Sunday, October 21, 2012

AD&D Historical Reference Sourcebooks HR1-7

I have a better appreciation for TSR's AD&D Historical Reference series now than I did when I first encountered them in the 1990s. Obviously, back then I wasn't a historian, just an avid AD&D player who thought the books would contain some great ideas. Now, of course, I appreciate them as a medievalist because they are a simple way to introduce roleplayers to history. I think of them now as like Osprey Books but for roleplayers (since they deal with using supernatural elements--Osprey, of course, does not).

Like Osprey's military history books, the HR series contain the general history on a topic. Readers are given time lines and other background information on the historical narrative. These books are geared more toward Dungeon Masters, but player should find them interesting, too. Each book also features a short bibliography for further reading.

The bibliographies have some solid historical sources, both primary and secondary. Today I get a kick out of going through these bibliographies. "Hey, I've read that!" "Hey, I know that author!"

The caveat: The AD&D Historical Reference Sourcebooks were never meant to be scholarly works, even less so than Osprey. Don't cite them in your paper, even at the K-12 level. Still, I think its important that gamers, and people in general, get more exposure through history, even if it is through a game.

I know these historical reference books have influenced me into being more interested about history. And I know that the three books above had some influence on the Domikka Campaign Setting.

In the future, I'll review each of these books. I've listed them below.

But for now: What do you think of these books? Have you run any campaigns set in The Glory of Rome or fought to take Jerusalem in The Crusades? Or did you take ideas from them, such as plucking the black powder rules from A Mighty Fortress and put them in your game?

HR1: Vikings
HR2: Charlemagne's Paladins
HR3: Celts
HR4: A Mighty Fortress
HR5: The Glory of Rome
HR6: Age of Heroes
HR7: The Crusades


  1. I have HR3: Celts and I love it. I have used it before in a sandbox game based around Celtic myths and legends. I really enjoyed it.

  2. I know this is a bit old, but did you ever get around to reviewing these? I can't seem to find them on your blog, and would love to read your thoughts on these.

    1. I actually don't think I ever got around to reviewing these. Thank you very much for the reminder! (Now where did I put HR1: Vikings?)


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