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Tabletop Wisdom - 4 books you must own!

Written by wisdom000 on Monday, April 05 2010 and posted in Features
Wisdom finally returns from a long absence with another Tabletop Wisdom! It's been a while since I have written an article.  So long that neither of my columns show up on the list of sections.  My fault, no hard feelings.

But here I am, with another bit of Tabletop Wisdom to share with you while you polish your dice and devise horrific fates for any who oppose you.  So listen up kiddies, today I am going to share with you the means to take your gaming to the next leve, no matter what you play.

The 4 single most important RPG resources you can own, regardless what system or genres you play in, are:

1. R. Talsorians "Listen Up You Primitive Screwheads"
2. Robin Laws "Robin's Laws of Good Gamemastering"
3 & 4. Kenneth Hites "Surpressed Transmission 1 and 2

Your gaming library is simply not complete with out them, and your GM kung fu will forever be lacking until you have learned the lessons contained withing those books.

Listen Up You Primitive Screwheads is the ultimate guide for game masters, and gives advice on dealing with problem players, dealing with player backstory, and just general advice that every GM should be educated in.  The book was released under the Cyberpunk 2020 line, but ignore that.  It is simply a must read.  Some of the advice for dealing with problem players is a little heavy handed, but that is one small part of a book of invaluable advice. 

Robin's Law's Of Good Game Mastering, its for both players and GM's, and it offers remarkable insight on how to make the best of the gaming experience for all involved.  A "how to guide", if you will, on getting the most out of your games.  It doesn't just provide you with tips and tricks, it actively teaches you how to get the absolute most out of your games, both from a player and a GM perspective.

Surpressed Transmission...  These 2 books, collecting Hite's best articles from his immensely popular column for Pyramid Magazine, are the most invaluable resource I own.  On the surface, it's merely Ken's exhaustively researched look into all things from a paranoid delusional conspiracy theorists point of view.  And if you go no further than that, you will still get unending pleasure reading and re-reading it merely for entertainment.  But deeper than that, is the way the books helps game masters (and players)  create their own conspiracies and far reaching plot lines.  He teaches us how to make conceivable and convincing connections.  The article "Seven Degrees of Sir Francis Bacon" alone will have you looking at the world in a whole different way.  Even if you nev er use anything as written out of the book, I challenge you not to find inspiration for a dozen campaigns every time you even remotely peruse the books. 

These four books I have lovingly listed are at the top of your must own list.  They don't just toss out ideas, they teach you how to be a better gamer.   They will take whatever it is that causes you to be passionate about your games, and fan those flames into an inferno.

There are many games and books that I think are necessary for a good gaming library, for instance Palladiums Book of Weapons and Castles, and Ninjas and Superspies are simply must haves.  As are the Gurps books Mysteries,  and Ultratech.  But while good, these books deal with very specific themes, themes applicable to any setting, but specific in their focus. 

Any Game Master or Player worth the pips on his dice knows you can find inspiration for your games everywhere you look.  I have created entire plots based on nothing more than a random guests name in my hotels registry.  But being given the seeds to know how to apply that knowledge coherently, to know what the subtle and not-so-subtle warnings signs are for when the players aren't on the same page with each other, or worse yet on the same page as the GM, that wisdom is invaluable.  Knowing how to spot potential problem players (and GM's), and having the tools to deal with them before the entire game comes crashing down around you in horrific manner is simply put, information you should never game without.
These four books should be required reading for anyone attempting to saddle up behind the game masters screen. You owe it to yourself, and your gaming group.  If you ignore my advice, then don' come crawling to me when your gaming group makes you run barefoot across a floor covered in 4-siders, or makes you swallow your own miniature (it's not getting it down thats hard, it's when it comes out the other side....).

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