Featured book: Monsters, Aliens, and Holes in the Ground

A richly illustrated, encyclopedic deep dive into the history of roleplaying games

When Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson released Dungeons & Dragons in 1974, they created the first roleplaying game of all time. Little did they know that their humble box set of three small digest-sized booklets would spawn an entire industry practically overnight. 

In Monsters, Aliens, and Holes in the Ground, Stu Horvath explores how the hobby of roleplaying games, commonly known as RPGs, blossomed out of an unlikely pop culture phenomenon and became a dominant gaming form by the 2010s. Going far beyond D&D, this heavily illustrated tome—available in a deluxe edition—covers more than three hundred different RPGs that have been published in the last five decades.

“More than just a guide, Stu Horvath’s compendium is a deep dungeon crawl and a personal journey through the history, evolution, and culture of tabletop RPGs,” says Evan Dorkin, writer and cartoonist for Milk & Cheese. 

Monsters, Aliens, and Holes in the Ground features (among other things) bunnies, ghostbusters, soap operas, criminal bears, space monsters, political intrigue, vampires, romance, and, of course, some dungeons and dragons. In a decade-by-decade breakdown, Horvath chronicles how RPGs have evolved in the time between their inception and the present day, offering a deep and gratifying glimpse into a hobby that has changed the way we think about games and play.

“Rather than reminiscing about familiar experiences, I wrote this book so readers could discover whole new worlds,” Horvath writes in the book’s introduction. “There are thousands of games out there, differently approachable, catering to all kinds of play, to eclectic interests, to diverse viewpoints. If every reader finds just one game here that they never previously heard of, and considers tracking it down to read or play, I will consider my job more than well done.”

Monsters, Aliens, and Holes in the Ground in the media:

Dicebreaker published an excerpt from Monsters, Aliens, and Holes in the Ground about the role-playing game Travellers.

The Stranger wrote a piece about the book and the interesting pieces of Dungeon’s & Dragons lore that Horvath reveals.

Polygon mentioned the book in an interview with Horvath.

The Rookery posted an interview with Horvath.

Geek Gamers posted a review of the book on their YouTube channel.

“Horvath’s love for the genre shines through every entry in this immaculately researched tome. It’s exhaustive but not exhausting; you’ll keep reading for pleasure long after you’ve found the info you came for.” —Steve Jackson, perpetrator of Munchkin

Learn more about Monsters, Aliens, and Holes in the Ground