The Fourteenth Shelf: Odds & Sods II – Practicalities – Introduction by Mike

Practicality can mean many things when it comes to RPGs, and the contents of this shelf touch on many of them.

Practicality can be utilizing things that have already been done for game content. There are many intriguing stories of lost treasures, for example, and we know that at least some are true because the treasures have subsequently been found. But for every smashing success, there has been an equally-conspicuous failure, such as Al Capone’s Vault. Properly handled, they can be the foundation of a good adventure, too – all you need to do is make the adventure about the absence of anything where something was expected. “What happened to it? Has someone found it and stolen our thunder? Is there more to the story of the cache than meets the eye, more than anyone ever suspected – an entire lost chapter? And what might people do who don’t believe the reports of nothing being found?”

Practicality can be knowing how to do things in the real world, so that characters can replicate these activities in the game, and so that GMs can be prepared for their doing so. It can be applying skill-sets that people already posses to challenges in unexpected ways.

And it can be using prepared material at the game level. Things intended for one game can be re-tasked to another. Ideas and characters can be drawn from other adventures set in the same time period – or adapted from sources that aren’t contemporaneous.

These are all facets of practicality, and the subject of today’s shelf of the Essential Reference Library.

Relevance to other genres

With three such distinct types of content, there are three levels of relevance to other genres.

Tales of lost treasures can be readily reshaped to suit any genre. This is perhaps the most obvious level of relevance to other genres.

Good rules ideas can be sourced from other games and adapted to fit your needs. Need some good overbearing rules? Look to a game that features a lot of hand-to-hand combat – or, if those are likely to be too specific for your needs, look for how systems that don’t feature such abstract the question. Every game rule is a potential house rule when applied to another game system; it’s only a question of what you need.

Whole adventures can be transfigured in genre with effort. The fact that this can be difficult to do simple ensures that few people will have done so, ensuring a memorable gaming experience – one way or another.

Characters can be extracted and recast as necessary. Need a patriotic firebrand for a post-apocalyptic game? Look for a rabble-rouser in some other genre’s game. Want a crazed priest? Look for a character in a genre where craziness is a manifest destiny, like Call of Cthulhu.

And practical advice is always a question of what is known, and what tools are available. Some practical advice is useless outside of the modern era simply because the principles weren’t known or the raw materials simply aren’t available, but much of it transcends genres. Knowing five different means of starting fires and how (and why) they work is exactly the foundation you need to GM attempts by the PCs to do so in a game. And those are only the direct application; some lateral thinking can imbue the fantastic with embedded physics that you know and understand but none of the PCs understand – ensuring a consistency of interpretation and underlying realism with minimal effort.

For example, one GM that I know bases his fireballs on summoning small pockets of the elemental plane of fire into the prime material plane – acetylene pockets under pressure spontaneously appear and combust through the energy of the transition, exploding like a small gas bottle rupturing.

A character in full plate which is (by chance, and without knowing the significance) well-grounded is pretty much immune to lightning bolts – these hit the armor and drain harmlessly to the earth. Of course, it may grow quite hot, inflicting some minor burns…


This illustration combines
‘Stack Of Books’ by / Judith P. Abrahamsen
with an edited version of ‘Dices’ by timjen van dobbenburgh.

Shelf Introduction

This shelf is divided into three sections.

1. Games and Game Supplements – Where a supplement had only one focal point of relevance, we’ve tended to include them in the section and shelf that dealt with that point of relevance. This section deals with Pulp-oriented material in general and anything else that has proven useful in the past.

2. Lost Treasures – These books were discovered after the publication of the Currency & Valuables section on The sixth shelf, which is where they rightfully belong. Including them here is a matter of cleaning up loose ends. Besides, there is some good (and interesting) stuff to list!

3. Practical Advice – A section that is as valuable to players as it is to GMs, and pretty much genre-neutral to boot! It wasn’t that long ago that the only book that would have seemed appropriate to include here is the Boy Scouts field manual, which is what Mike used for many years, but of late there has been an explosion of books on practicalities. Of course, this being about RPGs, and especially Pulp RPGs, there are a few curve-balls mixed in.

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 in some cases, that was more than eight months ago.


RPGs and game supplements

If we applied our usual standards of price and availability (and completely ignored the question of PDFs), few if any of these would make the cut. So we have been a great deal more generous in the links provided, only excluding something if it is obviously not worth the price being asked – such as some of the $800+ entries included in other sections (but we found cheaper copies for those!) As most GMs know, RPG supplements and rulebooks tend to be very limited print runs and small-press circulation, both of which raise the price; furthermore, the subject is niche and that also raises the price. Both effects restrict the availability somewhat but fortunately there are also dedicated resources and distribution channels available, such as RPGNow. In general, expect fewer available copies and to pay more for them.


1254. Pulp Hero – Stephen S. Long (Hero Games)

The game system that Mike and Blair use for the Adventurer’s Club campaign. It’s not the only choice, but it’s based on the Hero System which almost all of the players knew when the campaign was being created. Hero Games’ online forum also maintains an active (if sometimes eccentric) Pulp Community.

Note that you will also need the Hero System Core Rulebook.

Pulp Hero was designed to work with 5th Edition, one-and-a-half editions behind the current (and more expensive) 6th edition (the “half” was Hero System 5th Edition, Revised, containing all the errata and some clarifying notes). 6th edition broke the core rules into two volumes, then reunited them into “Champions Complete” – which strips out a lot of the flavor text and explanations and examples, leaving only the rules. That’s useful if you already know the system, not so good if you don’t. The differences between these generations of rules are not as profound as is the case with, say, D&D; would have relatively minimal impact on a pulp-genre game; and you could make Pulp Hero work with any of them, but there would still be the occasional “gotcha” moment.

For that reason, we are linking only to the 5e rulebook and to Champions Complete; one is the game as Pulp Hero was designed to integrate with, and the other presents the current rules in most up-to-date form if you want to be more adventurous.

Pulp Hero:
Amazon $40-$55
Hero Games Website (PDF Only) $12.50
RPGNow (PDF Only) $12.49

Hero System 5th edition:
Amazon: Hardcover only, 7 used from $65, 2 new and one collectible for three figure prices.
Hero Games Website (PDF Only) $17.50
5e Revised (PDF only) $20
5e (Original) (PDF only) $10

Champions Complete:
Amazon (paperback only): 3 new from $40, 1 used from $473.01. Yes, you read that right.
Hero Games Website (Paperback and PDF Bundle) $40.00
DriveThruRPG (PDF Only):

1255. …and a 10-Foot Pole – Maxwell Bernhardt & John W Curtis III [I.C.E. Game supplement for The Standard System]

Prices of everyday items in US $. Chapter 12, “The Electric Age” covers the entire Pulp Era from before WWI through to the end of WWII. The introduction to the chapter is a very useful primer on life in the period. Mike described the book this way in his d20-supplement list, ”The Gold Standard”:

This supplement is incredibly hard to find these days. Originally published in 1999, this supplement is one of only two products that made the top-20 without actually being intended to be a 3.x supplement (it was designed for Rolemaster). It lists prices for commonly available goods in various time periods from modern times back to Imperial Rome, and all points in between. You will need to work out a conversion rate for the relevant era to the currency in use within your game; it’s then ready to use. And indispensable.
     Finding a copy can be tricky, because the title is made up of common terms; do a search on Amazon and all you will find is a heap of stuff about people of Polish descent. No offense to them, but that’s not what we’re looking for. The best technique is to search for the authors, M Bernhardt and John Curtis.

