Skip to content

RPG Designer’s Reference Library

In an earlier post, An Inventory and Inspirations, I talked about some of the RPG’s I recently picked up for review. I also talked about how my design & writing process involves enmeshing myself in source material. Well, that brings up one of my other major bits of source material, my reference library. A few years ago I began amassing a reference library to inform my game design and science fiction and fantasy writing.  I collected books on several subjects: Medieval History, Ancient History, Weaponry & Warfare, Magic, Mythology, Monsters & The Paranormal, Nanotechnology, Space Travel, and World Building for Science Fiction & Fantasy.

My collection, arranged by subject is listed below.



  • The Oxford Illustrated History of Medieval England – Nigel Saul
  • The Oxford Illustrated History of the Vikings – Peter Sawyer
  • The Oxford Illustrated History of Medieval Europe – George Holmes (Editor)
  • The Middle Ages – Morris Bishop
  • 1066 The Year of Conquest – David Howarth
  • Anglo-Saxon England – F.M. Stenton
  • *The Anglo-Saxon World: An Anthology – various


  • The English (Peoples of Europe) – Geoffrey Elton
  • The Bretons – Patrick Galliou; Michael Jones
  • The Norsemen in the Viking Age (Peoples of Europe) – Eric Christiansen
  • The Celts – Nora Chadwick
  • The Druids – Stuart Piggott
  • The Ancient Celts – Barry Cunliffe
  • The Anglo-Saxons – James Campbell (Editor)


  • Power And Profit: The Merchant in Medieval Europe – Peter Spufford
  • Medieval Folklore: A Guide to Myths, Legends, Tales and Folklore – Carl Lindahl, John Mcnamara, John Lindow
  • Tournaments: Jousts, Chivalry and Pageants in the Middle Ages – Richard Barber; Juliet Barker
  • The Medieval Underworld – Andrew McCall
  • Medieval Travellers: The Rich and Restless – Margaret Wade Labarge
  • Medieval Heraldry (Osprey Men-at-Arms series 99) – Terence Wise; Richard Hook; William Walker
  • The Knight in History – Frances Gies
  • *Life in a Medieval City – Joseph Gies; Frances Gies
  • *Life in a Medieval Castle – Joseph Gies; Francis Gies
  • *Life in a Medieval Village – Joseph Gies; Francis Gies
  • *Life in Medieval Times – Marjorie Rowling
  • Marriage and Family in the Middle Ages – Frances & Joseph Gies
  • The Year 1000: What Life Was Like At the Turn of the Century – Robert Lacey; Danny Danziger
  • Daily Life in the World of Charlemagne – Pierre Riche
  • Women in the Middle Ages – France & Jospeh Gies
  • The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in the Middle Ages – Sherilyn Kenyon
  • Celtic Daily Life – Victor Walkley



  • The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Greece – Robert Morkot
  • The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Rome – Chris Scarre
  • The Oxford Illustrated History of Greece and the Hellenistic World  -John Boardman; Jasper Griffin; Oswyn Murray
  • The Oxford Illustrated History of the Roman World -et al
  • The Punic Wars – Adrian Goldsworthy
  • The Peloponnesian War – Donald Kagan
  • The Spartans – Paul Cartledge
  • The Penguin Encylopedia of Ancient Civilizations – Arthur Cotterell (Editor)
  • Eyewitness Books: Ancient Rome – Susan Mckever (Editor)
  • Eyewitness: Ancient Greece – Anne Pearson
  • Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome – Lesley Adkins, Roy A Adkins
  • Handbook to Life in Ancient Greece – Lesley Adkins & Roy A Adkins




  • Warfare in the Classical World – John Warry
  • *The Complete Roman Army – Adrian Goldsworthy
  • *Fighting Techniques of the Ancient World: 3000 BC – Simon Anglim, et. Al


  • Fighting Techniques of the Medieval World: AD 500 – Matthew Bennet; Jim Bradbury; Kelly DeVries, et al
  • Medieval European Armies (Osprey Men-At-Arms series #50) -Terence Wise; Gerald Embleton
  • *Medieval Combat: A 15th Century Illustrated Manual – Hans Tollhoffer; Mark Rector
  • *Medieval Swordsmanship: Illustrated Methods and Techniques – John Clements
  • Renaissance Swordsmanship: The Illustrated Book Of Rapiers And Cut And Thrust Swords And Their Use -John Clements


