Appendix N and G&BS

Lets continue this idea from a previous G&BS topic!

:books: !!BOOK CLUB!! :books:

Post some books that you enjoy, include Why you enjoy them, Some Pro’s & Con’s about the story, setting, what-have-you, and how you would / have / could use it for gaming!

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Fantasy

The World of the First Law

Joe Abercrombie’s “First Law” books would definitely fit into my modern concept of a personal Appendix N. Well written, sarcastic, and comical at times, but also bloody, brutal, and cynical at other times.

If you aren’t a fan of torture or graphic violence, you may want to steer clear. Joe could also use a few more female charcters with agency, also some of his more recent books are addressing this. Don’t expect happy endings, or sometimes, even solid resolutions.

Egil and Nix

Paul S. Kemp’s Egil and Nix series is not even attempting to NOT be a love letter to Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, but Kemp intentionally addresses issues with the original stories, letting the two protagonists stew on some of their morally questionable choices a little longer than the Twain often did, and adding some more modern sensibility to issues of gender, violence, and power disparity.

That said, there ARE issues of violence, gender inequality, and power disparity, and definitely more than innuendo level commentaries on intimate relations.

The Ruin of Kings

Jenn Lyons story of shapeshifters, death cults of assassins, demonic summoning, and political maneuvering has a lot of familiar elements, but with some nice twists, including a more tropical setting, and the actual power dynamics of divine beings.

The most disappointing aspect of the book is that the main protagonist still ends up being a fair haired handsome man, and the resolution of the book reigns back in from some of the more outrageous elements to a more predictable ending, but there are a lot of interesting scenes and world building in between.

The book contains some frank discussion of sex, misogyny, slavery, and violence, so that’s worth noting before diving in to the story.

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Some of the very first books I read in a fantasy setting were, Dragon Riders of Pern. I read these even before I started gaming. I knew gaming was a thing and had been visiting game shops, buying Dragon magazine stuff like that but living in a small town I didn’t know anyone who actually play D&D or anything similar. So for me these books had opened a very important world of fantasy fiction that I still live in every chance I get 30 plus years later. They seemed to cover the gambit, action, adventure, romance and most importantly Dragons.

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Sorry, I forgot to relate things back to gaming!

First Law Lessons

  • In a low-magic setting, consider not letting the PCs have any magic at all, even if it exists (but talk about it first)
  • If you want to present a cynical world where you can’t trust anyone, you can still have NPCs that the PCs can “count on” by having characters that are up front about being corrupt and untrustworthy–they don’t hide what they are, so everything is on the table
  • There are things worse than death–while a lot of people assume the ultimate expression of “gritty” is easy PC death, it might be worth it to give them a “get out of death free” card at the cost of being in a really bad situation determined by the GM (like losing everything they own, being cursed, etc.)
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Egil and Nix Lessons

  • It’s okay to use old, established tropes from the genre, but try to introduce some narrative on why some of those tropes aren’t the greatest–make sure love interests are real people, have consequences for bravado
  • Do whatever you can to reward good banter between characters (this is touched on in the DCC Lankhmar boxed set as well)
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The Ruin of Kings Lessons

  • Secret societies are fun–have some shadowy factions in the long term campaign
  • Starting in media res is a really good way to jump straight into the action
  • Use flashbacks to redefine “facts” that you thought were established in the campaign by providing more context, instead of just retconning things
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There have all been useful to inspire a location, creature or situation, and encourage the flow of story-when to divert it, when to quicken it, when to dam it.

Fantasy :

  • Hero with 1000 Faces - Joseph Campbell
  • The Magician - Raymond E Feist
  • Lankhmar series, Fritz Lieber
  • Conan stories, Robert Howard
  • Thrones and Bones trilogy (kid safe) Lou Anders

Modern Supernatural :

  • Sandman 1-10 Graphic novel series, Neil Gaiman
  • Dresden Files, Jim Butcher
  • Vampire Chronicles, Anne Rice
  • Rivers of London, Ben Aaronovitch
  • American Gods, Neil Gaiman
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Oh yeah, The Magician series, also know as the Rift War saga. It definitely affected my DMing with the aspect of rifts or gates. I also found the character “Jimmy the Hand” a great and iconic rouge figure. Even to this day Jimmy effects how I play most rouge PCs. On the rare chance I get to be a player and not the DM.
The Sandman novels by Gaiman also had an influence on my vision of how to DM horror stories.

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Galactic Patrol by E.E. Smith. Great ideas for background, pulp science fiction. Dated in how it handles gender issues, but fast paced and great for 40’s to 50’s idea of the future of law enforcement. Ray guns, space cruisers, planet destroying weapons, alien races, it’s got it all!

This seems relevant to the topic. I had missed this previously, but it sounds like there are a lot of things I need to put on my wishlist after looking at this article.

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