The Twelfth Shelf: Beliefs III – Superstition, Mysticism, and More – Introduction by Mike

Strange creatures. Strange beliefs. We pass no judgment on the reality of any of them; in fact, from a game point of view (and regardless of any personal opinion) there’s always room for the fantastic in an RPG.

In the Adventurer’s Club campaign, we’ve had Zombies. We’ve had mutated homeless people living in the sewers under New York City (no alligators yet, though – just one piece of alligator-skin luggage). We’ve had Chinese Vampires, and something a little more traditional in the European sense. We’ve had giant, mutated alligators in the Florida Swamps. We’ve had Nazis pretend to be ghosts, and almost convince the players that the PCs were encountering genuinely supernatural phenomena. We’ve had modern-day descendants of Dinosaurs, and an unknown species of Great Ape (actually, that last was all Blair). We’ve had Vodou Houngans. We’ve had something suspiciously like alchemy and something that was definitely gem-based magic.

The supernatural has been a recurring, ongoing, plot element within our Pulp Campaign – simply because it expands our palette so much more than a more real-world hard-nose “none of this is real” approach would do. Sometimes, the weirdness is central to the plot, sometimes it’s peripheral; sometimes, it’s central to an encounter, sometimes not.

Our general rule of thumb is that belief in science multiplied by the population density of those who so believe creates a “suppression field” that declines as the inverse square of distance. Which means that if you have a large population who believe science has, or will have, all the answers, magic and the supernatural have a very hard time of it, and science is mostly right and reliable – in principle. The farther away from that population you get, the more scope there is for things to get strange. And if there’s a large population who aren’t completely convinced that science holds all the answers, science may not hold all the answers – but the closer to that population the adventure occurs, the more rigorously nature will conform to local belief. Go to the wrong village in Germany and there really might be a Troll under the bridge, even as Nazis goose-step across it.

But we have also demonstrated on a number of occasions that there are ways for the paranormal to be “enhanced” so that it can function entirely adequately even in the heart of the most modern metropolis. Pentagrams, potions, enchanted gems from the outside, even a little smoke and mirrors to make the viewer receptive… The way in which it manifests may be more explicable by science (or may not), but it works, nevertheless. The phenomena themselves change gear to conform to local expectations.

Which means that if alligators ever do (or ever have) gotten flushed into the New York Sewers, look out! Belief – be it in urban legends or in the supernatural – is the primary agent in dictating the reality, and is therefore self-reinforcing. And there is always more to the story than meets the eye.

But belief remains the common thread that binds it all together into a cohesive whole. And it’s also what binds the content of this shelf of the Reference Library together.

This shelf became a monster, which in a way, is strangely appropriate, given the content. It contained more than 240 recommendations, which would have made it the second-biggest to date (the prize-holder would still be Shelf 5, with 269 recommendations). That’s roughly six times the size that it was originally projected to be, when the taxonomy was laid out. At the eleventh hour last week, the decision was made to split the intended eleventh shelf in two, the first half with ghosts (and a little overflow from the 10th shelf), and this one with everything else that reflects the power of belief.

Relevance to other genres

We can’t think of any subject more ubiquitous to RPGs, regardless of genre, than this one. Where would D&D be without it’s strange beasts? Where would Star Trek be without it’s not-quite-humans? Where would a James Bond RPG be without secret organizations? Bond would be unemployed, for a start!

There really is something for everyone on this shelf.

book with countryside spilling out of it

Image provided by / Mysticsartdesign

Shelf Introduction

We have divided this shelf into five sections and sixteen subsections. Many of them are very small, with only one or two entries; others are vast.

I mentioned a moment ago that what was originally going to be Shelf 11 had become a monster. There are two very good reasons for this:

First, the late discovery of a number of series of books, some of which have now been extracted into their own subsections; and second, the very high degree of crossover between the different sections, which made it almost-impossible to subdivide the shelf into more manageable chunks. Take the regional myths and legends – some are True Crime, some are rumors, some are Cryptozoology, some are superstitions, some are ghosts, and some are extracts from indigenous religious beliefs – all within the one book.

Editorially, Mike did his best to slot things into a logically-progressive sequence, but don’t just look in the section devoted to any particular subject of interest or you will miss a LOT of potentially-valuable references.

That nice, neat taxonomy was blown to pieces by separating the two halves of the monster-sized shelf, but I have retained the section numbering (which usually doesn’t get displayed) so that readers who want to read the entries in the context of the backstory to the article can do so. Some of the comments may not make a lot of sense, otherwise!

2. Vodou – There are lots of books about “voodoo” and most of them aren’t worth the paper they are printed on except as sensationalist idea-fodder. Most serious books on the subject use the correct term, Vodou.

3. Secret Societies – “Secret” is perhaps a misnomer. While some of these qualify, a better description might be “Secretive” – and even that is changing in some cases. We cover Knights Templar, Freemasons, Intelligence Organizations, and more. And are only too keenly aware that we probably didn’t look hard enough for content for this section – there’s nothing on the KGB or its predecessors? How did that happen? Pardon me while we correct that!

3.1 KGB / Chekists – The KGB wasn’t formed until after World War II, but it’s not a difficult matter to temporally relocate that formation into the later pulp era if the GM thinks the recognition-factor benefits of the notorious intelligence service outweigh the probative value of historical accuracy. Fortunately, the books we have selected are equally useful, either way.

3.2 Allied intelligence/security services – You can’t really list the KGB and their forebear agency without at least paying lip service to those who opposed them. The CIA weren’t created until 1947, a final response to the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. From 1942 to 1945, they were preceded by the OSS, but that had a definite War orientation. “Prior to the formation of the OSS, American intelligence had been conducted on an ad-hoc basis by the various departments of the executive branch”; “It had no overall direction, coordination, or control.” So that leaves us with only a couple of choices in this category. But we’ve found some good resources relating to them.

3.3 Kali Worship / Thugee Cults – Mike used all his best material in reviewing “Children of Kali” for this subsection. History may say Kali Worship wasn’t a problem during the Pulp Era, but as Pulp GMs we’ve never been afraid to ignore, stonewall, corrupt, manipulate or outright fabricate, history when that suited our game needs and purposes. Or anything else, for that matter.

3.4 Cults in general – A healthy rivalry is always a good thing, and for Pulp Purposes, that principle extends to having several different cults and groups of nut cases running around to get in the PCs way. These books should help.

3.5 Knights Templar – The Knights Templar were active, according to history, from 1129 to 1312, according to Wikipedia. But they were caught up in the legends of the Holy Grail, and anyone who’s seen Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade knows that this makes them Pulp-relevant – especially if rumors of their organization’s dissolution were greatly exaggerated.

3.6 The Freemasons – Secrecy was a watchword for this society up until recent times, and it led to the most extraordinary conspiracy theories. We don’t want to get lost down that particular rabbit hole, but as a real group who were definitely active during the pulp era, we can’t ignore them, either. Fortunately, they have started to become far more open, perhaps in reaction to those conspiracy theories, and so we have a couple of books about the reality and not the myths.

4. Urban Legends – A select group of books from a very wide field. There’s something for everyone in these pages – ghost stories, cryptozoology, true crime, and more.

4.1 Regional Myths & Legends – In the course of researching and compiling the Cryptozoology section, we came across a number of books best described as “regional cryptozoology” (and grouped that way, see below). There were about a dozen of these in a clearly-related series which we have referred to as the “Monsters Of” series. These were set aside for Mike to review and drop-in as 11th-hour additions to the original shelf. In the process of doing so, he discovered a related series, the “Ghosts Of” series, and that, in turn, led us to the “Myths and Mysteries” series that leads this section off. Along the way, he found other books that also fitted into this category. Mostly US-oriented.

5. Cryptozoology – Cryptozoology is the study of creatures that are not acknowledged as having valid existence by “conventional” zoology. The term was coined in the 1950s and has been a staple of sensational reporting ever since. We’ve tried to distinguish and discern between those books that take the subject seriously and scientifically, and those written by “True Believers” – and there are some ring-ins from popular culture and literature, as well.

5.1 Monsters and outer-fringe Cryptozoology – Part of that effort is to group some books that openly deal with the cryptozoology depicted in movies and literature, and some that seem less… “plausible” isn’t quite the right word. Less-rigorous? That will do…

5.2 Regional Cryptozoology – Researching topics in this entire shelf was a maze, as one discovery opened up new avenues to other works. The open invitation into this rabbit-hole was the first book listed in this section. Others followed… US-dominated at first, but eventually a couple of more broadly-based reference works were found to round out the section.

7 General Mysticism, Superstitions, and Other Strange Stuff – This started out as a dumping ground for everything else that fitted under the superstition / mysticism / strange stuff category. When it started getting too anarchic, Mike subdivided almost everything into the subsections below.

7.1 Mysticism/Mystery Compendiums – These books contain a little bit of everything. Those usually head off a shelf, but here they are used as a last word on most of the subjects.

7.2 Sorcery, Magic, and Alchemy – We’ve been very strict in this section and listed only a bare minimum of 1 or 2 comprehensive references.

7.3 Gemstone Lore – Similarly, we specifically wanted to avoid getting tangled up in the New Age spiderweb in this section, because that has limited utility to most GMs.

7.4 Strange (but mostly True) Stuff – There aren’t many books listed in this section but the ones that are have obvious utility.

7.5 Documentaries about Strange (but mostly True) Stuff – Mike persuaded the others that in the pulp era, “Hypnotism” was viewed with almost superstitious awe, and these documentaries which get to the heart of what one of the best in the world can do with his talents and skills and what limitations he has to overcome along the way were essential subjects for the Pulp GM. Expect jaw-dropping moments in the course of watching these. It’s also worth noting that these are a very select choice, if you enjoy them, there are more to seek out.

7.6 Strange (but mostly Dubious/Fringe) Stuff – Since this is what the entire shelf is mostly about, almost everything has been separated out into other categories and subcategories. This is what was left.

7.7 Crystal Skulls – We hummed and ha’d quite a bit over where Crystal Skulls should be listed, after overlooking them completely for most of the research phase of the series. They get a mention in the fringe science section – should they have been a dedicated subsection on that shelf? Are they mere archaeological artifacts, placing them in the “valuables” section of the “things” shelf, or in the “treasures” section of the odds-and-sods shelf? Ultimately, the strangeness and sheer variety of beliefs concerning these objects won us over for inclusion here.

A Recurring Note On Images:

Wherever possible, we have provided an illustration showing the cover of the book or DVD under discussion scaled to the same vertical size (320 pixels for Recommended Books, 280 for DVDs, 240 for items in the ‘For Dummies’ Sections). Where there was none available, we have used a generic icon.

Prices and Availability were correct at the time of compilation. But it some cases, that was more than four months ago.


Books About Vodue


Spacer Creole Religions of the Caribbean

1050. Creole Religions of the Caribbean: An Introduction from Vodou and Santeria to Obeah and Espiritismo (2nd ed.) – Margarite Fernandez Olmos and Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert

The nations of the Caribbean have always been a melting pot of influences from all over the place, and yet these syntheses always seem to be more than a simple blending of the sources. This process, when applied to culture and religious beliefs, is so distinctive that it has been given a name: Creolization, the coming together of diverse beliefs and practices to form new beliefs and practices. This book provides “a comprehensive introduction to the syncretic religions that have developed” in the Caribbean, from Vodou (frequently dogmatized be western sensationalists as ‘Voodoo’) to Santeria, from Regla de Palo to Obeah, and more, it traces the cultural origins of the beliefs and places them into context.

New copies cost $17.42 or more, used start at $13.31. There is a Kindle edition for about $10, and a few hardcover copies for as little as $6.67 – but most of those cost considerably more.

Haitian Vodou

1051. Haitian Vodou: An Introduction to Haiti’s Indigenous Spiritual Tradition – Mambo Chita Tann

This book would have been useful on several occasions when we had to rely on Hollywood ‘interpretations’ (more sensationalism) and a little historical knowledge that Blair brought to the table. It includes discussions of Customs, beliefs, sacred spaces, and ritual objects, the Characteristics and behaviors of the Loa (the spirits served by Vodou practitioners), Common misconceptions such as “voodoo dolls” and the zombie phenomenon, Questions and answers for attending ceremonies and getting involved in a sosyete (Vodou house), and provides an extensive list of reference books and online resources. 36 of 43 reviews rated it five stars out of five, the rest rated it 3-4.

Available in Kindle and Paperback.

Tell My Horse

1052. Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica – Zora Neale Hurston

Believe it or not, this is Amazon’s #1 best-seller in Travel Guides for Haiti (or it was at the time of review)! Anyway – given what we’ve said in the previous recommendation, you might wonder what this book is doing in the list. The Amazon description will answer that question: “Based on acclaimed author Zora Neale Hurston’s personal experiences in Haiti and Jamaica—where she participated as an initiate rather than just an observer during her visits in the 1930s—Tell My Horse is a fascinating firsthand account of the mysteries of Voodoo. An invaluable resource and remarkable guide to Voodoo practices, rituals, and beliefs, it is a travelogue into a dark, mystical world that offers a vividly authentic picture of ceremonies, customs, and superstitions.” This is the foundation book for the perception of “Voodoo” in the Pulp Era.

Paperback and Kindle.

Voodoo In Haiti

1053. Voodoo In Haiti – Alfred Metraux, translated by Hugo Charteris

Metraux is described as “one of the most distinguished anthropologists of the twentieth century” – which may well be true; the record detailed on his Wikipedia Page is certainly impressive. Born in 1902 and dead in 1963, this is a “rich and lasting study of the lives and rituals of the Haitian mambos and adepts, and of the history and origins of their religion.” The description further claims that this is an “accurate and engaging account” of the culture. The book is described as informative but full of the most extremely condescending tone possible. This 432-page edition dates from 1989, quite obviously the first was a lot sooner. Even though Metraux was a prodigy, he was in his twenties when he began his research, and post-WWII he was engaged in other activities, leaving only a small window of 21 years in which this book could have been written, with a greater likelihood of it being from the first half of that period or so, ie 1924-1935. Once again, this appears to be directly relevant to the Pulp period.

