Friday, September 28, 2007

Name Game Poll Results

I'm super-thrilled that 68 people responded to my poll, but I'm still as confused as ever about what to call my campaign world. Zindar got the plurality, but it only beat 'Other' by 2 votes. So far the only clear message is that Sinder is right out. Part of me wants to throw the question wide open and just ask all you nice folks for your ideas. But I can't really see myself sticking my personal, idiosyncratic campaign world with someone else's name. So right now my options are to either stick with Zindar since it did win the poll, go with something cute 'Other' based option like Otherwhere, Otherwhen, Othernow, etc., or start over from scratch. Anybody got any good ideas, not for names, but for methods of coming up with world names? Should I start drawing tiles out of the Scrabble bag?

Hmmm, Otherwhere, Otherwhen, and Othernow actually don't seem half bad at the moment. I like the fact that these names call attention to their own otherworldliness, there own sense of the Other as place. What other option are available, using Other as the base? Othergard, Otherland, Otherheim, off the top of my head. We could try some other languages as well, I suppose. Otherworld in Adelic would be something like Andrvøld. Stick a vowel between the r and the v and you could really have something: Andravøld, Andrevøld, Andrivøld, Androvøld, Andruvøld, or Andryvøld. I think I like Andrivøld best of those options. That o with the slash through it is totally metal. Other in Gothic is either Aljis or Anthar. Antharia doesn't sound too bad. Kinda bland, though. Other in French is Autre. Autremonde, perhaps? Going with French may increase the number "Why do you think I speak with this outrageous accent?" Python quotes in any given session.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

FASERIP/Four Color non-update

Back in March Phil Reed solicited the internets for money to write an OGL restatement of the classic Marvel Super Heroes system. According to the page devoted to the project, the offer was that if Mr. Reed got $1,000 up front he would take 2 weeks to do the initial work on the project, then release a free PDF. 30 days later, after taking input on corrections and errata and such, a print-on-demand version would be made available at cost.

That was the deal. Mr. Reed got $1,130 in up-front contributions to launch the project. By his proposed timeline, I was expecting to be able to buy a new FASERIP rulebook 44 days later. It's now six months later and I can see no evidence of a forthcoming book. A file containing the basic rules of the system was made available in a fairly timely fashion, but six months have gone by since Reed got his money and he still has not come through on his promise to get us a shiny new rulebook.

In the wider gaming industry the screwiness of the distribution system and delays at the printer are often blamed for the hit-or-miss nature of announced release dates. One of the big reasons I bought into Greg Stolze's Ransom Model was because it avoided these issues altogether. You send some money directly to the designer, and gaming goodness becomes available to all. To my knowledge Mr. Reed is the second designer to use this approach. Is he going to ruin it for everyone by taking the money and flaking out on the follow through?

I don't want to suggest here that Mr. Reed was running some sort of flimflam operation. I don't think he set out on this venture with the idea that he would run off with some suckers' money. Surely the problem is that he's just gotten too busy, what with taking a dayjob at Steve Jackson Games, running Ronin Arts on the side, and uh, playing games. As a fellow gamer I don't want to hold it against the man that he spent Sunday playing some games. But come on. He put his hands on over a thousand bucks based on a promise. Maybe he could have spent last Sunday holding up his end of that bargain.

I'm not posting this blog entry to hurl insults at Mr. Reed or demand my money back. I don't feel any ill will towards the guy. But if he could finish what he started, I would really appreciate it. At this point I'm not sure whether I'll be buying that POD rulebook if it ever comes out, but I would like to see it released. That's what the folks who sent money to fundable paid for, after all. But I guess I'm a little soured on the whole project. And right now I'm not in a huge hurry to ever buy anything with Phil Reed's name or a Ronin Arts logo on it. I feel burned.

Jeff's Crazy Thought of the Day

Forward... to Exalted!

For reals. Take the Exalted's crazy ass setting and run it under FtA!. Mere mortals would have stats ranging from -5 to -1, and pretty much any DC over 15 would be a superhuman effort. Stunting would go before general melee in the combat turn. That's what gave me this crazy idea. Spell lists would need reworking. That'd be the hardest part. But if, like me, you think the best parts of Exalted are the setting fluff and the anything-goes stunt rules, then maybe FtE! would be a way to avoid dealing with the Storyteller system.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

the indie holocaust

Things are getting draconian as I clear stuff out of my game room to get ready to move. Yesterday I pitched a six inch stack of free RPGs I had printed out over the years. I ended up keeping only those games I had actually played, plus one. There was an extra copy of S. John Ross's Risus: The Anything RPG that I held on to. Somewhere there's already a copy (along with the excellent Risus Companion and his Big List of RPG Plots) in a 3 ring binder stuck in some box, but it doesn't hurt to have an extra. I also kept my print-out of Phillipe Tromeur's Wuthering Heights Roleplay. Had a fun con run of that five or so years ago. In the folder with the rules was the Ron Edwards style relationship map I had drawn after everyone generated characters. Behold:

I don't recall what Clarice saw in that bald porn addict.Everyone ended the run dead, insane and/or incarcerated. It was like a Call of Cthulhu run except sexual anxiety replaced the face-eating fish-men. Also on the to-keep list was QAGS, the Quick Ass Gaming System. You can buy a cool digest-sized rulebook for QAGS, but the freebie one page charsheet/rulebook is almost better. I have both. And then there's Uncle Bear's Bad Attitudes, a great little action movie game. Great for blowing stuff up.

The one rpg I kept but have not played is Micro-Dot. I can't find the linky for this one anymore, so in a blatant act of IP piracy I am going to reproduce the game in its entirety.

State action and Roll 1d4
1. Amazing fumble
2. Fail (Unless part of PC Occupation)
3. Success
4. Amazing Critical
Seriously, that's the whole game.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Federation Commander

The folks responsible for Star Fleet Battles have come up with a new faster-playing, cut down version of the game. Called Federation Commander, it promises better play for larger scale conflict in SFB's oddball alt-Trek universe. The official website makes it look like they've kicked production values up a notch as well. Check out this fullcolor Ship System Display:

That's still more complicated than a lot of spaceship gamers want, but it sure looks like an improvement to me. There's a thirty four page demo rulebook available for download here.

Good times

The wife of my gaming buddy Doug has some way of occassionally scoring comp tickets to the local arena and she managed to snag a pair of sweet seats for the WWE Raw house show this last Saturday. Doug is one of those weirdoes who prefers 'real' sports, so he passed the tickies along to me and I took my pal Pat. This was the fifth wrestling card I've ever seen live and it ranked right up there with the WCW show I took in at Springfield with Paul Pomykala and Don McKinney's son Michael.

