Resources For Every GM: References Part 9
Tonight we are taking a look some more reference materials that you might want to add to your book shelves. Each of these is perfect for inspiration and allows you to delve deeper into setting that you might be familiar with. They are perfect for those who want to run a game within those universes or for those who would like some details about things they are inspired by. Whether you specifically are looking for more books like these or just curious about whether they are worth buying, I hope that tonight’s Resources article will provide some insight!
The World of Shannara (Terry Brooks & Teresa Patterson)
This has come at a rather coincidental time seeing as the second season of the Shannara Chronicles recently aired on Netflix, but that’s all the better! Many of you have likely read the books and those that haven’t may recognize the name from browsing Netflix. If you have not watched the show, I strongly suggest that you do. It was wonderfully done and I love the world. While I never read the books (added to my big list of to-read), the show hooked me instantly. It is a world of fantasy where many have forgotten what things are like in the world at large and what dangers still lurk in the dark corners of Shannara. You can pick up some details in the first episodes, but the deeper in the more you realize that the world is not just your standard fantasy. The history of Shannara lies in much more familiar territory. The World of Shannara is a book that anyone who wants to learn about the world needs to pick up. My copy is from 2001, but I imagine there are newer editions around with the development of the series on television. There is so much in this book from the history of the world to the realms of the dead and information about the main lands involved in the first season’s story to the lands of trolls, gnomes, and more. And this is the exact type of resource I would love to see about Faerun or Athas. Not only is there page after page of lore, but the art is amazing. There are tons of lovely landscape images as well as those of important figures, strange beasts, and magical relics. More than that, even, there are very well done maps of certain locations like cities and forts. The detail is incredible. I have resisted delving too much into the lore of Shannara because of spoilers, but let’s just say the parts of this book concerning things in the first season is no where near a majority. There is so much to discover here.
Book of Cain (Flint Dille)
This next book is kind of one half of a two-parter that the next book completes. I have mentioned before how awesome and detailed the world of Sanctuary is, especially if you dive into the things easily ignored in the Diablo games. The Book of Cain is a resource that is done as if written by the character Deckard Cain himself. It is, in fact, an item within Diablo III that you use to discover the legendary, named equipment you find. Beyond that it is also where Deckard wrote all of the information he could learn about Sanctuary, the High Heavens, and the Burning Hells. Within it he reveals the history that most folk would chose to ignore, the kind of history that worlds of D&D relish in. It is a history that is detailed and complex, but the common folk ignore, disbelieve, or know nothing about. Sure undead roam the lands and horrors hide in abandoned crypts, but most folk don’t think the end of the world is going to come because, well, when was the last time demons did anything significant? How quickly humans forget. The style of this book is great with a readable text that is combined with just enough handwritten areas and awesome artwork to give a good feel like you’re holding THE Book of Cain. Each lord of Hell, each member of the Angiris council, and many more beings are covered in this book. The major wars on sanctuary and their connections to the Eternal conflict are all detailed. There are even sections that help reveal some information about names that pop up throughout the game. People from far off lands come to New Tristram and follow a path to save Sanctuary, but what about those lands? What are they like? This book hints, but perhaps one day we can explore those….or perhaps you could at the table….
Book of Tyrael (Matt Burns & Doug Alexander)
Here we have the second book to be derived from Diablo III and it is a fantastic piece to set next to the Book of Cain. You see, Cain was the last of a group called the Horadrim. These were mortals, humans who sought to protect the world of Sanctuary and who know of the Eternal Conflict. It was they who would fight against the Prime Evils and they who have saved the world over and over again. But as they died out so too did the defense of the world. Over the course of Diablo III the evils must be stopped again and the Horadrim are reborn with the aid of Tyreal. Once the angel of Justice, he denied the Council and became mortal. With his knowledge and help the rebuilt Horadrim and the hero of Sanctuary helped stop the mad angel of Death. Still, there is need to recoup more than just the knowledge Cain put together in his book. That is done through the Book of Tyrael. In it the once-angel discusses the events of the game from the viewpoint of someone who has seen a great deal and knows more first-hand. We learn a lot more about the goings on in Sanctuary and the events that shape the ones that we play through in game. More than that, he discusses other events from the past, categorizes the evils and other parties, reveals key locations in Santuary, and gives us deeper glimpses into the key players at large. Looking through this book and the Book of Cain just makes me want to run a game set in Sanctuary. What fun it would be!