The Complete Idiot's Guide To Voodoo

1054. The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Voodoo – Shannon R Turlington

The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Voodoo – Shannon R Turlington
Mike definitely wants a copy of this for his non-Pulp Zenith-3 campaign (in which the PCs are based in 2056 New Orleans), but it would have been just as useful in the first adventure that he and Blair collaborated on for the Adventurer’s Club campaign. And when the Houngan Priest from that adventure was recruited to join an alliance of the Adventurer’s Club’s enemies, a while later. And when Saxon’s character had his encounter with giant mutated Alligators in the Florida Everglades in a solo adventure based loosely on a blend of the origin stories of The Man-Thing (Marvel Comics) and Swamp Thing (DC Comics) and the original series Thunderbirds episode, “Attack Of The Alligators!”, when it wasn’t clear whether it was science run amok, or sorcery, .or some confluence between the two, that was responsible. Or when another Houngan was encountered in Hell. That’s nearly 20% of the adventures that we’ve run – and more than enough justification for the inclusion of this book.

Paperback: 24 used from $8.94, 6 new from too-expensive):

More copies: 16 used from $14.95, 14 new from absolutely-too-expensive):


Books About Secret Societies

We have employed the broadest possible interpretation of the term “Secret Societies”, one that covers everything from Knights Templar to MI6 and some strange points in-between.

The Atlas Of Secret Societies

1055. The Atlas of Secret Societies – David V. Barrett

A good overview of various secret societies and where they were supposed to be located, with great photographic reference. Deals primarily with historical Secret Societies.

Secret Societies Inside History's Most Mysterious Organizations

1056. Secret Societies: Inside History’s Most Mysterious Organizations – Edited by Kelly Knauer (Time)

Another good overview, contains some that aren’t in the the Barrett book. Some of the entries are more modern than the Pulp Era.

The Element Encyclopedia Of Secret Societies

1057. The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Societies – John Michael Greer

An encyclopedic listing of a broad range of secret societies, concepts, and major members. Available in three formats, which Amazon has listed separately for some reason, all with slightly different covers:

Kindle & some paperbacks; Paperbacks (pictured, many cheaper than those found at the previous link); and Hardcover & expensive paperbacks Of these, we recommend the hardcover be your first choice if you can afford it because it is described as an “Expanded Edition” with almost 700 pages vs almost 600.

Conspiracy Theories For Dummies

1058. Conspiracy Theories and Secret Societies For Dummies – Christopher Hodapp and Alice Von Kannon

This book is supposed to cover the most famous (and infamous) conspiracy theories and secret societies of history. Even if it misses a few or deals with the subject in too shallow a manner, this is still going to be a good starting point for the subject.

Kindle $13.66; Paperback 26 new from $13.40, 36 used from $6.16

More paperback copies: 7 new from $21.49, 10 used from $11.38

Books About The KGB / Chekists


The Sword And The Shield

1059. The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB – Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin

Based on one of the greatest intelligence coups in history, in which Vasili Mitrokhin smuggled the most classified documents out of the KGB every day for 12 years before he and his entire archive was exfiltrated in 1992. The archive covers the entire period from the Bolshevik Revolution to the 1980s. While most of this will focus on the Cold War, the pre-KGB period of the Pulp Era receives its share of the attention.

The Book is plentiful and cheap. 736 pages, hardcover from $6.49 and paperback from $3.68, with hundreds of copies available between these formats (most second-hand, but there are also more than 60 new copies on offer).

Chekisty A History of the KGB

1060. Chekisty: A History of the KGB – John H Dziak

This book traces the history of Russian Intelligence in a concise format from 1917 to approximately 1988. Which may make it more useful as a reference.

288 pages, Hardcover (35 used from $0.01, 6 new from about $38) or Mass market paperback (27 used from $0.01, 5 new from $41 or thereabouts).

Russia and the Cult of State Security

1061. Russia and the Cult of State Security: The Chekist Tradition from Lenin to Putin – Julie Fedor

This book doesn’t meet our criteria for listing but it is too essential for anyone who wants to pursue further studies of this subject, because this includes details of who Putin, like Stalin and Lenin before him (just to name two), has attempted and continues to attempt to rewrite history and the mythology that he has attempted to create / recreate perpetuate. That makes it invaluable for detecting and decoding manipulations of the record when examining modern information sources.

304 pages, Kindle (rent $14.92, buy $40.81), paperback (12 new from $30.74, 9 used from $32.58) or hardcover (from $116.85).

Near and Distant Neighbors

1062. Near and Distant Neighbors: A New History of Soviet Intelligence – Jonathan Haslam

Other histories, including those listed above, have focused on the KGB and its antecedents, largely neglecting the military intelligence and the special service (who specialized in codes and cyphers). This book redresses that balance. While focused on the period from the start of the Cold War through to the modern-day under Putin, this history begins with the October Revolution.

We were slightly concerned by one aspect of the product description – “…crucial to the survival of the Soviet state. This was especially true after Stalin’s death in 1953, as the Cold War heated up and dedicated Communist agents the regime had relied upon –Klaus Fuchs, the Rosenbergs, Donald Maclean — were betrayed” – not “were exposed”. This suggests a potential bias, though whether that is simply the soviet view of those events coming through or actually reveals bias on the part of the author is too subtle a question for our limited review capabilities. Just bear it in mind.

400 pages, Hardcover from $5.60, Paperback from $6.58, or MP3 CD from $13.49.

Books About Allied intelligence/security services


Secret Agent

1063. Secret Agent: The True Story of the Special Operations Executive – David Stafford

The Special Operations Executive were a British WWII covert Military organization. Ian Fleming combined the real-world MI6 with the SOE to create the fictional version of MI6 which employs James Bond in the movies and novels. If you want to move the creation of Mi6 to predate the War, as Blair & I have done in the Adventurer’s Club campaign, this is essential reading.

The Secret War Between the Wars

1064. The Secret War Between the Wars: MI5 in the 1920s and 1930s (History of British Intelligence) – Kevin Quinlan

And this is the essential other half of that story. Unfortunately, this is another book that doesn’t meet our standards of price and availability, but is just too directly relevant to set aside. Each chapter is a case-study in the techniques of spycraft in the era – everything from the use of diplomatic cover to recruitment to defections and debriefings.

278 pages, Kindle ($28.10) or hardcover (13 used from $29.99, 19 new from $28.18).

In the President's Secret Service

1065. In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect – Ronald Kessler

Mike would have sworn that this book was already listed, but a search of all the likely locations on the shelves of this series (both published and unpublished) failed to turn it up. Deciding that it was a lesser failure to list a reference twice than to leave out a vital one, here it is (again?).

The US Secret Service traces it’s history back to the US Civil War, when their mandate was anti-counterfeiting (a task that they continue to this day). Because of the temptations they faced, Standards of acceptable behavior were even higher than other high-profile institutions such as the FBI. Early in the 20th century, that led to the Service receiving the Presidential Protection mandate, which has (in the public’s eyes) come to completely overshadow everything else the Service does.

Notoriously close-mouthed and secretive, this is the first book written about the Service “from the inside”, based on hundreds of interviews with both current and former agents.

Kindle ($9.80) or Paperback (hundreds of copies available starting at 1¢):

Hardcover (hundreds more copies starting at 1¢):

Books About Kali Worship / Thugee Cults


Kali The Black Goddess of Dakshineswar

1066. Kali: The Black Goddess of Dakshineswar – Elizabeth U Harding

Some reviewers gush over the author’s ability to bring the Goddess to life in her pages, others describe this as extremely academic and difficult to read, while still others describe it as “a rambling cacophony of the author’s personal experiences, intermingled with lots of quotes from other books” – though negative reviews are definitely in the minority. That blend of descriptions actually reminds us very clearly of the Kali page (and associated pages relating to the subject) on Wikipedia, which we also found a struggle but ultimately rewarding. It soon becomes clear from any unbiased source that you consult that there is far more to Kali than oversimplified western notions of death cults. We gave the Kali “reality” our our own spin in the Adventurer’s Club campaign, based heavily on the “rest of the story” of Kali worship (you can read about our version in Pieces Of Creation: Lon Than, Kalika, and the Prison Of Jade if you’re interested).

The other thing that these disparate comments bring to mind, and the reason for listing this amongst our recommendations, is Mike’s anecdote about the beneficial interplay between “For Dummies” and “Complete Idiot’s Guides”:

A few years back, I was a quite successful self-taught composer of original music. When I received a gift certificate from Dymocks, one of the major book retailer chains in Australia at the time, I used it to buy both the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Music Composition and Music Composition For Dummies, and discovered something very interesting: The two complimented each other perfectly. What one explained very poorly, the other made very accessible, and vice-versa. Invariably, too, the one that was harder to grasp went into greater technical detail on that aspect of the subject. The combination made for a far more effective self-educational tool than either one alone.

It is our hope that this book performs a similar role with respect to other sources such as Wikipedia, with one clarifying what another leaves confusing. But don’t expect easy, light, reading.

Kindle ($13.85) or 352-page paperback (55 used from $2.27, 44 new from $12.22).

Children Of Kali

1067. Children of Kali: Through India in Search of Bandits, the Thug Cult, and the British Raj – Kevin Rushby

Whenever someone raises the question of the influence (or lack thereof) that Pulp has had on western popular culture, there are two responses that rebuff the implied irrelevance of the genre. You can talk about the Pulp Heroes as the progenitors of superheroes – the Shadow and Doc Savage clearly blur the lines between the two, for example – or you can talk about the presence in the popular zeitgeist of the Thuggee. There is a pronounced pulp association between murderous Kali worshipers and cultists fomented by representations in various pulp fiction and movie serials that creates an impression that these were active between the turn of the century and the beginning of World War II. The reality is that the Thuggee were an active cult in the early 1800s (not the 1900s). The modern impression is purely a product of the pulp genre infiltrating popular perceptions.

And yet, there is something so deliciously pulp about the concept that it can’t be neglected in these lists. Which brings us to this book, which deals with both the original criminal mythology and with the modern-day bandit who was (at the time of publication) India’s most-wanted man (a quick check of Wikipedia reveals that he died in 2004 in a trap set by the Tamil Nadu Special Task Force). There’s a lot there to inspire the Pulp GM…

292 page Hardcover (56 used copies from 1¢, 16 new from $9.03, 3 collectible from $5.97)

Paperback (21 used from 1¢, 12 new from $4.95, 2 collectible from $24.22) and more copies of the hardcover (8 used from $2.90, 7 new from $27.21)

Four more used copies of the paperback from $0.46 at this page:

and some more copies at this link (2 used hardcovers from $12, 1 new paperback at $28.51):

…and there were more copies that fell way outside our price standards and so have not been listed here.

Books About Cults in general


Cults and New Religions

1068. Cults and New Religions: A Brief History – Douglas E Cowan and David G Bromley

Each chapter reviews the “origins, leaders, beliefs, rituals and practices of a NRM” [New Religious Movement], “highlighting the specific controversies surrounding each group.”

Deals with legitimacy of religious movements and – by implication – the difference between a divergent religious movement and a cult; tests the validity of claims of brainwashing techniques, and the fears that cults engender (amongst other related subjects).

Catherine Wessinger of Loyola University, New Orleans, writes “The second edition of Cults and New Religious Movements is an astute and accessible textbook written by two eminent scholars of new religions. Through eight case studies the text examines key issues that arise in relation to new religious movements, thereby shedding light on the study of religions in general.” Others describe the book as “concise” and “authoritative”, “erudite and lucid” (quoted reviews from the back cover, so take them with a grain of salt).

240 pages, Kindle ($16.43) or paperback (19 used from $19.05, 30 new from $16.60).

Cults a bloodstained history

1069. Cults: A Bloodstained History – Natacha Tormey

As you would probably expect from the title, the overwhelming emphasis in this book is negative. The author has good reason to be critical of cults, based on her own life experience; she was raised in the notorious sex cult, The Children Of God aka The Family International. (Don’t read her Amazon bio or your deja vu will have a serious case of deja vu, it’s the same two lines repeated about 5 times).

Tormey starts with Joshua in 1500BC, through the Zealot Riots, the Crusades, the Inquisition, and eventually reaches the cult murders and suicides of the 20th century. In the course of the discussion, she attempts to find rational answers to the questions that such incidents naturally give rise to – “How can an ordinary person or group of people be manipulated to such an extent that they willingly murder another life or take their own? What drives the leaders of such movements to turn their followers into war machines or killers? Is religion in itself to blame or are the culprits the interpreters of religious doctrines?” (and more, but those are the topics of relevance to the Pulp GM, and which make this a doubly-useful reference).

Kindle ($7.76) or 208-page paperback (15 used from $4.45, 21 new from $10.85).

Books About the Knights Templar


The Templar Code for Dummies

1070. The Templar Code For Dummies – Christopher Hoddap and Alice Von Kannon

The Templars are one of those organizations that can be subject to many different treatments in a pulp campaign, from a relatively straightforward role (such as the one in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) through to fanciful ideas of Templars cursed with Vampirism or Lycanthropy and struggling to find redemption – which in turn lets all of Vampire: The Masquerade become Pulp background material. In the adventurer’s club, we went with the full-on “supernatural curse” concept and had the last of the Templars opposing a Nazi super-soldier program on Rugen Island, for example. This places the organization in the unusual position in which too much real-world information can either be a blessing or a curse, depending on how much of it you decide to integrate and how much you invent / romanticize to fit your concept of the Templars. But it’s always better to have reference material that you can then choose to ignore or cherry-pick than it is not to know and have to create it all yourself. Which is where this book comes in and why it deserves a place on these lists.

Kindle ($12.68) or paperback (27 used from $5.13, 21 new from $8.75):

More copies (7 used from $12.40, 5 new from $15.35):

Crusade Against The Grail

1071. Crusade Against The Grail – Otto Rahn

This book, by a prominent Nazi Archaeologist, offers his theories of the interplay between the Templars, The Cathar Sects, and the Church of Rome, but pre-dates Nazi control of Germany. There are few other works that discuss possible interactions between these societies, and that makes this book worth listing. On top of that, the reader may gain insights into the psychology of Nazi Germany and the trend toward Fascism in western Europe.

