Good evening everyone! Today I wanted to share some resources that should be on, well, everyone’s shelf. That’s right, not just GMs, but everybody! The are books that can inform, help, and entertain you. They are all field guides, but I have 3 that I want to point out first because I have a preference for these types. Now there are, of course, dozens of field guides you may be able to think of and more will come later, but for tonight I want to start with the theme of monsters! Each of these books can bring you knowledge of the real world and some interesting entertainment if you enjoy the outdoors. For those who play games (whether or not you enjoy the outdoors) you will find a host of ideas for GMing! Note: I will not be linking these because they are often locality based and you may prefer to find your own region.
Insects / Spiders / Etc
If you know me, or have paid close attention to certain articles, I have training in entomology, the study of insects. As such, it is only proper that field guides featuring these little guys sit at the top of the list. Of course, they tend to include other terrestrial arthropods in those books as well, like spiders or centipedes. Insects are fascinating and I have many a odd fact I could tell you that amazes everyone, but a field guide like this might help you find some on your own. Or maybe you’ll just find interesting models for your giant bugs that attack the party. For me, some of the spiders (well all of the spiders) are incredibly terrifying. Whether you are exploring the backyard with your kids, looking up something you found, or digging for info this is definitely a resource that will help you discover twists low level characters won’t expect from giant bugs and unique species to challenge even high level characters.
This is one I have on my shelf for a very good reason. I’ll give you a hint: Cape Cod. I live there, so there is seashore EVERYWHERE. From sand to marsh to tide pool, we have it. The great thing about the sea shore field guide is it shows you just how much lives there. From fish to mollusks to crustaceans to jellies. There’s so many creatures and so much variety. A field guide like this, like the other, can provide natural entertainment for the outdoorsy type if you live near the shore. If you don’t live near the sea shore that’s ok too, because this might benefit you even more in terms of RPGs. The ocean is an important aspect many campaign worlds / settings because it is such a good means of food, travel, and culture mixing. Having better access to knowledge of life there is an invaluable thing!
This might be one of the most important of your nature field guides. Mammals extend the range of environmental niches with great efficiency and variety. You could even say that, right now, is the time of mammals. While the great giants no longer exist, there are still plenty of furry creatures from the bottom of the food chain to the top. Reptiles have trouble in certain portions of the world, fish are restricted to water, and birds had their time with the dinosaurs (although New Zealand is much more dominated by birds than mammals so that’s awesome). Anyway, there is a lot you can learn from the roles different mammals have in their environment and the crazy variety you may not have known existed. Perhaps think about buying a field guide from a different part of the world and figure out what does what job there. Not everywhere has rabbits (though many of us are familiar with them), so something must do what they do in those places. Help make your world a little different by borrowing certain real-world creatures your players may not know!