A Brief (Ha!) Look At What Has Come Before
Appendix N is, at this point, pretty much synonymous with D&D for those who have taken more than a passing interest in the game. There have even been books written entirely about Appendix N, as there have been for the subject of D&D or Gary Gygax writ large. It is certainly synonymous with the OSR and discussions surrounding what is and is not part of the OSR; for however much stock you place in those conversations or the minutiae of tiny concerns regarding labels, these chats usually result in some lovely book talk and recommendations at one point or another, whether they intend to or not.
Appendix N is simply the title of the section in the AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide which listed books which had influenced Gygax to ponder the idea of fantasy wargaming and, eventually, fantasy roleplaying. The original published list, written in the very late 1970s by Gary Gygax himself, is of specific historical value for interpreting the game at its earliest evolutions; to see the source material he and his cohorts drew upon for inspiration is to see how the rules were written, to some extent, to allow for simulation of the feats therein. It is easy to read his list of books and understand how this or that came to be added or modified within the body of Dungeons and Dragons. His words:
Anderson, Poul: THREE HEARTS AND THREE LIONS; THE HIGH CRUSADE; THE BROKEN SWORD
Bellairs, John: THE FACE IN THE FROST
Burroughs, Edgar Rice: “Pellucidar” series; Mars series; Venus series
Carter, Lin: “World’s End” series
de Camp, L. Sprague: LEST DARKNESS FALL; THE FALLIBLE FIEND; et al
de Camp & Pratt: “Harold Shea” series; THE CARNELIAN CUBE
Farmer, P. J.: “The World of the Tiers” series; et al
Fox, Gardner: “Kothar” series; “Kyrik” series; et al
Howard, R. E.: “Conan” series
Lanier, Sterling: HIERO’S JOURNEY
Leiber, Fritz: “Fafhrd & Gray Mouser” series; et al
Lovecraft, H. P.
Merritt, A.: CREEP, SHADOW, CREEP; MOON POOL; DWELLERS IN THE MIRAGE; et al
Moorcock, Michael: STORMBRINGER; STEALER OF SOULS; “Hawkmoon” series (esp. the first three books)
Offutt, Andrew J.: editor of SWORDS AGAINST DARKNESS III
Pratt, Fletcher: BLUE STAR; et al
Saberhagen, Fred: CHANGELING EARTH; et al
St. Clair, Margaret: THE SHADOW PEOPLE; SIGN OF THE LABRYS
Tolkien, J. R. R.: THE HOBBIT; “Ring trilogy”
Vance, Jack: THE EYES OF THE OVERWORLD; THE DYING EARTH; et al
Wellman, Manley Wade
Zelazny, Roger: JACK OF SHADOWS; “Amber” series; et al
With time, the inclusion of inspirational source material has continued in D&D publications, and in the publication of other role-playing games, and of course it has changed and mutated and been updated and edited and so on by each editor of each edition or publisher. The lead minds of different versions of D&D held different books in high esteem; Moldvay Basic contains much overlap, but also has different material as well. Compiled several years after the AD&D list above, this time by Barbara Davis, the “Appendix Moldvay” is seen here:
FICTION: YOUNG ADULT FANTASY
Alexander, Lloyd — The Book of Three; Black Cauldron; Castle of Llyr, et al.
Baum, L. Frank — The Wizard of Oz; The Emerald City of Oz; The Land of Oz, et al.
Bellairs, John — The Face In the Frost; The House Without a Clock on Its Walls; The Figure In the Shadows, et al.
Burroughs, Edgar Rice — A Princess of Mars; At the Earth’s Core; Tarzan of the Apes, et al.
Carroll, Lewis — Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; Through the Looking Glass
Garner, Alan — Elidor, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen; The Moon of Gomrath, et al.
Le Guin, Ursula K. — A Wizard of Earthsea; The Tombs of Atuan; The Farthest Shore, et al.
Lewis, C. S. — The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe; Prince Caspian; The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader”, et al.
NON-FICTION: YOUNG ADULT
Barber, Richard — A Companion to World Mythology
Buehr, Walter — Chivalry and the Mailed Knight
Coolidge, Olivia — Greek Myths; The Trojan War; Legends of the North
d’Aulaire, Ingri and Edgar Parin — Norse Gods and Giants; Trolls
Hazeltine, Alice — Hero Tales from Many Lands
Hillyer, Virgil — Young People’s Story of the Ancient World: Prehistory — 500 B.C.
