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Musings of the Welsh Wizzard

What happens when dilution of the hobby becomes homeopathic

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May 8, 2021

Books that make me play games – Part 1 Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Recently Jay Arnold (aka the Veteran Wargamer) released episode 19 of his podcast where he talks to his good mate Dave about books that make them play games. there each came up with a top 5 list of fiction books and went into the reasons the books are so influential to them and the games they would play for each book. Click here to listen to the episode

I thought this was such a good idea that I would nick it and do a similar list, but I found it too difficult having a single list of 5 books so I decided to expand it into 3 separate lists covering different genres. Today I want to share my top 5 sci-fi and fantasy books that I read and immediately wanted to play a game in that setting, plus some games that I could use. Please note that these are not my favourite sci-fi and fantasy books these are just ones I read that made me want to play games.

but before we start I have to add a disclaimer as most of the list cover series of books instead of just one and that’s mainly because I found really hard to pin-point 1 book out of a series, but anyway lets make a start with number 5 of my top 5

5 – Michael Moorcock – Oswald Bastable series

This series of books introduces Oswald Bastable a British army officer in 1902 who ends up travelling through time to various futures. its a brilliant series of books and nothing like the fantasy works that Moorcock is well known for and are really worth reading.

For games I would look at rules like Dystopian Legions by Spartan games, or Imperial Skies Wargame by Robin Fitton as they fit in with the back ground

4 – Harry Harrison – Stainless steel rat series

another long running series of books that are written by Harry Harrison and center on James Bolivar diGriz or ‘Slippery Jim’ as he’s known as. Slippery Jim is a con man and thief who ends up working for an organisation called the “Special Corps”.

For games, I would first look at a narrative game like 7TV by Crooked Dice as that would allow players to get into character.

3 – Terry Pratchett – Guards! Guards!

Not a series this time, but come on do you really think I could do a list of fantasy books without mentioning Discworld? This book is one of my favourites and I think lends itself to gaming, you have the small squad of guardsmen (and women) who take on a dragon and foil an attempt to overthrow the Patrician of the city.

For games I would be looking at Open Combat by Second Thunder or maybe Songs of Blades and Heroes by Ganesha games

2 – Michael Moorcock – Hawkmoon series 

and we are back to Michael Moorcook, with his seminal series of books based on Dorian Hawkmoon, called The History of the Runestaff. they have everything I look for in a set of fantasy books and are well worth reading.

For games I would be looking at Sword and Spear fantasy by Mark Lewis for the big battles but for the smaller encounters I would possibly use Sharp Practice by Too fat Lardies with some slight modifications

1 – Robert E. Howard – Conan Series

For me this is a no-brainer, I really love the Conan stories Howard wrote and for me there is no other set of books that made we want to play games more than this.

For games I would be looking at the Conan boardgame by Monolith, Open Combat by Second Thunder or Crom by Matakishi’s Tea House for small actions and Sword and Spear Fantasy by Mark Lewis for the bigger battles

Honorable mentions 

Just to expand the list a bit more here’s a few books that nearly made the list

J.R.R. Tolkien – Silmarillion – For me the stories in the Silmarillion are the best and I think the time where the Elves were at their most powerful are the ones that most stand out

H.P Lovecraft – The Call of Cthulhu – it’s Cthulhu right, come on you know you want to play some horror games

So thats my first list, join me tomorrow when I’ll list my favourite Historical Fiction books

3 Responses “Books that make me play games – Part 1 Sci-Fi and Fantasy”

  1. Avatar June 19, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    I particularly liked the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series – seem to remember reading them a lot… oh, and “Tales from the Vulgar Unicorn”..

  2. Avatar June 19, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    The episode dealt with fiction, old bean, not non-fiction. Glad Dave and I inspired this blog post series.

    Excellent choices.

    • MikeH
      June 19, 2017 at 3:05 pm

      and I’ve edited the post to remove my mistake 🙂

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