I participated in the OSR Discord’s Secret Jackalope 2022 recently. As the name might suggest, it’s a bit like Secret Santa, except Santa has been eaten by a ravenous hare and also it’s in April for some reason. Everyone submits a prompt for some gaming content, and everyone receives a randomly assigned prompt. At the end you all have a small piece of gaming content, like Tandy who wrote about the legend of Saint Melor for me. Meanwhile, I’d received the following prompt:
“Whats on the book shelf” style random roll table for when players ask what’s on that wizard’s shelf and you have nothing written down.
Well that seems very useful. Very well then, here you go! You can go to Google Drive to download a copy of the file.
Pointless navel-gazing continues below content1d100books
There were a couple of challenges in writing such a table, but I’m pretty satisfied with the result. I’d never participated in such an event, and it showed. Early on I’d settled on 100 titles, which was a significant amount. I’m always a bit miffed when an author published a random table with 6 or 10 entries, but I understand now. I don’t think I’ve ever had to come up with a hundred of anything. Regardless, I’m satisfied with my approach. I defined a bunch of categories of works: “Books on religion”, “Books on natural sciences”, “Books on history”, etc. I then came up with about 12 books for each category, to give a nice spread of topics. There’s also a couple of entries that are a bit silly, like 14 — A Brief History of Thyme, and ones that are a bit weird/gonzo, like 54 — A book with just one page.
One of the main challenges in this project for me was working around the worldbuilding. When you’re coming up with book titles, those books are about something. That inherently says something about the world. The presence of 34 — An Account of the Third War, implies there were wars, at least three of them, and that they’re rather unimaginatively named. Entry 24 — The Courtly Proceedings of Zaphresia implies there is a place called Zaphresia and that court is held there. Of course, I know that Zaphresia is a large kingdom that is currently seeing religious and political turmoil between the Revisionist King Alector and his Orthodox Brother, the Duke of Shawmoreshire. Of course, someone using this table might decide that Zaphresia is a city, a duchy, or perhaps just an organisation with a leader you’ll want to impress.
I tried to work around this by writing titles that can function as multiple things. 20 —The Little Boy That Ran Away might be a children’s book, a historical account of a boy-king, or part of a series of moral lessons from the dominant religion. Ultimately, I had to work with the most basic of fantasy assumptions — which my world already does regardless — and trust that whomever uses the table could at least warp the results enough to be useful for themselves.
Regardless, I enjoyed creating the table and hope it’s useful for someone. Thanks to the OSR Discord Moderator Team for putting this together.