Jacobs, Joseph — English Folk and Fairy Tales
Macauley, David — Castles
McHargue, Georgess — The Beasts of Never: A History Natural and Unnatural of Monsters, Mythical and Magical; The Impossible People
Renault, Mary — The Lion in the Gateway
Sellow, Catherine F. — Adventures with the Giants
Sutcliff, Rosemary — Tristram and Iseult
Williams, Jay — Life in the Middle Ages
Winer, Bart — Life in the Ancient World
FICTION: ADULT FANTASY
Anderson, Poul — Three Hearts and Three Lions; The Broken Sword; The Merman’s Children, et al.
Anthony, Piers — A Spell for Chameleon; The Source of Magic; Castle Roogna
Asprin, Robert — Another Fine Myth
Brackett, Leigh — The Coming of the Terrans; The Secret of Sinharat; People of the Talisman, et al.
Campbell, J. Ramsey —Demons by Daylight
Davidson, Avram — The Island Under the Earth; Ursus of Ultima Thule; The Phoenix in the Mirror, et al.
de Camp, L. Sprague — The Fallible Fiend; The Goblin Tower, et al.
de Camp, L. Sprague and Pratt, Fletcher — The Incomplete Enchanter; Land of Unreason, et al.
Dunsany, Lord — Over the Hills and Far Away; Book of Wonder; The King of Elfland’s Daughter, et al.
Eddison, E. R. — The Worm Ouroboros
Eisenstein, Phyllis — Born to Exile; Sorcerer’s Son
Farmer, Phillip Jose — The Gates of Creation; The Maker of Universes; A Private Cosmos, et al.
Finney, Charles G. — The Unholy City; The Circus of Dr. Lao
Heinlein, Robert A. — Glory Road
Howard, Robert E. — Conan; Red Nails; Pigeons from Hell
Lee, Tanith — Night’s Master; The Storm Lord; The Birthgrave, et al.
Leiber, Fritz — The Swords of Lankhmar; Swords Against Wizardry; Swords Against Death, et al.
Lovecraft, H. P. — The Doom that Came to Sarnath; The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath; The Dunwich Honor
Merritt, A. E. — The Moon Pool; Dwellers in the Mirage; The Ship of Ishtar, et al.
Moorcock, Michael — The Stealer of Souls; The Knight of the Swords; Gloriana, et al.
Mundy, Talbot — Tros of Samothrace
Niven, Larry — The Flight of the Horse; The Magic Goes Away
Norton, Andre — Witch World; The Year of the Unicorn; The Crystal Gryphon, et al.
Offutt, Andrew — The Iron Lords; Shadows Out of Hell
Pratt, Fletcher — The Blue Star; The Well of the Unicorn
Smith, Clark Ashton — Xiccarph; Lost Worlds; Genius Loci
Stewart, Mary — The Crystal Cave; The Hollow Hills; The Last Enchantment
Stoker, Bram — Dracula
Swann, Thomas Burnett — Cry Silver Bells; The Tournament of the Thorns; Moondust, et al.
Tolkien. J. R. R. — The Hobbit; The Lord of the Rings (trilogy)
Vance, Jack — The Eyes of the Overworld; Dying Earth; The Dragon Masters, et al.
Wagner, Karl Edward — Bloodstone; Death Angel’s Shadow; Dark Crusade, et al.
White, Theodore H. — The Once and Future King
Zelazny, Roger — Jack of Shadows; Lord of Light; Nine Princes in Amber, et al.
Some additional authors of fantasy fiction are:
Beagle, Peter S.
Cabell, James Branch
Cherryh, C. J.
Delany, Samuel R.
Haggard, H. Rider
McKillip, Patricia A.
Moore, C. L.
