This issue, I've grabbed a few impressive
resource sites of the net. Missing a useful reference
on medieval weaponry? Unsure about the FBIs involvement
in the Roswell incident? Can't convince your GM of the
validity of the Vulcan Nerve Pinch? Never fear, for
in the Great Link of information that is the internet,
there is nothing that cannot be found...
Well, if Star Trek is your bent, then a good place to start is
The Star Trek
Archive. This is a pretty impressive collection of a variety
of Star Trek stuff. It is by no means entirely authoritative
or complete, but it does contain a lot of stuff that you might
not be able to find elsewhere. There's a ridiculously long
dissertation on relativity, technical specifications for all
the ships, a complete rated episode guide for all four series,
with a rate-it-yourself option, and much more. And it all looks
fantastic, but without any real drop in speed. But if you're
still looking for more, their links page can take you to some
even bigger Star Trek sites, such as the enormous (but harder
to handle) Star
Trek WWW. More importantly for game fans, the official Star Trek RPG
site is now up, and it is great: beautiful to look at, and everything
that a player could want.
The above are impressive because they are
big collections, but the best resource sites are
more than that. Possibly one of the best reference
sites on the internet - just in terms of the sheer
amount of research gone into it - is Kate Monk's Onomastikon.
That's a dictionary of names, or perhaps I should say THE
dictionary of names. Because even if you searched through the
largest and most prestigous libraries in the world, I doubt
you would ever come across something of this calibre. It is
just unbelievably well researched, and presented simply and
effectively. Names are sorted into place and time of origin,
and are listed with their meaning and variants. What use is
this, you ask? Well, not only will you never again get stuck
trying to think of a character name, but you can make sure said
name is perfectly suited to whatever campaign you're using.
A must-see, even if you don't think you'll use it.
Equally impressive in its
veracity and academic qualifications is Old
Sword Play. This is a online copy of Captain Alfred
Hutton's book of the same name. Although written
in the nineteenth century, this is an intelligent
summary of the art of medieval swordplay. Hutton
is on par with Sir Richard Burton in this field,
but while Burton's stuff is still widely printed,
this is a very rare publication being made available.
So don't miss it if you want to perfect those combat
rules. And if your games are set a little later,
students of fencing should examine George Silver's Paradoxes
Of course, correct combat isn't much use if you
don't also evoke the correct setting for it to take place.
And if you're thinking a realistic medieval campaign, you
are going to need to know a fair bit about the presence
of the church and religion. The authority here is The
Ecole Initiative, a sinister sounding name for an
online encyclopaedia of religion. And it is another
example of the internet outdoing the best libraries - this
is a fantastic reference guide that the average person
would never be able to get their hands on otherwise.
Plus all the information is easily referenced, and a lot
easier to flick through than a telephone-book sized tome.
Great stuff - the glossary alone is a brilliant place
to get info and ideas for religious campaigns.
But not everyone plays medieval games. But our
modern age is not short of villainous or oppresive
regimes. Let's face it - conspiracies make great
recurring bad guys, and the best way to make a conspiracy
really frightening is to make it as realistic sounding as
possible. But in this post X-Files era, how do you find
out enough about what the US Government is doing to worry
your die-hard players? Well, help is at hand, in the form
of the Intelligence
Resource Program. This is an independent, ongoing
project to gather as much information on the activities
of the many divisions of the US government. It's a little
clunky and slow to maneuver through ,and not all the links
work, but it's complete lack of sensationalism makes it
a quite effective read. Again, just glancing through
their list of agencies will fill a GM with inspiration.
After all, why settle for the FBI as villains when you
can chose from literally hundreds of equally shady groups
from around the world?
Finally, if your adventures are taking you to sea,
then you might find something of use at No
Quarter Given, the ultimate piratical site.
These people take the piratical ethos very seriously:
not content just to ride The Pirates of the Caribbean
ride at Disneyland, they actually get together on hired
boats and act out a whole host of picaresque adventures.
As such, they make sure they know their stuff, and the
site reflects this. A veritable who's who of the pirate
world, real historical accounts, weapons, costumes,
daily life, and so on. If you're thinking of running a
piratical campaign (whether in sea or space) you should
have a read of this. Particularly interesting is the
story of Blackbeard's Skull, a true story of a treasure
hunt as exciting as any fiction. Arrr, me hearties,
this be the finest site I ever spied!