Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Due to losing some family storage, I've recently had to go through a lot of old things (see my Nostalgia post).  I came across the remnants of what was once a mighty collection of illustrated children's books of the better kind.  The collection was shared between my daughter (the child in question) and myself (for use in the classroom in my previous incarnation -- okay I shared the books with my students as well, but they were taught to be careful with books from Dr. Obscure's Special Collection).  Sorting through them, I kept a few for myself, a few for my daughter, and the rest went to the shelves of Half Price Books.  Among those that I kept were two really cool books -- A Seaport through History: from the 10th Century BC to the 20th Century and A Central American City through the Ages: San Rafael.  These books by Hernandez, Ballonga, et al. are out of print and appear to have been published under somewhat different names by different publishers.  They trace a fictional Mayan city and  a Low Countries seaport through their histories, showing maps and cross-sections, with relevant information about them that would be enviable in a game setting book.  The fact that they are historical and yet fictional would make them perfect for just such a purpose, so I intend to eventually use them for just that.  It looks like there is at least one more book they did together, so I'm going to try to remember to keep an eye out for the one on the Islamic city.

Note that I just snuck in a Tomeful Tuesday, which we haven't had in a while!  Finding good material for an urban setting in unlikely or perhaps just new places, especially for cheap or free, is quiet satisfying.  I've used old National Geographics in the past, but I really like that the unique characteristics of these two books, and that they have the feel without the danger of being recognized as real places.  What resources have you found for creating urban settings?


  1. The David Macaulay books have some decent resources. I recall having a couple of books on Rome which had overlays so you could see what the ruins looked like today and how they looked in their prime.

    I've recently been reading one of series of tour books set in historical places, Ancient Rome on 5 Denarii a Day. It is called the "Traveling on Five" series and has volumes on Ancient Athens, Ancient Egypt, Renaissance Florence and so on. They're full of useful ground-level observations that could easily be borrowed for the table (though the do switch perspective a little too much). I also enjoyed A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome: Daily Life, Mysteries, and Curiosities by Alberto Angela which would be a backbone of doing any game set in Rome or ancient city.

  2. Those are some great suggestions, Lowell, thanks. I also realized that I forgot to mention KQ/OD's Zobeck, which is a really cool city that I am attracted to.