Myers, John Myers
Wellman, Manly Wade
SHORT STORY COLLECTIONS:
Carter, Lin (ed.) — The Year’s Best Fantasy Stories (in several volumes); Flashing Swords (also in several volumes)
Offutt, Andrew (ed.) — Swords Against Darkness (in several volumes)
Borges, Jorge Luis — The Book of Imaginary Beings
Bullfinch, Thomas — Bullfinch’s Mythology: The Age of Fable, The Age of Chivalry
Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend
It is abundantly clear that, in the intervening years since Gary read his list and was inspired to produce D&D to begin with, many more books and authors had come on the scene. It’s not like Gygax had read all of these in 1977 while penning AD&D; the Appendix N books are the things he read in the preceding years or even decades prior to considering Chainmail; these informed his desire to take historical wargaming and add dragons in the first place. So it is no surprise, then, that the minds behind 1981’s Moldvay Basic had their own lists of source material, too, and there existed by then a greater breadth of content to consume.
However, Appendix N (and its related lists) experienced something of a vacation for quite a long time. Mentzer’s BECMI did not offer us a list, probably due to TSR becoming increasingly wary about coming off as too prescriptive towards content in light of the moral panic surrounding D&D and Satanism at the time. In fact, to my knowledge, even after WotC took over, the 3rd, 3.5th, and 4th editions all eschewed the practice as well. It wasn’t until the arrival of D&D 5th edition that the practice came back, possibly as yet one more indicator of the desire of the WotC team to recapture the essence of D&D — and the core market — with 5th edition.
The 5th edition PHB and DMG both contain reading lists; Appendix E and Appendix D, respectively. The PHB list, Appendix E, is close in sentiment to the original AD&D Appendix N, or the Appendix Moldvay; it focuses on fiction, containing dozens of novels by beloved authors. But with decades of D&D behind it, and the 5th Edition focus on product identity, it also necessarily contains thoroughly derivative (not in the pejorative sense) works, such as RA Salvatore’s Forgotten Realms books about a D&D character, or the Hickman and Weis Dragonlance books about D&D characters. By this point, large swaths of fantasy and D&D are inextricably linked in the western mind, whether fantasy authors realize it or not; outside of the rare and amazing exception, nearly every work of immediately identifiable, western fantasy milieu, swords and sorcery since the 1970s has borne the mark of Gygax and Arneson to some degree, at some stage of removal from the source material. Therefore, this list is different from the AD&D and Basic Set lists; it is inherently incestuous to some degree and while it reflects still what the creative team were influenced by — and much of it is very new and lovely work — some of this list is now patterned on itself. That is to say, by this point, D&D inspires D&D, even if it does so many steps removed. Again, this is in no way a derisive statement, merely an observation of the influence of D&D rising above even that of the books that originally inspired D&D itself. A testament to the power of shared creativity, if you will. At any rate, the Appendix E list is below:
Ahmed, Saladin. Throne of the Crescent Moon.
Alexander, L1oyd.The Book of Three and the rest of the Chronicles of Prydain series.
Anderson, Paul. The Broken Sword, The High Crusade, and Three Hearts and Three Lions.
Anthony, Piers. Split Infinity and the rest of the Apprentice Adept series.
Augusta, Lady Gregory. Gods and Fighting Men.
Bear, Elizabeth. Range of Ghosts and the rest of the Eternal Sky trilogy.
Bellairs, John. The Face in the Frost.
Brackett, Leigh. The Best of Leigh Brackett, The Long Tomorrow, and The Sword of Rhiannon.
Brooks, Terry. The Sword of Shannara and the rest of the Shannara noveis.
Brown, Fredric. HaJl of Mirrors and What Mad Universe.
Bulfinch, Thomas. Bulfinch’s Mythology.
Burroughs, Edgar Rice. At the Earth’s Core and the rest of the Pellucidar series, Pirates of Venus and the rest of the Venus series, and A Princess of Mars and the rest of the Mars series.
Carter, Lin. Warrior of Worlds End and the rest of the World’s End series.
Cook, Glen. The Black Company and the rest of the Black Company series.
de Camp, L. Sprague. The Fallible Fiend and Lest Darkness Fall.
de Camp, L. Sprague & Fletcher Pratt. The Compleat Enchanter and the rest of the Harold Shea series, and Carnelian Cube.
Derleth, August and H.P. Lovecraft. Watchers out of Time.
Dunsany, Lord. The Book of Wonder, The Essential Lord Dunsany CoJlection, The Gods of Pegana, The King of Elfland’s Daughter, Lord Dunsany Compendium, and The Sword of Welleran and Other Tales.
