villager
Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel has been quoted three times so far: anyone wants to develop how useful exactly it is for RPGs?
 

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And Wikipedia is a great place to find inspiration for gaming material. Just try to look up articles about archeological grave sites without being inspired to put something into a game. And there's plenty of fodder for inspiring a PC or NPC.
After I read your post I went to Wikipedia's front page and there is some pretty cool stuff there. On this day, article of the day, did you know, etc., never checked it before but might be worth bookmarking as a homepage. I then searched for Wikipedia in Wikipedia's search engine, even if it was going to destroy the space time continuum, it was a chance I was willing to take. Gave a good explanation of how information is collected, vetted and even the processes shortcomings.
 

Nytmare

David Jose
Not a "book" per say, but I've found comics to be an amazing source of inspiration. The trick is to use the concept, without the specifics, to keep players from figuring it out. I ran the Knightfall story arc without anyone figuring it out until the very end, and everyone loved it.

I have to say that Kirkman's comic book "Invincible" swept away ALL of my knee jerk GMing reactions with regards to the characters' friend/foe dichotomies. So many of my plot twists nowadays revolve around sworn enemies being thrust into the position of "the only ally we can trust" or vice versa.
 

Nytmare

David Jose
Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel has been quoted three times so far: anyone wants to develop how useful exactly it is for RPGs?
The books that a person is going to list gives you a hint as to how they see (or maybe want to see) the world around them.

I personally find that any history book written in a way that explains the interconnected and interdisciplinary links of why things have happened, as opposed to just listing the whats and whens in a stale parade of either wars or weddings, to be far more insightful and interesting.

Books like Guns, Germs, and Steel, or Napolean's Buttons, or James Burke's old TV show Connections have given me a far better pallet to paint an imaginary world and history, both of which are important to me when I'm running a game.
 

pemerton

Legend
Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel has been quoted three times so far: anyone wants to develop how useful exactly it is for RPGs?
I'll give a controversial reply: a lot of RPGing looks at world building primarily through the lens of geographic and ecological causation - often treated in a rather deterministic fashion - with very little attention to the social. Diamond's book supports that sort of approach.
 

The Voynich Manuscript, Codex Seraphinianus, and the Book of Imaginary Beings.

Whether you use want inspiration for new monsters, exciting fauna to fill in a fantasy world, or to just plain re-skin things from the Monster Manual to keep players on their toes, a DM can't go wrong with pulling out one of these books and opening it to a random page.
 

MGibster

Legend
Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel has been quoted three times so far: anyone wants to develop how useful exactly it is for RPGs?
It can be useful for world design, especially when considering how geography can influence the shape of a civilization. I've got some problems with the book from an academic standpoint, geographic determinism and lack of human agency comes to mind, but it can be useful to remember to think about why one city or nation is wealthy while others are not so wealthy.
 

aramis erak

Legend
If I had to guess I would assume teaching techniques have evolved since I was in grammar school and high school.
It has, but not a lot. The biggest things are that certain things that would have been treated as "un-educatable disability" are now "we have to try," and that individuation of instruction produces better overall performance in the system, at the cost of educator time and institutional budget.
Which back then 99.9% of tests were based on whether you memorized the material or not.

That's still an issue, and the recent (last 15 years) moves towards "universal exams" has lead back towards teaching the test matter and ignoring the rest, including ignoring the essential theory to know when and why to use algorithm X, Y or Z.

The problem boils down to it being far easier to grade fact recitation than concept internalization.
 

That's still an issue, and the recent (last 15 years) moves towards "universal exams" has lead back towards teaching the test matter and ignoring the rest, including ignoring the essential theory to know when and why to use algorithm X, Y or Z.

The problem boils down to it being far easier to grade fact recitation than concept internalization.
This might explain the lack of common sense in the world these days.
 

The books that a person is going to list gives you a hint as to how they see (or maybe want to see) the world around them.

I personally find that any history book written in a way that explains the interconnected and interdisciplinary links of why things have happened, as opposed to just listing the whats and whens in a stale parade of either wars or weddings, to be far more insightful and interesting.

Books like Guns, Germs, and Steel, or Napolean's Buttons, or James Burke's old TV show Connections have given me a far better pallet to paint an imaginary world and history, both of which are important to me when I'm running a game.
This is it exactly. It's very helpful because a lot of people, including a lot of full-time RPG designers of ages past (and even present), don't see how stuff in the world interconnects, what drives things, and how you need to consider stuff holistically to make a convincing and really lively world (which is not necessarily the same as a conceptually cool world). Like WHY is this dungeon here? WHY was it built that way? WHY is it this shape? WHY is it this stone? WHY did the dwarves travel here? What set them off on their travels? Yeah, answering the "who" is easy but so often the "why" is ignored or glossed over, as is the course of events.

That said some designers just "get it", like Zeb Cook - but even good designers who mostly get it like sometimes falter, so it can help then.

This might explain the lack of common sense in the world these days.
I think the issue there is that the lack of common sense is not centered on younger people. They're no more silly than they were when I was young or even when my dad was young.
 


I'm basing my opinion solely on my personal experiences over the last 20 years.
Sure, but the biggest lack of "common sense" is centered on people who are currently aged about 50 to 65, in my experience, and it's much more severe than anything seen in 20-somethings (who have always lacked common sense to some extent, for the very obvious reason that they're young and foolish). So if we're saying that there's some sort of issue today with teaching, I think we have to ask what the issue with teaching was in '70s and '80s. Maybe it was the same one - rote learning - I know it was an issue in the '70s. Maybe the 1990s were a brief of oasis of actually teaching critical thinking? Getting off-topic though.
 


Stormonu

Legend
After I read your post I went to Wikipedia's front page and there is some pretty cool stuff there. On this day, article of the day, did you know, etc., never checked it before but might be worth bookmarking as a homepage. I then searched for Wikipedia in Wikipedia's search engine, even if it was going to destroy the space time continuum, it was a chance I was willing to take. Gave a good explanation of how information is collected, vetted and even the processes shortcomings.
Wikipedia and TVTropes are a great starting points for knowledge. The former as a helpful primer, the latter for good adventure design.
 

Dungeon Delver's Guide

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