I was out working at a craft show with my wife all weekend and was up early for a 7am meeting at work today, so I’m a little beat, which means that I don’t have a lot of gas in the tank for a more contemplative blog post. however, that doesn’t mean I have nothing for you this week. Rather, I figured this would be a good time to list off some reference websites I’ve used in the past that can help with gaming.
Wikipedia: This one is so obvious that I almost didn’t include it on the list, but it’s also so useful that I felt like leaving it off the list would leave the list incomplete. WIkipedia has at least a little bit of information on just about everything, and is a solid jumping-off point for any sort of research you feel like doing. While it’s not always the most accurate source for serious research, that’s less of a concern for gaming purposes. If the author(s) of a given article have, for example, decided to print the legend rather than the history, as it were, that may even be better for gaming purposes. The other thing that’s great about Wikipedia is that it’s cross-linked, which means that following up on specific aspects of whatever it is that you’re researching is really easy.
Tvtropes: When Branden was still on the podcast, he would reference this website a lot, and with good reason. It’s a collection of tropes (defined on the site as: “devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members’ minds and expectations”) that is organized in a similar way to Wikipedia – cross-linked and separated by subject. Unlike Wikipedia, the tone of the writing is much less formal, but that doesn’t make the site any less wonderful as a resource. Simply looking up a favorite work (TV show, movie, or video game) from the front age will usually yield an entertaining firehose of content to drink from.
SCP Foundation: A site of fictional batches of weirdness, sort of similar to the old Warehouse 23 basement site that Steve Jackson Games used to have back in the day, but much, much larger. If you’re running any sort of campaign that needs weirdness of any sort and find yourself short on inspiration, it’s worth wandering over to SCP and browsing around for a bit. I have to give Grant credit for this one; he was the one who pointed me to the site in the first place.
Google Maps: If you’re running a game set in the modern world (+/- 50 years or so) Google Maps is your friend. The street view and satellite view options in particular are handy for finding interesting adventure locations and it’s useful to be able to find things like airports, natural wonders, major historical sites and so on when you’re running a modern game. Heck, it can even be handy to know where the railways are if you’ve got PCs who like to sneak onto trains in an urban fantasy game.
Online retailers: A lot of the time in modern or near-future games, I find that I want specific things that aren’t in the game books. Specialized tools, clothing, and electronics all have specs and costs associated with them, and place where you can buy those things will generally have that information in an easy-to reference format. Amazon is the big kahuna, but don’t overlook Galls (a company that supplies emergency services), American Science and Surplus (a company that sells little bits of everything and whose item descriptions are among the most delightfully-readable on the web) and Maker Shed (a site aimed at the Maker movement) for neat stuff PCs (particularly gadgetteers) will want.
System Resource Documents: The SRDs for Pathfinder, D&D 3.5, D20 Modern, and FATE are available online for your perusal. The Pathfinder and FATE ones in particular are really well-laid-out and easy to navigate.
And that’s it for this week’s reference library update. If you’ve got resources of your own that you use in your gaming, we’d love to hear about them in the comments.