Farmer, Philip Jose. Maker of Universes and the rest of the World of Tiers series.
Fax, Gardner. Kothar and the Conjurer’s Curse and the rest of the Kolhar series, and Kyrik and the Lost Queen and the rest of the Kyrik series.
Froud, Brian & Alan Lee. Faeries.
Hickman, Tracy & Margarel Weis. Dragons of Autumn Twilight and the rest of the Chronicles Trilogy.
Hodgson, William Hope. The Night Land.
Howard, Robert E. The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian and the rest of the Conan series.
Jemisin, N.K. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and the rest of the lnheritance series, The Killing Moon, and The Shadowed Sun.
Jordan, Robert. The Eye of the World and the rest of the Wheel of Time series.
Kay, Guy Gavriel. Tigana.
King, Stephen. The Eyes of the Dragon.
Lanier, Sterling. Hiero’s Journey and The Unforsaken Hiero.
LeGuin, Ursula. A Wizard of Earthsea and the rest of the Earthsea series.
Leiber, Fritz. Swords and Deviltry and the rest of the Fafhrd & Gray Mouser series.
Lovecraft, H.P. The Complete Works.
Lynch, Scott. The Lies of Locke Lamora and the rest of the Gentlemen Bastard series.
Martin, George RR. A Game of Thrones and the rest of the Song of Ice and Fire series.
McKillip. Patricia. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld.
Merritt, A. Creep, Shadow, Creep; Dwellers in the Mirage; and The Moon Pool.
Miéville, China. Perdido Street Station and the other Bas-Lag novels.
Moorcock, Michael. Elric of Melniboné and the rest of the Elric series, and The Jewel in the Skull and the rest of the Hawkmoon series.
Norton, Andre. Quag Keep and Witch World.
Offutt, Andrew J., ed. Swords against Darkness Ill.
Peake, Mervyn. Titus Groan and the rest of the Gormenghast series.
Pratchett, Terry. The Colour of Magic and the rest of the Discworld series.
Pratt, Fletcher. Blue Star.
Rothfuss, Patrick. The Name of the Wind and the rest of the Kingkiller series.
Saberhagen, Fred. The Broken Lands and Changeling Earth.
Salvatore, RA. The Crystal Shard and the rest of The Legend of Drizzt.
Sanderson, Brandon. Mistborn and the rest of the Mistborn trilogy.
Smith, Clark Ashton. The Return of the Sorcerer.
St. Clair, Margaret. Change the Sky and Other Stories, The Shadow People, and Sign of the Labrys.
Tolkien, J.R.R The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings. and The Silmarillion.
Tolstoy, Nikolai. The Coming of the King.
Vance, Jack. The Dying Earth and The Eyes of the Overworld.
Weinbaum, Stanley. Valley of Dreams and The Worlds of Ir.
Wellman, Manly Wade. The Golgotha Dancers.
Williamson, Jack. The Cosmic Express and The Pygmy Planet.
Wolfe, Gene. The Shadow of the Torturer and the rest of the Book of the New Sun.
Zelazny, Roger. Jack of Shadows and Nine Princes in Amber and the rest of the Amber series.
The 5th edition DMG’s Appendix D, however, takes a different tack, including scads of resources for DMs to consider the elements of storytelling, the elements of game design, and even the elements of history that we keep close to our hearts and minds in the common western fantasy milieu. It contains also several books entirely about D&D itself, to provide some history or commentary on the game and our good friend Mr. Gygax. It tracks much more closely, on the whole, to the tiny Non-Fiction section of Barbara Davis’ list in Moldvay Basic’s Dungeon Master section, but is of course significantly larger by a great degree. It was also printed in an entirely different format from the PHB’s list of titles, for reasons I can only ascribe to Wizards of the Coast forgetting what they were doing; I’ve tried to retain it below:
Atlas Games. Once Upon a Time: The Storytelling Card Game.
Bernhardt, William. Creating Character: Bringing Your Story to Life.
—.Perfecting Plot: Charting the Hero’s Joumey.
—. Story Structure: The Key to Successful Fiction.
Bowers, Malcolm. Gary Gygax’s Extraordinary Book of Names.
