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The Website of the Central Nebraska Writers Network
Fall 1999

Lynne Aurand Mickley, Editor
111 N. Cleveland St.
Grand Island, NE 68803-5350
United States

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 After Hours Writing
  by Claire Splan
  by Mary Elizabeth Anderson
 Interviewing Techniques
  by Kelly Boyer Sagert

 Role Playing Research
  by Brian J. Noggle

 Avoid Playing the "Flame Game"
  by Cindy Appel
 Scientific Writing
  by Grady Hanrahan
 How to Build a Successful Literary Business
  by Marilyn June Janson
 The Four Biggest Problems
  by Grady Hanrahan
 Creative Words
  by Lynne Aurand Mickley

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Role Playing Research

Brian J. Noggle

          For genre fiction writers, information is often other places than at our fingertips. Without a library of research materials in our homes, where can we turn for quick information about our varied genres? The answer may be the local hobby shop and their section on role-playing games.
          Most people associate role playing games (RPGs) exclusively with the fantasy genre, thanks to the oft-maligned Dungeons and Dragons. Role playing games exist for almost all genres of players and for all types of imaginations. And, since role players are sticklers for adherence to some realism in their gaming, RPGs are treasure troves of specific information.
          GDW’s Twilight: 2000, for example, contains some of the most extensive firearms, artillery, and explosive technical information I have ever seen other than in a Clancy novel. Rate of fire, ammunition type, magazine capacity for Eastern bloc, Western Bloc, and American rifles, pistols, and shotguns divvied up and diagrammed in easy to access charts. A lot thinner than most reference manuals and a lot cheaper than a subscription to a gun magazine.
          Chaosium Incorporated’s Call of Cthulhu covers Lovecraftian horror. Inside its dark pages one finds lists of equipment, historical timelines, and social commentary from three periods: the 1890s, the 1920s, and the 1990s. I can flip through and see that I do not give a doctor in 1890 giving a patient an X-ray.
          A third volume in my collection that comes in handy is GDW’s our-of-print fantasy game Dangerous Journeys: Advanced Mythus. When I searched the libraries of my town for books about swords and mediaeval weapons, I was left at a loss. Dangerous Journeys provides more than ample information about the difference between a hauberk and a halberd. A fantasy reader knows that the two are not interchangeable.
          Other games cover different genres. Espionage, cyberpunk, gothic horror, post-apocalyptic, and everything else has its few inches on the hobby store shelf. With the thrust for realism in contemporary gaming, you can be sure that the gaming companies have done their research, and in the right circumstances, they can do yours, too.

          Brian J. Noggle is a writer from St. Louis, Missouri.

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This page updated 10/21/99