The opening match was a fifteen man over-the-top battle royal, with the winner get a title shot against the champ in that night's main event. Pat and I were shocked when "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan came out to participate in the bout. That guy is awesome. He's big, loud, and stupid. I pretty sure I saw Curt, one of the many cops in my lodge, working security near the wrestler's entrance. Dude stopped Hacksaw and shook his hand as he exited the room. Curt's quite a character in his own right. I'm told he has the Punisher skull emblazoned on his kevlar vest. The battle royal went to Jeff Hardy, who I had seen wrestle a couple of matches in TNA. He was new to Pat, who dubbed him 'Hot Topic Lad' based upon his ring attire. Most of the gusy who wrestled in the opening match later performed again in singles competition. We were thrilled to get a double dose of Duggan when he went mano-a-mano with a fellow named Daivari, who plays the role of Evil Arab. I'm not a big fan of the Heel Foreigner gimmick. It often smacks of racism and blind nationalism and this particular version came with a heaping side order of religious intolerance. But this Daivari fellow did a helluva good job with the limited character palette available.

I was shocked that the most technically sound match of the night was the Women's Championship bout. Candice Michelle managed to defend her title against Beth 'the Glamazon' Phoenix. Both ladies did a great job wrestling, but I was extremely impressed by the Glamazon. She had Haughty Heel charisma on the mike and in the ring she pulled off a very credible array of powerhouse moves. Women's pro wrestling has a long history of hair-pulling, catfighting, and screaming but all that nonsense was very subdued and instead we saw a lot of power moves, high flying stunts, and legitimate grappling. Great stuff.

The match before the main event was Carlito versus Triple H. Both of these guys have an amazing amount of charisma. They wrestled a sound if relatively unspectacular program. The match was really built around the lavish Triple H entrance sequence and pushing the cage match between the two of them on tonight's episode of Raw. Look for Carlito to wear the big belt some day. I've only seen him a couple of times while flipping through channels but he clearly has that special something. One segment I've watched he didn't have a single line but still owned the scene. His performance Saturday night only cemented my impression that this young man will one day be at the top. Question for people more familiar with WWE: Does Lemmy sing Triple H's entrance music? It sounded a lot like Lemmy to me.

The main event was a bit of a bait and switch. The Jeff Hardy/John Cena title match ended early when battle royal sore losers Cade and Murdoch (I think that's their names) stormed the ring and beat on Hardy. Quick DQ win to Hardy, no title change. So Cena talks some trash at these two dorks and proposes a tag team competition. What followed was a mostly by-the-numbers tag team match, but the crowd was really into the two babyfaces and ate it up. I had never seen John Cena wrestle before. On the internet he's often said to be the kind of champ who is long on looks and short on wrestling. I thought he acquited himself quite well. He wasn't up to Jeff Hardy's level in terms of high flying spectacular moves, but he was more than sufficient to wrestle the two dweezels on the other team.

All in all, a heckuva a good show. Thanks again to Doug and his wife. It's annoying the crap out of me that I can't remember her name. I'm sure Doug has mentioned it more than once, but I've never met her myself. I feel really stupid thanking her as 'Doug's wife'.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

check out this treasure map

My little name game poll continues in the upper right corner of the blog. Sinder and Zindar are neck-and-neck but 'Other' is making a surprisingly strong showing. Zinthar and sticking with Cinder have been suggested as viable alternatives, but several people voted other but have not made a suggestion. Please let me know what you're thinking, even if you just say "All these names suck, Jeff. Go back to the drawing-board."

Anyone, on to the sweet treasure map.

My school chum and D&D buddy of old, David Dalley, made this treasure map back in the day. I posted one of David's campaign maps not too long ago. It's probably about 20 years old at this point and has never been actually handed out to a group of players. Here's the text:

Start at cave
of Master Ealrond

Pass the way of
Mud-Slïck Pond

Double League further
thee mïte descover

Thru the pass of
Man & Lover

A wïnding path
which may break thee

The rough-hewn path
ït wïll take thee

To the forest of

Where ïf thee

In every cranny &

Thee shall Hook
A precïous [text ends prematurely with a character that may be a capital 'B']

Friday, September 21, 2007

my new screen insert

I own one of those landscape-format customizable GM screens, the kind that allows you to slip in your own inserts. For con games I generally make my own outward facing inserts that show the name of the game and/or event. I set it up early so that folks walking past my table can know for certain what game is being run where I'm sitting and folks walking by during play don't stop to ask "What game is this?" I don't mind interacting with passerby, but after the fourth or fifth time I get tired of that particular question.

Since I'm considering running RPG Pundit's Forward... to Adventure! at the next Winter War convention, I went ahead and made this:

The graphic was made with the Historic Tale Construction Kit, which basically allows you to drag and drop a few elements from the Bayeaux Tapestry. Fun stuff. I also used the Kit when I made a similar screen insert for an old school D&D con event. The text tool includes an exclamation point but no period, so I had to do a tiny bit of manipulation to get the all-important ellipses into the name of the game.

The graphic at the top of the main FtA! webpage would work just fine for a screen insert, except I'm not sure how well the con staff would react to the naked nymph in the composite. (Admit it, you just clicked on that link. Didn't you?)

Blogger can do polls now.

Look to the right column and you should see the poll where you can vote for which campaign world name you like better for my new sandbox project. Please only select 'Other' if you come up with a variant not already described in the original post. Leave a comment here with your new suggestion.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Jeff & eBay's Excellent Adventure

So my first foray into selling stuff on the eBay is winding down. In total, I listed 63 different books/games/lots over the last three weeks. 59 of them sold without a hitch. 1 lot, a bunch of TMNT books, failed to attract notice the first week I listed. I added the word 'Palladium' to the listing and it sold for $5.50 the next week. As of my trip to the post office over lunch today, the last of those 60 lots is now on the way to the buyers. 1 item sold to someone who has a zero feedback rating. Ten days later they haven't paid and aren't returning my emails. At some point I'll have to investigate the protocol for non-payment.

Two items received no bids and I haven't yet relisted them. Those items would be the first trade paperback of Erik Larsen's Savage Dragon, collecting the original four-issue miniseries from Image, and two random gaming magazines. I expected at least one buyer to home in on the mags, because one of them (Games Unplugged #21) contains what is to my knowledge the only print-published 3rd party adventure for Nobilis.

After packing and shipping all that stuff, I now understand on a firsthand basis why people in the mail-order business charge extra for handling. One day spent 45 minutes at the post office, not because the line was long but because I hadn't had time to box and pack my orders. For a full thirty minutes I was packing up stuff. I actually ended up losing money on a couple orders because I spent some extra on packing materials or padded envelopes.