Browning, Joseph & Suzi Yee. A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe.
Burroway,Janet. Writing Fiction.
Cleaver, Jerry. Immediate Fiction.
Cordingly, David. Under the Black Flag.
Egri, Lajos. The Art of Dramatic Writing.
Ewalt, David M. Of Dice and Men.
Gygax, Gary. Gary Gygax’s Living Fantasy and the rest of the Gygaxian Fantasy Worlds series .
—. Master of the Game.
Hindmarch, Will. The Bones: Us and Our Dice.
Hindmarch, Will & Jeff Tidball. Things We Think About Games.
Hirsh, Jr., E.D. The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy.
Ingpen, Robert. The Encyclopedia of Things That Never Were.
Kaufmann,J.E. & H.W. Kaufmann. The Medieval Fortress.
King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.
Koster, Raph. A Theory of Fun for Game Design.
Laws, Robin D. Hamlet’s Hit Points.
Lee, Alan & David Day. Castles.
Macaulay, David. Castle.
Malory, Sir Thomas. Le Morte d’Arthur.
McKee, Robert. Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting.
Mortimer, Ian. The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England.
O’Connor, Paul Ryan, ed. Grimtooth’s Traps.
Penny Press. Variety Puzzles and Games series.
Peterson, Jon. Playing at the World.
Robbins, Ben. Microscope.
Schell, Jesse. Game Design: A Book of Lenses.
Snyder, Blake. Save the Cat.
Swift, Michael and Angus Konstam. Cities of the Renaissance World.
Truby, John. The Anatomy of Story.
TSR. Arms and Equipment Guide.
—. Campaign Sourcebook/Catacomb Guide.
— . The Castle Guide.
Walmsley, Graham. Play Unsafe: How Improvisation Can Change the Way You Roleplay.
Wilford, John Noble. The Mapmakers.
Writers Digest. The Writer’s Complete Fantasy Reference.
This list gives us tremendous food for thought, both in the sense of learning from the suggested titles and in the sense of analyzing what this selection means for the way 5th edition D&D was conceived and meant to be played. That is probably enough conversation for its own blog post; there exists an entire discussion on the subject of “modern D&D” versus “old D&D” and a lot of people have taken a swing at it to varying degrees of civility and success. I’m not sure I will do so, but I suppose I have the option. Regardless, the point here is that this list is much more of a reference material list rather than a purely influential list; the team gained more of the “hows” from this list compared to the “whats” of the PHB’s Appendix E.
And all of this brings us to my actual reason for writing this post: a list of my own. I grew up an absolutely voracious reader and spent about eight years as a child trapped in a town of 82 people in a place where cable television did not exist, winter lasted seven months and got to temperatures below -50C; for this era, my sole entertainment was books and comic books, my NES and SNES, and VHS videos; the internet finally arrived later and shortly thereafter I returned to civilization. I read everything my school library had, I read everything the bookmobile had, I read what my parents read and then I read some more. Everything from old classics of literature and non-fiction of all varieties, to the newest fantasy and sci-fi they had in the mid-90s. Inadvertently at first, but later with some intent once I got my hands on D&D, I managed to cross off much of the AD&D and Basic book lists, and then some.
To write a list of my own became a bigger task than I think I imagined at the outset. It is frustrating, knowing you will inevitably forget dozens of works that you actually consider invaluable and would remember otherwise. It is also strange to list the works you do recall and open yourself to similar criticism and judgment as you’ve just laid on the lists of others – but fair’s fair. It’s also weirdly presumptuous to think people care, but frankly, if you’ve gotten this far in this ridiculously long article, you probably do, at least for curiosity’s sake. Lastly, it is difficult to write such a list without exhaustively repeating the sources from prior lists. Indeed, between the AD&D, Basic, and now the 5th edition lists, much of my teenage fiction reading has been covered, so I think I’ll try to eschew repeats; please assume I have read the majority of the standout examples of our hobby already, for better or for worse (the various editions of D&D, the Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms and Greyhawk books, the Earthsea series, Howard, Lovecraft, Vance, Moorcock, Tolkien, Pratt, Brooks, Burroughs, Stoker, and of course countless others listed and unlisted in the various Appendices). Similarly, we can safely assume “boatloads of RPG books” to include the various editions of D&D and its settings, and of course that the artists in those RPG books had profound impacts on my imagination. Who amongst us in the OSR side of the hobby can say they weren’t deeply engrossed in the art of Easley, Roslof, Otus, Brom, Jaquays, Parkinson, Danforth, Caldwell, Elmore, Horne, Dee, Laforce, and others? So all these obvious answers go in the Free Space of this bingo card.
