Wednesday 2 July 2014

An Oldhammer Reader

I recently asked Rick Priestly, Tony Ackland and Bryan Ansell to reccommend some of the books that inspired the early development of Warhammer to share with the Oldhammer community. Rick and Tony kindly responded with a wealth of material, and indicated the kind of books that Bryan was reading and recommending at the time.

The authors mentioned are listed below, where no title was given I have noted the most well known or typical of that authors work.

Warhammer Fantasy Battle

Michael Moorcock: Elric series
Michael Moorcock: Hawkmoon series
Robert Howard: Conan series (esp. the Sprague de Camp versions)
J.R.R. Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings
J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit
Harvard Lampoon: Bored of the Rings*
Poul Anderson : Broken Sword (esp. Jes Goodwin)
Poul Anderson : Polesotechnic League**
John Norman: Gor series
James Branch Cabell: Jurgen
Lord Dunsany:  Time and the Gods
Druilet: Lone Sloane***
Jack Vance: The Dying Earth
Star Reach (comic)
Anne McCaffery:  Dragonriders of Pern

Rogue Trader

Frank Herbert: Dune
Frank Herbert: Children of Dune
Frank Herbert: God Emperor of Dune
2000AD: Nemesis the Warlock
2000AD: Rogue Trooper****
Heavy Metal
Howard Chaykiin: Cody Starbuck (Star Reach)
Ray Bradbury: Martian Chronicles
Poul Anderson: The Terran Empire
Harry Harrison: Stainless Steel Rat series
Harry Harrison: Deathworld series
Harry Harrison: Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers 
Robert Sheckley: The Status Civilization
Philip Hose Farmer: Riverworld (esp. Richard Halliwell)

Although  split into Fantasy and Rogue Trader, this division is somewhat artificial.  Some material clearly has influence into  Laserburn and Reaper eras as well as into the development of Warhammer and beyond.  It is also clear that several of the authors had a direct and broad influence, Moorcock and Herbert especially, whereas others figure as background reading and yet others lend perhaps only one or two specific motifs.  The recurrence of comic-books is notable, as is the inclusion of works of parody.

The list is by no means a definitive list of literary sources for Warhammer. other games, both Greyhawk and Glorthana, from Dungeons & Dragons and Runequest respectively clearly influenced the 'world' of Warhammer. Nor is this list intended to define a cannonical range of Oldhammer settings - the worlds of George RR Martin,  Douglas Adams or Stan Lee are as just as open to gaming with Warhammer -  nonetheless I hope my fellow Oldhammeristas find this compilation of some interest, entertainment, and perhaps inspiration for your own games.

* esp. Halflings - RP
** The origin of Zoats - TA
*** Red Redemption, also 40k /Laserburn / Chainsaw Warrior -TA
**** Souther armour influence on space marine  power armour - RP


  1. Awesome list Zhu not a bad title on the list. Nver drew the link to stainless steal rat, even though I often aimed for that sort of thing in my early games of RT. Shame it went grim dark only.

  2. From the WHFB list I've read a lot of the Moorcock and Anderson and virtually all the RE Howard. Oh, and obviously Tolkien! For fantastic fiction I would also recommend Clark Ashton Smith. Penguin are to release an anthology of his short stories and poems in August.

  3. I always suspected that Dune was an influence on 40K. I remember as a kid thinking some of the art looked like it was inspired by the David Lynch movie as well.

  4. I think Moorcock is still pissed at GW for lifting his ideas.

    1. No Bryan and Moorcock were pen pals back then. Pete Knifton knew Moorcock well and there were never any issues.

  5. Thanks a lot for taking the time to sort the list which was spread through a rather long FB thread. Lots of these are familiar but some are totally new to me. Definitely a good way to get the same fuel that was used then to fire our own imagination !

  6. That's a great reading list. There's quite a few on there that I haven't read, and some that I'm not at all familiar with, but largely it confirms that there was a reason that the sorts of worlds that came out of GW appealed to me - I was reading the same sources (particularly Moorcock, Tolkien, Howard, Herbert, and, of course, 2000AD).

    Re: The Stainless Steel Rat - I recently read The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge (I was on a Traveller kick - and I'd imagine that early Traveller was an influence on RT, not least because GW did publish some supplements for it). While the humour didn't click for me - I prefer Ezquerra's 'James Coburn' Jim DiGriz - thinking about it I can see how the wilder, more open world of RT (the first book alone) could feature plenty of 'capers' like that. Harder to see what place there is for such a rogue in the non Rogue Trader universe of later (even just briefly later) 40K. The Dune influences, though, are plain.

    1. It has been a long time since I read them, I do remeber them being very tongue in cheek and not especially well written but I loved the bog standard Scifi universe. I have no idea why the most popular scifi gaming universe has no flying cars anymore.

    2. Do they not have hover cars scratch-built from deodorant sticks and odds and ends from the bits box these days? ;-)

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  8. The Warhound and the World's Pain by Moorcock had to be a crucial piece in the making of the Old World. The book could have a Black Library publishers imprint on it and hardly anyone would notice.


  10. At one point, Citadel was making miniatures of Moorcock's characters, with permission. I (miraculously) picked up a shrink wrapped "Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion" box set at a local store about 5 years ago, for the original MSRP. It contained Hawkmoon, 2 versions of Elric, Moonglum, Jerry Cornelius, and a few others.

  11. For 40K space marine vs tyrannid fun, see Armor by John Steakley

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