These days, you can add “… and a little expensive” to that description. Copies start at $25.60 (used) or $44.99 (new) and there aren’t very many of them left. There are a few copies outside of the page linked to, but they start at $118-plus – so they didn’t even get a look-in. Despite the price, this book is so useful and unique that we are unable to refuse it a place on our list.

1256. Forbidden Kingdoms – R Hyrum Savage & Dave Webb (Otherworlds Creations)

A “game of two-fisted pulp adventure that allows you to traverse the mundane into the world of Heroes!” Requires the d20 modern system. Copies are surprisingly affordable through Amazon for about $4 but are in limited supply or PDF from RPGNow for $9

1257-1262. Hollow Earth Expedition Roleplaying Game – Jeff Combos & others (Exile Studios)

Core rules and several supplements.

1257. Hollow Earth Expedition Roleplaying Game Core Rules

“Explore one of the world’s greatest and most dangerous secrets: the Hollow Earth, a savage land filled with dinosaurs, lost civilizations, and ferocious savages! Players take on the roles of two-fisted adventurers, eager academics and intrepid journalists investigating the mysteries of the Hollow Earth. Meanwhile, on the surface, world powers and secret societies vie for control of what may be the most important discovery in all of human history. Set in the tense and tumultuous 1930s…” ‘Powered by Ubiquity’ which may require a set of core rules, though Blair gave the impression that it was complete when discussing it, a position that seems backed up by customer reviews.

One helpful hint from one of those reviews: “Some basics for the experienced RPG-er (like Encumberance, etc.) are a little hard to locate, but the system is designed to be loose & more story- and Role-play oriented then a stickler for rules. I suggest getting the GameMaster’s Screen to keep those charts easily at hand, rather than having to try and search through the book for them.”

Amazon: $16+ and more copies at $53+

RPGNow (PDF only): $20

1258. Mysteries Of The Hollow Earth

Expands the game setting.

Amazon: $25+ and limited copies.

RPGNow: (PDF only) $17.50

1259. Perils Of The Surface World

“Compiles four adventure scenarios that span the globe and deliver a walloping punch of pulp-era adventure. Your characters will battle Nazis in the tropical jungles of Brazil, unearth monsters in the frigid wastes of Antarctica, unravel mysteries in the catacombs beneath Venice, and contend with martial arts masters in the back alleys of Shanghai.” These can either stand alone or be linked for campaign use. Also includes “optional rules for martial arts super-powers, Atlantean sorcery, supernatural terror, and more”.

Amazon: $11+ and very few copies

RPGNow: (PDF only) $10

1260. Secrets Of The Surface World (not pictured)

Not to be confused with the previous supplement. “Expands Hollow Earth Expedition to include the mysterious and perilous surface world, filled with dangerous criminals, mad scientists, and dark sorcerers!” Includes “new rules for psychic powers, sorcery, and weird science; an expanded vehicle and equipment catalog; and additional details on secret societies and surface world locations.”

Amazon: $23+ and limited copies

RPGNow (PDF only) $15

1261. Revelations Of Mars

This sourcebook expands Hollow Earth Expedition to include Mars, a dying and dangerous planet filled with strange aliens, bizarre creatures, and vast, inhospitable wastelands. … Inside you will find everything you need to run out-of-this-world adventures or give your existing Hollow Earth games a bizarre twist: guidelines for creating robot and alien player characters; new and expanded psychic powers; an unearthly bestiary and equipment list; and details on strange Martian inhabitants and extraterrestrial locations.”

Amazon: $40 and virtually no copies left

RPGNow: (PDF only) $20

1262. Various PDF adventures and add-ons at RPGNow

Use this product search: Prices are currently $2-$6.

1263. Spirit Of The Century – Rob Donoghue, Fred Hicks, & Leonard Balsera (Evil Hat Productions)

A complete stand-alone Pulp game based on the Fate system, with heavy revision to those rules. Winner of a solid handful of prestigious awards over a 4 year period (2003-2007).

Amazon: $33+ and limited quantities

RPGNow (PDF) Pay-what-you-want

NB: There are also a couple of PDF bundles that include the rules and are good value at $10 with the addition of a number of PDF adventures and supplements. These can be found using this product search

1264. Strange Tales Of The Century – Jess Nevins (Evil Hat Productions)

Goes with Spirit Of The Century (above).

Amazon: $31 and few copies left

RPGNow: (PDF) $10 but it is also included in one of the Spirit Of The Century $10 bundles mentioned earlier!

1265. Call of Cthulhu 1920s Investigator’s Companion – Keith Herber (Chaosium)

This contains useful reference on character archetypes, careers, world information such as vehicle price and performance, and other general information of value.

There are a limited number of second-hand copies of the first edition available through Amazon for about $10, and a PDF of the second edition is available from RPGNow for about $6 .

RPGNow (from the same page) also offer the softcover of the 2nd edition for $21 – these are $55 through Amazon.

So, what’s the difference? Mechanically, in most respects, nothing seems very different. In terms of reference value, the editions are interchangeable. The biggest difference that we found was in the skills lists for the two generations, and in some cases we found the older edition to be more comprehensive, in others it was the newer. The bottom-line is that there is not enough distinction between them to compel us to choose one edition over the other – get the format that is most convenient to you at the lowest price you are willing to pay.

1266. Gurps Cliffhangers 2nd Edition – Brian J Underhill (Steve Jackson Games)

Includes Background material on the world of the 1920s and ’30s, including a detailed timeline and a chapter describing each continent, with campaign and adventure seeds, suggestions on how to add the cliffhanger “pulp” style to other genres, and sample characters of both the dashing-hero and dastardly-villain varieties.

Sometimes a little over-the-top and tongue-in-cheek; we prefer being able to choose when that’s the case in our campaign (you DO need contrast, you can’t have the action turned up to “11” all the time).

1267. Undead – Noah Dudley with contributions by Andrew Getting, Travis Heerman and Mike Mearls (AEG d20 Game Supplement)

Lots of ideas that can translate to pulp very easily. Skim it and fiendish thoughts will leap off the pages and into your campaigns; read it in depth, and you will find yourself re-evaluating the underlying metaphysical philosophy of your campaign. The very existence of undead hits you over the head with deep questions about Life, Death, Souls, and the Afterlife, by definition; this book helps both ask and answer those questions, then translate the information into practical impacts on the campaign.

Mike actually considers this book to be incomplete without Libris Mortis and vice-versa, but he couldn’t persuade the others to list that 3.x supplement separately.

1268. Mystic China – Erick Wujcik (Palladium)

Game Supplement for Rifts and other Palladium game systems – massively useful even if the game details need conversion. Surprisingly affordable.