It is also important, possibly critical to the endeavor, to specifically pick the things I can certainly say influenced my approach to gaming, specifically. It’s not just a list of books I’ve read or games I’ve enjoyed. That’d be an immense list. It’s got to be works, new and old alike, which I think created a permanent and indelible mark on my gaming – whether in my preference of settings, or my vocabulary describing them; locales I’ve cribbed or was inspired by, or characters I’ve wanted to replicate and play or meet; moods and tones and themes I’ve wanted to emulate. Since I (and I hope everyone out there) am always learning and growing, this list is both a historical record of what began much of my imaginary adventures and what has since come into the picture more recently and continues to color my ideas.
So, then, let’s get on with it! In no particular order, here are some things that I think inspired how I look at fantasy gaming:
McCarthy, Cormac – The Road; Blood Meridian
Ligotti, Thomas – Teatro Grotesco; Songs of a Dead Dreamer
Meluch, RM – Sovereign
McCaffery, Anne & Moon, Elizabeth – Sassinak
Moon, Elizabeth – The Deed of Paksenarrion
Bacigalupi, Paolo – The Windup Girl
Ahmed, Saladin – Throne of the Crescent Moon
Scalzi – Old Man’s War series
Leckie, Ann – Ancillary Justice
Zucker Reichart, Mickey – Nightfall and The Return of Nightfall
Modesitt, LE – Recluce series; Spellsong series
Eddings, David – The Belgariad
Chaucer, Gregory – The Canterbury Tales
Byfield, Barbara – The Book of Weird
Novak, Kate & Grubb, Jeff – Azure Bonds series (Forgotten Realms)
Niles, Douglas – Darkwalker on Moonshae (Forgotten Realms)
Various – Heavy Metal Magazine
Various – Analog Magazine
Various – Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine
Sturluson, Snorri – Prose Edda (Anderson trans.)
Some Unknown Anglo-Saxon Dude – Beowulf (Liuzza trans.)
Rice, Anne – Interview With The Vampire, The Vampire Lestat
Shelley, Mary – Frankenstein
Robbins, David – Endworld series
Miller, Walter – A Canticle for Leibowitz
Strugatsky, Arkady – Roadside Picnic
Defoe, Daniel – Robinson Crusoe
Wagner, Karl Edward – Bloodstone, Dark Crusade, Darkness Weaves and the collections of Kane short stories
Watt-Evans, Lawrence – The Lure of the Basilisk, The Seven Altars of Dusarra, The Swords of Bheleu, The Book of Silence
Various – Thieves World Anthology (especially the early anthologies)
Steakley, John – Vampire$
Tyson, Donald – Necronomicon: The Wanderings of Alhazred
Non-Fiction, Mythology & Religion
d’Aulaire, Ingri & d’Aulaire, Edgar – Norse Myths
d’Aulaire, Ingri & d’Aulaire, Edgar – Greek Myths
Christie, Neil – The Lombards: The Ancient Longobards
Various – Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness books
Various – Nintendo Power magazine, especially their players guides from the late 80s-early 90s.
