We’ve recently covered the call for submissions to Knutebook 2017. The deadline for pitches is now only days away. The book will contain a range of papers about storytelling in LRP and the previous books are all available online; they’re useful resources to anyone running LRP events. We have a reasonable library of books at the workshop that cover several different categories, and I thought I’d choose a few favourites, and tell you why they’re useful.
‘The Making Of’ books
Most big films are now accompanied by at least one book of information about how the film was made. We have a lot of these. My current favourite is the book from Crimson Peak*. The film using a lot of colour coding and has interesting visual themes throughout, as well as a range of practical creature effects. CGI doesn’t translate well to LRP, but practical effects have more relevance, and while don’t have the environmental control that film sets do, we can learn a lot by reading about how they have achieved the creatures and effects they have. Inspiration can come from everywhere, so it’s always worth taking a look.
I also really like some of the books from the Hobbit film. I’m going with the ‘Chronicles: Art and Design’ from the Desolation of Smaug* as my favourite of these. It takes an interesting look at how the costumes came together, giving information about the layering, the fabrics used, and the desired effects, as well as showing some of the bits they didn’t use. I believe that achieving visual coherency is important in LRP. These books give you access to information from people who have done it well.
We also have more specialist books that focus on the creature creation elements of film work. That makes sense since it’s also an area that we focus on in my workshop. Big creatures can add a lot to LRP and the design of your bad guy is utterly important. When we ran 1950s b movie sci fi LRP we needed a bad guy who resonated 1950s b movie sci fi bad guy with every ounce of his being. He had to be utterly stereotypical. Normally you can afford a bit more subtlety, and probably a few more grey areas. However, Coherency and a well designed world really do improve the setting of a LRP. Look at how much work goes into designing the characters in films and you’ll do more to design the none player characters in your games. They will be better for it.
Often with costume you want something a little bit special. You want an effect that will tie a group of costumes together. You want a motif that will work through a variety of costumes to give them more consistency. ‘The Art of Manipulating Fabric‘* was recommended to me by Charlie. It’s got a range of different ways of adding interest to fabric, and taking something simple and making it a little bit special. There are a lot of free online resources that offer different information in a similar vein. Michele Carraghers website has how to guides relating to dragonscale smocking and embroidery that was used in Game of Thrones.
We also have books of historic fashion. Some focus on military dress, such as the Osprey Men at Arms Series*. Others are more about civilian life such as the ‘Visual Encyclopedia of Costume’ by the Pepin Press*. We tend not to be too fussy about time periods, but it’s unendingly useful to be able to flick through these to find inspiration for a costume, or even a picture that you can use to show something an item you’re struggling to describe. We do have style guides for events we’re involved with. The first stage of creating these is often finding images we like in these books, and comparing them to come up with ideas to take forwards to the final guide. The internet often comes second here.
When running events you’re often manipulating the beliefs of your players. You’re creating situations in which they can believe in the game. A little bit of magic helps, whether it’s to understand how your players are likely to react or to create illusions within your game world. This is only part of what we do when we run games. There are a lot of books written by people who have spent their lives researching tricking people, and since they give us a shortcut I’m happy to take it. I’m not going to pick a favourite for this section. I have people who do this for me. However, I would recommend it as an area to research and explore if you’re seriously thinking of running good games.
Are there any books you regularly turn to when creating games?