D&D General A shorter Appendix N

Doug McCrae

The original Appendix N in the 1e AD&D DMG includes a large number of authors and works. To prioritise my own reading I have created a shorter list.

Anderson, Poul: Three Hearts and Three Lions
Burroughs, Edgar Rice: A Princess of Mars; The Gods of Mars; The Warlord of Mars
de Camp, L Sprague and Pratt, Fletcher: The Roaring Trumpet; The Mathematics of Magic; The Castle of Iron
Howard, Robert E: Conan stories
Leiber, Fritz: Swords and Deviltry; Swords Against Death; Swords in the Mist; Swords Against Wizardry; The Swords of Lankhmar
Lovecraft, HP
Merritt, Abraham: The Moon Pool; Dwellers in the Mirage; Creep, Shadow!
Moorcock, Michael: The Stealer of Souls; Stormbringer
Tolkien, JRR: The Hobbit; The Lord of the Rings
Vance, Jack: The Dying Earth; The Eyes of the Overworld
Zelazny, Roger: Jack of Shadows; Nine Princes in Amber; The Guns of Avalon

Why these authors and works?

Chainmail names Tolkien, Howard, Anderson, and Moorcock. The OD&D foreword talks about "Burroughs' Martian adventures" featuring John Carter, "Howard’s Conan saga", "the de Camp & Pratt fantasies", and "Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser". Tolkien’s name appeared several times prior to the 1977 'cease and desist' letter. A 1974 Gary Gyax article in La Vivandière, "Fantasy Wargaming and the Influence of J.R.R. Tolkien", mentions Tolkien, Howard, Anderson, de Camp and Pratt, Leiber, Lovecraft, Merritt, Moorcock, Vance, and Zelazny. According to Appendix N: "The most immediate influences upon AD&D were probably de Camp & Pratt, REH, Fritz Leiber, Jack Vance, HPL, and A. Merritt". A Gary Gygax article in Dragon #95, "The influence of J. R. R. Tolkien on the D&D and AD&D games" states that "the major influences are Robert E. Howard, L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt, Fritz Leiber, Poul Anderson, A. Merritt, and H. P. Lovecraft. Only slightly lesser influence came from Roger Zelazny, E. R. Burroughs, Michael Moorcock, Philip Jose Farmer, and many others."

My list has ended up looking like a shorter version of Appendix O, which seeks to "compile a 'core' list".

All of the authors and works in my list also appear in the proto-Appendix N in Dragon #4:

Proto-Appendix N.png
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All those authors' salient works came after the creation of D&D and the publication of the 1e DMG. Now, maybe in 2e, you would've seen some of their inclusion, but the 2e DMG (or PHB) doesn't even have an Inspirational Reading list in it, surprisingly.

If there's one book that I feel should've been included that wasn't, it's LeGuin's A Wizard of Earthsea and the first two sequels. It's got wizards, a familiar, polymorphing, dragons, a shadow-creature, staves, and more. The Tombs of Atuan even has a dungeon of a sort.

Strange, I would have enhanced it, adding more authors that were not there. Robin Hobbs, David Edding, Terry Goodkind, Margareth Weiss and Tracy Hickman, Douglas Niles to name but a few.

If we're talking getting Appendix N down to as few listing as possible, really, I think it could be left at:

Howard, R. E.: "Conan" series
Leiber, Fritz: "Fafhrd & Gray Mouser" series; et al
Tolkien, J. R. R.: THE HOBBIT; "Ring trilogy"

Now, that leaves out a ton, and would be nowhere near as interesting, but I think that those are the core literary influences on D&D's creation, with clear and identifiable elements. But again, that would be a real disservice to some of the fun and brilliant tales that didn't make my cut.

I really enjoy the Appendix N Book Club podcast. They approach the books with a sense of fun and excitement while not glossing over the problematic elements. I've been skipping around based on what I've already read and have just finished reading.

Doug McCrae

That's a really good list @Ralif Redhammer. I think it's better than mine if one wants to to explain as much of D&D as possible in as few texts as possible. If I was going to cut it down to one author, I'd choose Tolkien. There's a lot of D&D in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings:

PC races, fighters, wizards, thieves (Bilbo as burglar), the ranger, flashy magic, reliable magic, combat magic, the adventuring party, Good vs Evil, evil humanoids, undead (barrow-wight, Nazgul), demons (balrog, Sauron), lycanthropes, a dragon, giant animals (Mirkwood spiders), large dungeons (Mines of Moria), secret doors, motivated by gold (The Hobbit), motivated by power (everyone tempted by the One Ring), motivated by duty (LotR), magical healing (Gandalf healing King Theoden), turning undead (Tom Bombadil banishing the barrow-wight), random encounters (trolls in The Hobbit), powerful magic items, Xmas tree (Frodo has a mithril shirt, Sting, elven rope, an elven cloak, and the One Ring), mass battles, analogues of real world places and peoples, far-travelled heroes encountering adventure wherever they go, zero to hero (Bilbo).
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Thanks! There is a ton of Tolkien DNA in D&D, despite Gygax's statements attempting to minimize it.

Ultimately, stripping out entries is mostly a disservice. No pure enchantments from Lord Dunsany, no defiant and fiery Jirel of Joiry, no Kothar, the thud & blunder tales that you're never quite sure is embracing the tropes or making fun of them, no phantasmagoric Margaret St. Clair tales, no gonzo Hiero Per Desteen, no apocalyptic magic of The Empire of the East, no cheerful and jaunty trips through folklore and classical literature with Harold Shea.

If I had to strip as few as possible out, I'd remove Stanley Weinbaum (sorry Twill and the source for the Xorns), Frederic Brown, Fletcher Pratt's solo work, and Jack Williamson. Lovecraft wouldn't make the cut either, to be honest.

That's a really good list @Ralif Redhammer. I think it's better than mine if one wants to to explain as much of D&D as possible in as few texts as possible. If I was going to cut it down to one author, I'd choose Tolkien. There's a lot of D&D in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings:


Thank you for this! I've been slowly plodding my way through appendices and am never sure where to go next. This prompted me to order Three Hearts and Three Lions.

Doug McCrae

This prompted me to order Three Hearts and Three Lions.
I think it's most important for Law vs Chaos. In 3H&3L it's a geographic, racial, ethical, and religious divide.

[H]umans were the chief agents on earth of Law, though most of them were so only unconsciously and some, witches and warlocks and evildoers, had sold out to Chaos. A few nonhuman beings also stood for Law. Ranged against them was almost the whole Middle World, which seemed to include realms like Faerie, Trollheim, and the Giants... the world of Law—of man—is hemmed in with strangeness, like an island in the sea of the Middle World.​

Compare with B2 The Keep on the Borderlands:
“The Realm of mankind is narrow and constricted. Always the forces of Chaos press upon its borders, seeking to enslave its populace, rape its riches, and steal its treasures. If it were not for a stout few, many in the Realm would indeed fall prey to the evil which surrounds them."

A follower of Chaos in 3H&3L tries to justify it:
"What is there about dull Law that drives you to defend it?… you’re but bulwarking loutish peasants and fat-gutted burghers, when the mirth and thunder and blazing stars of Chaos could be yours."

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