This Soon? Once More With the Ten Non-RPG Books for the GM (and I doubt this will be the last one)

All of them previous ones.

Sixth (the Finnish edition)

Note: My touchpad is acting up weirdly, which causes the cursor to sometimes jump, which means that as I’m writing, I’m suddenly adding characters to somewhere I didn’t mean to. So, if there’s weird words somewhere, this might be the reason.

1. Robert Hutchinson – House of Treason: The Rise and Fall of a Tudor Dynasty

One of the eras that occupies my life way more than it should, is the Tudors. However, if you pay attention to the subtitle, it’s not about ‘the’ dynasty, but ‘a’ dynasty instead, meaning the Howards, a powerful family in the era that managed to stay in the good graces of Henry VIII despite both of their attempts to find a wife for him failing. Just a good look at how to survive in a treacherous court.

2. Robin Waterfield – The Greek Myths

I mean, you just need these books. Large part of it is pretty basic stuff like explaining where the gods came from, the gods themselves, Heracles and the Trojan war among other things. Pretty basic, but sometimes you need to go back to basics.

3. Helen Fry – Spymaster: The Man Who Saved MI6

I jsut enjoy these books. Spies are often broken people, just like player characters and a lot of the people they meet. I guess this kind of stands here as an example of this, as I’ve read a bunch of these kinds of books.

4. Jonathan Clements – A Brief History of The Samurai: A New History of the Warrior Elite

I could have sworn I had a Clements book on these lists somewhere, but couldn’t find it. I have mentioned his Vikings book somewhere on the blog, however. Also, I might have considered putting his biogrpahy of Mannerheim here at some point, but haven’t. (Sidenote: some parts of the book were taken out of the Finnish version, so I read the English one, but couldn’t really find anything incendiary enough to remove, but I assume my sensibilities are different.)

Mostly the book is about Samurai as the warrior class, but the interesting part is how the concept was not purely Japanese (which I didn’t know and I doubt anyone else did either).

5. Matthew Champion – Medieval Graffiti

There’s fewer images here than one might imagine (or want), but there is a lot of explanation on their meanings and their history. My mind immediately went to an exhibition I saw in Lisbon about the links between paganism and the Catholic church (funnily enough in a Catholic cathedral). Very usable in getting into the heads of the people from the period, especially regarding the supernatural.

6. Olivia M. Swarthout – Weird Medieval Guys

Unlike the previous book, there’s a lot of illustrations here. The one that immediately comes to mind is a flowchart on whether you can get a divorce. There’s also horoscopes, a section called “What Your Favorite Weapon Says About You” and Medieval slang, ‘merobiba’ being a woman who enjoys wine. It covers a lot of topics, often dedicating only a couple pages on something (again with a LOT of illustrations).

7. Blessin Adams – Great and Horrible News: Murder and Mayhem in Early Modern Britain

Written by an ex-police officer, who went into academia. She covers crime from Tudor and Stuart eras, which would be from late 15th century to early 18th century, although my recollection is that mostly these cases from in the latter half of 17th century. The approach is very true crime, which I understand can be difficult for some, so in that case stay away from this.

8. Owen Davies – Art of the Grimoire

A lot of illustrations of grimoires from ancient times to more contemporary times. The book is about how these tomes came about. A lot of the word count is just explanations on how these books were made, meaning the physical books.

9. Kate Summerscale – Phobias & Manias

Phobias and manias always kind of feel forced and played for laughs rather than actual flaws in character, but maybe if we have enough of variance in these, you could actually use them. Also, weird phobias like microphobia’s original meaning, might be interesting tools in the arsenal of the GM. Microphobia was the fear that you or part of you had shrunk.

10. Alex von Tunzelmann – Fallen Idols

This is a book about toppling statues. There’s sections for twelve different people, who’s statues have been toppled. These are mostly dictators of some sort, but also slaveowners and such. It addresses the different arguments against doing this, but also goes through how these statues came about, which is probably the most useful part from the point of view of a GM.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.