D&D General Appendix EN - What one book/series inspires your D&D?

Scribe

Hero
People are even using phrases like "postliteracy"
I looked it up fearful of what I would find.

A post-literate society is a hypothetical society in which multimedia technology has advanced to the point where literacy, the ability to read or write, is no longer necessary or common.

Fears, confirmed.
 

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Naruto is a big one, it really inspires the kinds of ways I expect a magic system to be used and leveraged in a fantasy setting (as well as its tone as hard and mechanistic thin), as well as the power level of martials in my games. There can be a lot of brutality, and people can die, but they aren't relatively helpless normals either-- everyone has magic inside of them, even the warriors (ever wonder how a tiny rogue can hurt a huge ancient dragon with their dagger? logically looks a lot like over the top shonen fighting anime.) Similarly, named techniques and fighting styles from specific backgrounds and ways of thinking about the world feature prominently. You grow into it gradually over the course of a campaign, but it really helps to contextualize the growing power of the PCs to think in these terms-- because normal people don't really grow in power in the same way DND characters of later editions tend to, and since we like that, it makes more sense to reconcile it narratively than eliminate it. There were works before and after Naruto that gave us great examples (some of which take place in DND's sort of Milieu, Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash being a solid recommendation) but Naruto characters use weapons and more DND like magical effects (fireballs and such) and really embraced acrobatics in combat, summons, explanations of the magic system, differing styles, and fighting as a team with complementary skillsets (at least in concept, most of the important fights are still solo affairs).
 


Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
Starting off:

Cook, Glen - The Garrett Files #1-6 (Sweet Silver Blues, Bitter Gold Hearts, Cold Copper Tears, Old Tin Sorrows, Dread Brass Shadows, Red Iron Nights; collected in The Garrett Files and Garrett P.I. omnibuses).

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I love everything about the six volumes of this series that is primarily set in the cosmopolitan D&D-esque city of TunFaire. The solo crime-noire detective might not fit a party based D&D game, but there are lots of inspirational pieces. (There are a lot in the later volumes too, but some parts of the writing doesn't hold up as well for me in them).
My vote was for Garrett as well; imagine my surprise at seeing him front and center in the first response!
 


Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
Wow would I pay a lot in a Kickstarter to do a Garrett campaign book for 5e like they did for 3.5 and the Black Company....
The Black Company book was really good, but I honestly feel that Garrett has the more interesting world. I'd love a TunFaire/whatever the world is called setting!
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
The Black Company book was really good, but I honestly feel that Garrett has the more interesting world. I'd love a TunFaire/whatever the world is called setting!

I think Black Company might be only my third favorite of his fantasy series-- the short stories that go with it push Dread Empire into second place for me (and putting in the sci-fi things, I'm not sure the short stories for the Star Fishers universe don't eek that ahead too).
 

Honestly, this may sound strange, but I get inspired a lot by nonfiction books. The obvious are travel books, which I devoured in my 20s. The usual culprits: Theoux, Cahill, Bryson, Muir, even Gilbert, and the classics like Steinbeck and Stevenson. Then, it switched to historical and biography texts with Diamond, Zinn, Krakauer, etc. And now science books are the inspiration.

It's odd, but I do not think there is a travel/history/science book I have read in the past 25 years where I haven't gotten an idea for a fantasy campaign, locale, culture, etc.
 

Akrasia

Procrastinator
In a similar vein, I'd add the books of the First Law Universe by Joe Abercrombie. The original trilogy is excellent, but the stand alone novel Best Served Cold is just ripe for stealing from for an adventure. His books subvert all the tropes and have some of the most memorable characters in modern fantasy. They are great for NPC inspiration.

I was about to post Abercrombie's First Law novels as well. Great stuff.

I also think "Best Served Cold" is awesome. For D&D inspiration, though, the frontier land described in "Red Country" (with crumbling remnants of an earlier empire) is almost perfect.

(I haven't read the most recent trilogy yet, so don't know whether to recommend it.)
 

Akrasia

Procrastinator
I really love Jack Vance's fantasy works. EGG mentioned the Dying Earth stories in the original Appendix N (and they're included in the OP).

But I find Vance's Lyonesse trilogy to be just as (if not more) inspiring. Those novels were written in the 1980s, and hence not included in the 1e DMG. But they are wonderful inspiration.

(In fact, there's a FRPG based on it, using the Mythras rules: The Design Mechanism )
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
I think Black Company might be only my third favorite of his fantasy series-- the short stories that go with it push Dread Empire into second place for me (and putting in the sci-fi things, I'm not sure the short stories for the Star Fishers universe don't eek that ahead too).
I've read all the Garrett books, and the first several Black Company, and that's it for Glen Cook for me. I was honestly much less impressed with the Back Company than I expected to be, especially given how great the Garrett books are.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
I really love Jack Vance's fantasy works. EGG mentioned the Dying Earth stories in the original Appendix N (and they're included in the OP).

But I find Vance's Lyonesse trilogy to be just as (if not more) inspiring. Those novels were written in the 1980s, and hence not included in the 1e DMG. But they are wonderful inspiration.

(In fact, there's a FRPG based on it, using the Mythras rules: The Design Mechanism )
The funniest thing about Vance's works IMO is how easily you can see the Dying Earth influence in the D&D spell system, yet how little that system actually resembles the way spells work in the books.
 

I looked it up fearful of what I would find.

A post-literate society is a hypothetical society in which multimedia technology has advanced to the point where literacy, the ability to read or write, is no longer necessary or common.

Fears, confirmed.
While I certainly grant that that particular idea would be bad (and is....extremely unlikely in our current society, given the ongoing importance of literature today, Harry Potter's final book released in 2007 guys, GRRM is still being hounded for when he'll finish/continue the series, and D&D itself requires reading), Yaarel's overall original point seems to stand: there is no need to fork apart entirely different threads just for individual subtypes of media. A modern-day "Appendix N" would almost certainly feature a mix of books, movies, comics, and (most likely) video games.
 

Azzy

KMF DM
I'll add The Riders of the Sidhe series by Kenneth C. Flint.

Yes, it's based on Irish myth, but history, myths, and legends are really my biggest influences.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
For reference, this page has the 5e books that were added to the 1e list in the 5e PHB (which I'd skimmed before), and also the ones from the 5e DMG (which I'd missed).

 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
The third of Jack Vance's dying earth books didn't come out until 1983, so well after Appendix N. But "Cugel's Saga" fits right in with "Eyes of the Overworld". The following year brought "Rhialto the Marvellous" and I don't think it's nearly as good as the others. It is, however, needed for a chunk of the stories in the tribute collection "Songs of the Dying Earth", which is great.

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hedgeknight

Explorer
I was about to post Abercrombie's First Law novels as well. Great stuff.
Same reason I came here - Abercrombie has created a gritty fantasy world that I absolutely love.
So, I will add John Marco's Tryants and Kings trilogy with The Jackal of Nar, The Grand Design, & The Saints of the Sword. Rich in detail, visceral writing, "checked all the boxes" for me.
 

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