INSPIRATIONAL AND EDUCATIONAL READING
Inspiration for all the fantasy work I have done stems directly from the love my father showed when I was a tad, for he spent many hours telling me stories he made up as he went along, tales of cloaked old men who could grant wishes, of magic rings and enchanted swords, or wicked sorcerors [sic] and dauntless swordsmen.
— E. Gary Gygax, Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
The whole “Appendix N” thing has sort of blow up in the past few years among the OSR crowd. Sticking to tradition, I’m devoting this space to inspirational reading as well as useful reference works I’ve accumulated over the years. This will cover specific games/settings, but also cover more general resources for the fantasy, swashbuckling and horror genres.
Inspiration for Witch Hunter: The Invisible World
While the Inspirations section of the Witch Hunter core book is full of good sources, it’s also a bit dated. It remains unchanged from the original edition in 2008, so media, literature and pop culture have at least a good six year lead on it. This is my incomplete attempt to add to that list.
FILM AND TELEVISION
- Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (1974)
- Dog Soliders (2002) In a sub-genre that consistently brings the suck, Dog Solider is one of the best and most consistently entertaining werewolf movies I’ve seen in the past 20 years.
- Penny Dreadful (2014-2015)
- Salem (2014-2015)
- Season of the Witch (2011)
- Solomon Kane (2009)
- Supernatural (2005-2015)
- Werewolf: The Beast Among Us (2012) Not a good movie by a long shot, but a very good example of how a cadre of witch hunters might operate, plus it’s just good enough that any GM worth his salt could turn it into a pretty decent scenario.
- The Dresden Files, Jim Butcher (2000-2014) (Seriously, there are some 15 books, a couple of anthologies, graphic novels…it’s a big damn franchise!)
- The Swords of Albion Trilogy, Mark Chadbourne (2008-2012) (The Silver Skull, the Scar-Crow Men, the Devil’s Looking Glass)
- Thieftaker Chronicles, D.B. Jackson (2012-2015) (Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, A Plunder of Souls, Dead Man’s Reach)
- Matthew Corbett Chronicles, Robert McCammon (2002-2014) (Speaks the Nightbird, Queen of Bedlam, Mister Slaughter, the Providence Rider, the River of Souls) This recommendation came straight from Henry Lopez, himself, who said it was a big piece of his inspiration for the Witch Hunter world.
The Game Master’s General Reference Library
A Quick Word about Name Books
Ok, let’s get something straight right off the bat. Yes, you can find plenty of character naming resources on the internet these days, from random generators to whole “history of the name” references. I use these too. But if you don’t have at least one big book of baby names sitting in your reference library, you’re doing yourself a disservice. The two books I’ve listed from my collection include some pretty esoteric resources, and are perhaps the most used pieces in my collection.
- The Cambridge Factfinder
- Deadly Doses: A Writer’s Guide to Poisons, Serita Stevens, Anne Klamer (1990)
- Encyclopedia of World Religions
- Gary Gygax’s Extraordinary Book of Names, Macolm Bowers (2004)
- Gary Gygax’s World Builder, with Dan Cross (2002)
- History’s Timeline: A 40,000 Year Chronology of Civilization, Jean Cooke, Ann Kramer, Theodore Rowland-Entwistle (1989)
- New York Public Library Desk Reference
- A Short History of the World, Alex Woolf (2008)
- Webster’s Word Menu. It’s not a dictionary, it’s not a thesaurus, it’s…something else.
- Writer’s Digest Character Naming Sourcebook, Sherrilyn Kenyon (1992)