Tedlock, Denis – Popol Vuh: The Definitive Edition of The Mayan Book of The Dawn of Life and The Glories of Gods and Kings
Linderoth Wallace, Birgitta – Westward Vikings: The Saga of L’anse Aux Meadows
Kurlansky, Mark – Salt
Koudounaris, Paul – Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures and Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs
Ashdown, Charles Henry – European Arms and Armor
Wise, Terence – Medieval Warfare
Oakeshott, Ewart – The Archaeology of Weaponry
Newark, Tim – Warlords: Ancient, Celtic, Medieval
Tunis, Edwin – Weapons
Jones, Terry – Medieval Lives
Wainwright, Alfred – A Coast to Coast Walk
Carcopino, Jerome – Daily Life in Ancient Rome
Adkins, Lesley & Adkins, Roy – Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome
James, Peter & Thorpe, Nick – Ancient Inventions
Bibby, Geoffrey – Four Thousand Years Ago
Peterson, Joseph – The Lesser Key of Solomon
Blizzard Entertainment – Warcraft, Warcraft II, Warcraft III, World of Warcraft; The Lost Vikings; Diablo, Diablo II
Atari Games – Gauntlet
Squaresoft – Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy IV, Final Fantasy VI; Secret of Mana, Legend of Mana
Nintendo – Zelda series
Eidos Interactive – Tomb Raider, Tomb Raider II, Tomb Raider III, Deus Ex
Interplay – Wasteland, Fallout, Fallout II, Bard’s Tale,
Bethesda Softworks – The Elder Scrolls series
Obsidian Entertainment – Fallout: New Vegas, Neverwinter Nights II
Black Isle Studios – Baldur’s Gate series, Icewind Dale series, Planescape: Torment
CDProjekt Red – The Witcher series
Sony Online Entertainment – Everquest
BioWare – Neverwinter Nights, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect 2
Nintendo – Dragon Warrior
Capcom – Monster Hunter
Acclaim – Wizards and Warriors III
Nintendo – Star Tropics
SSI – Pool of Radiance, Eye of the Beholder
Origin Systems – Ultima VII
3DO – Might and Magic VI
Television and Movies:
Ghostbusters (1984) and Ghostbusters II (1989)
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Jurassic Park (1993)
The Princess Bride (1987)
The New Adventures of Jonny Quest (1986-1987)
Star Trek (1966-1969) and film sequels
Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994) and film sequels
Deathstalker (1983) and sequels
Highlander (1986), Highlander II (1991)
Highlander: The Series (1992-1998)
The Pagemaster (1994)
Dark Crystal (1982)
Conan the Barbarian (1982) and Conan the Destroyer (1984)
Conan the Adventurer (1992-1993)
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983-1985)
She-Ra, Princess of Power (1985-1986)
Neverending Story (1984)
Time Bandits (1981)
Hawk the Slayer (1980)
Heavy Metal (1981)
Flash Gordon (1980)
Spirited Away (2001)
Solomon Kane (2009)
Lord of the Rings series
The Hobbit series
The Thirteenth Warrior (1999)
Bone Tomahawk (2015)
The Thing (1982)
Escape from New York (1981)
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
The Evil Dead (1981)
Evil Dead II (1987)
Army of Darkness (1992)
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman (1949)
Misc. Art and Ephemera:
Nintendo Power magazine
all of the Art of World of Warcraft books
Gallagher, David – Blood on the Reik: A Journey Through the Old World
This was a difficult exercise. I am certain that, as soon as I hit “Publish”, I will recall a bunch I have forgotten and will feel incredibly silly to have done so. I feel like I am remiss in leaving out the repeats. It is also agonizing to imagine an arbitrary cut-off date and not include the truly recent in the mix, as for some reason I felt compelled to do despite the fact that I am always adding to my list of direct influences. I also could not possibly begin to tackle the subject of music; that list would take eons and would surely need to be split between “stuff I listened to back in the formative years” and “stuff I listen to now” regarding roleplaying games and fantasy/sci-fi in general. The most difficult thing of all was trying to separate all the things that were genuinely influential to me/my gaming and all the things I enjoy otherwise. There’s a lot of overlap, but also so much I love that don’t apply to these lists which, omitted, feels like a gap somehow anyway.
At any rate, this is an incomplete but valid window into what I believe has directly influenced my imagination – a list of books, artists, films, and games which have directly shaped, and continue to shape, the weird worlds I see when I close my eyes.
As always, hit me up on Twitter @dungeonspossums to point out the glaringly obvious ones I forgot and will feel dumb about, chat about books and movies, tell me your most important influences, and whatever else comes to mind!
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It's interesting to see Le Guin in the Moldvay appendix–I was excited to see her in the 5e version, but didn't know she was a holdover from so long ago. Or the whole history of appendix N, to be honest.
Earthsea strikes me as something of a divergence from the kind of European-centric fantasy D&D is associated with. The closest I've seen in D&D to something like that, to be honest, might be your post on diverging from medieval settings.