Seize the GM
Seize the GM
Episode 53: GM Library Part 3

Main Topic



Poetics, Aristotle – The definitive book that describes and details the components of narrative tradition and the importance with which to address them – it is the oldest piece of literary and dramatic theory extant.  While written with the Greek Theatrical tradition in mind, it serves to this day as a blueprint for any story teller to understand how to approach an audience. The Poetics second part that dives deeper into Comedy is lost to time (or maybe not depending on certain research), but the breakdown of the parts of a story and what matters will inspire you either in agreement or in opposition to this day.


Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail `72, Hunter S. Thompson – A lot of games involve political intrigue and the power that congregates around them. Hunter S. Thompson provides his signature gonzo look at the 1972 election that is in many ways far deeper an insight to the human condition and experience than his more famous collection.  If you want to see not only a peek at the power structure, but also what I suspect is an iconoclastic and irreverent view our audience would find desirable. HST in a car with Pres. Nixon. You know you want to read it.


The Philip K. Dick Reader, Philip K. Dick – PKD has put into play decades of popular culture and futurism that you are already familiar with.  Total Recall. Minority Report. Blade Runner. All of these come from PKD stories. You need to read how these ideas came about and how they shape our conception of a popular future.  Philip K. Dick challenged the mindset of entire generations by applying his unforgettable prose to science fiction that reverberates across the years.



Eastern Philosophy, Learn about thoughts and ideas from outside our Western thoughts. The lessons are different and rooted in religion as well as thought.


Imagica, I feel like this book was a crazy spiral of worldbuilding that shows just how crazy you can get if you let your mind run with a tangent and come back and do it again. I feel like the characters are awesome and rich and multilayered. Everything in this book can give inspiration and draw you into it. One of Clive Barker’s best works in long form storytelling.


Joules Watts

Slaughterhouse Five – I’m a huge lover of Kurt Vonnegut.  Focused on the bombing of Dresden, the story follows the life of Billy, a man who becomes “unstuck” in time.  The non-chronological style of writing in this book can be a little jarring at first. But it follows Billy’s life in real time as he becomes unstuck.  This book has a few “sci-fi” elements of time slips and aliens, but doesn’t feel like a sci-fi book. Those elements are used to serve the story. I’d recommend this book for its amazing non linear narrative.  Seeing its execution may give you some inspiration on how to handle non-linear storytelling in your own game.


Shaken and Neat – These are Shadowrun Novels by Russell (Rusty) Zimmerman.  Russell is a fantastic author, game designer and history professor.  (Full disclosure, Rusty happens to be a dear friend of mine.) The reason I’m recommending his writing is that he is able to take the Noir/Pulp style and use it to tell a terrific cyberpunk story.  His stories show that you can mix and match styles and genres and still tell a cohesive story. So if you have a friend who enjoys old school detective stories but is unfamiliar with cyberpunk, his novels can serve as a gateway.  He also has done some work on Earthdawn (fantasy) and other game IP. Thing is that his work is never just a “fantasy” or “Sci-fi.” He always blends it with other styles. So his writing is helpful in showing how blending is done well.



Dragonlance Chronicles – While many RPGs follow common universal story concepts, sometimes it works to see exactly how an RPG company sees their universe. The original Dragonlance Chronicles Trilogy, Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Winter Night, and Spring Dawning, helped establish TSR’s world of Krynn and what the knights, elves, and dragons of that realm are like. The stories provided many potential adventure hooks that could be tied into short or long campaigns for adventurers looking to fight it out with the minions of the dark goddess Takhisis.


Beyond this series, following the stories and fiction provided by RPG developers can lead to the creation of campaign ideas from even minor details while reading about a setting’s heroes. Shadowrun gives an in-game example of this as events in the Secrets of Power Trilogy cause the events of the adventure module, Total Eclipse. A repercussion of events that were impactful in the story lead to bigger trouble half a world away.


Cognomen    noun cog·no·men  \ käg-ˈnō-mən , ˈkäg-nə- \


Definition of cognomen

1 : surname; especially : the third of usually three names borne by a male citizen of ancient Rome — compare nomen, praenomen
2 : name; especially : a distinguishing nickname


Origin and Etymology of cognomen
Latin, irregular from co- + nomen name


First Known Use: 1691


Popularity: Bottom 30% of words


Closing remarks

Zendead- Infidel from Image Comics


Joules-Extra Sci-Fi


Guard-a-Manger- Preludes, Debussy – Impressionist style piano pieces that explored the nature of harmony available with the piano around 1910.


Nulloperations- SCP: Confinment on Youtube


Music is courtesy of The Enigma TNG you can find his music on YouTube or on Bandcamp


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Show- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Zendead- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Joules- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Nulloperations-Email, Twitter, Facebook

Guard-a-manger- Email, Twitter


And Thanks to Merriam-Webster for our Lexicon segment

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