More On Treasures

Comprising three series and a handful of other books, these would have been listed on Shelf 6 but they weren’t discovered in time.

1269. Buried Treasures of the Atlantic Coast – W C Jameson

This is the ninth in this series of more than a dozen children’s books, but it’s the first that we stumbled across while chasing regional myths and cryptozoology. Written for grades 4-8, so expect this to be nothing more than a launchpad for specific research. But what a launchpad: more than 30 stories of lost riches and misplaced stashes, some of which has been found, some of which is still out there – somewhere. It’s also worth observing that we weren’t able to find copies of every entry in the series.

Kindle $7.98 or 192-page paperback (11 used from $2.99, 8 new from $7.82):

1270. Buried Treasures of the Appalachians – W C Jameson

“40 legends with accounts of caves stacked from floor to ceiling with gold ingots; of caches guarded by skeletons and curses; and of Union payrolls scattered to the four winds.”

Kindle $7.60 or 208-page paperback (30 used from $0.25, 18 new from $8.60, 1 collectible at $9.80):

1271. Buried Treasures of the Pacific Northwest – W C Jameson

“Do Native Americans know the location of the cursed “Lost Gold of Devil’s Sink”? Did Sir Francis Drake bury millions of dollars’ worth of ancient Incan treasures? Has anyone found the box of gold coins buried by a reputed giant in the Washington rain forest? Is there a noble family’s fortune buried near an old log cabin in the Cascades?”

Kindle $7.49 or 192-page paperback (10 used from $6.68, 7 new from $8.60):

1272. Buried Treasures of the Great Plains – W C Jameson

More of the same, no substantiative details available; included based on the value of the content of the other books listed.

Kindle $7.79 or 192-page paperback (20 used from $2.58, 21 new from $6.97, 1 collectible at $14.95)

1273. Buried Treasures of Texas – W C Jameson

“31 legends ranging from lost fortunes of Native Americans, French pirates, Spanish explorers, and Mexican soldiers to the early exploits of German and Scotch-Irish settlers.” One reviewer seemed to suggest that most of the stories seemed to be the same (the comment was semi-incoherent so it’s hard to be certain), eight others gave it five out of five.

Kindle $9.09 or 202-page paperback (31 used from $1.30, 20 new from $5.98, 1 collectible at $10)

1274. Buried Treasures of the Ozarks – W C Jameson

“43 legends from Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. As they are handed down and passed around, these tales share certain elements–mysterious strangers bearing maps, social eccentrics who die rich but spurned, good folk who squander their lives on the search for treasure. Again and again, an untimely death (from pneumonia!) or cave-in, a sudden flagging of hope or interest calls searchers away just when they’re on the verge of discovering untold riches. But despite their common themes, the stories are always rooted in local detail and at least partly verifiable fact.”

Kindle $7.98 or 192-page paperback (24 used from $0.93, 18 new from $8.61)

1275. Buried Treasures of the Mid-Atlantic States – W C Jameson

The twelfth book in the series (not all of them tell us that). Contains 30 tales from Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. “Lost mines, buried loot, caches of gold and silver ingots, gangsters, Indians, pirates, chests of precious stones…”

Kindle $7.79 or 192-page paperback (13 used from $4.79, 13 new from $8.60)

1276. Buried Treasures of New England – W C Jameson

More than 30 stories from the Northeast of the United States about hidden riches, forgotten war loot, and sunken treasure ships. One reviewer suggests that some of the stories have been disproven. For pulp/adventure purposes, who cares?

Kindle $7.49 or 192-page paperback (19 used from $0.01, 9 new from $6.83, 2 collectible from $6.49)

1277. Buried Treasures of the Rocky Mountain West – W C Jameson

32 stories covering everything from caches of gold to lost mines to train robberies from Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. One reviewer suggested that the book might be pitched a little young, but most customers again went with 5 stars.

Kindle #9.16 or 192-page paperback (15 used from $4.38, 10 new from $8.60)

1278. Buried Treasures of California – W C Jameson

If there was one part of the US that seemed certain to generate tales of lost gold, it was California, closely followed by the Yukon (which doesn’t seem to have an entry in this series). In the latter case, cold and snow hide the loot, in the former, it’s the desert, the heat – and man. It’s arguable that anyone concealing a treasure cache in California would have to take greater pains to conceal it simply because the environment would not contribute as much to the endeavor. Which brings us to these 30 tales. For the first time, there is a substantial review which is negative in tone (and accompanies a 1-star rating), suggesting that the author relied hard on other sources and includes at least one story that is myth and not reality. At least Jameson is an honest researcher who includes a bibliography of sources. At worst, this is a distillation of several other reference books that don’t focus exclusively on the specific subject, or that are more specific than a broad overview of a number of stories. But the bottom line is that as a foundation for adventures in a fictional reality, the criticism offered doesn’t matter one bit, aside perhaps from the spelling error of one name which might briefly hamper further research, and that’s relatively trivial. If anything, the negative review is a blessing for the Pulp GM because it means more copies can be expected to be available!

Kindle $7.79 or 175-page paperback – shorter than is usual for this series (25 used from $1.88, 22 new from $8).

1279. Buried Treasures of the South – W C Jameson

Even many thousands of miles away in Australia, we’ve heard the legend of the lost Civil War payroll. The fifth book in the series, this contains 38 tales from eight states – Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. We don’t know if that story is one of them, but even if it is, there’s plenty here we didn’t know about to build adventures around.

Kindle $7.50 or 192-page paperback (24 used from $0.01, 11 new from $8.60)

1280. Buried Treasures of the American Southwest – W C Jameson

The last book in the series that we were able to locate – and yes, we know that the tally falls some way short of the numbers cited by some of the product descriptions.

36 stories, chapters on each state, location maps… “accounts of gold mines where the nuggets are piles so deep they can be gathered with a rake and hidden caverns where bars of silver are stacked like firewood and caches of treasure are guarded by skeletons.” One reviewer felt that the title was misleading; for it to be accurate, there should be more from Arizona, California (ignoring that there’s an entirely separate book for that state) and Nevada, and less from Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, because ‘these are not the states that come to mind when I think of the American Southwest’. We suspect that he might be in the minority in that opinion.

More significantly, another reviewer found that he was unable to verify any of the content; this might be because the information was gathered from first-hand research and interviews with people whose “lives have been entwined with the search for particular treasures”. In terms of factual documentation, then, these stories have to be taken with a large grain of salt, as a third reviewer suggests – but in terms of the foundations of one or more adventures or incidents in a pulp campaign, they can be as valuable as the riches in precious metal they describe.

Kindle $8.61 or 224-page paperback (46 used from $0.01, 16 new from $6.10, 1 collectible at $9.95).

1281. Treasure Hunter: A Memoir of Caches, Curses, and Confrontations – W C Jameson

W.C. Jameson – author of many books listed in this section – was “an active treasure hunter for more than fifty years. He has fallen from cliffs, had ropes break during climbs, been caught in mine shaft cave-ins, contended with flash floods, been shot at, watched men die, and had to deal with rattlesnakes, water moccasins, scorpions, and poisonous centipedes. He has fled for his life from park rangers, policemen, landowners, competitors, corporate mercenaries, and drug runners. He has also discovered enough treasure to pay for his own house and finance his and his children’s education. With his enigmatic treasure-hunter partners, Slade, Stanley, and Poet, Jameson’s stories are worthy of an Indiana Jones film — except that they are all” (allegedly) “true.”