My furthest shipment was to Australia, with Spain coming in 2nd place. The coolest buyer user names I encountered had to be apewithalaser and meatheus. The most suprising sale I made was for a copy of Robin's Laws of Good Gamemastering. That sucker sold for forty-one bucks! Did it go out of print or something? I was also suprised to see bigtime eBay sellers Guido the Gypsy and Wayne's World of Books bid on some of my lots. I've bought stuff from those guys lots of times. Now I wonder if I sold back to them things that I bought from them originally. The possibility makes my head hurt.

The World of...

So my new made-from-scratch sandbox setting needs a frickin' name. Mythologically speaking, all the astronomical bodies of my universe are little bits of smoke floating up from the Three Fires of Creation. The Common Tongue name of the two suns are Ember and Spark. The three moons are Ash, Speck, and Mote. Ash and Ember are roughly the same size, as are Spark and Speck, to facilitate scary Double Eclipses of Doom. The world itself would be called Cinder in Common, but I'm not sure if that pops out enough. I'm not a big fan of the letter C in proper names as it leads to pronounciation confusion. And I just like playing around with words and letters, like this:


So far I like sticking with the original idea of Cinder, to keep it in line with the rest of the heavenly bodies, or Zindar, just because it sounds cool. The letter Z carries some weird weight to me, between Oz and the number zero.

links, five

User Friendly on 4e - Perhaps neither original nor sidesplitting, but I like panel 1 a lot.

Feeping Creatures - I am this close >< to commissioning something from this guy.

How to Start a Revolution in 21 Days or Less - a blog about games and stuff

A Directory of Fictional Languages - Adelic for placenames in my next campaign? Tempting.

Musings of the Chatty DM - another gamer blog

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Bang!  You're dead!Has anybody played Cowboys from Worthington Games? Looks awesome-tastic. I stumbled across the existence of this game while trying to track down other Wild West games (besides Boot Hill, 2nd ed) that come with maps that would support 15mm minis and/or standard wargame chits.I've recently become enamored of using figures like these on my maps of Promise City and Brimstone. While we're on the subject of Western stuff, does anyone have both Aces & Eights and the Coyote Trail/Knuckleduster books? I wondering how useful the latter would be in a campaign run with A&8.

Can you tell I've got a hankering for some cowboy gaming?

my mascot

Last week Martin over at Treasures Tables posted about GMing mascots. Here's a blurry pic of my personal totem of dungeon mastery, sitting high in the game room, gazing down on the players with a sadistic grin:
More proof that I am a terrible photographer.That's Zarak, the evil half-orc assassin from the official D&D toyline released by LJN Toys back in the 80's. To this day it still cracks me up that an evil half-orc assassin got made into a kiddie toy. Zarak came with the dagger in his right hand, but the tiny 2d6 in his left hand are my own addition. RPGnet forum members with long memories will recall that I used a close-up of Zarak's face as my avatar for several years.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I am a rock n roll cave ape!

EDIT: That is weird. In preview mode this widget told me my rockstar name was "Simian". Now the title of my post makes no sense.

Via Phil Looney. Get your own here.

Uncle Gary's Dungeon Maps

I'm pretty sure I swiped this graphic from an old thread on the EN World. I can't remember for certain who posted it. Was it Melan, maybe? That cat is cool. Anyhoo, this is purportedly a pic of some Gygax-penned levels from his Castle Greyhawk dungeon.

  • Holy crap, but that man knows how to fill a page! Assuming one was mapping with the same size graph paper, it would be easy to figure out where additional rooms might be located. One could zero in on hypothetical secret doors this way. My own dungeons tend to be designed to allow the same sort of deduction.

  • Relatively few areas are numbered for reference to a key. That suggests a lot of empty rooms and more reliance on wandering monsters for encounters. This map lines up nicely with the standard 1 in 6 per turn wandering monster check. That's a huge amount of encounters with wandering monsters, if you think about it. You're likely to encounter a random critter every hour your party is in the dungeon.

Zombie Apocalypse set to begin in Peru

The following is an actual news story.

Villagers fall ill after meteorite crash

VILLAGERS in southern Peru have been struck by a mysterious illness after a meteorite made a fiery crash to Earth in their area.

Around midday Saturday, villagers were startled by an explosion and a fireball that many were convinced was a plane crashing near their remote village, in the high Andes department of Puno in the Desaguadero region, near the border with Bolivia.

Residents complained of headaches and vomiting brought on by a "strange odour," local health department official Jorge Lopez told Peruvian radio RPP.

Seven policemen who went to check on the reports also became ill and had to be given oxygen before being taken to hospital, Mr Lopez said.

Rescue teams and experts were dispatched to the scene where the meteorite had left a crater 30m wide and 6m deep, said local official Marco Limache.

"Boiling water started coming out of the crater and particles of rock and cinders were found nearby. Residents are very concerned," he said.

The source for this story has some video.

Thanks to Pat for the tip!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Lightning Round Blogging

Zach is cool. He was looking to get back into painting minis and I was looking to clear out my paints and junk, so I sent him a boxfull of painting stuff. He sent me two books as a thank you, Gary Gygax's Canting Crew and Splicers. The latter is one them there Palladium rpgs where by "standalone" they mean "totally compatible with Rifts, fanboy".

I'm still trying to figure out what to do about the thief class in my new sandbox campaign project, hopefully Uncle Gary's book about thieves can help out. And Splicers looks rad to the max. Based upon what I've read so far here's my high concept tagline: In the future, the robots keep humans in zoos. I like any rpg that makes it that easy to who I am supposed to be punching.

Anyway, thanks Zachary!

Have you seen this dragon?

Rar!The above pic is from an eBay auction. I love the figure. It's exactly what I've been looking for. But I don't want to pay ten bucks for it, especially when it's been painted the wrong color for my needs. The listing says it measures only 1.5 inches tall, so I'm guessing it's from a 15mm line. I know nothing about 15mm figures. Can any of you smart Gamblog readers identify this dragon for me?

Or in the alternative, if you know of another mini of a wingless dragon with a pointy tail, let me know.

I've been keeping away from RPGNow since they hooked up with DriveThruRPG. I just don't like those DriveThru guys. That whole DRM scheme of theirs was dubious in the extreme. But I went and gave RPGNow some money this morning, because I happened to discover that Judges Guild is running a bigass PDF sale. At $1.99 apiece I can swallow my pride/ignore my principles. Rather than languish in secret shame for being a sell-out, I thought I'd pass along the chance to get some cheap JG goodness. But then I shop at Wal-Mart all the time, so clearly I'm already a soulless consumer drone.

Either way, I now have pretty much the entire Castle/Village/Island Book series. Those ought to be great fodder for my sandbox project.

