[Game Mastering Secrets]

Below is an excerpt from Ken Hite's article "The Joy of Research". The full article will appear in Gamemastering Secrets, 2nd Edition.

(c) Copyright 2002 by Ken Hite

Kenneth Hite's Personal Old Reliable Standby Resources

These only cover what I like to laughingly refer to as "the real world." For both SF and fantasy worldbuilding references, I tend to use gaming books or a hamfisted gestalt of the vast ocean of SF and fantasy books I've read during my misspent youth.


This is by far my favorite Web search tool now; by typing any two or three words (such as "Shakespeare" and "alchemy"; "Oklahoma" and "UFO"; or "Chinese" and "time travel") into the box at www.google.com, I receive the most-linked-to (which correlates surprisingly well with most useful) Web pages on just about anything. (Google now also lets you search Usenet posts, which are, if anything, even more arcane and verbose.) If I've got a specific quote I want to contextualize, I still type it verbatim (in quotes) into AltaVista, since it isn't picky about stuff like "the" and "and."

Lonely Planet Travel Guides

These manage to combine readability with completeness and an astonishing number of decent maps. Any good travel book is better than 95% of all RPG setting books for any modern-day game, and can be surprisingly useful even for historical gaming. If you can't find a Lonely Planet book on your chosen setting, try a Rough Guide, and if you can't find one of those, just dive for the fattest book on the shelf.

Any Decent Historical Atlas

Look for one with many, many maps along with some explanatory text. The Penguin and Anchor series are both excellent; in one volume, the Oxford and Dorling Kindersley atlases are both good. These combine geography and history in an instantly comprehensible format; for me, any game has to start with "who was where when."

The Shelf Of Books Immediately To My Left As I Type This

In their (completely idiosyncratic) shelf order: Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, Webster's Biographical Dictionary, The People's Chronology (by James Trager), Webster's Geographical Dictionary, An Encyclopedia of World History (by William L. Langer), The Encyclopedia of Military History (by R. Ernest and Trevor N. Dupuy), The Merriam-Webster New Collegiate Dictionary, Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, Weapons: An International Encyclopedia from 5000 B.C. to 2000 A.D (by the Diagram Group), The World Almanac 2001, Unexplained! (by Jerome Clark), The Magician's Companion (by Bill Whitcomb), and Funk & Wagnall's Encyclopedia of Folklore, Mythology, & Legend. Almost any basic fact I care about is in one or more of these books somewhere. Many of these, and many more reference books (along with a cartload of novels, poetry, and so forth) are online at www.bartleby.com.

The Encyclopedia Britannica

This is the source of all wisdom and knowledge. I own the 13th edition, assembled from the legendary 11th edition of 1910, updated with four volumes in 1926. The Web provides me with the modern version, at www.britannica.com.


[Valid XHTML 1.0!]

Copyright © 2002 by Grey Ghost Press, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Original Fudge materials Copyright © 1992-1995 by Steffan O'Sullivan. All Rights reserved. Other copyrighted material Copyright © 1996-2002 by the author(s) or artist(s) as indicated. All Rights Reserved.

Last modified: 2002-August-17
Webmaster: webmaster@gmsecrets.com