Possibly too academic for casual use, and assumes a lot of preexisting expertise on the part of the reader; questionable in its factual accuracy, but contains several fun elements for pulp GMs if you can wade through the heavy going.

Available in both Kindle and Paperback formats.

The Templar Revelation

1072. The Templar Revelation: Secret Guardians of the True Identity of Jesus Christ – Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince

Suggests that the Templars are the “secret guardians” of the subtitle. The Priory Of Sion (an alleged French secret society – Wikipedia entry), Rennes Le Chateau (refer the entry on “The Holy Blood and Holy Grail, item 915, on shelf #10), and Freemasons (see the subsection below), all get a mention.

One reviewer on Amazon offers a summary that we agree with: “…for a while at least you’re likely to find yourself at sea as the authors switch from one subject to another in kaleidoscopic fashion. In fairness, the evidence does seem by its nature to be complex and often ambiguous. Prepare to bring patience when you open the book; eventually, a sort of mosaic picture does emerge.”

The Templars and the Ark Of The Covenant

1073. The Templars and the Ark Of The Covenant: The Discovery of the Treasure of Solomon – Graham Phillips

This book is actually about the author’s search for the Gemstones from the High Priests’ breastplate in England, but he does connect things with the Templars. To lots of people who have drunk the kool-aid, this is a brilliant book. Fortunately, as with most of the books in this section, it doesn’t matter if you think the author is a genius, a madman, or both – its grist for the mill, and has the advantage of reading like an adventure novel.

The Templar's Secret Island

1074. The Templar’s Secret Island: The Knights, The Priest and the Treasure – Erling Haagensen and Henry Lincoln

Presents the theory that the Templars used “sacred geometry” to bury treasure on Bornholm Island in the Baltic – which is certainly strange enough to spark a pulp plotline! Released with at least three different covers, we’ve chosen the one we think is the most stylish, even though it’s not the same one showing on the copy we have linked to (for price/availability reasons).

Pirates and the lost Templar Fleet

1075. Pirates and the lost Templar Fleet: The Secret Naval War Between the Templars & the Vatican – David Hatcher Childress

Connects the Templar Fleet with the discovery of America and the Caribbean pirates, bringing the Sinclairs (a Scottish family with alleged links to the Templars and the Grail) of Rosslin (home of Rosslin Chapel, Wikipedia Page which featured in both the book and film The DaVinci Code, and the Templar Treasure, into the mix.

The Templar Pirates

1076. The Templar Pirates: The Secret Alliance to build the new Jerusalem – Ernesto Frers

Constructs a maritime history for the Templars that connects them with Pirates, Freemasons, the early history of the USA and the Caribbean, Oak Island (site of the “Money Pit”) (Wikipedia Page), and more.

Books About the Freemasons


Freemasons For Dummies

1077. Freemasons For Dummies – Christopher Hodapp

Speaking of “secret societies”, the Freemasons are one of the most legendary – and completely real. They have, of late, cracked open the wall of secrecy just a tiny smidgen, having tired of being placed at the center of every second conspiracy theory aired.

2005 edition (pictured): MP3 CD (from $51.09) or paperback (53 used from $3.80, 14 new from $18.80);

2013 edition (same page count): Kindle ($10.15) or paperback (24 used from $9.84, 36 new from $10.27).

We recommend the 2005 edition until prices outstrip those of the more recent edition. The Pulp GM will almost certainly be reinventing large parts of the society for story purposes, anyway; this is to serve as inspiration, guidance, and a source of additional color.

The Complete Idiot's Guide To Freemasonry

1078. The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Freemasonry – S Brent Morris Ph D

We were more than a little uncertain about listing this book given the default assumptions regarding overlaps between it and “Freemasons For Dummies”, but decided that the subject matter was sufficiently esoteric and just distinctive enough that the two could stand separately. It’s the difference between the organization and what they believe/practice – a subtle but important difference (though there would be a lot of overlap).

First Edition (pictured): 334 pages, paperback (66 used from 1¢, 23 new from $3.67):

Second Edition: 352 pages, Kindle ($11.35) or paperback (25 new from $5.78, 29 used from $1.24):

More copies of the 2nd Edition: (8 used from $7.51, 7 new from $19.93):

If price is important (and it might be, given the number of references in this article / this series), go with the first edition until the prices go beyond those of the second. If comprehensive coverage is more important, it’s hard to overlook the extra 18 pages in the 2nd edition, buy from whichever of the two links is cheapest.


Books About Urban Legends


Encyclopedia Of Urban Legends

1079. Encyclopedia Of Urban Legends – Jan Harold Brunvand

A comprehensive introduction to the subject, lots of copies available at a very affordable price.

The 500 best urban legends ever

1080. The 500 best Urban Legends ever – Yorick Brown & Mike Flynn

From the Phantom Hitchhiker to Raining Whalemeat, these are either pulp-period or easily translated to that time-frame. Limited copies available.

The Vanishing Hitchhiker

1081. The Vanishing Hitchhiker – Jan Harold Brunvand

Urban legends and possible meanings, specifically referring to American Culture

The Mexican Pet

1082. The Mexican Pet – Jan Harold Brunvand

More urban legends and some older myths.

The Choking Doberman

1083. The Choking Doberman – Jan Harold Brunvand

Still more urban legends and some more old myths.

The big book of urban legends

1084. The Big Book of Urban Legends – Jan Harold Brunvald

And still more urban legends, presented in a comic-book / illustrated format and part of a series (The big book of conspiracies, the unexplained, weirdos, hoaxes, etc).

Chicago History The Stranger Side

1085. Chicago History: The Stranger Side – Raymond Johnson

“Former criminal investigator, author, and local historian Ray Johnson takes a new look at nine popular Chicago locations and their history, digging up strange new discoveries and connections.

Who may have murdered sisters Barbara and Patricia Grimes in 1956? Who is the seventh body located under the 1893 Columbian Expo Cold Storage Fire Memorial at Oak Woods Cemetery…when there should only be six? Is there more of a link between H.H. Holmes and Chicago’s White City than previously thought, and could there also be another connection to England and other murders? What ties Chicago to the Titanic disaster of 1912? What rituals were being performed at El-Sabarum (currently The Tonic Room) that could explain some of the bizarre occurrences reported there?

Most (if not all) of these incidents could easily be the basis of a Pulp adventure (some may need more revision than others). Most (if not all) could also be revised to place them somewhere and somewhen else for use in a non-Pulp genre. To use them in a Fantasy milieu, for example, all you need to provide is a reason for the PCs to care – like one of them being accused of the crime…

Paperback, 160 pages, 17 used from $3.99, 25 new from $10.20

Weird Europe

1086. Weird Europe: A Guide to Bizarre, Macabre, and Just Plain Weird Sights – Kristan Lawson and Anneli Rufus

“A Guidebook to Europe’s dark side. From strange natural wonders to the handiwork of mad scientists, dreamers, and zealots, Europe harbors hundreds of fascinating-and occasionally gruesome-surprises. In these pages, you’ll discover Two-headed animals, Erotic museums, Creepy catacombs, A cathedral made of salt, A railroad operated by children, The Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum, An all-ice hotel, Ancient pagan rituals, Mines, Sewer tours, A museum of espionage, UFO landing sites, Pictures drawn by the dead, A frog museum, Pancake races, Oddball art, Underground cities, Giants, freaks, and Siamese twins, The Temple of Echoes, and more.” … “Covering twenty-five countries, with complete directions, opening hours, and admission prices for nearly a thousand wild attractions, Weird Europe is an indispensable guide to a world that you never knew existed.”

Some of these we had heard of – the Salt Cathedral and Ice Hotel, for example – while others were definitely new to us. We figure that between 1/3 and 2/3 of these post-date World War II, but even so, there should be enough material here to neatly ‘weird-up’ any number of trips to the Continental Mainland by adventurers – and there’s always the possibility of retroactively “installing” something modern back in the pulp era, if it seems to fit. The ice hotel would certainly be a good example!

Kindle ($5.32) or 352-page paperback (41 used from 1¢, 10 new from $22.22, 2 collectible from $9.85).

Regional Myths & Legends

The “Monsters of” series (Which will appear in Cryptozoology later on this shelf) led us to the “Ghosts Of” series which was included on Shelf #11, and that in turn led us to the “Myths and Mysteries” series that leads this section off. There are far too many titles for detailed review, even though not every state is represented (Louisiana’s absence was especially surprising!). Heck, Amazon haven’t even provided book descriptions for some of them! We’ve extracted what details were quickly available but in some cases that is nothing more than availability information.

However, we are comfortable with doing so; there are enough details from enough of the books that a series pattern can be easily discerned, so while we may not know anything about the exact content, we can predict the type of content with a high degree of confidence.

Each book is a combination of historical anecdote, famous murder cases, cryptozoology, and other forms of local legend; the exact break-up of the content varies from state to state. Where possible, we’ve included a very brief and necessarily incomplete summary of the content. The most recent entries in the series have a common cover design; somewhat older entries had relatively individualized cover designs; and the oldest had a different common design with a common illustration and mostly common cover text, making it harder to distinguish one book from the next. We noted that at least two of those were through different publishers, which is why not all the books have kindle editions available.

In the course of compiling the links for the “Myths and Mysteries” series, we noticed some books from a rival series dealing with the western states, and deliberately sought out a couple of other entries as ringers in the name of comprehensiveness. Unless noted otherwise, assume that the above description covers these as well. There may also be one or two overlaps between the different series. Within each series or thematic grouping, we have roughly alphabetized the entries.

Most of these books are by different authors, and – even more-so than the “Monsters of” series – there is every indication that there is little or no overlap in content, though we have not been able to verify this with complete certainty. Hope for the best, live with the reality.

Finally, we have deliberately chosen to ignore our usual price/availability criteria in this section in the interests of being comprehensive.

Myths and Mysteries of Alaska

1087. Myths and Mysteries of Alaska: True Stories Of The Unsolved And Unexplained – Cherry Lyon Jones
(Myths and Mysteries Series)

Paperback, 168 pages, 23 used from $0.79, 13 new from $7.74.

Myths and Mysteries Arizona

1088. Mysteries and Legends of Arizona: True Stories of the Unsolved and Unexplained – Sam Lowe
(Myths and Mysteries Series)

A haunted hotel, America’s last Stagecoach robber, a mysterious disappearance in the Grand Canyon in 1928, the Lost Dutchman Mine, Apache Leap, and the story of Ira Hayes, a Prima Indian and reluctant war hero who helped raise the flag on Iwo Jima.
Kindle ($9.38) or 208-page Paperback (21 used from $4.99, 15 new from $7.73)
See also “Arizona Myths and Legends” in the Legends of The West series that concludes this section.

Myths and Mysteries of California

1089. Myths and Mysteries of California: True Stories Of The Unsolved And Unexplained – Ray Jones and Joe Lubow
(Myths and Mysteries Series)

Contents range from the head of Zorro to The Big One, from William Randolph Hearst to the alleged shootout during WWII between Los Angeles antiaircraft gunners and an alien spacecraft, to the Shadow God of California.
Kindle (9.37) or 168-page paperback (30 used from $1.48, 22 new from $7.01)

Myths and Mysteries of Colorado

1090. Mysteries and Legends of Colorado: True Stories Of The Unsolved And Unexplained – Jan Murphy
(Myths and Mysteries Series)

Contents range from the Anasazi cliff dwellings and the Towers of Hovenweep to the tale of Buffalo Bill’s questioned grave-site, from UFO sightings to rumors of buried treasure. Plus PT Barnham, legends of a Russian Spy, the lost loot from the 1864 Reynolds Gang bank robbery, and the naming of Colfax Avenue.
Paperback, 144 pages, 35 used from $1.93, 27 new from $5.58, 1 collectible at $10
See also “Colorado Myths and Legends” in the Legends of The West series that concludes this section.

Myths and Mysteries of Florida

1091. Myths and Mysteries of Florida: True Stories Of The Unsolved And Unexplained – E Lynne Wright
(Myths and Mysteries Series)

Kindle ($9.43) or 208-page paperback (26 used from $1.28, 22 new from $2.43)

Myths and Mysteries of Georgia

1092. Mysteries and Legends of Georgia: True Stories of the Unsolved and Unexplained – Dan Rhodes
(Myths and Mysteries Series)

12 chapters, covering everything From a puzzle of lost confederate gold to a woman who mysteriously spent her life waving at more than 50,000 passing ships.
192 page paperback, 14 used from $5.27, 8 new from $9.90
See also “Georgia Myths and Legends” below, which might even be the same book.

Georgia Myths and Legends

1093. Georgia Myths and Legends: The True Stories Behind History’s Mysteries – Don Rhodes
(Legends of America series)

Although this appears to be a completely different series to Myths and Mysteries, the product description at Amazon is an almost-verbatim recapitulation of the generic description used for many of the books in that series. Certainly, at least some of the content overlaps, and there is a remarkable similarity in parts of the back cover text, and the names of the authors are suspiciously similar (“Don Rhodes” vs “Dan Rhodes”, and the publisher is the same, and this is described as the “Second Edition”… despite all that, they might be different books. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.
Kindle ($9.40) or 224-page paperback (17 used from $3.24, 21 new from $9.89).