I saw this pic and immediately thought of my buddy Pat. I'm posting it here so he can snag a copy.Yes, a big pile of guns reminds me of my friend Pat.  Whether that says more about him or me, I don't know.

Another question for my readers: Did any of you read my recent post on Exotic Characters and Worlds and then go bid on the copy for sale on eBay? I don't hold outbidding me against anyone, as I am a huge eBay cheapskate and expect to lose more auctions than I win. I'm just curious how much my little article contributed to the otherwise inexplicably high sale price.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Guest Post: Boardgame Reviews by Wulfgar

Gameblog reader Wulfgar contacted me with an offer to do a guest post. Thanks, Wulfgar! Check out his boardgame mini-reviews below.

Howdy all. I’ve been reading Jeff’s blog for about a year now, and decided it was time for me to give something back in return for all the enjoyment I’ve gotten. Along with being an rpg fan, I’m also big time into board games. In fact, over the past few years, my collection of rpg books has shrunk while my board games are breeding like tribbles- mainly because I have people around who are interested in playing the board games. So here’s a brief review of six games that I think might be appealing to the readers of this blog. There are so many good games out there that it was hard to narrow it down to even 6. I went with games that are all in print, lots of fun (at least in my humble opinion, and have cross over appeal to people who play rpg’s. I hope you enjoy.

  1. Risk- Star War: Original Trilogy Edition by Hasbro

    This game is one of the “holy grails” of board games that, I doubted would ever be made: an officially licensed, highly playable, strategic level wargame about the Original Trilogy Star Wars movies. If you like Risk and like Star Wars getting this game is a no-brainer. If you like Star Wars but don’t enjoy Risk, this game probably addresses your beef with the original. Think Risk is too long? Well Original Trilogy only takes about an hour and a half. There’s not enough strategy? This game uses the same basic dice rolling combat system but adds all sorts of cool stuff: 3 classes of space ships, a Death Star that can go around blowing up systems, the Force, 3 factions (Empire, Rebellion, Hutts) all with different victory conditions and capabilities. The rules are online at:

  1. Wings of War by Fantasy Flight Games

    This is an incredibly simple, quick to play, and very fun game of World War I dog fighting. There’s no board and no dice- just a bunch of beautiful cards and a couple rulers. You can play on any flat surface- a table top, floor, whatever. The game in short: You have a plane that is represented by a card. You have a deck of cards full of different maneuvers you can perform (straight, right, left, immelman, etc). Each player secretly picks out 3 maneuvers. Everybody shows the first maneuver and moves their planes. People in range can shoot. Show the 2nd maneuver, move, and shot. Show the 3rd maneuver, move, and shoot. Repeat. Damage is resolved by drawing from a damage deck. Along with just plain old getting your plane shot up, you can catch on fire, get your guns or rudder jammed, etc. This game takes less than 5 minutes to explain and set up. Wings of War is actually available in a number of different sets that all include the “core rules” to use some rpg lingo. These are “Famous Aces”, “Watch Your Back”, and “Burning Drachens” which are all compatible with each other as well as a few WWI booster packs available. There is also “Dawn of War” which is the first set for WWII and uses slightly modified rules- it is NOT compatible with the WWI sets. I went a bit crazy and bought all of the WWI stuff at once, but now I have a quick and easy to explain game that can accommodate from 2 to 14 players! The rules are available here:

  1. Colossal Arena by Fantasy Flight Games

    Colossal Arena is a game about fantasy creatures (Ettin, Wyrm, Cyclops to name a few) battling it out in a gladiatorial arena. In a very neat twist, the players take on the roles of gamblers betting on which monsters will survive. Like Wings of War, Colossal Arena is a “board game” without any actual board. In this case you sort of build the board with cards as the game progresses. During the game players place bets on the monsters and play cards indicating the strength the monsters are currently battling at. High numbers are good. Low numbers are bad. You start with 8 monsters (out of 12 to pick from) and 3 will be left standing at the end of the game. Players collect on any bets placed on surviving monsters. So you’re trying to keep your guys alive and knock off the other players’. In addition the “backer” (the player with the most money bet on a monster) can use the monster’s special power when they play a card on them. There are a couple other neat things going on like undead referees and crazed spectators who jump into the arena. All in all, this is a game that I really enjoy a lot. With the caveat that they are not the best-written rules in the world (it’s much simpler than it sounds) you can find the rules to read at: I personally like the alternate rules for the endgame which are also available to download at the Fantasy Flight site.

  1. War of the Ring by Fantasy Flight Games

    War of the Ring is a big, bold game of moving hordes of plastic armies around a map and chucking fistfuls of dice in the tradition of Axis and Allies. At the same time it is an incredibly good adaptation of Tolkien’s Trilogy. The Free People player is trying to hold off the forces of evil long enough for the Fellowship to destroy the ring, and the Shadow player is trying to either conquer Middle Earth or completely corrupt the ring bearer. The players face a lot of the same challenges as the characters in the book. The good guys must decide if they want to keep the fellowship together to better protect Frodo or send everyone off to rally the different nations to war. Gandalf can die- and come back. The Ents can rise against Sauroman. There’s a lot here to enjoy. This is another game with pretty poorly written rules. It’s much simpler to play than the rules are to read and is about the same level of complexity as Axis and Allies. You can read the rules at:

  1. Fire & Axe by Asmodee Editions

    Fire & Axe is the game that originally gave me the idea for this column. I found the game about the same time Jeff was writing about his Beyond Vinland campaign. Both involve Vikings roaming around looting, killing, and exploring. Players each take on the role of a Viking Jarl. You outfit your long ship with men and various trade goods and set sail from Scandinavia. You travel around Europe and beyond doing 3 main things- trading, raiding, and settling. You also get Saga cards, which let you, screw with your competition with nasty events like a rebellion in one of their settlements or a sea serpent attacking their ship. This is an easy to teach game that requires some good luck and sound planning to be successful in. The rules are not available online, but here’s a link to the publisher’s official page for the game:

  1. Twilight Struggle by GMT Games

    Twilight Struggle doesn’t have a sci-fi or fantasy theme, so it doesn’t translate directly over to the rpg world as well as the other’s listed. That being said, I had to mention this game because it is GREAT. In the past month this has quickly become my favorite game. It’s a tense and addictive game about the Cold War with one player as the United States and the other as the Soviet Union. You use cards to either implement various events (NATO formed, Castro takes over Cuba, Korean War, etc), build influence around the world, or stage coups. You’ve got to keep an eye on the DEFCON. You lose if you trigger a nuclear war, which builds a real sense of brinksmanship and makes for a better game than many others on the subject where a trailing player can just say, “Screw it. Nuke’em” and get himself a draw. To put how good this game is into some perspective, it takes about 2-3 hours to play and I’ve gotten in 7 games within the past couple weeks. 5 of them against my wife who is also addicted (and enjoys calling me a capitalist pig). While the game is very simple, learning what the different cards in the deck do will take a couple games- and give an experienced player a big advantage over a new one. The rulebook is very well done. There are 9 pages of actual rules. The rest includes a detailed walkthrough of several turns in a game, and historical commentary for every card in the game. You can read the book here:

Thanks again, Wulfgar! I've some interest in both Wings of War and Star Wars Risk for some time, so it was great to see your opinions of them. I hadn't heard about Fire & Axe before now, but it sure sounds like a hoot!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Silly or endearing? You make the call!