  • FM 5-25: Explosives and Demolitions – Department of the Army
  • FM 31-21: Guerilla Warfare and Special Forces Operations – Department of the Army
  • FM 5-31: Boobytraps -Department of The Army
  • FM 5-15: Field Fortifications – Department of the Army
  • TC 23-14: Sniper Training and Deployment – Department of the Army
  • ST 31-204: Hand To Hand Fighting (Karate/Tae Kwan Do) – US Army Institute for Military Assistance
  • Vietcong Mines & Boobytraps Gained From Operational Experience in viet Nam – Department of the Navy
  • TM 31-210: Improvised Munitions Handbook – Department of the Army
  • FM 23-9: M16A1 Rifle and Rifle Marksmanship – Department of the Army
  • TM 31-201-1: Unconventional Warfare Devices and Techniques: Incendiaries
    Department of the Army
  • Sniper Counter Sniper -Mark V. Lonsdale
  • The Elite Forces Handbook of Unarmed Combat – Ron Shillingford
  • The Poisons and Antidotes Sourcebook: 2nd Edition
    Carol Turkington


  • Arms & Armor (Eyewitness Books) – Michelle Byam
  • Weapons: An international encyclopedia from 5000 B -Randal Gray; Diagram Group
  • *The Archaeology of Weapons: Arms and Armour from Prehistory to the Age of Chivalry – R. Ewart Oakeshott
  • Arms and Armour in Antiquity and the Middle Ages – Charles Boutell
  • Brassey’s Book of Body Armor – Robert Woosnam-Savage & Anthony Hall
  • *European Weapons and Armor: From the Renaissance to The Industrial Revolution -Ewart Oakeshott


  • *The Traditional Bowyer’s Bible: Volume 1 – Steve Alley; et. al.
  • *The Traditional Bowyer’s Bible: Volume 2 – G. Fred Asbell; Tim Baker, et. Al.
  • The Traditional Bowyer’s Bible: Volume 3 – Tim Baker, Paul Comstock, et. Al.
  • Bows of the World – David Gray


  • Gun Digest 2003 – Ken Ramage; Various
  • The Illustrated Book of Guns – David Miller
  • Complete Reloading Guide – John E Traister & Robert Traister
  • The Vital Guide to Combat Guns and Infantry Weapon – Chris Biship; Various
  • Military Small Arms of the 20th Century, 7th Edition – Ian V. Hogg & Sean S. Weeks
  • Muzzleloading how to load and shoot flintlocks, caplocks and in-lines – Toby Bridges
  • *Complete Reloading Guide – John E Traister & Robert Traister
  • *Cartridges of The World – 9th Edition – Frank C. Barnes


  • A Knight and His Weapons (2nd Edition) – Ewart Oakeshott
  • *Arms and Armor of the Medieval Knight – David Edge & John Miles Paddock
  • *The Book of the Medieval Knight – Stephen Turnbull


  • Swords and Hilt Weapons – Michael D. Coe
  • The Book of the Sword – Richard F. Burton


  • Castles: Their Construction and History – Sidney Toy
  • The Medieval Castle: Life in a Fortress in Peace & War (Penguin Classic History) -Philip Warner
  • Inside Story: A Medieval Castle – Fiona Macdonald
  • Castle -David Macaulay
  • Eyewitness Books: Castle – Christopher Gravett
  • *The Medieval Fortress: Castles, Forts, and walled – J.E. Kaufmann; H.W. Kaufmann



  • Magic, Witchcraft and Religion: An Anthropological Study of the Supernatural (5th Edition) – Arthur C. Lehmann; James E Myers
  • Magic in the Middle Ages – Richard Kieckhefer
  • The Black Arts – Rich Cavendish
  • The Encylopedia of Witches & Witchcraft – Rosemary Ellen Guiley
  • The Magicians Companion:  A Practical and Encyclopedic Guide to Magical and Religious Symbolism  – Bill Whitcomb
  • The Complete Book of Amulets & Talismans -Migene Gonzalez-Wippler
  • *The Complete Book of Incense, Oils, & Brews – Scott Cunningham
  • *Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem, & Metal – Scott Cunningham
  • *Cunningham’s Encylopedia of Magical Herbs – Scott Cunningham



