Some of my favorite books for creating role playing game worlds have nothing to do with RPGs. I thought I’d start posting about some of them here, in case others find them useful.
Things That Never Were: Fantasies, Lunacies & Entertaining Lies by Matthew Rossi (Goodreads)
This is a collection of short essays on alternate and secret histories. It’s a fun amalgamation of actual historical facts, crank theories, and SF/Fantasy-based speculations. If you’re familiar with Kenneth Hite’s Suppressed Transmission stuff, this is in a similar vein.
Every essay has at least one (usually more) wild idea that can serve as an influence to an existing game or even a whole campaign.
Some of my favorite examples of the strange notions Rossi comes up with:
- Kublai Khan and Roger Bacon in a 13th century Fu Manchu/Sir Denis Nayland Smith-style pulp rivalry.
- Doc Holiday is the Fisher King.
- The writer Jack London in a secret war, defending our world from alternate realities.
- Napoleon builds a mechanical AI to rule as a Clockwork Dictator over 19th century Europe.
If you’re playing any kind of weird magical/alternate historical game, this book is highly recommended.