Myths and Mysteries of Illinois

1094. Myths and Mysteries of Illinois: True Stories Of The Unsolved And Unexplained – Richard Moreno
(Myths and Mysteries Series)

14 chapters, each detailing a separate incident or event. The ghost at Parks’ College in Cahokia is a notable omission.
Paperback, 208 pages, 26 used from $4.23, 23 new from $6.70

Myths and Mysteries of Kansas

1095. Myths and Mysteries of Kansas: True Stories Of The Unsolved And Unexplained – Diana Lambdin Meyer
(Myths and Mysteries Series)

Kindle $10
Paperback: 176 pages, 19 used from $2.35, 15 new from $7.75, 1 collectible from $4.76

Myths and Mysteries of Kentucky

1096. Myths and Mysteries of Kentucky: True Stories Of The Unsolved And Unexplained – Mimi O’malley and Susan Sawyer
(Myths and Mysteries Series)

Paperback, 208 pages, 17 used from $8.33, 29 new from $8.79

Strange But True Louisiana

1097. Strange But True Louisiana – Lynne L Hall

Having noted the curious absence of Louisiana from the Myths and Mysteries series, we deliberately went looking for something to plug the gap. There may be other holes in the coverage of that series, but this is the biggest one that we noted. (nor, for that matter, did we spot anything much for the rest of the world, despite searching for the generic term “Myths and Mysteries”… could it be that only Americans are fascinated by this sort of thing? Surely, not…)

“Wacky Wonders and Strange Sights you won’t see anywhere else fill the pages of Strange But True Louisiana.” ”The Frog Capital of the World”, “the world’s smallest church”, “Cities of the Dead”, “An oil and gas festival”, and the voodoo queen herself populate these pages, amongst others.

Page-count makes this slightly less value-for-money than most of the Myths and Mysteries series, too. Which is why we didn’t go looking for more from it. But if you spot another omission from the collection, a missing state, that would be the first place we would look.

Paperback, 143 pages; 13 used from $3.45, 9 new from $3.99.

Stay Out Of New Orleans

1098. Stay Out of New Orleans: Strange Stories – P Curran

It’s been a while since we had an outright ringer! While there might be some overlap between this book and the previous one in terms of content, our impression is that New Orleans can more than hold its own when it comes to weirdness, and the description seems to bear that out. “A writer who had just moved to the French Quarter … thought: ‘What if I wrote a collection of Robert Aickman stories set down here, starring all these lowlifes I hang out with?’” … “Pieces from the resulting book wound up in various print magazines, but the collection itself existed only in bound manuscripts passed around by the ever-shrinking downtown netherworld that had inspired it. Until now. A bohemia stretching back to the dawn of absinthe. A town of hidden doors and open secrets. Each day a fresh crime eager to happen, transcendent, fertile. Death lurking in every bar. No one knew this was a Golden Age. See what the flood washed away.”

Yes, this focuses on New Orleans in the 1990s in all it’s Gothic splendor, but there’s more than enough that can be translated back into the Pulp Era (or anywhere else) to justify it’s inclusion, from “energy-feeding vampires to crackpot-religious teenage cult members to the would-be Rear Window sleuth who can’t really be bothered to care whether her neighbor is a serial killer”.
Kindle ($5.41) or 326-page paperback (14 used from $10.80, 17 new from $11.00, Amazon’s price is competitive at $15).

Myths and Mysteries of Michigan

1099. Myths and Mysteries of Michigan: True Stories Of The Unsolved And Unexplained – Sally Barber
(Myths and Mysteries Series)

From the back cover:
“Twelve Mind-Boggling Tales from the Great Lakes State.

  • Does a legendary pirate treasure lie beneath the waters of Lake Michigan near Poverty Island? Legends dating back to the Civil War tell of massive chests of gold flung into the water that were never seen again. Or were they?
  • What really happened to Jimmy Hoffa? The legendary Teamster leader drove away from the elegant Red Fox Restaurant in July 1975 and was never seen again, but theories abound as to his final resting place.
  • Is the Great Lakes Triangle as deadly as its Bermuda counterpart? Hundreds of baffling events and unexplained shipwrecks have occurred between longitudes 76 degrees and 92 degrees west and latitudes 41 degrees and 49 degrees north.

“From the true story behind folk hero Paul Bunyan to the last voyage of the legendary Edmund Fitzgerald, Myths and Mysteries of Michigan makes history fun and pulls back the curtain on some of the state’s most fascinating and compelling stories.”

Kindle (8.98) or 176-page paperback (24 used from $1.89, 14 new from $7.74)

Myths and Mysteries of Missouri

1100. Myths and Mysteries of Missouri: True Stories of the Unsolved and Unexplained – Josh Young
(Myths and Mysteries Series)

Out if 10 customer reviews, eight give this book five stars out of five (and the other two, 4/5). Thirteen chapters, each detailing a separate tale, many of which were long-forgotten even by local residents.
Kindle ($9.40) or 208-page Paperback (25 used from $5.20, 26 new from $9.67)

Myths and Mysteries of Montana

1101. Mysteries and Legends of Montana: True Stories Of The Unsolved And Unexplained – Edward Lawrence
(Myths and Mysteries Series)

Paperback, 144 pages, 21 used from $0.01, 19 new from $3.95, 1 collectible from $14
See also “Montana Myths and Legends” in the Legends of The West series that concludes this section.

Myths and Mysteries of Nevada

1102. Mysteries and Legends of Nevada: True Stories of the Unsolved and Unexplained – Richard Moreno
(Myths and Mysteries Series)

14 “True” stories, or 17, depending on who’s doing the counting, Amazon or the back cover, respectively. Mystery surrounds the death of a US Senator – was he kept on ice until after the election, as some believe? Is the Governor’s mansion haunted? Did a monster named the Ong live in the depths of Lake Tahoe? Does a monster named Tahoe Tessie live there now? What evidence is there for a tribe of red-headed giant Indians in the state’s North? What led a 1924 newspaper to suggest that the Garden Of Eden lay within the Silver State? Plus abandoned mining villages and ghost towns!
Kindle ($9.52) or 208-page paperback (27 used from $1.94, 14 new from $11.34, 1 collectible at $12)

Myths and Mysteries of New England

1103. Mysteries and Legends of New England: True Stories Of The Unsolved And Unexplained – Diana McCain
(Myths and Mysteries Series)

Yes, we realize that “New England” is not a US State, but a region containing several US States! Don’t blame us, we didn’t edit the series! Kindle ($8.99) or 192-page paperback (24 used from $4.98, 25 new from $4.14, 1 Collectible from $7.99)

Myths and Mysteries of New Hampshire

1104. Myths and Mysteries of New Hampshire: True Stories Of The Unsolved And Unexplained – Matthew P Mayo
(Myths and Mysteries Series)

Includes Betty and Barney Hill’s alleged alien abduction, a corpse-like man who accosts hikers on Mount Moosilauke, the New Hampshire “Mystery Stone”, Sasquatch, buried pirate treasure, and more.
Paperback, 208 pages; 16 used from $7.41, 29 new from $9.84.
More copies: 14 used from $11.83, 12 new from $23.16:

Myths and Mysteries of New Jersey

1105. Myths and Mysteries of New Jersey: True Stories Of The Unsolved And Unexplained – Fran Capo
(Myths and Mysteries Series)

Eleven reports including the Dark Side of Thomas Edison (whose experiments led to the execution of thousands of animals and one man), the ghosts of Overbrook Asylum, the Robin Hood of Pine Barrens, the New Jersey Devil, and the voyage of the Morro Castle.
Kindle ($8.99) or paperback (23 used from 1¢, 15 new from $2.57).

Notorious New Jersey

1106. Notorious New Jersey: 100 true tales of Murders and Mobsters, Scandals and Scoundrels – Jon Blackwell

If we’d found this book in time, we would have included it in the “Crime” section. But there’s enough weird stuff in its pages to justify placing it here, as well.

In addition to the more expected “…accounts of Alexander Hamilton falling mortally wounded on the dueling grounds of Weehawken; Dutch Schultz getting pumped full of lead in the men’s room of the Palace Chop House in Newark; and a gang of Islamic terrorists in Jersey City mixing the witch’s brew of explosives that became the first bomb to rock the World Trade Center,” are stranger stories such as the nineteenth-century murderer whose skin was turned into leather souvenirs, and the state senator from Jersey City who faked his death in a scuba accident in the 1970s in an effort to avoid prison,” and some historical whodunits such as “was Bruno Hauptmann really guilty of kidnapping the Lindbergh baby? Who was behind the anthrax attacks of 2001?” and a number of notorious characters, both the convicted and the merely condemned.

Despite this obvious historical focus, most of the criticism seems directed at the contents not being about “relative modern times” (sic). The fact that at least three of the critical comments are verbatim repetitions also makes us question how much credence to lend them.

Fundamentally, for RPG purposes, who cares about a Tabloid-style “punching up” of historical incidents? Lots of these will fit right into a Pulp campaign, and many more will slot neatly into the background of such a campaign.

Paperback, 424 pages; 38 new from $11.55, 44 used from 1¢.

Myths and Mysteries of New Mexico

1107. Myths and Mysteries of New Mexico: True Stories Of The Unsolved And Unexplained – Barbara Marriott Ph D
(Myths and Mysteries Series)

Thirteen reports including the disappearance of the lawyer who defended Billy The Kid and his son, whose bodies have never been found, an old mining town buried 75 feet deep in Bonito Lake which was the setting for an unpremeditated, unexplained, and unpredictable murder, the lost Adams gold and legends of Lincoln.

Kindle ($9) or 200-page paperback (14 used from $6.92, 13 new from $7.93, 1 collectible from $7.37)

See also “New Mexico Myths and Legends” in the Legends of The West series that concludes this section.

Myths and Mysteries of New York

1108. Myths and Mysteries of New York: True Stories Of The Unsolved And Unexplained – Fran Capo
(Myths and Mysteries Series)

Many commentators suggest that the title should be “…of New York City”, or words to that effect. Others are critical of the depth of coverage or suggest factual errors (especially noted in the stories marked “NB” below). Tales cover sunken treasure off Manhattan, Sewer Alligators, ghost sightings, the Lake Champlain monster (NB), the ghostly hostess of Skene Manor, and the Leather Man (NB) as well as the Montauk Project and it’s alleged connection to the Philadelphia Experiment.

Kindle ($8.99) or 208 page paperback (29 used from 1¢, 21 new from $6.66).

Myths and Mysteries of North Carolina

1109. Myths and Mysteries of North Carolina: True Stories of the Unsolved and Unexplained – Sara Pitzer
(Myths and Mysteries Series)

Content includes the disappearance of the settlers on Roanoke Island sometime between 1587 and 1590, the devil Tsul ‘Kalu of Cherokee lore, the hanging of Tom Dula in 1868 for allegedly murdering his fiancée (a conviction that remains in doubt to this day), Pee Dee A.D., and the Spirits of Salisbury.

Kindle ($9.02), Paperback 176 pages (17 new from $10.94, 23 used from $3.57).

Myths and Mysteries of South Carolina

1110. Myths and Mysteries of South Carolina: True Stories Of The Unsolved And Unexplained – Rachel Haynie
(Myths and Mysteries Series)

Lost (and possibly mythical) gold mines, buried confederate gold, aviation Pioneer Paul Redfern who vanished after pioneering the air route to South America, Spanish Horses, a submarine pioneer, and the Atomic Bomb that fell on a farm in Mars Bluff in 1958. We’ve deliberately listed this out of sequence to keep the Carolinas together.

Kindle ($9.47) or 192-page paperback (22 used from 70¢, 12 new from $4.31).

See also “South Carolina Myths and Legends” below.

South Carolina Myths and Legends

1111. South Carolina Myths and Legends: The True Stories behind History’s Mysteries – Rachel Haynie
(Legends of America series)

After making the notes on the Georgia book in the Legends Of America series (above), we made it our business to check the details of this one, as well. Same almost-verbatim description, same publisher, same author, same “2nd edition” notation. But the content… well, Aviator Paul Redfern and hidden Confederate Gold are common to both, but beyond that, the content featured on the back cover is NOT the content featured on the back cover of the other book. We’re not 100% convinced, either way, and postage to Australia is too high to buy both on spec just to check it out. So it’s a case of Caveat Emptor and You Have Been Warned (again).

Kindle (9.63) and 208-page paperback (10 used from $12.02, 23 new from $8.66).

Myths and Mysteries of Ohio

1112. Myths and Mysteries of Ohio: True Stories of the Unsolved and Unexplained – Sandra Gurvis
(Myths and Mysteries Series)

“…this is an absolute masterpiece. There are stories you have heard before, like Hell Town, but then there are things happening that you have no ideal about like the Golf coarse Mound controversy, and a theater that reminds you of the Phantom Of The Opera… …the map is a nice touch; many books like this, you wind up needing a map just to get your bearings.” We have no idea if the other books in the series also include map(s), but thought it worth highlighting this one which explicitly does.

Kindle ($9.84) or 224-page paperback (20 used from $1.84, 29 new from $8.55)

Myths and Mysteries of Oklohoma

1113. Myths and Mysteries of Oklahoma: True Stories Of The Unsolved And Unexplained – Robert Dorman
(Myths and Mysteries Series)

“Introduces the reader to a dozen or so Oklahoma mysteries. However, if any of them are of interest to you, please seek out additional information. This is very high level and doesn’t always give the most interesting facts regarding the situation.”

Paperback, 200-pages; 18 used from $2.19, 34 new from $8.01.

Myths and Mysteries of Oregan

1114. Mysteries and Legends of Oregon: True Stories Of The Unsolved And Unexplained – Jim Yuskavitch
(Myths and Mysteries Series)

11 Chapters, despite some sources claiming 14; the difference lies in counting things like “Introduction”, “Bibliography”, etc. Contents include Lewis and Clark’s submerged forest, a legendary lost 22,000-pound meteorite, a haunted lighthouse, the disappearance of DB Cooper, and Bigfoot. This definitely includes a state map showing the locations of events described.

Paperback, 192 pages; 26 used from $0.90, 19 new from $8.85.

Myths and Mysteries of Pennsylvania

1115. Myths and Mysteries of Pennsylvania: True Stories of the Unsolved and Unexplained – Kara Hughes
(Myths and Mysteries Series)

Kindle ($9.61) or 192 page paperback (21 used from $1.28, 20 new from $6.20).

Myths and Mysteries of Tennessee

1116. Myths and Mysteries of Tennessee: True Stories of the Unsolved and Unexplained – Susan Sawyer
(Myths and Mysteries Series)

Paperback, 176 pages, 18 used from $6.01, 24 new from $8.80)

Legends & Lore of East Tennessee

1117. Legends & Lore of East Tennessee – Shane S Simmons
(American Legends Series)

“The mountains of East Tennessee are chock full of unique folklore passed down through generations. Locals spin age-old yarns of legends like Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone and Dragging Canoe. Stories of snake-handling churches and the myths behind the death crown superstitions dot the landscape. The mysteries surrounding the Sensabaugh Tunnel still haunt residents.”

One customer review was astonished at how many of the stories included were new to him/her despite having grown up in the region, and the author was able to provide additional details even of the stories that were known. The description quoted above gives the impression that there’s more history and less ghosts / cryptozoology / other weirdness, but (a) that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and (b) at least one customer review hints to the contrary.

Kindle ($7.49) or 128-page paperback (11 used from $15.07, 16 new from $11.45, Amazon’s price (includes P&H) $15.88).

Myths and Legends of Texas

1118. Mysteries and Legends of Texas: True Stories of the Unsolved and Unexplained – Donna Ingham
(Myths and Mysteries Series)

4.3 stars out of 5 from 12 customer reviews. Twelve stories from Texas history and folklore, including the Navidad Wilman (is it hard to find Bigfoot because he’s migrated to Texas?), the blood-sucking chupacabra, the mysterious Marfa lights, Jean Lafitte’s buried treasure, the hanging of Chipita Rodriguez, the love story of Frenchy McCormick, and the many ghostly sightings in Jefferson that lead some to claim it as the most-haunted city in Texas, while others cede that recognition to San Antonio, which has enough ghosts to justify three different ghost tours.

Kindle ($8.98) and 192-page paperback (29 used from $1.67, 13 new from $10.01)

Mysteries and Legends of Utah

1119. Mysteries and Legends of Utah: True Stories Of The Unsolved And Unexplained – Michael O’reilly
(Myths and Mysteries Series)

Twelve stories, including Jedediah Smith’s final moments, Bigfoot sightings, the rise of an unlikely uranium magnate, the mysterious end of Butch Cassidy, Caleb Rhoades lost cave of Gold Artifacts. Damaging the credibility of this collection is the following from the back cover: “’Alien’ Dave Rosenfeld and other members of the Mutual UFO Network have plenty of out-of-this-world stories to share. Among the questions that arise: Have reptilian aliens infiltrated human society? Was Fort Duchesne the site of a modern-day Roswell incident?”

Paperback, 192 pages, 29 used from $3.50, 19 new from $4.66, 1 collectible $19.99.

Mysteries and Legends of Virginia

1120. Mysteries and Legends of Virginia: True Stories of the Unsolved and Unexplained – Emilee Hines
(Myths and Mysteries Series)

The Kidnapping and abandonment as a child of the strongest man in the Revolution. The Vampire of Church Hill Tunnel in Richmond. Anna Anderson Manahan, either the Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia (as she claimed) or a Polish-born waitress and best actress/con-woman of the twentieth century. The Witch of Pungo. The Parkway Killer. And more, in the over-a-dozen chapters.

Kindle ($8.99) 192-page paperback (25 used from 1¢, 15 new from $10.81).

Myths and Mysteries of Washington

1121. Myths and Mysteries of Washington – Lynn Bragg
(Myths and Mysteries Series)

A cover design that’s completely different to all the others in the series, and the absence of the usual subtitle, yet it’s clearly part of the same series. Contains fifteen tales from the 19th and early 20th centuries, verifying some of them from multiple accounts and exposing what may have really happened in the case of others. Puget Sound’s Demon Of The Deep, Captain Ingall’s lost treasure, strange saucer-shaped things flying in the skies of Mount Rainier, the hunt for skyjacker DB Cooper (see also the Oregon entry in the series), and the ghostly aura of the Mad Doctor’s Mansion, are just some of the contents.

Paperback, 176 pages, 34 used from 1¢, 18 new from $4.79, and 3 collectible from $14.00.

See also “Washington Myths and Legends” in the Legends of The West series that concludes this section.

Myths and Mysteries of Wisconsin

1122. Myths and Mysteries of Wisconsin: True Stories Of The Unsolved And Unexplained – Michael Bie
(Myths and Mysteries Series)

When Blair and Mike wanted an American NPC for the Adventurer’s Club campaign from an epically dull and ordinary background, Wisconsin was the first place that came to mind for both of them. This was obviously because they had never read this book. Or those in the Ghosts section. “Most Wisconsin history books cover important highlights, but somehow they miss the stories of headless bankers, the part-time Santa visited by a saucer from space, and the Wisconsin pirate who killed a man. With a piano.” So wrote Dennis McCann, former Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist, when reviewing this book. 14 stories, ranging from a Civil War veteran and Menominee Indian who was also alleged to be the illegitimate son of Confederate president Jefferson Davis, the murder of HC Mead in the Exchange Bank of Waupaca, and pirate ships, to pancakes from outer space.

Paperback, 160 pages; 26 used from $3.74, 25 new from $7.99.

Myths And Mysteries Of The Old West

1123. Myths And Mysteries Of The Old West – Michael Rutter

This book serves as a gateway to the final subsection of this collection of regional mythology. A lot of people in the modern era have the impression that the wild west was a LONG time ago, a myth that Mike busted handily with his 2016 article (and useful tool) Throw Me A Life-line: A Character Background Planning Tool.

According to Mike’s research, the ‘great years’ of the American Wild West (as romanticized in the 20th century) took place within the period 1880-1898. Any adult character’s parents would have seen this time-period first-hand, and any character who is more than 22 years old at the start of the Pulp Era (1918) would have (at the very least) memories of it as a reality. For every campaign year past 1918, add a year to the age for this statement to hold true. The Adventurer’s Club campaign is set mid-1930s – if we say it’s 1935 (it isn’t, not completely), that’s another 17 years, so a 39-year-old would have been 3 or 4 years of age at the end of the Wild West. Every year above that age increases the strength of the connection, until you reach the point of adding another 36 years – at which point, and for anyone older, they would have been an adult at the start of the Wild West.

For the Adventurer’s Club campaign, based on the 1935 yardstick, that means 75 years of age or more. There’s also enough fudge-factor (is it 1933, instead? Sometimes…) (and just what age conferred adulthood in the Wild West? This calculation has used 18 years, but 14 or 15 could be plausibly argued…) that you could say anyone from 70-years-on would have memories of the start of it, and anyone older than 52 would have memories of the end of it. And that’s from as late as 17 years into the Pulp Era…

>Ahem,< getting back on track, that means that myths and legends from the wild west are certainly living memories for some, and can be motivation, or personal history, or the foundation of a modern-day adventure. This book absolutely deserves a place on this list, therefore. However, while there are hundreds of books on the subject of the West, and the subject of the “real” Wild West, trying to pick and choose between all of those is a bit beyond the scope of this series, which is quite big enough already! Consider this to be placing your feet on the path to your own discoveries.

Available in 161-page Hardcover (44 used from 1¢, 17 new from $2.71, 3 collectible from $6.98) or paperback (62 used from 1¢, 39 new from $2, 2 collectible from $9.85).

Arizona Myths and Legends

1124. Arizona Myths and Legends: The True Stories behind History’s Mysteries – Sam Lowe
(Legends Of The West series)

And so, to the Legends Of The West Series, whose inclusion is justified on the basis of direct relevance, as explained above. There may be some overlap between the contents and those of the other books listed for the state within this section, but we would expect a lot of differentiation. That said, the cover design looks suspiciously like those of the Legends of America series (above); this also gets a “second edition” notation; the publisher is the company behind the early editions of the Myths and Mysteries series; and the author is the same. So we would expect at least some overlap.

Kindle ($9.83) and 224-page paperback (18 used from $10, 29 new from $9.17).

Colorado Myths and Legends

1125. Colorado Myths and Legends: The True Stories behind History’s Mysteries – Jan Murphy
(Legends Of the West Series)

Same Caveats and suspicions as reported above. Specific content cited is mostly different, but the previous listing was incomplete.

Kindle ($9.61) or 164 page paperback (10 used from $9.03, 27 new from $8.33).

Montana Myths and Legends

1126. Montana Myths and Legends: The True Stories behind History’s Mysteries – Edward Lawrence and Michael Ober
(Legends Of the West Series)

Same Caveats and suspicions as reported above. Ober wasn’t listed as a co-author on Mysteries and Legends of Montana offering hope that at least some of the content is different.

Kindle ($9.63) or 160-page paperback (9 used from $12.03, 20 new from $9.69).

New Mexico Myths and Legends

1127. New Mexico Myths and Legends: The True Stories behind History’s Mysteries – Barbara Marriott Ph D
(Legends Of the West Series)

Same Caveats and suspicions as reported above. The contents listed on the back cover are virtually identical, as well.

Kindle ($9.37) or 232-page paperback (8 used from $6.45, 6 new from $13.78).

Texas Myths and Legends

1128. Texas Myths and Legends: The True Stories behind History’s Mysteries – Donna Ingham
(Legends Of The West Series)

Same Caveats and suspicions as reported above. No content details.

Kindle ($9.59) or 200-page paperback (14 used from $10.06, 23 new from $9.89).

Washington Myths and Legends

1129. Washington Myths and Legends: The True Stories behind History’s Mysteries – Lynn Bragg
(Legends Of the West Series)

Same Caveats and suspicions as reported above. This time, even the back cover text is the same.

208-page paperback, 14 used from $2.91, 19 new from $10.18.

Myths, mysteries and legends of Alabama

1130. Myths, mysteries and legends of Alabama – Elaine Hobson Miller

We came across this book while gathering the rest of the list, and noticed that Alabama was another notable exception to the inclusions of the Mysteries and Legends series. We are as sure as it’s possible to be that this is not part of the series; different publisher, different cover design. The content of the 12 stories is very familiar in style, though: The legendary Civil War soldier who was supposedly buried alive, the Pecan tree that cried, the Indian Chief who caused and earthquake, the winter that UFOs buzzed an Alabama town, cattle mutilations without leaving a trace of blood, and a strange beast that prowled an old cemetery.

Paperback, 136 pages, 16 used from $2.89, 5 new from $9.95.


Books About Cryptozoology


Cryptozoology A To Z

1131. Cryptozoology A To Z: The Encyclopedia of Loch Monsters, Sasquatch, Chupacabras, and Other Authentic Mysteries of Nature – Loren Coleman & Jerome Clark

Short entries on numerous cryptids (“an animal/creature whose existence or survival is disputed or unsubstantiated”) and some of the people involved in cryptozoology. Described as “the first encyclopedia of its kind” by the Amazon editorial review – a statement which we dispute (see the entry for “The Book Of Imaginary Beings”, below) – this is, nevertheless, the most comprehensive reference on the subject available. The encyclopedia format makes it great for looking things up, but not easily read cover-to-cover as an introduction to the subject. For that, you should turn to one or two of our other recommendations.

The Book Of Imaginary Beings

1132a. The Book Of Imaginary Beings (1970) – Jorge Luis Borges (shown incorrectly as “George Luis Borges” on Amazon’s listing) with Margarita Guerrero, translated by Norman Thomas Di Giovanni


1132b. The Book Of Imaginary Beings (2006) – Jorge Luis Borges, illustrated by Peter Sis, translated by Andrew Hurley

Publisher’s Weekly describes the history of this book as follows: “[Borges], writing with sometime collaborator Guerrero, compiled 82 one- and two-page descriptions of everything from ‘The Borametz’ (a Chinese ‘plant shaped like a lamb, covered with golden fleece’) to ‘The Simurgh’ (‘an immortal bird that makes its nest in the tree of science’) and ‘The Zaratan’ (a particularly cunning whale) in ‘An Anthology of Fantastic Zoology’ in 1954” (retitled ‘A Handbook Of Fantastic Zoology’ in 1957). “He added 34 more [entries] (and illustrations) for a 1967 edition”… “and it was published in English in 1969.”

The 1970 edition is the one Mike has, which makes the point that the book wasn’t simply translated by di Giovanni, it was “revised, translated and enlarged”…“in collaboration with the author”. Many of the weird and wild creatures reported by 16th, 17th, and 18th century travelers are listed in this book, which thereby moves it beyond basic cryptozoology. The translation somehow makes the language seem more turn-of-the-century, the slightly Victorian language of HG Welles, at least to read.

The 2006 version (pictured) adds 20 illustrations by award-winning artist Peter Sis There aren’t quite as many copies available and they cost slightly more. The page-count of the two are identical, and the editorial description of the newer one lists the same number of entries – but, since this appears to be a new translation, the language might seem a little less archaic (which could be a plus or a minus, in our view).

In either edition, this book is more difficult to use than we would like because, while some entries are under the names of the creatures, others are not – there is a general entry under “F” for “Fauna of the United States”, for example. Fortunately, there is an index. This book is probably not as useful as the “A to Z” listed above, but without taking time that we don’t have to confirm it, our suspicion is that this will list creatures not found in the A-Z and vice-versa, and that’s why we’ve included it.

A Menagerie of Mysterious Beasts

1133. A Menagerie of Mysterious Beasts: Encounters with Cryptid Creatures – Ken Gerhard

We haven’t read this book, which was discovered in the course of researching this article. What makes it particularly useful is that these are all first-hand accounts (which may bear little or no resemblance to the “truth” of any given story as you imagine it to be in your campaign world. Indeed, you could build and entire Pulp campaign around the concept of attempting to verify these encounters (in some sort of random order). There is a Kindle edition in addition to the paperback that we have linked to.

Breverton's Phantasmagorica

1134. Breverton’s Phantasmagoria – Terry Breverton

A compendium of myths and legends and the reality behind them, plus lots of fevered imaginings, tall tales, strange real-world creatures and real-world theories from other people.

Monsters Among Us

1135. Monsters Among Us: An exploration of Otherworldly Bigfoots, Wolfmen, Portals, Phantoms, and Odd Phenomena – Linda S. Godfrey

In addition to the usual cryptozoological fare, this contains entries on the Lost Lizard People of Los Angeles, people stalked by invisible predators, and more. We’re recommending this unread by us because at the time of writing this text, the book has not yet been published. That’s due to happen on October 11th 2016, so the situation will have changed by the time you get to read this entry.

My Quest For The Yeti

1136. My Quest For The Yeti – Reinhold Messner

One man’s quest in Nepal and Tibet to find the world’s best-known cryptid. We’ve linked to three different editions of this book with virtually no differences, save cosmetic ones, that we are aware of.


Paperback 1:

Paperback 2 (pictured):

The Complete Guide To Mysterious Beings

1137. The Complete Guide To Mysterious Beings – John A Keel

As with all these books, this one lists things that the others omit and vice-versa. This one covers (amongst others) Angels, Demons, the mothman, contemporary dinosaurs, Bigfoot, the abominable snowman, a real-life ‘land of the giants’, the Silver Lake sea serpent, leprechauns, and carnivorous plants from outer space. There are two different editions but only one that meets our availability standards.

Paranormal Animals of North America

1138. Paranormal Animals of North America – Nigel D Findley
(Shadowrun 1st edition supplement)

A lot of these creatures are directly insertable into any pulp campaign (relocate to elsewhere in the world as necessary) even if you need to convert the game details. Some ambitious sellers want $850 for a copy, but there are some available for about $4.

Paranormal Animals of Europe

1139. Paranormal Animals of Europe – Carl Sargent
(Shadowrun 1st edition supplement)

Fewer surprises, but still a great source of nasty encounters.

The Weiser Field Guide to Cryptozoology

1140. The Weiser Field Guide to Cryptozoology: Werewolves, Dragons, Skyfish, Lizard Men, and Other Fascinating Creatures Real and Mysterious – Deena West Budd

Details, interviews, and stories about 40 different cryptids seen all over the world by credible eyewitnesses like policemen, rangers, and doctors. Coverage ranges from the “traditional cryptids” (Big Foot, the Abominable Snowman and Nessie), to mythical cryptids (unicorns, vampires, dragons, and werewolves), to lesser-known cryptids like bunyips (waterhorses), Encantado (Dolphin Men of Brazil), thunderbirds, mothmen, and chupacabra. Includes a brief history of the field and surveys all the creatures for which any credible amount of research exists. Includes “tips on how to spot them” and “cautionary advice on how to interact with them”, both of which are gold for the GM, regardless of game genre.

Unfortunately, it’s not all good out there. One review was harshly critical of this book – “This does not read as a Field Guide, more like “Deena Wast Budd’s Musings on Cryptids and Other Beasts.” Each entry is a cursory look at what the author thinks of each creature, no depth of history, modus operandi, characteristics, etc.” Another associates the excessive use of exclamation marks as contributing to an excess of sensationalism, while a third laments the paucity of specific detail and the excess of opinion. That said, many others comment on the light, breezy, engaging style, and how it facilitates an easy introduction to the subject.

In terms of “objective cryptozoology”, then, this is a disappointment. As Pulp GMs, though, we only care about objectivity when it suits us. Use this as a launchpad and inspiration for your own takes on these creatures, modify, discard, re-engineer, revise or accept content as you see fit! So long as you bear these limitations in mind, you’ll do just fine with it. But when you find a contradiction between sources on Cryptids, this is the one that has to be considered “less reliable”.

Kindle ($9.99) or 192-page paperback (24 used from $5, 33 new from $9.41).

Cryptid Creatures From Dark Domains

1141. Cryptid Creatures From Dark Domains: Dogmen, Devil Hounds, Phantom Canines And Real Werewolves – Timothy Green Beckley et. al.

And, speaking of sensationalized accounts, this book is full of them, and suffers from the flaw of considering anecdotal evidence to be “proof”. This is a compilation of material from “experts” in various cryptids – Phantom Cats, Dogmen, Hell Hounds, and more. Not exclusively North American in approach and content, which may make this useful when no other reference contributes – and is why we have chosen to list it.

Kindle ($8.54) or 236 page paperback (8 used from $19.82, 15 new from $17.95).

See Also:

“Mysteries of the Deep,” compiled by Frank Spaeth, in our “Places” section – Entry #283, 4th Shelf.

Monsters and outer-fringe Cryptozoology

Some people consider these creatures to be Cryptids, others are more circumspect (and want to be taken more seriously, we suspect). Certainly, “Wolf-men” would be ‘legitimate’ cryptids, but Werewolves? Maybe not. Vampires and Zombies? That’s really starting to bend the definition of ‘Cryptid’ out of shape, in our view. So we have isolated books on those subjects to this subsection. Make no mistake, though – we’re equally sure that there’s a grain of truth somewhere in most legends of these creatures. It might just be exceedingly small. Which has zero bearing on whether or not we’ll use these in our Pulp Campaign – indeed, we have already done so in the case of Vampires.

Banshees, Werewolves, Vampires, and Other Creatures of the Night

1142. Banshees, Werewolves, Vampires, and Other Creatures of the Night: Facts, Fictions, and First-Hand Accounts – Varia Ventura

”Huffington Post Weird News columnist and author Varla Ventura takes readers on a wild ride through the shadowy hills of rural Ireland, the dark German forests, and along abandoned farms and country roads across the world to discover some of the most frightening and freak-tacular tales, tidbits, and encounters with all those beasties that go bump in the night.” This is a mixture of myth, anecdote, and fiction, leaning more heavily toward the literary sources. Since most books on Cryptozoology take the subject matter seriously as “real world” phenomena, it provides a compelling counterpoint and expands the scope of foundations for GM-crafted creatures and encounters.

Kindle ($10) or 256-page paperback (27 used from $5.49, 39 new from $8.50).

The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters

1143. The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters – Rosemary Ellen Guiley

600 entries provide definitions, explanations, and lists of suggested further reading. Focuses on cross-cultural mythology, folklore, historical cases, and the presence of shape-shifting creatures in arts, media, and pop culture.

Kindle ($63.78 – who do Amazon think they’re kidding?) or 352-page paperback (44 used from $4.24, 9 new from $29.95):

Hardcover (17 used from $16.69, 10 new from triple-figures-so-forget-it):

True Werewolves of History

1144. True Werewolves of History – Donald F Glut

This is a hard book to assess. Glut uses “contemporary chronicles and new research to bring to life the stories of over 100 werewolves from the pages of history. This new 21st Century tour-de-force brings together real tales of werewolves (not to mention “were” bears and “were” jaguars) from throughout the world and across the centuries.”

The only review of the book states, however, “This book has nothing on Werewolves in folklore or legend (no lore, anyway). It’s just a compilation of ancient stories. However, these may be still of some use… especially the stories about phantom werewolves (that is, lycanthropes that have returned from the grave as ghosts).”

Are the contents fictional accounts? Spooky stories from before the industrial revolution to before the age of the printing press?

As usual, however, the Pulp GM cares not about this issue, being only interested in grist for the mill. And, since no other reference we’ve come across has explicitly mentioned “phantom werewolves”, this promises to add at least one new bolt to our crossbow.

136 pages, hardcover (7 used from $13.99, 18 new from $9.17) or paperback (12 used from $6.83, 19 new from $7.83, 1 collectible from $9.99).

The Werewolf Handbook

1145. The Werewolf Handbook: An Essential Guide to Werewolves and, More Importantly, How to Avoid Them – Robert Curran

This book is very highly rated. Despite that, the one and only critical review is so lengthy and expert in its comments that it is not only impossible to quote but impossible to ignore; we recommend that you read it for yourself (opens in a new tab; ignore the three-star “top critical review” and scroll down to the 1-star review by André Geissenhoener).

Back already? Yeah, we only skimmed it, too, but we got the gist of what the reviewer had to say, and spotted enough specifics to know that he is very well versed in the subject. It must also be reiterated that thirteen of the twenty reviews gave this 5 stars out of five, and nineteen of them rate it as three-star or better. So, with that as context and caveat, let’s consider the actual content: Types of werewolf, including some that we hadn’t come across before; where they live; telltale traits; advice on how to avoid becoming one; tips on what to do when attacked; and more than 100 color illustrations that are reportedly excellent at conveying mood and atmosphere.

We think there’s enough value there to make this a useful resource, despite the problems highlighted by André’s review; but there’s enough doubt on our parts that we wanted to present the case to the reader to make up his own mind.

Hardcover, 80 pages, 37 used from $0.99, 9 new from $37.

The Monster Hunter's Handbook

1146. The Monster Hunter’s Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Saving Mankind from Vampires, Zombies, Hellhounds, and Other Mythical Beasts – Ibrahim Amin

“…details everything a new generation of valiant monster hunters needs to know to vanquish antiquity’s biggest?and baddest?beasts.”

“From a hellhound’s three-headed assault to a brain-eating zombie attack, The Monster Hunter’s Handbook instructs readers in the background of each creature and the dangers each present. It also includes an impressive catalog of the pre-modern world’s most powerful armament.”

As always with a creature-oriented encounter, the GM’s first goal has to be ensuring that firearms don’t end the encounter ‘prematurely’; once that is done, this fully-illustrated book becomes right-on-point to the pulp RPG.

224 pages, hardcover (24 used from $15.12, 12 new from $28.37, 1 collectible at $48.99). There is also a paperback (13 used from $19.56, 3 new from $132.18) but prices suggest that interested purchasers should grab the hardcover while they are still affordable.

The Werewolf Book

1147. The Werewolf Book: The Encyclopedia of Shape-Shifting Beings (2nd Edition) – Brad Steiger

Possibly the most-complete compendium of this information available, covering myth, legend, literature, true crime, and media depictions of shape-changers (many of whom would not be considered werewolves at all) – everything from “hirsute mass-murderer Albert Fish and Fritz Haarman, who slaughtered and ate his victims, selling the leftovers as steaks and roasts in his butcher shop” to 140,000 years of myth and legend to classic and modern werewolf movies, with stops along the way to look at gargoyles, totem poles, and internet depictions, television shows, songs, and computer games. In fact, it is this very comprehensiveness that is the source of most of the criticism of the book. Not for the serious cryptid researcher / true believer, but wonderful for a GM.

Kindle ($10.07) 384 page paperback (28 used from $4.95, 19 new from $5.95) plus first edition with library binding* (10 new from $5, 13 used from $5, may have a different cover).

* Library Binding is the process of rebinding books with more durable materials. This may include replacing covers, repairing damaged pages, and plastic-covering covers to provide increased protection. Amazon sometimes fails to distinguish library-bound older editions from current editions, as in the case of “The Werewolf Book” above, as can be discerned by the clearly visible “second edition” text on the cover of the product on offer and the absence of that text on the version accessible through the “library binding” tab on the product page.


The Complete Idiot's Guide To Vampires

1148. The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Vampires – Jay Stevenson

There does seem to be a greater willingness on the part of the Complete Idiot’s Guides to embrace “fringe subjects” than the “For Dummies” books. This is another volume that we couldn’t resist – we have no idea of the content, and whether or not it would have been useful when we hit our players with a Chinese Vampire who had stowed away on their ship, but even without that, it raised our eyebrows.

Kindle ($10.21) or paperback (37 used from 5¢, 10 new from $25.69, 2 collectible from $9):

The Complete Idiot's Guide To Zombies

1149. The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Zombies – Nathan Robert Brown

Mike has never been a big fan of the Zombie Horde in movies or fiction (with one or two little-known exceptions) – he far prefers intelligent opposition in his games. But the irony of enjoying the relentlessness of the Terminators isn’t lost on him. Nevertheless, Zombies and Voodoo go together like swamps and mosquitoes – and, as mentioned earlier, 20% of the adventures he has collaborated on have had a Voodoo element, as does his Zenith-3 campaign. So this book definitely deserves a place on the reference shelf.
Kindle $11.76 or paperback (31 used from 1¢, 9 new from $28.97).

The Genesis Shield

1150. The Genesis Shield – Steven Spruill

Two things have to be said straight up: First, this is a work of fiction. Second, Mike is listing it (at the very last minute) without consulting the co-authors of this series.

Why? Because aside from being the most entertaining zombie book or movie he’s ever seen, bar none, it also has an excellent pseudo-scientific foundation for its sentient, conniving, cooperating zombie horde – and never even comes close to using the term Zombie, which would undermine that credibility. He also loves the perverse twist on the Captain America origin concept.

How adaptable to Pulp would it be? Well, there would need to be some changes made, that’s for certain, but it’s a matter of replacing one or two details with something more period-appropriate, and the central chain of logic would then hold true. Those changes would also change the scope of the problem from nation-wide to relatively local (no artificial weapons of mass destruction yet) – which makes this more suitable as a Pulp plotline, not less.

Paperback. 25 used from $0.01, 4 new from $65.21, 8 collectible from $2.75.

More copies: 13 used from $0.01, 4 new from $89.05, 1 collectible from $2.34.

Still more copies: 5 used from $14.49, 3 new from more than $200.

Regional Cryptozoology

The discovery of the first book listed in this section made us aware of the existence of “regional guides to weird stuff” for the first time. The next thing that we uncovered were the books listed in the haunting/ghosts section, followed by the remainder of the items in this section, and then the “Regional Myths and Legends” sections’ contents as the piece-de-resistance.

The Mystery Animals of Pennsylvania

1151. The Mystery Animals of Pennsylvania – Andrew Gable

The product description at Amazon tells us about the author and nothing about the book. Fortunately, there are two customer reviews that are more on-point. “Decent book with a few good stories about various cryptids in Pennsylvania. Overall, the book is good, my only complaint is that it’s a little disjointed in places and isn’t really well organized. In addition, most of the information is taken from other books, for example the chapter on thunderbirds is mostly taken from Lyman’s books about Potter County, PA.” – “‘Mystery Animals of Pennsylvania’ is by far the best work available on the zoological mysteries of the state. Gable’s attention to historical detail gives the work an almost scholarly feel, and the breadth of topics covered make the book a consistently interesting read from cover to cover.”

228-page Paperback; 8 used copies from $21.40 (but were a lot less when we listed the book), 15 new from $13.67. For a buck-fourty, we’ll look the other way.

Monsters of Maryland

1152. Monsters of Maryland: Mysterious Creatures in the Old Line State – Ed Okonowicz

Maryland seems to be well-populated by Cryptids to judge by the content list for this book, which covers Bigfoot, the Sea Serpent Chessie, the Snarly Yow, the Bunnyman, goat-men, swamp monsters, and more. Five of 7 readers have it five stars (and the other two gave it four), so that’s approaching a consensus in our book. The biggest criticism offered is that the Bigfoot chapter is “a little boring”.

Kindle ($9.46) and 160-page Paperback (19 used from $2.89, 25 new from $7.54):

More copies of the paperback (7 used from $5.79, 7 new from $24.02):

Still more copies of the paperback (10 used from $6.87, 9 new from $16.47):

Monsters of North Carolina

1153. Monsters of North Carolina: Mysterious Creatures in the Tar Heel States – John Hairr

Nick Redfern, another author, provides the product description: “From supernatural lake monsters to giant snakes, Bigfoot to big cats, and wild men to strange, flying things, Hairr covers them all . . . and then some!” Also includes some ghost stories.

Kindle ($9.27) and 128-page Paperback (13 used from $7.13, 15 new from the same price):

More copies: 9 used from $17.05, 9 New from $18.79:

Strange Pennsylvania Monsters

1154. Strange Pennsylvania Monsters – Michael Newton

We were going to recommend another in the “Monsters Of” series, but at almost $40 a copy, the price was too high. Fortunately, Mike spotted this alternative. Not much more need be said about it, you know exactly what the book will be about.

Paperback, 192 pages, 20 used copies from $8.27, 14 new from $10.

If you want a Kindle edition, “Monsters Of Pennsylvania” offers one for $8.99.

Monsters of Virginia

1155. Monsters of Virginia: Mysterious Creatures in the Old Dominion – L B Taylor, Jr.

Bigfoot, The Wampus Cat, Chessie the sea serpent, The Snallygaster, and Other strange phenomena including vampires, werewolves, thunderbirds, goatmen, and out-of-place animals.

Kindle (9.58), 144-page Paperback (27 used from $2.50, 19 new from $7.26).

Monsters of West Virginia

1156. Monsters of West Virginia: Mysterious Creatures in the Mountain States – Rosemary Ellen Gulley

Mothman, The Grafton Monster, The Wampus Cat, White Things, and other bizarre creatures including Bigfoot, lizard people, and out-of-place panthers.

Kindle ($9.59) or 144-page paperback (18 used from $5.32, 15 new from $7.42).

Monsters of New York

1157. Monsters of New York: Mysterious Creatures in the Empire State – Bruce Hallenbeck

‘Champ’ the Lake Champlain Monster, the Adirondack Bigfoot, the Kinderhook Creature, Sewer Alligators, the Montauk Monster, Catamounts, and more. In fact, everything up to and including aliens, courtesy of this offering from Fortean Researcher Bruce Hallenbeck. It certainly impressed another ‘true believer’.

Kindle ($9.06) or 144-page paperback (15 used from $7.16, 17 new from $7.25).

Monsters of Massachusetts

1158. Monsters of Massachusetts: Mysterious Creatures in the Bay State – Loren Coleman

Some consider Loren Coleman to be the leader of the pack when it comes to Cryptozoology. Massachusetts mysteries like the Dover Demon and the Bridgewater Triangle have names because Coleman ‘discovered’ and named them. This book includes, amongst others, the Dover Demon, the Gloucester Sea Serpent, Hockomock Swamp’s Beasties, Pukwudgees, and of course, Bigfoot.

Kindle ($9.02) or 128-page paperback (18 used from $7.30, 20 new from $7.41)

Monsters Of Illiinois

1159. Monsters of Illinois: Mysterious Creatures in the Prairie State – Troy Taylor

Bigfoot, the Big Muddy Monster, the Piasa Bird, the Mad Gasser of Mattoon, and other strange creatures, including vampires, alligators in the sewer, out-of-place panthers, thunderbirds, and lake monsters.

Kindle ($8.99) or 128-page paperback (22 used from $0.98, 15 new from $7.29)

… and there, the “Monsters Of” series seems to end. But not the Cryptids!

Strange Minnesota Monsters

1160. Strange Minnesota Monsters – Christopher S. Larsen

Minnesota eyewitnesses allege sightings of Bigfoot in Two Harbors, Wendigos in Roseau, lake monsters in Lake Pepin, Mothman near Rochester, and trolls in Cannon Falls. (The book description then adds a witty remark about Prince as a Cryptid). Deliberately excludes ghosts, as the author has another book covering Ghosts of Southwestern Minnesota.

Paperback, 192 Pages; 18 used from $2.59, 15 new from $8.90.

It Came From Ohio

1161. It Came From Ohio: True Tales of the Weird, Wild, and Unexplained – James Renner

An investigative reporter, Renner reports on 13 tales of “mysterious, creepy, and unexplained events in the Buckeye State, including the giant, spark-emitting Loveland Frog; the bloodthirsty Melon Heads of Kirtland; the lumber-wielding Werewolf of Defiance; the Mothman of the Ohio River; the UFO that [allegedly] inspired “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”; and more.”

Kindle ($3) or 116-page paperback (15 used from $3.98, 15 new from $4.17).

The Field Guide to Bigfoot and other mystery primates

1162. The Field Guide to Bigfoot and other mystery primates – Loren Coleman and Patrick Huyghe

“…a comprehensive study of the astonishing variety of puzzling primates that are being reported by eyewitnesses around the world – but that science has failed to recognize. This fully illustrated volume … contains … references, range maps, and typical footprints.”

“…attempts to sort out the different creatures, coming up with a classification of eight possible mystery primates. But this book makes no real attempt to persuade skeptics of the existence of any of them. It’s [a] sort of speculative taxonomy…”

Many of the reviews seem to value the book based on the degree to which the content agrees with their personal theories and biases. Some note that there’s an absence of fluff; this doesn’t report on sightings so much as compiles available information on what was sighted. Which makes it a great reference book on the subject.

Kindle ($7.90), hardcover 224 pages (13 new from $22.95, 9 used from $26.54) or paperback (same page-count, and our recommendation) 23 new from $14, 17 used from $6.91).

The Field Guide to Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents and Other Mystery Denizens of the Deep

1163. The Field Guide to Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents and Other Mystery Denizens of the Deep – Loren Coleman and Patrick Huyghe

After the listing above, you should know exactly what to expect from this book.

Kindle ($9.98) or 380-page paperback (38 used from $1.29, 31 new from $7.86)


Books About General Mysticism, Superstitions, and other Strange Stuff


Superstitions of the Sea

1164. Superstitions of the Sea: A Digest of Beliefs, Customs, and Mystery – Jim Clary

A late discovery, this book is a compilation of the strange, mythical, and often comical beliefs of mariners from ancient times to the present. Although not the primary field of interest of the author, he kept discovering maritime folklore entwined within whatever he was studying at the time, finding himself lured off-topic for hours at a time as this or that maritime superstition held him spellbound. This book is the inevitable result.

Clary has built the book around a classification system for the myths and superstitions that he had encountered over the years, including anecdotes on: animals, burials, charms, demons, evil eyes, figureheads, ghost ships, hexes, icebergs, Jonahs, knots, launchings, myths, navigation, omens, people, romance, shipwrecks, triangles, the unexplained, Vikings, and weather phenomena. His own experiences have been supplemented by research in old volumes of maritime lore and contemporary interviews with sailors.

Free Audiobook or 360-page hardcover (36 used from $2.66, 19 new from $25.92, 2 collectible from $19.95).

Mysticism/Mystery Compendiums


Mysteries Of The World

1165. Mysteries Of The World: Unexplained Wonders and Mysterious Phenomena – Herbert Genzmer and Ulrich Hellenbrond

Short entries on a number of unusual phenomena, one of several candidates to substitute for our preferred choice, which does not have enough copies available. There are lots of cheap copies and it seems reasonably comprehensive.

Mysteries Of The World - Parragon Books

1166. Mysteries Of The World – Parragon Books

Not to be confused with the book of the same name listed previously (and the “rr” in “Parragon” is also not a mistake). Like the two previous suggestions, this appears to stake a wide territory and is reported to be lavishly-illustrated with few stock photographs – and that alone might make it an excellent companion to either of the preceding recommendations. Reviews suggest that the author is too quick to swallow anything UFO-related and relatively skeptical of biblical anecdotes, a bias that might need to be taken into account.

100 of the world's greatest mysteries

1167. 100 Of The World’s Greatest Mysteries – E. Randall Floyd

This reportedly takes a more serious and less credulous look at the subject. Floyd is a news journalist and professor of history, so his approach is relatively no-nonsense – providing balance to the other suggested works. Some reviews have been critical and suggested that there is nothing new in the content, however. Used copies start at 1 cent (plus P&H) so it’s not unreasonable to find out for yourself.

Books about Sorcery, Magic, and Alchemy


Illustrated Anthology of Sorcery, Magic, and Alchemy

1168. Illustrated Anthology of Sorcery, Magic, and Alchemy – Emile Grillot De Givry, translated by J Courtenay Locke

395 pages and 373 illustrations of the iconography of occultism. If you can’t get at least 100 pulp plots out of this book, you aren’t trying hard enough. Some of them might be awfully similar to each other, though. The original edition was published in 1973 and is the copy we have based this referral on (pictured) but it was republished in 1991 (with a very different cover). Although there aren’t many copies of the later edition around, the few that are tend to be cheaper than the older version – so try this link first, and if they are all gone (or more than about US$7 a copy) try this one

The Complete Idiot's Guide To Alchemy

1169. The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Alchemy – Dennis William Hauck

Everyone knows that the “Holy Grail” goal of Alchemy was to turn a base metal (cheap) into gold (valuable) [Irrelevant side-note: there is actually an atomic reaction that turns iron into radioactive gold]. But Alchemy was much more than this, being a foundation for both Chemistry and Pharmacology. Throw in the arcane associations with the subject (largely the result of populist writers of books about the paranormal who were also known to be interested in, or believers in, Alchemy), and you have ample foundations for a pulp adventure or even a whole campaign.

Kindle ($11.76) or paperback (32 used from $7.21, 44 new from $9.55):

More copies (11 used from $11.54, 8 new from $27.65):

Still More Copies (23 used from $11.54, 17 new from $39.49):

These are all exactly the same book, so buy from whichever page is currently the cheapest.

Gemstone Lore


The Mystical Lore of Precious Stones, Volume 1

1170. The Mystical Lore of Precious Stones – Volume 1: Superstitions, Talismans & Amulets, and Crystal Gazing The Classic Writings of George Frederick Kunz, Ph. D.

See below for description.

The Mystical Lore of Precious Stones, Volume 2

1171. The Mystical Lore of Precious Stones – Volume 2: Astrology, Birth Stones, and Therapeutic & Religious uses – The Classic Writings of George Frederick Kunz, Ph. D.

Kunz was the most respected researcher into Gemstones and Gemology of the early 20th century, so much so that a century later, many of his works are still in print. Quantities of this book fall just short of our standards, but we’ve made an exception.

The Curious Lore of Precious Stones

1172. The Curious Lore Of Precious Stones

This may be a compendium of other books, including the two listed above, or it may be a completely separate work. We suspect the latter from comments, but don’t have a copy (yet) to state so, definitively. This is a 512-page compilation of folklore and folk-beliefs relating to gemstones from all over the world as well as an in-depth study of the history of gemstones. Don’t expect light reading, this is a serious book by a renowned expert.

Books about Strange (but mostly True) Stuff


The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Signs and Symbols
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1173. The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Signs & Symbols – Adele Nozedar

We were unsure quite where to list this one, described as “The Ultimate A-Z Guide from Alchemy to the Zodiac”, so we created this category to hold it – then added other things to the mix.

The paperback is cheaper but the hardcover (pictured) is also affordable. Also available in a Kindle Edition for a price in between the two, from either of the links provided.

Documentaries about Strange (but mostly True) Stuff



1174. Derren Brown: Messiah

This is a TV special from Channel 4 in the UK, featuring hypnotist and stage magician Derren Brown, one of several that we recommend. This special explores the relationship between confirmation bias and belief in the supernatural and theological. Conversions to Christianity with a touch are just one of the feats that Brown demonstrates.

Unfortunately, it appears to never have been released on DVD. You can read about the special at this Wikipedia page which is better than nothing.

Derren Brown - The Specials

1175. Derren Brown: The Heist

Under the cover of a motivational seminar, Derren Brown convinces a group of ordinary British businessmen and women to steal £100,000 in what they believe is an armed robbery. Available as part of a collection, “Derren Brown: The Specials” (the others are worth watching, too).

There aren’t many copies left in the US (and it is a UK import, which may not play on some DVD players) but they are reasonably-priced: Readers from the UK have a slightly more generous supply, also at good prices: Once again, Canadian readers are the most poorly-served in both supply and price:

Derren Brown - The Experiments

1176. Derren Brown: The Experiments

This is a series of 4 specials, each of which stands alone.

The first is “The Assassin”, in which the power of suggestion is used to turn an ordinary person into a willing Assassin without their consent or knowledge.

The second investigates the power of deindividuation, in which a group will do things that the individual would not find conscionable without really understanding how things reach that point – this is directly relevant to the way the Nazi state persuaded its citizens to carry out atrocities before and during the second world war.

The third, “The Guilt Trip”, shows how a completely innocent person can be persuaded to not only confess to a crime they did not commit, but can be completely convinced that they did in fact carry out the crime.

The final episode is “The Secret Of Luck” and it’s the only one that isn’t directly relevant to the Pulp GM. It’s about the perception of lucky or unlucky streaks and how they influence behavior. Okay, maybe it’s relevant after all!

Once again, there are limited copies available through Amazon US and these are UK imports which may not work in domestic players: Also once again, UK readers fair rather better in terms of both availability and price: As usual, there are fewer copies available to Canadian readers and they are more expensive, but still reasonable in price.


1177. Kuru: The Science And The Sorcery

Kuru is a disease that is transmitted solely by cannibalism and is endemic to the wilds of New Guinea where that practice is a recurring ritual. This tells the story of how the disease was discovered (during the pulp era or close to it), how the native tribes react to an outbreak, what limited treatments are available even in modern times, and how Papua New Guinea tribal society is evolving as a result. Includes interviews with family members of sufferers and footage of sufferers which some viewers may find disturbing. This is NOT one to show the kids. While this documentary has been released on DVD, we were unable to locate any available copies through any of the usual vendors. We did find it on YouTube, however:

Books about Strange (but mostly Dubious/Fringe) Stuff


The Complete Books Of Charles Fort

1178. The Complete Books Of Charles Fort – Charles Fort and Damon Knight

A collection of unusual anecdotes such as rains of fish etc that might be useful to the Pulp GM.

Those who want a physical book should buy the volume listed (pictured), but anyone with a Kindle should instead look at “The Fortean Collection” which appears to contain an extra “book” not in the “complete books” and costs a lot less.

Secret Of The Andes

1179. Secret Of The Andes – Borther Philip, illustrated by David Singer

“Secret of the Andes contains messages from the Brotherhood hidden high in the Andes Mountains. There, ancient truths and knowledge from highly-evolved cultures have been stored for thousands of years. From the monastery of the Seven Rays.” Ohhhkayyy, if you say so.

Second- and third-hand information is taken as fact and used as the foundation for wild speculation in this early new age book – that isn’t even very well written. But throw all that aside and keep the interesting parts for your campaign – “High in the Andes there is a secret Brotherhood living in something called ‘The Monastery Of Rays’ that preserves secret truths and knowledge from past highly-evolved cultures until…” write the rest yourself.

Hardcovers are too expensive for this list, but paperback copies (144 pages) start at around $10.

Crystal Skulls

The resources in this section are presented in a very specific sequence, from as mainstream and non-fringe as we could find through to extremely strange – what conventional science might describe as “fruitcake fringe, with added nuts”.

By the way, and (almost) totally off-topic, while gathering these links we came across something truly remarkable, the most expensive Kindle book that we’ve ever seen! There is a book (we’re not bothering with a link for reasons that will become obvious) named “Crystal Skull: Thirteen gates, Quetzalcoatl, Eldorado, archeology, interest and egg”. There is one second-hand copy available for $187.72; there are 6 new from $178.59; Amazon wants $200; and the Kindle edition is a “mere” (wait for it) $158.06. For a 107-page book claiming to be in its 78th edition, and written for 5-18 year olds… oh, and it has one customer rating (wonder if it’s from the person with the one second-hand copy available?) in the form of a completely unrelated poem, which rates the book as having five stars…


The Mystery of the Crystal Skulls

1180. The Mystery of the Crystal Skulls: Unlocking the Secrets of the Past, Present, and Future – Chris Morton and Ceri Louise Thomas

We couldn’t possibly put it any better than the back cover blurb:

“Native American legend tells of thirteen life-size crystal skulls said to contain crucial information about humankind’s true purpose and destiny. The legend prophesied[1] that one day, at a time of great crisis for humanity, all thirteen crystal skulls would be rediscovered and brought together to reveal information vital to the very survival of the human race. To date several skulls have been discovered.

“This book is the definitive guide to the facts and legends that inspired the May 2008 movie Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It explores what these mysterious crystal skulls are, where they came from, and what they may have to offer. The book follows Chris Morton and Ceri Louise Thomas on their journey of discovery from the ancient temples of the Maya to the British Museum, the Smithsonian, and to the crystal laboratories of Hewlett-Packard, where scientific tests on one of the skulls — made from the same quartz crystal used in today’s computers[2] — lead to the conclusion, “This skull shouldn’t even exist.” Their journey also leads to Native shamans and elders who reveal the sacred knowledge and vital information that these skulls hold about coming Earth changes and humanity’s imminent destiny.”

Our footnotes:
[1] Past Tense? It doesn’t prophecy this any more? Or the prophecy has come to pass?
[2] This is drawing rather a long bow. Quartz was used in computers back in the 80s for digital watches and other electronics, but had nothing to do with memory or processing power – they simply set the clock speed, the speed of the electrical impulses that were, in turn, used to control the computers. It’s like pointing to a plastic milk bottle and saying, “this is made from exactly the same compound, plastics, as used in modern after-market wheel hubs, so this bottle must have something to do with transportation.”

Of course, the authors have drunk deeply of the kool-aid. The British Museum and Smithsonian crystal skulls have been discovered to be modern fakes, and the Mitchell-Hodges skull is also a fake according to the sworn testimony of his adopted daughter, Anna, who was with him at the time.

This book takes them all as genuine and dismisses or ignores all evidence to the contrary (some of which didn’t emerge until after it was first published, to be fair). At least the authors take a superficially scientific approach in their attempts to evaluate the skulls! But the Pulp GM is free to do whatever he wants with the legend…

Kindle ($9.33) or 424 page paperback; 100 used copies from 1¢, 27 new from $5.88, 1 collectible from $9.85.

There are also a few copies of what appears to be an older edition with a different subtitle (“A Real Life Detective Story of the Ancient World”) and an arguably prettier cover (pictured): Paperback, 400 pages, 40 used from 1¢, 7 new from $4.

The Crystal Skull

1181. The Crystal Skull: The story of the mystery, myth, and magic of the Mitchell-Hedges crystal skull discovered in a lost Mayan city during a search for Atlantis – Richard M Garvin

From a customer review: “In the 1920s, F. A. Mitchell-Hedges and his adopted daughter, Anna, [reportedly] discovered a mysterious skull made of quartz crystal in the ruins called Lubaantun in Honduras. Since then, people have speculated about the origins of the skull and what its purpose was.”

A second customer picks up the story: “It is alleged that Anna Mitchel-Hedges paid $50,000 to Richard M Garvin to write a legend about the so-called Crystal Skull. In fact, there were two identical crystal Skull that are supposed to have been made in Bavaria. One was said to have been sold to F Mitchel-Hedges at auction in England for £4400. However, many years later, Anna Mitchel-Hedges married and sold the Crystal Skull to the ‘That’s Incredible’ Museum on the basis of the legend.”

This book includes a photograph of an affidavit signed by Anna attesting to the story of the skull’s origin and is the original account of the alleged finding and of subsequent attempts at verification and validation. There is a large overlap with the content of the previous book, which retraces the steps of those verification/validation attempts.

Is the Crystal Skull a hoax? The most recent testing seems to say yes. But this 108-page 1973 book contains the original tale of the Skull’s discovery, be it fiction, deception, or truth, from long before those findings – and hence details what the world would know during the Pulp Era. Where his story goes from there is up to the GM!

Don’t bother considering new or collectible copies, they are way too expensive, especially given the page count. Used hardcovers start at $6.74 (26 available) and used paperbacks are from $2.04 (22 available).

The Crystal Skulls

1182. The Crystal Skulls: Astonishing Portals to Man’s Past – David Childress and Stephen S Mehler

“Crystal skulls are said to have caused violence, physical injury, and even death. Can it be that these uncanny objects are our link to mankind’s dark, magical past? Are they messengers from another age-or another world? A fascinating compendium of current information on crystal skulls by two authors with first hand knowledge.”

So, who are these authors with such experience? Childress is “a recognized expert not only on ancient civilizations and technology, but also on free energy, anti-gravity and UFOs. His books on these subjects include: The Anti-Gravity Handbook; Anti-Gravity & the World Grid; Anti-Gravity and the Unified Field; Extraterrestrial Archeology; Vimana Aircraft of Ancient India & Atlantis; A Hitchhikers Guide To Armageddon The Free-Energy Device Handbook, Man-Made UFOs, The Time Travel Handbook, Atlantis & the Power System of the Gods and others.” And, indeed, we see his footprints all over these lists, because in an RPG, there is room for the fantastic, no matter how implausible, if it can be made to look good.

And Stephen Mehler? A former director of the Rosicrucians of San Jose, he “is currently a student of the ancient Egyptian mysteries.”

The astonishing thing isn’t that this book is fringe theory at best; it’s that it only marks the mid-way point in our journey through the strange and unlikely beliefs associated with Crystal Skulls. Which must mean that the next two books are really strange…

Kindle ($9.52) or 294-page paperback (23 used from $5.18, 20 new from $14.01

Crystal Skull Magick

1183. Crystal Skull Magick – Elizabeth Gardiepy

“Working with crystal skull energy is an amazing experience. This book shares basic magick involving the crystal skull energy and how to use it. From ritual and spells to chants and gridding, everything you need to know to start working with the crystal skull energy in a magickal way, is now at your fingertips!”

New Age magic intersects with Crystal Skull mythology and legend in this 104-page paperback (6 used from $11.13, 14 new from $10.15, also available for Kindle at $4.99).

The Starchild Channels

1184. The StarChild Channels: The Crystal Skull from Beyond the Stars – Linda Hostalek D O, with introduction by Joshua Shapiro and Katrina Head

We almost included a book co-written by Shapiro but on close inspection it didn’t seem to offer anything that this book didn’t cover, at a relatively steep price. He is big on the “Crystal Skulls as alien technology” theory; the fact that he penned an introduction therefore provides a very basic foundation to the subject matter when coupled with the title. But, before we get into specifics about the content, let’s first meet the author.

Linda Hostalek was born and raised near Chicago, with a love of art and spirituality. She is a trained cranial osteopath, a medical intuitive, an Andean-trained shaman, an artist, an author, and a holistic physician. She “weaves the teachings of the earth and human energetic systems, with medical and spiritual insight. As a master ceremonialist and teacher of Shamanic apprenticeships, she helps people to live in the energetic stream and to restore the mind body and spirit.

“Most of her painting are made with holy water and contain the a vibrational essence of healing….”

Okay, to the content. Look, there’s no way to synopsize or sugar-coat this without diminishing the awesome jaw-dropping totality. This is the out-there extreme of fringe beliefs, at least by most people’s standards. To convey the full impact, we have no choice but to quote the Amazon product description verbatim:

“StarChild, the Crystal Skull beyond the Stars, is a crystalline star being who desires to communicate with humans in an effort to guide them through this world to their true purpose in the multiverse. StarChild and Linda were united during the 11-11-11 vortex of transformation, and the information of this and other worlds has been coming through ever since.

“The introduction to this work is by the Crystal Skull Explorers, Joshua Shapiro and Katrina Head, who first introduced Linda to StarChild. The fascinating background lays the groundwork for over a hundred channels. Designed to be a divination work, one can flip through the pages or read it outright to gain wisdom and understanding to guide your own life. Information is contained regarding other realms, star ships, consciousness, love, healing, compassion, and wisdom. You are invited to explore this realm with StarChild. Read it all or one channel a day for the essence of the day, and how to prepare your energy field for it. As a bonus gift, some selected channels from the Starkeepers material, which also come through Linda, are also included, as is a photo gallery of StarChild.”

Where does one begin to assess that? She comes across as someone who genuinely wants to help people…

It’s radical even for New Age beliefs, but it gets to alien contact by way of crystal skulls… This entire shelf has been devoted to superstition and weird beliefs, but the above would seem to be the last word, bringing this shelf to a close – because what could possibly follow it?.

Kindle ($6.08) or 348-page paperback (6 used from $14.28, 15 new from $13.03).



Afterword by Blair:

What would Pulp be without the Mystical?

Mystic artifacts like the Ark Of The Covenant or the Spear Of Destiny make great Macguffins, and Voodoo Priests*, Nazi Blood Magicians or Asian Mystics are perfect Enemies for two-fisted Pulp Adventurers.
   * Spelling chosen deliberately to signify an “over the top” interpretation.

Large parts of the world – the Jungles of Brazil, the Himalayan mountains, the Gobi Desert, Frozen Antarctica – are poorly explored and mostly unknown at best. Where better to place a lost temple or city or mystical artifact?

In a Pulp universe, any superstition or legend might be a true story. Does the ghost of a gangster still haunt the place where (according to local legend) he was murdered, or could it be a hoax to cover up some other nefarious scheme?

Surprises of any sort can appear, real or otherwise, at any time in a pulp Universe. It can truly be said that the laws of nature are absolute – but only move at the speed of plot.

And there is always the possibility of people with extraordinary or unusual abilities – though here the GM should exercise a little caution, as they can easily overpower the game. Still, an NPC with knowledge of the dark arts – or the hidden truths – may be useful to feed information to the players.

Which, of course, raises the possibility of Cryptids. Whether they be Yetis in the snow-topped Himalayas, Thunderbirds in the American Southwest, or Bunyips in the Australian Outback, a Cryptid always makes a good excuse for an Adventure – regardless of that cryptid being real, fantasy, delusion, hysterical conviction, or hoax being used by a villain to scare away potential witnesses. The cryptid’s role in the adventure is, in many respects, secondary to the mere fact of its existence.

The Pulp GM, like all Gamemasters, has a certain amount of suspension-of-disbelief capital that he can play, but this can be frittered away by evaporating the sense of mystery inherent to the game. As much as you possibly can, you want to always leave mysteries alive for another day. No matter what the PCs may encounter, think very carefully before permitting them to capture it and parade it through the streets back in civilization.

Don’t squander your capital, and it will continue to reward you in adventure after adventure. Every mysterious creature, strange event, or urban legend that is positively confirmed (one way or another) erodes the wellspring of suspension-of-disbelief; before too long, your players can come to expect answers, every time.

And don’t forget to give your players time to get used to “normality” in between encounters. The weird should always be a surprise.

Exploit the fringes of the known, flirt with the strange and unlikely, but always leave room for doubt and deniability, and those fringes will always be up your sleeve when you want or need them.

Next in this series (in early February): The 13th shelf – The first of two Odds & Sods shelves, this one focusing on GMing and related tools and skills, and especially on books that offer practical advice or useful tools or techniques.


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