Kindle $8.12 or 276-page paperback (9 new from $10.51, 4 used from $10.73, Amazon 6 copies at $14.51)

1282. Pennsylvania’s Lost Treasures – Patty A Wilson

True stories of lost treasures from Benjamin Franklin’s lost book collection to the stolen booty of gentleman bandit Davey Lewis. This doesn’t quite meet our standards of availability but it comes close enough for inclusion.

124-page paperback – 3 used from $13.62, 15 new from $10.93.

1283. Florida’s Lost and Buried Treasures – W C Jameson

By the same author as the Buried Treasures series listed earlier, of which this book might be part. Florida’s legends are full of pirate gold, Spanish explorers, sunken treasure ships and Civil War Payrolls.

Kindle $6.32 or 158-page paperback (9 used from $7.95, 16 new from $10.95).

1284. Lost Mines and Buried Treasures of The Civil War – W C Jameson

The first entry (that we found) in what appears to be a completely different (but obviously related) series by Jameson. Unlike the “Buried Treasure” series, these aren’t targeted at Children.

“…many of the lost or cached military payrolls are documented, so the fortune at the end of the search remains a real one as opposed to a folkloric or mythical one. The truth is, there are millions of dollars worth of such payrolls waiting to be discovered. Further, recovered artifacts associated with both the Union and Confederate armies can sometimes yield impressively high values among collectors. Recovered weapons caches find a viable market.”

Like the Pennsylvania book listed above, this doesn’t quite meet our availability targets.

Paperback, 202 pages; 4 used from $13.70, 14 new from $10.95.

1285. Lost Mines and Buried Treasures of The Guadalupe Mountains – W C Jameson

“Many professional treasure hunters are convinced that more lost mines and buried treasures are associated with the Guadalupe Mountains of West Texas than any other single geographic region in the world.” 16 stories, some only indirectly related to the subject at hand – one chapter is about another Treasure Hunter, for example.

Kindle $7.46 or 132-page paperback (12 new from $10.14, 5 used from $12.66).

1286. Lost Mines and Buried Treasures of Missouri – W C Jameson

There’s not enough information provided about the book to really assess it, and not enough reviews to make reliable judgments. Included on the strength of the other titles in the series. 22 stories, all given provocative titles.

Kindle $5.72 or 152-page paperback (4 used from $12.23, 13 new from $10.77).

1287. Lost Mines and Buried Treasures of Tennessee – W C Jameson

Suffers from the same problems as the Missouri book above in even more acute form. Extracts from the book show a list of other works by Jameson where one would expect a contents page, so we can’t even tell you how many stories are included. The usual average from a Jameson book is 4-6 pages per story, so we would expect around 30, which is also consistent with other titles by the author – but the real number could be anywhere from the low 20s to the high 30s. “Tennessee’s tales of treasure come from a multitude of sources: Indians mining silver for jewelry and ornaments, outlaws burying stolen loot, lost and hidden Civil War payrolls, personal wealth buried and never to be retrieved, and much more” – statements which are so broad and sweeping that they don’t actually tell the reader very much.

Kindle $5.36 or 160-page Paperback (13 new from $9.73, 3 used from $12.52, Amazon’s price $15.99).

1288. Lost Mines and Buried Treasures of Old Wyoming – W C Jameson

It’s titles like this one that give us the confidence to list the Tennessee and Missouri books above. Clearly part of the same series, this one offers plenty of informative detail and specifics. Amongst the caches, buried payrolls, hidden strongboxes and wellsprings of natural wealth discussed are “the Snake River Pothold Gold, the Hallelujah Gulch robbery loot, the lost treasure of Big Nose George, the Lost Cabin Gold Mine. There are twelve more where those came from.

Kindle $7.49 or Paperback, 144 pages; 18 new from $8.97, 12 used from $11.61.

1289. Lost Mines and Buried Treasures of Arizona – W C Jameson

“The famous Lost Dutchman Mine” (which even we have heard of, here in Australia) “…has lured treasure hunters for over a century into the remote, treacherous, and reportedly cursed Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix. Gold and silver bars discovered in Huachuca Canyon by a soldier stationed at nearby Fort Huachuca just before World War II remain inaccessible despite years of laborious attempts at recovery. Outside the town of Yucca, bandits eager to make a fast getaway buried a strongbox filled with gold, unaware they wouldn’t survive the pursuit of a law-enforcing posse to recover their plunder. And somewhere in the Little Horn Mountains northeast of Yuma lies an elusive wash containing hundreds of odd gold-filled rocks.” Those are just four of the thirty included.

Kindle $19.95 or 184-page Paperback; 3 used from $20.94, 17 new from $20.93.

1290. Lost Mines and Buried Treasures of Arkansas – W C Jameson

Unfortunately, with this book there is a return to the generic waffle in the description. Again, though, the details of other books in the series make the decision to list this one a no-brainer.

Kindle $5.35 or 164-page Paperback – 12 new from $10.51, 5 used from $14.80.

1291. Lost Mines and Buried Treasures of Oklahoma – W C Jameson

This book has the most unexciting cover of the entire series, which is somehow appropriate since it seems that the lost goodies of Oklahoma appear better-documented than most. Listings range from the lost loot of the Dalton Gang – another tale to have crossed the Pacific – to the Cobbler’s Gold Cache. The Kindle edition preview is based on an earlier edition through a different publisher, so the contents may vary. This book has some useful reviews pertaining to the whole series, so if you are at all hesitant about purchasing any of them, this one is worth examining more closely. It is also the last of the series that came to our attention.
166 pages, Kindle $5.72 or Paperback (4 used from $12.48, 14 new from $9.75).

1292. The Silver Madonna and Other Tales of America’s Greatest Lost Treasures – W C Jameson

The Silver Madonna was reportedly a two-foot statue made entirely of silver. This book contains information on the Madonna and the 23 other most famous lost treasures in America – from a cache of precious metals and jewelery rumored to also contain the first Bible in America, to seventeen tons of gold buried somewhere in northwestern university. One thing that all these tales have in common is that none of them have ever been found – if they are real, they are still out there somewhere!

What overlap there may be between this book and the others listed is not known, and is the only real source of hesitation on our part.

Paperback, 208-pages. The book has four different listings on Amazon, but one is $50+ and has been excluded accordingly. Of the remainder, which one is the cheapest at any given moment is unpredictable; the only solution is to check all three.

Link 1: 18 used from $7.82, 27 new from $9.90, and Amazon have 12 copies left for $12.26.

Link 2: 8 used from $12.30, 6 new from $20.78.

Link 3: 9 used from $13.67, 6 new from $30.67.

1293. Out Of The Dust: Utah’s Lost Mines and Treasures – Stephen B Shaffer

It’s said that to appreciate Shaffer you have to have an extremely open mind. Those less charitable might suggest that it needs to be open enough to have room for the flat earth and the tooth fairy. Read on and judge for yourself.

Let’s start with an extract from a negative review: “I was excited to read this book, until I read the first chapter in which the author claims a map drawn in 1776 with a river flowing through the Great Salt Lake is probably accurate as extra water may have continued flowing from “Noah’s time.” He then went on to claim that Lake Bonneville was also still in existence at that time and that the biblical floodwaters drained all around California, causing it to be an island… In 1776! In contrast, science tells us that Lake Bonneville drained almost 15000 years ago.”

And here’s another extract by a different negative review: “The introduction to this book paints a picture of Utah circa 1776 as a Spanish exploration ground in which Lake Bonneville either still existed or was at least still draining (from it bursting of its banks into what is now Idaho which they fail to mention) and by which a river was created which drained all the way to the west coast (or what the author deems was the west coast at the time citing that California was an island” at the time). “Of course the author fails to mention that the river flowing westward from the remnants of the great lake Bonneville to the sea would have to cross over the Sierra Nevada mountain range at an elevation of over 9000 feet above sea level! The known average sea level of Lake Bonneville was well below 6000 feet.”

With those obvious flaws, it is hard to place any faith in any other content in the book, according to both reviewers. But let’s ponder the case if the reviewers were prompted by some form of malice to distort the picture and check out what another reviewer – one who gave the book four stars – has to say: “…I really enjoyed this book. Many tales of adventure and treasure, both lost and found. This book, though definitely entertaining enough, does not shed a whole lot of new light on old gold. For the casual treasure hunter, it does offer some direction, but for the technical fanatic, you will find that Stephen stops short of disclosing the details.”

And yet…. okay, granted, the author has some theories that are outer fringe at best; that doesn’t interfere with his ability to research, interview, and gather anecdotes. And even if it did, even if everything in this book was completely fictitious on his part, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use the stories for your own RPG purposes. Reality in a pulp campaign is what you choose to make it; it may superficially resemble the world of our history, but scratch the surface and who knows what you’ll find?

Paperback, 216 pages. There are three or four listings on Amazon but only two are what we consider affordable.

Link 1: 17 used from $9.75, 15 new from $12.70, and Amazon has 8 in stock at $19.99.

Link 2: 6 used from $14.99, 3 new for far-too-much.

1294. Quest for the Dutchman’s Gold: The 100-Year Mystery: The Facts, Myths and Legends of the Lost Dutchman Mine and the Superstition Mountains (Revised Sub Edition) – Robert Sikorsky

The Lost Dutchman’s Mine is another of those stories that has reached all the way across the Pacific to become known here in Australia. Also published under the title “Fool’s Gold”, this book is considered detailed and factual, and clearly distinguishes his own original research from the historical reports. His conclusion is, according to one reviewer, an authoritative debunking of the legend, but if you want to make it otherwise, his responsible approach makes it easy to do. Another reviewer isn’t convinced that there’s nothing too the tale, and argues his case with equal intelligence in his speculations. You can, in other words, have your cake and eat it too – at least on this occasion.

Paperback, 160 pages, 7 new from $10.42, 32 used from $4.11, 1 collectible from $29.

1295. Story of Superstition Mountain and the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine – Robert Joseph Allen

Nevertheless, you might want another source, one that doesn’t try to reach a conclusion. This is that source, although only about 1/4 of the book deals with the title subject; the balance touches a lot of other issues that go with the question. At least one reviewer, for example, describes this as the best book on the American Indians that he has ever read. That means that the Sikorsky book is probably more comprehensive, though possibly less useful. That’s a judgment call, and a case can be made for the two being complimentary more than redundant.

212 page Mass Market Paperback: 14 used from $5.85, new and collectible copies available but too expensive:

Paperback (looks identical to our eyes): 17 used from $8.43, 2 new copies from $24.95.

1296. Fascinating Facts, Mysteries and Myths About U.S. Coins – Robert R Van Ryzin

“…a compilation of some of the more intriguing stories in the history of U.S. Mint coinage,” some factual, some hobby myths. We’ve looked at a number of books on rare coins over the years and they all seem to obsess on current values and be less concerned with the things that would be useful for a GM to know – or even be interesting to read if you aren’t a coin collector. This 240-page book proves that there are such out there – if you look persistently enough.

Kindle $7.78 or 240-page Paperback (19 used from $6.49, 12 new from $8.62, Amazon has copies in stock for $12.99.

1297. Lost Treasures (Library of Curious and Unusual Facts) – Time-Life Books

We know next to nothing about this book. It’s 144 pages, the title is provocative, and the cover gives the impression that it’s relevant. Beyond that, we base this recommendation on Time-Life’s excellent and well-earned reputation for quality.

Hardcover, 41 used from 1¢, 19 new from 1¢, 3 collectible from $9.80.

1298. The Amber Room: The Fate of the World’s Greatest Lost Treasure – Catherine Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy

Mike would have sworn that we had already listed this, but a search came up empty. Regarded by many at the time as “The Eighth Wonder of the World” (if only we had a dollar for every occasion when something has been described as that!). Amber Panels gifted to Peter The Great of Russia and erected years later in the Russian Imperial Palace outside St Petersburg and remained in situ for more than 200 years, a symbol of Imperial Russian might, when the Nazis threatened Leningrad they “were wrenched from the walls, packed into crates, and disappeared from view, never to be seen again”, Dozens have searched for them since, and several have died under mysterious circumstances. The authors claim to have unraveled a jumble of evidence and in boxes of previously-unseen diaries, letters, and classified reports, have developed a conspiracy theory to hide the true story of the fate of the amber panels. To be of complete use to the Pulp GM, history needs to be revised – have the panels removed in response to the attempted invasion by Napoleon Bonaparte and lost – and the cause of the mystery might need to be altered – but the results are a MacGuffin-search in which the Soviet state would actively interfere (Lenin and later Stalin would not be happy about reminding people of the heights of Imperial Russia).

416-page Hardcover (61 used from 1¢, 12 New from $9.55, 2 collectible from $9.90) or Paperback (58 used from 1¢, 20 new from $14.87, 1 collectible at $9.80).

1299. Gem Trails of Washington (2nd edition) – Garret Romaine

This book led us to another series, of which this is the first entry to be discovered. The “Gem Trails” series is more about finding gemstones and other natural bounties such as fossils than about the trails that rockhounds used historically or caches that they may have buried, perhaps because gemstones are a more portable form of wealth than coinage and bullion. The series has an emphasis on preparing the reader to go fossicking for themselves – “Site locations range in difficulty from family-friendly walks along streams and rivers to hard-rock mining with heavy tools. Each site description features detailed directions, individual maps, multiple GPS coordinates, color photographs, nearest camping spots, and the best time of the year to collect. You’ll also find additional information about nearby attractions, and whether you’ll need four-wheel drive to make the final push.”

To the last statement, our response is, ‘Four-wheel-drive? We’re talking about Pulp Adventurers, we don’t need no stinkin’ Four-wheel drive’. This book is ‘completely updated and revised’, and – unsurprisingly – some of the content is either going to be out-of-date, and because we’re talking about a lot of very specific details, the occasional error may have crept in. The series is also a little unusual in that editions are often revised by someone other than the original author – they are more like periodically-updated travel guides than books about valuables in history.

This book, like most of this series, doesn’t come anywhere close to our availability criteria, and – as usual – once copies get hard to find, the price-tag is going up. And yet, there is so much content of inestimable value to the Pulp GM that it was impossible to overlook the series or relegate it – the “dust-dry ghost towns and abandoned mines near Metaline Falls” especially caught our attention as examples. On top of that, being first and foremost a practical guide, this will be full of the detail and color that any GM of any genre will find useful when it comes to utilizing geology in their games. 26 reviewers have given an average rating of 4.4 out of 5. We’re inclined to accept their recommendations – for entirely different purposes and reasons.

248-page paperback, 2 used from $17.14, 3 new from $18.95.

1300. Gem Trails of Oregon (3rd edition) – Garret Romaine

Over 100 rock, mineral and fossil collecting sites within Oregon, including 40 completely new locations, with detailed maps, descriptive text, photos, GPS coordinates, tools required, and nearby attractions. Includes a mineral locator index, glossary, and full-color specimen photo insert. There is a web page, “Reasons not to buy Gem Trails of Oregon” which is about the 1998 edition by James Mitchell, and so should not apply to this edition, though it may sound warning bells about some of the others in the series. That said, life is a dynamic process, subject to change without notice, and anyone relying on specific travel advice from a 1998 book in a field that is especially subject to change deserves everything they get (hmmm… maybe there’s a plot in that, somewhere). Such books should be a launchpad for your own research, nothing more. Be that as it may, we don’t think that any of the criticisms detract from the value of these books to the Pulp GM (as opposed to genuine rock-hunters).

There’s no substantial “about the author” section on Amazon’s listing for this book, which was unexpected after the previous listing (above) included the story of how the author was first lured into the fields of rockhunting (amateur geology to you and me) by the gift of a copy of the second edition, never dreaming that he would be updating that very book something like 15 years later. He reportedly still treasures that weatherbeaten, dog-eared tome, full of personal notes and anecdotes from the expeditions that it inspired. That tells us that at the time it was published, the 1998 book was better than the criticism would lead you to believe – mentioned only with respect to the relevance of the complaints to the rest of the series.

Paperback, 272 pages, 11 used from $14.99, 4 new from $16.95.

1301. Gem Trails of Idaho & Western Montana (1st edition) – Lanny Ream with illustrations by William W Besse

Geology doesn’t respect state lines, we guess (though state lines will sometimes respect Geology). The usual details of 99 sites. The combination of these one-and-a-half states results in a very varied geological spread, so if there were more copies available, this would be the field guide that we would recommend “if you can only buy one”. Availability restrictions prohibit that, unfortunately.

Perfect Paperback, 276 pages, 1 new from $14.95, Amazon have 20 for the same price.

1302. Gem Trails of Arizona (Third Edition) – James R Mitchell

Amazon’s #1 best-seller in “Biology of Fossils”, for whatever that’s worth. That’s because it (and some adjoining states like Nevada) used to be an inland sea, long ago, and conditions here were perfect for fossil creation afterwards. We’ve described this as the third edition but there is a hint in the Amazon product description that this might in fact be the fourth or later edition. As some of the reviewers note, some of these sites have been promoted for rockhunting for more than 30 years and have been largely picked clean – but that shouldn’t bother anyone setting an expedition (or an accidental discovery) in the Pulp era.

Paperback, 272 pages, 10 used from $10, 6 new from $14.95.

1303. Gem Trails of Utah (2nd edition) – James R Mitchell

The usual complaints / caveats – picked clean and ten years out-of-date. This predates the widespread use of GPS coordinates, so directions are given “old school” with navigation markers, directions, and distances – which probably make it more useful for a GM.

Paperback, 242 pages, 9 used from $8.85, 4 new from $8.96

1304. Gem Trails of Northern California (Revised and Expanded edition) – James R Mitchell

“More than 76 locations where 60 varieties of California’s mineral and fossil treasures can be collected and weekend prospectors can pan for gold.” We expect without even looking that the usual caveats apply. (Thirty seconds later, having skimmed the customer reviews:) Yep.

Paperback, 191 pages, 8 used from $11.50, 2 new from $24.99.

1305. Gem Trails of Nevada (2nd edition) – Adrian and James Mitchell

Covers more than 50 sites. The usual details and caveats.

Paperback, 224 pages, 27 used from $7.22, 10 New from $12.95. Amazon’s price is lowest for new copies. Note that Amazon warn that this book usually requires 2-5 weeks to ship – typical of a low-priority print-on-demand, but there’s no other indication that this is the case.

1306. Gem Trails of Colorado (2nd edition) – James R Mitchell

More than 90 sites, including 27 that were new when this was published – in 2008. Some reviewers seem to have the idea that books magically update themselves (a gimmick that Mike has used in a number of Fantasy RPGs – it’s especially fun when 1/3 of the time, the information is biased or distorted and 1/3 of the time it’s flat-out wrong – but the remaining third, it’s gospel…). The usual details and caveats.

Paperback, 224 pages, 10 used from $12.19, 2 new from $13.95

1307. Gem Trails of New Mexico (9th revised edition) – James R Mitchell

More than 100 sites including 25 that were new in 2010. The usual details and caveats. What’s more, one enterprising reviewer has noted that much of the text remains unchanged (but supplemented) from the first edition back in the 1970s, and is therefore even less reliable and current. In fact, a number of the customer reviews are especially interesting in the case of this book: “The map and general guide for west of Albuquerque is mostly wrong or no longer valid because it’s all tribal land now. For locations north of Albuquerque, most of that territory is managed by Forest Service and you’re no longer able to rockhound at the locations I tried. For Southwest of central New Mexico, the maps are a bit off, but I eventually found the locations (and definitely 4WD recommended as the roads have changed over the decades).” “The directions to places were almost always so confusing it took twice as long to even find the places. The Texas book was so much better!” (D&D / Pathfinder GMs, are you paying attention?)

Paperback, 280 pages, 2 new from $14.95, 7 used from $42.90

1308. Gem Trails of Texas (9th edition) – Brad L Cross, edited by Nancy Fox

And, speaking of the Texas book, here it is – the most contemporary of the series, published in 2011. More than 50 sites, subdivided into six geographic regions. This book actually contains more complaints than usual about out-of-date and incorrect information surviving the “update-and-revise” process. None of which should be relevant to a pulp/RPG application.

Paperback, 176 pages, 2 used and 3 new, both from $14.95. Amazon themselves are the cheapest.

1309. Gem Trails of Southern California (2nd edition) – James R Mitchell

82 sites, the usual details and caveats.

Paperback, 214 pages, 18 used from $39.97, 8 new from $19.95.

1310. Gem Trails of British Columbia (2nd edition) – Cam Bacon

At first, we thought this was the previous series beginning to extend it’s reach into Canada. But the publisher is completely different, and there don’t seem to be equivalents for the other states – at least not yet. That said, there is a distinct familiarity to the look-and-feel of the contents. Described as “thorough yet concise” – but for us it looks short relative to the price-tag. As the only such book that we found looking outside the USA, though, it needs to be included.

Paperback, 104 pages, 2 new from $13.11. You may find more on Amazon Canada.

1311. Gem Minerals of Idaho (reissue edition) – John A Beckworth

Although the focus is more on what you might find and less on where to go looking, we were not all that surprised to find that the usual caveats and complaints were present. But then, this was published in 1972, making it 35 years old (if the cover design looks dated, that’s why)!

Paperback, 129 pages, 28 used from $0.50, 20 new from $7.25.

1312. Gemstones of the World (Newly Revised 5th edition) – Walter Schumann

Amazon’s #1 best-seller in Rock and Mineral Field Guides. 168 reviews rate it an average of 4.7 out of 5. One reviewer complained that it wasn’t comprehensive enough, and another that the images were too small. 131 other reviewers would disagree, having given the book five stars. The reason why: “The most comprehensive and informative color manual of the world’s gemstones, illustrated by 1800 examples of stones, both rough and cut, in color.” And that makes the prices below seem like pretty good value for money for any GM – even though it is clearly a niche product.

Hardcover, 320 pages, 42 new from $15.83, 28 used from 14.50, 1 collectible from $29.00. Amazon has the low price on new copies.

1313. Finding Treasure: A Field Guide – W C Jameson

How and where to look for and find valuable artifacts, precious metals, lost jewels and hidden caches, anywhere from in a local park to your attic to the open countryside. Practical tips will “get you started” and “help you protect your claim on any found treasures and authenticate the value”. And that’s a great segue into the section on practical skills….

Paperback, 148 pages; 12 used from $7.39, 17 new from $8.61, and Amazon’s price is $14.95.


Books Of Practical Advice


1314. Camping For Dummies – Michael Hodgson

Mike picked up a boy scout handbook from 1952 at a Garage sale which he has used as reference a number of times in both the Adventurer’s Club campaign and his various Fantasy campaigns. In fact, any campaign in which characters have to camp out in the wilderness can find this type of reference to be useful. Well, very old Boy Scout Manuals don’t come along every day, but “Camping For Dummies” should be a more than adequate substitute.

Kindle $13.36 and Paperback (46 used from $0.64, 30 new from $10.81):

1315. Wilderness Survival For Dummies – Cameron M Smith and John F Haslett

Take everything said about “Camping For Dummies” and double and square it for this book.

1316. Frank Reade: Adventures in the age of Invention – Paul Guinan & Anina Bennett

“Frank Reade” was the first of the science-fiction pulps, predating even HG Wells and Jules Verne, bridging the gap between the Victorian era (Steampunk) & the Pulp era. This volume collects some of the most memorable covers and internal illustrations and intersperses them with excerpts from the stories, which are further interspersed with snippets from the fictional “real-world” biography of “Frank Reade” and family, who did it all before anyone else, touching on almost all the pulp archetypes along the way.

1317. The Indiana Jones Handbook – Denise Kiernam & Joseph D’Agnese

Practical solutions to typical pulp adventure problems like Quicksand. While this book sacrifices content for style to some extent, what content there is is right on target.

1318. Why Did It Have To Be Snakes – Lois H. Gresh & Robert Weinberg

The facts behind the Indiana Jones adventures (not a making-of-). By defining the story-behind-the-story, the GM’s own decisions as to what pulp elements they found plausible within the context of the Indiana Jones movies transforms this book into a masterclass in pulp verisimilitude; on top of that, the content is useful pulp reference in its own right.

1319. Caverns, Cauldrons, and Concealed Creatures (Expanded Third Edition) – Wm. Michael Mott

This is either an excellent example of how to cherrypick fact, fantasy, and folklore and weave them together to form a coherent campaign background, or a comprehensive overview of various mythic and literary archetypes and elements, depending on how you decide to use the content.

1320. How to climb Mont Blanc in a skirt – Mick Conefrey

This book looks like it would be useful for female adventurer archetypes but most of the examples are from outside the Pulp era. It does contain a lot of general snippets of useful information such as the contents of a 19 th century Doctor’s bag, however. Available in two different editions and covers. There are a very limited number of cheap copies available from this link and more, if they run out, at this page

1321. The Action Hero’s Handbook: How to Catch a Great White Shark, Perform the Vulcan Nerve Pinch, Track a Fugitive, and Dozens of Other TV and Movie Skills – David Borganicht & Joe Borganicht

Buy a copy and give to your players. This book is full of practical and humorous how-to’s for your PCs to use. Features dozens of action hero techniques in ways that work in real life, directly from experts in the subjects: FBI agents, stunt-men, hypnotists, karate masters, criminologists, detectives, and more, covering such topics as how to catch a great white shark, spy-proof your hotel room, win a fight when outnumbered, climb down the Mount Rushmore National Monument, and much more. Some (possibly all) editions of this book have rounded corners, and the pages are physically smaller than most paperbacks (think of it as a pocket reference).

1322. The Action Heroine’s Handbook – Jennifer Worick & Joe Borganicht

More of the same. Don’t be sexist, give them as a matched pair – and make sure to get a copy for yourself so you know what to expect from your PCs. Subjects include How to Win a Catfight, Drink Someone Under the Table, Choke a Man with Your Bare Thighs… how the real action heroines do it, direct from a host of experts including stunt-women, jujitsu instructors, helicopter pilots, detectives, forensic psychologists, survivalists, primatologists, and more. Some (possibly all) editions of this book have rounded corners, and the pages are physically smaller than most paperbacks (think of it as a pocket reference).

1323. The Adventurer’s Handbook: From Surviving an Anaconda Attack to Finding Your Way Out of a Desert – Mick Conefrey

“Life Lessons from History’s Greatest Explorers”. The great expeditions of discovery, the people who participated, the dangers they faced, what they learned from them, and some of the things that they found. Practical advice from the original diaries and logs of the real world’s most famous larger-than-life adventurers, like how to survive an anaconda attack, face a charging elephant, or survive solely on penguin stew.

1324. The Complete Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook – Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht

A volume of the most popular scenarios from all 11 Worst-Case Scenario handbooks, plus the entire contents of all the books on a fully searchable CD-ROM – how to avoid the perils of mountain lions and blind dates, avalanches and teenage driving lessons, runaway golf carts and Christmas turkeys on fire. Note that second-hand copies are usually missing the CD-ROM, and almost certainly so will the Kindle Edition, so choose your purchases carefully.

1325. The Complete Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook – Man Skills – Joshua Piven, David Borgenicht, and Ben H. Winters

More of the same, plus new content. This book will tell you how to wrestle an alligator, calm a crying child, or extinguish backyard barbecue fires (amongst a lot of other useful mini-skills), plus a full-searchable CD-ROM. Note that second-hand copies are usually missing the CD-ROM, and almost certainly so will the Kindle Edition, so choose your purchases carefully.