Before YouTube this was all we had with which to mock the nerdier D&D nerds.  Lightning bolt!  Lightning bolt!
On the one hand, I'm glad they don't make a lot of RPGs with photos like this on the cover. On the other hand, I love this cover.

my new gaming grail

Okay, I had to choose between bidding on a pile of cool Judges Guild stuff or upping my bid, so I can quit being coy and tell you all about my latest wild goose chase for crazy gaming goodness. It was over at the Acaeum's message boards that I found a feller who declared Exotic Characters and Worlds to be the "dumbest" book he owns. ECW (as I will insist on calling it forever just to screw with the wrestling fans reading this) is a softcover, 166 page volume published In the Year of Our Fnord Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Three. The author is one Teddy C. Ryan III. I love that. Most other dudes called 'the Third' I've encountered would either drop the III or use their full name, Theodoric Cobblepott Ryan III or whatever. That mixing of the casual 'Teddy' with the grandiose roman numeral is just charming. Anyway, here is the cover:

I got that image from Tome of Treasures, a gaming collectibles site that I didn't know existed until I started investigating this book. It appears to be an encyclopedia of games that is built using some standard bulletin board software. I'm totally checking the rest of the site out when I get some free time to do so.

The banner over the upper right corner of the front cover indicates that this book is "Suitable for use with" AD&D, Gamma World, and Star Frontiers. One of Afterglow's informants describes the book this way:

...a bizarre mix of AD&D and Traveller, with a little Gamma World thrown into the mix. The first 75 pages are a Player's Handbook rewrite/supplement - character generation rules, new races, new classes, revised combat tables, and a new spell list (going up to Level 20). The rest of the book is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi/fantasy campaign setting, featuring Traveller-like sector maps and star-system generation rules, some alien races, and some miscellaneous rules (like mass combat and herbalism).
As I read it, the author put everything that was awesome about late 70s/early 80s gaming into a blender and this book came out.

Another Acaeum poster, who uses the handle Contrarian, has been hating on this game since he inadvertedly bought a copy at auction in the early 90's:
I'm in college in the early 1990s, trying to pick up some Gamma World modules at a local con in Toledo. Some bozo keeps bidding them up to more than they're worth, and I'm getting annoyed. Finally, the auctioneer brings this book (and its supplement!) to the podium, mentioning that the cover says it's compatible with Gamma World. I've never heard of the thing, and I have no idea what it's worth, so somehow I decide that means I can bid as high as I need to. And that's how I end up owning a beat-up copy of the Worst Roleplaying Supplement Ever. It has a "Waverider" character class that specializes in surfing!
Dude might hate the game, but how can I resist a fantasy/sci-fi/post-apoc game with a surfer class? Turns out that back in Usenet days this Contrarian guy wrote a much more indepth review of the game. It's too long to quote here, but please do yourself a favor and go read it now. Man, it sure looks like this book brings all the crazy-go-nuts awesome of World of Synnibarr in a third of the pages! Even as I type this post up I'm slowly talking myself into hitting the eBay again to bid up the one copy I can find for sale on the internets right now.

Anyway, Teddy 3's game company put out at least two more books. Monsters, Aliens, and Fantastic Beings and Dragons throughout the Multiverse are critter books. I don't have any info on the dragon book, but Afterglow calls the other one 'a fairly conventional knockoff of the Monster Manual, although a few monsters reference Gamma World-ish radiation rules. A considerable number of monsters are inspired by movies or television, i.e. "Alien", "Planet of the Apes" and others.'

The back pages of these three books advertise other products from Gamemaster Guides, Teddy's outfit. For the most part these items are blank record sheets for characters, starships, planets, etc. A setting product gets a mention, though. The Barbarians Enflands could be a potential source of craziness, but at first glance it's not much:

Completely detailed TOPOGRAPHIC CAMPAIGN MAPS [(4) 11" x 17"] with Information Sheets covering Cities, Governments, Ruins, and Relics. Also Includes the INTRODUCTORY MODULE The Gates of Gorgoroth.

And no, I didn't misspell the name. It really is 'Enflands'.

Finally, Mr. the Third released a product in 1985, apparently the last item from Gamemaster Guides. Called Heaven & Hell, Tome of Treasure poster tfm describes it as "Grounded in Christian mythology and literature, this book presents maps and descriptions for the ten levels of Heaven and the eleven levels of Hell, as well as stats in AD&D format for the denizens of both realms."

Which makes the note at the end of Contrarian's Acaeum post all the more interesting:

Scariest part of the story? A couple of years back, I decide to search Google for the author of this book to see if he's still in the hobby. The only mention I find is a reference to his (thankfully defunct) science-fiction erotica website, where he was apparently photo-shopping pictures of women to look like aliens.

So that's what happens to failed game designers: They go into sci-fi porn.

Up-and-coming game authors take note! This could be your fate! At least now I know where they get all those guys who Photoshop supermodels to turn their skin Orion Slave Girl green. Frustrated game designers of the world, I salute you.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

5 links sans rhyme/reason

BaconSalt - Because everything should taste like bacon.

A Most Merrie and Illustrated History of the Gunfight at the OK Corral

Players of the game "&" - an editorial

The Guide to Gold Key Star Trek Comics

Book of Beings - someone get this guy a Lulu account!

Now that's fan hatred

When I'm on gaming message boards I always make it a point to read threads with titles like "What's the Stupidest Game You've Ever Read?" I've found a lot of really great stuff tracking down things other people hate. Not because I'm some sort of contrarian, but simply because I seem to take roleplaying a lot less seriously than some folks. One man's stupid is another man's awesome, it seems. That's how I first found out about Under the Storm Giant's Castle.