  • Celtic Myths and Legends – T.W. Rolleston
  • Celtic Myths & Legends – Charles Squire
  • *Celtic Myth and Legends – Peter Berresford Ellis
  • *The Kalevala – Elias Lonnrott; Keith Bosley
  • The Iliad: By Homer – Robert Fitzgerald (Translator)
  • The Odyssey: By Homer – Robert Fitzgerald (Translator)
  • The Aeneid: by Virgil – Robert Fitzgerald (translator)
  • Mythology – Edith Hamilton
  • The Norse Myths: Gods of the Vikings – Kevin Crossley-Holland
  • The Epic of Gilgamesh (Penguin Classics) – N.K. Sandars
  • The Oxford Dictionary of Classical Myth and Religion – Simon Price; Emily Kearns (Editors)
  • Dictionary of Classical Mythology – J.E. Zimmerman
  • The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology -Joseph Campbell
  • The Golden Bough: The Roots of Religion and Folklore – James G. Frazier



    • Spirits, Faeries, Leprechauns and Goblins: An Encyclopedia – Carol Rose
    • The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits, 2nd Edition – Rosemary Ellen Guiley
    • Vampires & Vampirism: Legends From Around the World – Dudley Wright
    • The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead – J. Gordon Melton
    • *Giants, Monsters and Dragons: An Encylopedia – Carol Rose
    • *A Field Guide to Demons, Faeries, Fallen Angels, and… -Carol K. Mack; Dinah Mack
    • *The World Guide to Gnomes, Faeries, Elves, and Other … Thomas Keightly
    • *Half Human, Half Animal: Tales of Werewolves and R – Jamie Hall
    • *Encylopedia of Things That Never Were – Michael Page; Robert Ingpen
    • Unexplained!: Strange Sightings, Incredible Occurences – Jerome Clark
    • The Directory of Possibilities – Colin Wilson (editor); John Grant (Editor)
    • The Encylopedia of Unsolved Mysteries – Colin Wilson; Damon Wilson



  • Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology – K. Eric Drexler
  • Understanding Nanotechnology – Scientific American
  • Our Molecular Future: How Nanotechnology, Robotics – Douglas Mulhall



  • Entering Space: Creating a Spacefaring Civilization – Robert Zubrin
  • The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space -Gerard K. O’Neill
  • Living in Space: A Handbook for Work & Exploration Stations Beyond the Earth’s Atmosphere – G. Harry Stine
  • Spacefaring: The Human Dimension – Albert A. Harrison
  • New Earths: Restructuring Earth and Other Planets – James Edward Oberg
  • Starsailing: Solar Sails and Interstellar Travel – Louis Friedman
  • Space Travel: A Writer’s Guide to the Science of Interplanetary and Interstellar travel (Science Fiction Writing Series) – Ben Bova: Anthony R. Lewis
  • The Starflight Handbook: A Pioneer’s Guide to Interstellar Travel – Eugene Mallove; Gregory Matloff
  • Islands in the Sky: Bold New Ideas for Colonizing – Stanley Schmidt & Robert Zubrin (editors)



  • Writer’s Guide to Creating a Science Fiction Universe – George Ochoa; Jeffrey Osier
  • World Building: A Writer’s Guide to Constructing Star Systems and Life-Supporting Planets (Science Fiction Writing Series) – Stephen L. Gillet
  • Aliens and Alien Societies: A Writer’s Guide to Creating Extraterrestial Life-Forms – Stanley Schmidt
  • The Science of Science Fiction – James Gunn
  • Borderlands of Science: How to Think Like a Scientist (and Write Science Fiction) -Charles Sheffield
  • Time Travel: A Writer’s Guide to the Real Science of Plausible Time Travel – Paul J Nahin
  • The Fantasy Writer’s Companion -Tee Morris (Editor)
  • The Writer’s Complete Fantasy Reference: An Indespensable Compendium of Myth and Magic – Various
  • The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy: Volume One – Darin Park (Editor); Tome Dullemond (Editor)

3 thoughts on “RPG Designer’s Reference Library”

  1. If you’re doing anything dark ages related, and I see from your book of Norse gods, you’ve had a look at the subject, then you should try and get hold of a copy of the Poetic Edda. It’s the closest thing that exists to a primary source document on the subject, even though it was written a century after the fact by a Christian monk. I used it heavily for my history dissertation which covered a lot of the Norse cultural heritage. I could add another dozen to your list that I bought for my degree, but it actually looks like you’re doing pretty well there…

    1. Shorty: Thanks for the reply. The Poetic Edda is on my mythology wishlist, as is the Volsung Saga, and The Nibelungenlied. Also want to pick up the Tain, the Mabinogion. Always good to check out primary sources. Read a lot of Greek and Norse myth when I was younger, so it is something in which I’ve always had an interest.

  2. Pingback: Friday Knight News - Best Laid Plans Edition: 7-SEP-2012 | Game Knight Reviews

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *