Secret Doors Web Press reviews books!

What's Mac reading now? Learn more about the adventure games related fiction and non-fiction on Mac's bedside table!

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook
14 January 2002

Most survival guides cover issues like hypothermia and finding water. Some sample headings from the The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook:

Most reviewers respond with something like, "This is fun to read, but who really needs this stuff?" The answer is simple: gamers! The average roleplayer faces situations like these weekly!

As a survival handbook, this book has wide gaps. The pit still and emergency splint illustrations are missing from this one. But gamers don't need that crap anyway. We need to know that extreme stuff, the stuff that only Navy SEALs and heroes played by Bruce Willis need to know. We need to know how to safely leap from a building into a Dumpster, how to fend off a shark or alligator, and how to survive in a firefight.

For a player, this book is a must-have if you want to know how to do the things your action hero character needs to know. Or your street-smart urban character, who needs to jimmy a car door and hotwire the ignition from time to time.

For a game master, this book is great for high-action inspiration. "Cool! 'How to Maneuver on Top of a Moving
Train and Get Inside!' That sounds like a great idea for my next adventure!"

For anyone, this book has an implicit sense of swashbuckling adventure that's good inspiration for life. And gaming.

by McRey "Mac" Moyer

The Dresden Files
28 October 2001

Storm FrontThis is lighter than my usual fare, but nonetheless a strong recommendation. Jim Butcher has constructed for us a world of magic in a modern setting, written it with wit and appropriate humor, and then done it two more times.

I feel pretty comfortable saying these books are inspired by Mage: the Ascension -- I've heard from a friend-of-a-friend that Mr. Butcher is a gamer himself. And they're excellent source material for this game.

[I recently received an email from Mr. Butcher. He confirms that he's a gamer, but says he "didn't actually start playing any WoD until after the first book had already been written" and that Mage had "had only a very peripheral influence" on the series. So I stand corrected. But I stand by my claim that these books are perfect source material for Mage: the Ascension. --MM 14 Jan 2002]

Harry Dresden, the protagonist of The Dresden Files, is a wizard private dick. We get a hard boiled noir spoof along with our tale of modern magic. Butcher does an excellent job of portraying Dresden's magical talents, and his relationships with summoned spirits and mystical energies, while still telling a very human story with charm and humor. On top of that, his pacing should be studied closely by game masters... the books are consistently enthralling.

There are (so far) three novels in The Dresden Files:

by McRey "Mac" Moyer

Secre Doors Web Press