So I was over at The Acaeum the day before yesterday when I found one of those kinds of threads. I found one great lead on an old third party D&D/Gamma Word/Traveller mash-up of some sort. But what I wanted to talk about today was a fellow named Rick's report on two terrible RuneQuest items. One of them, a city book called Eldarad, had already come up earlier in the thread as an example not of something stupid but rather as just an incredibly pisspoor product. Here's what Rick had to say:

In Germany, we actually burn a copy of Eldarad or Daughters of Darkness at a convention each year, alternating products each year. We've had upwards of 100 people attend the ceremony. We auction off a lighter with an original copy of the module thrown in for free. The book is usually still in the shrink and sold as a fund raiser. The purchaser gets the "honour" of leading the masses to the awaiting torch. We've been doing it since 1996.
Holy crap! Forget all those internet wimps moaning and groaning about 4e or the latest Forgie outrage or whatever. They can't hold a candle to the level of hatred that leads people to actual book burning. I seem to remember a couple other instances of reputed rpg book burning. Was it Donnie Mac talking about the GenCon reception of the Traveller hardcore to TNE. Donnie Mac is the nickname I just made up for Don McKinney. Maybe the D-Mac (another new nickname) will swing by here and tell his tale.

Then there's the Diana Jones Award. I have a lot of respect for the Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming, because it in no way pretends to be "fair" or "democratic" or "reflective of the hobby" or any of that other stuff. I know I'm one of the people who, in the past, routinely criticized the Origins for exactly those reasons, but the Diana Jones folks never made any pretense about their agenda. Their award goes to what they think is excellent, and that's pretty much the whole criteria as far as I can tell. It's elitist. It's a bit pompous. But since you know you're getting pompous elitism, I'm totally onboard for it.But what does it mean?

There is not nor has there ever been a person named Diana Jones associated with this award. The name comes from TSR's old Indiana Jones RPG. According to the founding legend of the Award, back when TSR UK lost the license the stock they had on hand had to be destroyed. Encased in the lucite pyramid are the remains of the last copy they had on hand. Why someone chose to build a memorial to that event remains a mystery to me. Either way, apparently the "In" got burnt off, leaving the words "diana Jones" on one of the remaining pieces of the game. There's also a couple of the infamous Nazi™ stand-up figures. I hate those guys. Trademarked Nazis are the worst.

I've wondered for a long time what is supposed to be signified by using the charred remains of one of TSR's less successful licensed games as an award. Is it a big 'F U!' to TSR? A middle finger raised to corporate non-indie gaming? The Diana Jones people say this:

The Diana Jones committee believes that a trophy that embodies the destruction of the last copy of one of the games industry’s most unloved and least-mourned roducts is a suitable symbol for the aims of the Diana Jones Award.

As a kid I didn't much care for the Indiana Jones RPG. The biggest letdown was that it came with no chargen rules. As written, you were expected to play Indy or Jock or Short Round or one of the other canonical film heroes. My game group rejected the game based upon the simple fact that all of our other TSR games up until that point had driven home the lesson that in roleplaying your were supposed to make up your own PC and only lamers played someone else's character. But I can't help but wonder how grown-up Jeffy would react to rereading a copy and maybe playing a session or two. It might rock on toast for all I know. Any game that promises Nazi™-punching can't be all bad.

Just thinking out loud here, but I also can't help but think that if a Forge darling author came out with a game where everyone was required to play a certain set of characters that it would quite probably be hailed as 'innovative' or at least 'intriguing'. Something like Evil Bob's My Love For You is Way Out Of Line but taken seriously.

And let's get a little perspective here: to consider any TSR game the 'most unloved and least-mourned' is just crazy talk. Comparatively speaking, the print runs were so high on most of TSR's games that there's bound to be at least a few fans of even their crappiest products. To think that something like Indiana Jones is going to be held in lower esteem than truly wretched rpgs like Racial Holy War or FATAL strikes me as just bitter anti-TSR nonsense. There's plenty of things to not like about TSR. To me, the fact that Indiana Jones was subpar doesn't seem to rank that high on a list of them.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

This takes me back.

Courtesy of a poster at the Acaeum, here are two pages from the 1983 Sears catalog.

Don't call it a comeback

Nazi punching in issue 1 is the shortcut to my heart.Pat loaned me his copy of Lobster Johnson #1 and it is awesome-rific! Pulpy mystery men in the vein of the Shadow and Doc Savage done by the creator of Hellboy. You can't really go wrong with that formula. And near the back of the book is this ad:

One badass dandy.Erol Otus in the house! Hot damn tamales! And his old PC Valerius, no less. That guy is cool as ice. For the benefit of any new readers, I really should mention the fact that I love the art of Erol Otus so much that several years ago I constructed an online shrine to his honor. Valerius gets a page of his own.

Just for the record, even the art of Erol Otus won't get me to buy the new Ruins of Greyhawk. The new encounter format that Wizards is using makes me weep bitter, bitter tears. So much page space taken up by so little adventure.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

It came from the eBay

Hey, folks! I've still got a few items up for sale on eBay. All though I couldn't resist shilling, right now I really want to talk about a couple of items I'm not selling. Check out this lot:

This is some interesting-looking stuff. The Hollow World book I'm pretty certain came from the original boxed set. I assume the books labeled "Combat", "Battle Bestiary", and "Battle Magic" (in the bottom right corner) come from some boxed edition of Warhammer Fantasy Battles. That font and the style of illos are pretty unmistakeable. I've never seen Ralph Bashki's Wizards, is the game any good?

The three books in the upper left corner are unknown to me, as is Holes. Could Who, What, When, Weyr, and Why be some sort of random chart fest? I love those kind of books. What do you suppose IFGS stands for? International Fantasy Gamer's Society or something like that? Anybody got the skinny on this stuff?

Check out this awesome dice tower:

This sort of die-rolling device has been around since the eighties. The original commercial version was the "Fair Shake Dice Device", reviewed in Dragon in the same issue as the Dragonbone LED dice substitute and the D4 That Rolls, a d8 marked 1 to 4 twice. Based upon the review in Dragon I made my own such thingy in shop class in junior high. But this is the first one I've seen that was actually decorated as a medieval tower. That's totally cool.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Write Silly Charts, Win Fabulous Prizes

You may have already heard about this, but I wanted to make sure and pass it along anyway. There's a new contest over at that den of iniquity known as theRPGsite to see who can design the best random dice charts for Forward... to Adventure!, the RPG Pundit's fantasy rpg. The Pundit, Doc Rotwang, and I are acting as the judges, which ought to be fun.

If you're unfamiliar with FtA! ol' Pundy gives an overview here.* But check this out: You don't really need to know many specifics about the game to enter this contest. Remember back before the OGL when all those statless 3rd party products came out labeled "Universal" or "For Any System" but they really meant they were for D&D? Like Grimtooth's Traps, for an example, or the old d30 books from the Armory. The same sort of approach works here. FtA! is designed for easy-as-cake old fashioned dungeony and wilderness adventuring in a stock fantasy world.

