Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

History of Role Playing Games and Early Fantasy Author Recommendations

This latest review from Avery Abernethy is just plain astonishing. Wow!

Interesting book with multiple goals.

Mr. Johnson read the references in appendix N of the original D&D Dungeon Master’s Guide. He then ties each of these references into how it influenced the game design decisions in D&D and how those decisions related to decisions made in other role playing games. Both the specific nature of the influence and the importance of each influence on the game design is provided. I started playing D&D in the late 1970s and kept up with the game system and other RPG systems through about 1990. His observations are well thought out, researched, and fit together.

Next Jeffro critiques each book for modern day reader interest. This was also fascinating. Some of the books in Appendix N were largely unavailable in the 1980s but are available now in ebook. The book reviews were right on the money and inspired me to purchase multiple other books which were highly appealing. Individuals unfamiliar with Pulp fantasy and SF will find a good source to some excellent reads. Abraham Merritt, some of the Robert E. Howard non-Conan books, and others were also very enjoyable.

Mr. Johnson has strong opinions on both game designs and fantasy literature. His opinions are based on fact and he provides enough detail that the reader can determine if the recommendation fits their individual tastes. He does so without giving away the major plot or book results.

Few books provide history, critiques and recommendations in one package. Doing one well is a challenge and attempting all three would be a disaster for most authors. But Mr. Johnson pulls this off. If you are interested in RPGs in general, D&D specifically, or want some reading recommendations from authors from the 1910s to the 1970s this is an excellent place to start.

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