Today I have a variety of books for you to expand your ideas for mythologies and creatures. Two of them are pretty comprehensive books with tons of information for you to draw from. The third is an interesting book I got for Christmas last year that is a fictional science book about mythological creatures.
The Element Encyclopedia of Native Americans (Adele Nozedar)
As always Barnes & Nobel provides random deals on random informative books, and this one was no exception. Like many books this is not the end-all resource for the topic but it has so much good information in it. The book is one in a series of similar books that relay lots of information about specific topics. In this case we are given over to the Native American tribes, specifically of the United States. The symbols, ideas, and tribes of U.S. Native Americans are presented here in great number. The reason I like this book is because it is different from most of the other mythology books you can find. Aside that it is not about a “classical” mythology, and perhaps for that reason, it also includes a greater amount of entries concerning things such as animals and cultural occurrences. There are entries for horses, bears, dances, and hunting. Most other books concern the gods, horrible creatures, and their stories. In this book you will find much more to do with nature and its balance, a wonderfully refreshing belief system compared to “standard” mythologies. If you want to help make a diverse fantasy world for your players, this is an indispensable resource and will give you enough insight to create a culture unlike those often presented.
The Element Encyclopedia of Fairies (Lucy Cooper)
Another entry into the Element Encyclopedia series, this book is an incredible resource. The title should make evident what it is about, but this might include so much more than many people expect. While D&D has provided us with nice breakdowns and categorizations of different creatures over the years, there is a great deal of variety and vagueness to the myths they are based off. This book includes what you would expect from brownies and gnomes to redcaps and pixies, but goes deeper. In it are included entries of Celtic mythology, as well as creatures from Russian, Greek, Norse mythologies and more. You will find the origins for kobolds and trolls and even entries for undead like banshees. Many such creatures overlap in cultural placement and, though we now separate them at the table, they are virtually the same creatures. If you are curious about fey creatures, supernatural tales of old, or some of the cultural overlap that might exist in different parts of the world (real or fantasy) then this book is your best bet!
The Resurrectionist ( E.B. Hudspeth)
I love this book and would probably have bought it for the diagrams alone if not given to me as a gift. The book is presented as the lost work of a Doctor Spencer Black and the first part of it is a bit of a biography of who he was. It describes his interests as a scientist and his breaking into the world of natural oddities. The second portion of the book is much less text and a lot more pictures. Here is presented a codex of little-known animals from around the world. The section contains creatures like harpies, centaurs, and mermaids and gives each of them a classification, species name, and description. In addition there are various images of their skeletons, musculature, and other things such as wingspan. Muscles and bones are even individually labeled like would be appropriate in such a text. Honestly, if you have any interest in biology, at all, and play D&D or some other RPG this is a fantastic book to have.