The first entry in the contest, from cool guy joewolz, is all about old coins. Joe doesn't use any game mechanics at all and does a superb job of helping the GM spice up an ancient pile of loot. You could totally do the same thing without ever seeing the insides of a copy of FtA! Not that I'm trying to discourage anyone from checking the game out. I've got an early draft on the old harddrive that's pretty cool. And now that I'm judging this contest I decided to stop being such a damn cheapskate and ordered a real deal print copy.

Anyway, I hope anyone who likes making stupid dice charts considers entering the contest. To get you started, here's a list of charts I, personally, would love to see:
  • Why Is The Dragon On A Rampage?
  • Unique Features of The Tavern You All Meet In
  • What Is the Evil Overlord Up to This Week?
  • Stupid Laws that Make Visiting the Town A Pain in the Butt
  • Wizardly Eccentricities, Abnormalities, Perversions & Deformities
  • What Are All These Damn Caravans Hauling, Anyway?
  • Stupid Potion Side-Effects and Quirks
Come on over and have some fun!

*Yes, that is the author reviewing his own book. That Pundit guy has balls of solid steel.

Friday, September 07, 2007

someone buy this now

Ken St. Andre's Monsters! Monsters! on ebay for ten bucks plus shipping.

A message to a single reader

Thank you for reading my blog, whoever you are that arrived here by searching google for "Plan9 from outer space, dinosaurs". Please accept my apologies. I feel like I have failed you. Clearly, I need more Tor Johnson amd tyrannosaurs in my blogging. I'll try to do better in the future.

With warmest regards,


5 links, all OD&D

Museum of Role Playing Games OD&D Page - great starting point if this stuff is new to you

Delta's D&D Hotspot

Original D&D Discussion

Philotomy's OD&D Musings

The Grognard's Tavern OD&D Cloister

Looks like it really is aces.

Tiny, tiny cover shot.It seems like evertime I do an image search on google, I get at least one slightly Not Safe For Work totally WTF? result. I was looking for a cover pic for Clash Bowley's In Harm's Way: Aces in Spades when I found that pic. Clash was kind enough to comp me a review copy, which I got in the mail yesterday. I'm about a quarter of the way through this game and I am totally digging on it. World War One flying aces is one of the few purely historical genres that interest me for rpg gaming. Well, maybe not purely historical. Like Westerns, I'm more interested in the slightly larger-than-life mythology that has grown up around the era. That's sort of a middle ground between hardcore historical simulation and the kind of game where suddenly zombies appear for no particular reason. Not that I have a hate-on for things like Crimson Skies or Deadlands, mind you. I just don't require a lot of superscience or magic in a game that already has the awesomeness of Doc Holliday or the Red Baron.

Anyway, I haven't finished reading the book, so I can't offer a review at this time. But I like what I see so far. The game mechanics I've read are all straightforward stuff. I have yet to see a fiddly bit that looks like it would trip me up. And the emphasis on competition between players for promotion and decoration looks like a hoot. I could totally see getting together some of the more competitive roleplayers in town for a playtest, just to see them go at each others' throats while simultaneously fighting off the aeroplane squadrons of the great Hun menace. It takes a certain special something for game to immediately get me thinking about what kind of group to get together to play it.

Anyway, big thanks to Clash for the free game. I look forward to reviewing this puppy and hopefully playing it, too.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

quote of the day

If the players don't amuse the GM, then the GM will amuse himself at their expense.

--Dave Arneson

Jeff's Long Box*

In preparation for our upcoming move I finally broke down and bought a long box at the local comic shop. Just in time, it turns out. All my floppies together pretty much filled it up. I would have had a little wiggle room, but the bargain boxes had some new stuff. I found four or five issues of Sensational She-Hulk and a like number of The Omega Men. I don't really know anything about the latter except that it's set in outer space and the covers look full of soap operatic melodrama. Come days, that's all I need to know to spend a couple of bucks on back issues. I also found the last issue of Sectaurs, a crappy toy tie-in book. I don't normally buy crappy toy tie-ins, but this one was written by Bill Mantlo. That guy is awesome.

*With apologies to David Campbell.

morality in Ultima IV

This post is mostly for Stuart's benefit. I haven't played Ultima IV in years, so if anybody has something to add or wants to clarify my addled memory, please speak up.

Chargen in Ultima IV is unlike any other game I've played. You are in a gypsy fortuneteller's wagon, where she asks you a series of moral questions. None of these questions has a right answer, but instead you must choose one virtue over another. "You and your friend battle a dragon. He thinks he slew the beast, but you know that you are the one who struck the telling blow. Do you Honestly correct him when he claims the glory for himself? Or Humbly allow him to take credit?"

After a series of these questions you end up favoring one of eight virtues over another. Each virtue is tied to a class. The first time I played I ended up being a Bard, because my answer's favored their virtue. Compassion, was it? I think so. The second time I played I gamed the system, picking Humility at every opportunity so I could play a Shepherd.

Within the game you must achieve all Eight Virtues by meditating at the eight Shrines of virtue. Locating and gaining access to the shrines is a big part of the game, as is learning the proper mantra to chant for each virtue. After successfully achieving a virtue, you can lose it. Steal from people in towns? Lose a random virtue. Speak to beggars (some of whom have valuable clues) but fail to give them alms? Looks like you need to purify yourself at the shrine again, bub. Becoming virtuous was hard work. Staying virtuous means avoiding a lot of rascally behavior that many PCs get up to in D&D games.

Some of this looks a little hamhanded and hokey nowadays. But for a computer game with swords and orcs, circa 1985, this was pretty sophisticated stuff.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

PC to tabletop: Ultima IV

There's been a lot of talk lately about video games like Worlds of Warcraft and Final Fantasy informing design decisions in the upcoming 4th edition of D&D. I fall in the camp that I don't care where a good mechanical idea comes from, but I'm not yet sure whether I want what other people consider to be good ideas in computer gaming. Still, I agree with the basic premise that a video game has the potential to positively impact tabletop play. Case in point: Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar.

I don't really play PC games any more and Ultima IV represented the highpoint of my interaction with computer gaming. I had played a bootleg copy of Ultima III, a less ambitious but still fun predecessor and I tried to enjoy the sequel but largely found it exchanged the soul the the earlier installments for greater technical sophistication and graphical embellishment.

Ultima IV featured great exploration of a huge overland map, secrets to be discovered, clues to be found, and interesting people to interact with. I found the dungeons genuinely thrilling and travel by sea exhilarating. And the quest of the game featured something previously unencountered in various Bard's Tales and Might & Magics and such: the evil to be defeated was not an external threat like an evil wizard or something. Rather the goal was to ennoble the hearts of the inhabitants of Britannia by leading an exemplary life of virtue. It was a game with a genuine moral dimension, not just a lameass alignment system.