1326. 100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative’s Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture, and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation – Clint Emerson

The author is a retired Navy SEAL, and this is a compendium of techniques from his actual training and real missions, adapted for “civilian” use. Covers everything from escaping a locked trunk, or making an improvised Taser, to tricking facial recognition software – much of which will be of no value to the pulp GM, but for every entry relating to a more modern society, there is one that scores a direct hit on the relevance target. This is Amazon’s Number-1 best-seller within the subject of Survival and Emergency Preparedness.

1327. The Supervillain Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide to Destruction and Mayhem Paperback – “King Oblivion” (a pseudonym)

Insight on the art of revenge, choosing your evil name, where to find the perfect lair, and much more, all delivered tongue- very firmly -in-cheek. Don’t worry about the apparent distressed appearance of the cover, that’s artistic fakery.

1328. The Supervillain Field Manual: How to Conquer (Super) Friends and Incinerate People – “King Oblivion” (a pseudonym)

The sequel to “The Supervillain Handbook”, this is “complete with every strategy the aspiring malevolent overlord needs”, including how to handle unruly hostages, control minions, deal with notoriety, and much more. Like the previous volume, the cover art is designed to look “well-used”, don’t be put off.

1329. How To Survive A Horror Movie – Seth Grahame-Smith

Still more at least semi-practical advice on topics ranging from “How to stay awake for a week”, “How to tell if an object is Evil”, “How to kill a Vampire”, “What to do if there are snakes on your plane”, “How to perform an exorcism”, and a great deal more. We have linked to the cheapest copies but there may well be more listed if they run out or start getting expensive – search for “how to survive a horror movie” on your local Amazon site. There are also Kindle editions but these are more expensive (at the moment) than the physical book. and more copies at

1330. The Rogue’s Handbook: A Concise Guide to Conduct for the aspiring Gentleman Rogue – Jeff Metzger

‘Rogue’ is used in the early 20 th century sense, which formed the basis for the ‘lovable rogue’ archetype into the mid-80s in film and television before being supplanted by the ‘bad boy’ image in the 90s. A rogue is a good guy who titillates by flirting with naughtiness. The book describes roguish behavior with examples from film and literature, typical dialogue, etc and includes profiles of famous gentleman rogues from both fiction and history, such as Winston Churchill, James Bond, Lord Byron, and Rhett Butler.

This is another book with a deliberate “distressed look” to the cover.


For-Dummies Books Of Practical Advice

In most cases, we haven’t read any of these, and are recommending them for consideration based purely upon the publisher’s descriptions and on general principles except where otherwise noted. This also shifts the content of each review from one of “this book is recommended and here’s why” to “this book might be useful and here’s why”. We have made the assumption that availability and price would fall within our parameters, or close enough to them; we have rarely found this not to be the case.

Selected works were so promising and so relevant, that they have been promoted to the main list of recommendations, excluding them from the above caveats.

A note about Complete Idiot’s Guides

While the “For Dummies” series has a website that lists all the books currently available in the series, there is no equivalent for the “Complete Idiot’s Guides”.

Our blanket advice is that if Amazon lists a “Complete Idiot’s Guide” that matches the subject of one of our “For Dummies” recommendations, you should buy both.


1331. Martial Arts For Dummies – Jennifer Lawler

Martial Arts in a pulp setting is another of those problem subjects in which the reality might not be pulp enough.

Take away the lightsabers and hand out katanas and shuriken and the sort of moves you’re used to seeing Jedi make in various Star Wars movies (especially the second trilogy), with a bit of Errol Flynn and the Spider-man movies thrown in for good measure, is far closer to the mark.

So this reference could be of very limited value. Or it could be absolutely brilliant, if you take what’s here and “supersize” it for Pulp Consumption. A lot will depend on your style as a GM and just how over-the-top fantastic you want your pulp campaign to be.

NB: There is a book called “Mixed Martial Arts For Dummies” which is only tangentially relevant, at best. Don’t confuse it for this one.

Kindle $12.80 or Paperback (39 used from $0.25, 52 new from $1.38)


Afterword by Blair:

Because of the last-minute rearrangement of the shelf structure, part of Blair’s afterword (which was written in advance and only after a difficult struggle with the empty page) pertains to content that appeared on the last shelf and doesn’t touch on the added content of this shelf at all. This shouldn’t be held against him in any way, shape, or form – it’s not his fault! It’s just the way things worked out – to include the Kickstarter (giving readers the maximum possible time to participate), it was a necessary evil. As series editor, that was my decision to make, and I will cop whatever blame there is. – Mike

One of the best ways to get the feel of a pulp campaign is to track down the fiction of the period. Many novels and pulp comic strips from the era are still available in book, kindle, or compilation form, and some new material continues to be published within the genre.

Comic companies such as Dark Horse and Dynamite, for example, have done comics featuring many classic pulp characters. Publishers such as Moonstone and Altus Press have reprinted classic (and sometimes more obscure) pulp stories as well as new fiction about pulp era characters. Anthologies collecting magazines such as Weird Tales are also available. Nostalgia Adventures Inc and Sanctum have reprinted some of the classic pulp stories, complete with period illustrations!

Be cautious with anthologies simply marked “Pulp” or “Pulp Fiction”, however; these will mostly be from the “crime / hard-boiled detective” subgenre. Some American publishers in particular seem to think that this is the be-all and end-all of the Pulp Genre. These are a part of the mix, to be sure, and can still be useful, but you should be aware of the limitations entailed. British collections tend to be more liberal in scope, and some Americans get it right – but you need to keep your eyes open and read descriptions and reviews carefully.

Don’t neglect “Juvenile Fiction” from the period, either; characters such as “Nancy Drew” and “The Hardy Boys” are still available in Reprint editions. Mike remembers with fondness many Enid Blyton mysteries which are as close to Pulp as Scooby Doo, (which is to say, rubbing shoulders with the genre) and may also be useful. We had to talk him out of including in the Fiction section; they aren’t quite Pulp. Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Three Investigators” aren’t pulp in setting either, but come a lot closer in tone and style.

The Library Of American Comics has reprinted many classic comics from the era, and some pulp-style comics from outside the US such as “Tin Tin” and “Modesty Blaise” may be available in collections.

There are also many books out there offering “practical advice” on survival for pulp players and GMs. Scrutinize anything you come across with “How To” or “Handbook” in the title, and unexpected gems can fall into your lap. Often written with a tongue-in-cheek style, these are well worth looking for; every survival tip is both a tool for PCs and a plot ingredient for the GM!

And then there are the games. Many RPG companies have produced games set in the Pulp Era, or that are Pulp in style – science fiction, spy, low-power superhero, and horror as well as adventure. Heavens, even some low-fantasy swords-and-sorcery sources can be adapted! Regardless of your preferred system, there is often useful information and new ideas to be gleaned from looking at other systems. And there is quite a lot of pulp-related material now available through DriveThruRPG. Keep your eyes open and check the small publishers!

The English language is a patchwork quilt, notorious for stealing words from other languages when they have something to offer. Like superheros, Pulp is the “English Language” of RPG Genres, and umbrella under which many strange and unexpected flavors and sub-genres can shelter and collide – and collude. Transcend the limits of your definition and spark your imagination! The possibilities are endless…

Next in this series (may be slightly delayed): The 15th shelf – Inspiring Media! Don’t forget the popcorn…


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