The graphics were pretty weak, even by '80s Commodore 64 standards, but I loved the overhead view of the overland and town maps. The art was stylized in a way that made the lack of detail less important, in the way that a chess piece can be abstract but still symbolic.

One of the greatest thing abotu Ultima IV was the extra thing-a-ma-bobs that came in the box. (I guess someone at EN World decided that we would start calling this stuff "regalia".) For starters, you get an awesome cloth map of Britannia. Most of it is quite accurate, such that you can navigate large chunks of wilderness travel with it. The labels are all in a modified Viking style runic. A key for translation came in the box, but it wasn't necessary to use it to finish the game.

You also got two nifty stapled digest-sized books. I love digest-sized gamebooks. They just seem so light and fun. One of the books was titled The History of Britannia as told by Kyle the Younger. It was a great little mechanics-free overview of the gameworld, printed on a lovely heavy stock cream colored paper with brown ink and adorable little illustrations. Flipping through this book is a delight. Everything a starting player needs to know about the gameworld is contained in this small book, all presented in nice little snippets.

The second book was the spellbook. The cover was dark red with shiny gold runes on it. How can you not like that book? Inside each spell gets a one page description, largely free of mechanics and such, and a fullpage illo of some cool-looking wizard using the spell. Spells in Ultima IV weren't divided along class or level lines. Magic was just... magic. You might not have enough Magic Points to cast a particular spell, but you would only find something like that out via trial and error. The spellbook also explained the spell component system. There were only six or eight components and all spells made use of one or more of that set. The majority of these components could be bought at magic shoppes. But the two most potent components had to be found in the game.

Finally, each Ultima IV box came with a little cheap metal ankh, the symbol of morality in the game. In retrospect this use of the ankh has shades of Crystal Dragon Jesus written all over it. But I still treasure the ankh that came with my original copy of the game.

I look back at Ultima IV and see a lot of stuff I would enjoy in my tabletop games. Wouldn't it be great to be able to hand out a cute little booklet of campaign information, instead of a drab printout? And presenting a spellbook that looks like an occult tome would be the bee's knees. A cloth or parchment player map that looks genuine and is useful but that doesn't exactly match the official campaign map would be great. And I'd love to give out some sort of little gew-gaw to give players as a momento of a campaign. That's not even touching on the actual morality at work in Ultima IV. I'm not sure exactly what to do with that.

the true progenitor of Arduin

Bid early!  Bid often!One of the books I've listed for sale in my third round of eBay auctions is David Hargrave's The Arduin Adventure. It's to Hargrave's original Arduin trilogy what Basic D&D is to the Little Beige Books of OD&D. While charming, I find it much less useful than Hargrave's earlier work, which is crazy-go-nuts awesome. I really dig two things about The Arduin Adventure though. The first is the character sheet. It's a stock boxy charsheet typical of the era, jam-packed with game data of various sorts. But right in the middle of the various stat fields is a small box labeled "Best friend". I haven't read the book in a long time, but I don't recall any game mechanics attached to who your best friend might be. As far as I can tell, there's just a box to note the name of your closest pal. I totally dig that. Roleplaying would probably be a lot different if D&D's standard charsheet came with fields like "Best friend", "True love" and "Sworn enemy".

The other thing I like about this book is chapter XV, the bibliography. First we get a long list of non-fiction books on fictional topics. I love books like that. Below is the list. I'm leaving off publisher and date of publication because I'm a lazy ass.

Alien Landscapes, by Robert Holdstock and Malcom Edwards
Authentic Thaumaturgy, by PEI Bonewitz
Beauty and the Beast, by Chriss Achilleos
An Atlas of Fantasy, by J.B. Post
The Complete Guide to Middle Earth, by Robert Foster
The Complete Illustrated Book of the Psychic Sciences, by Walter B. and Litzka Gibson
An Encyclopedia of Fairies, Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies, and Other Supernatural Creatures, by Katharine Briggs
The Encyclopedia of Magik & Superstition
The Encyclopedia of Withcraft and Demonology, by Russell Hope Robbins
Faeries, by Brian Froud and Alan Lee
The Fantasy Almanac, by Jeff Rovin
Giants, illustrated by Julek Heller, Carolyn Scrace, and Juan Wijngaard
A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration, and Use of Arms and Armor in All Countrys and in All Times (And Some Closely Related Subjects), by George Cameron Stone
Japanese Short Stories, by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, translated by Takashi Kojima
Magic, White and Black, by Franz Hartmann, M.D.
Martial Arts, by Michel Random
Medieval Warfare, by Terence Wise
Men Of The Earth, by Brian M. Fagan
The Morning of the Magicians, by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier, translated by Rollo Meyers
Mysterious Monsters, by Daniel Farson and Angus Hall
The New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology
The Phoenicians, by Donald Harden
Secrets of the Samurai, by Oscar Ratti and Adele Westbrook
Seven Magik Orders, by Shan Mui and Ruth Tabtah
Solar Wind, illustrated by Peter Jones
The Supernatural, by Douglas Hill and Pat Williams
A Tolkien Bestiary, by David Day
Tomorrow and Beyond, edited by Ian Summers
War Through The Ages, by Lynn Montross
Wonder Works, by Michael Whelan
Zoo of the Gods, by Anthony S. Mercatante

Looks mostly like an interesting blend of standard Middle Ages stuff and nerdy occult tomes with a dash of Orientalism for flavor. I always find it fascinating what non-game stuff game authors think their audience should read. Mr. Hargrave also recommends the magazines Alarums and Excursions ("the greatest of all fanzines"), Different Worlds, and Sorcerer's Apprentice.

After the lengthy list of non-fiction resources I expected a long list of fantasy fiction, but Hargave keeps this section very short. He namechecks Robert Asprin and Stephen R. Donaldson. The first Thomas Covenant book is described as "a tour de force on Role-Playing if ever there was one". The entire works of Tolkien are listed as "a must read for every adventure gamer". The Elfquest graphic novels get a mention. And Hargrave notes that Marvel comics are "an unlikely, but valuable source of inspiration". And then there's a memorium to Clark Ashton Smith. The Zothique tales are noted as "the true progenitor of ARDUIN".

I'm not in a rush to run out and buy every book on Hargrave's list, but I do see some intriguing stuff there. I've been meaning to get a copy of the Zothique material for some time, and rereading chapter XV has only renewed that interest. Some of the nonfiction works also look intriguing. And Zoo of the Gods is a great title.