TSR Appendix N Discussion

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
A while back, I had a conversation with someone who kept insisting that Tom Bombadil was the reason D&D had bards, because Tolkien. Of course, that's not why. It's actually laid out in the first article about bards, and it also explains why Bards had such a weird mix of abilities. Or people who insist that Druids are really just Radagast the Brown. Again, not true. Not even close.

You cannot ascribe things to Tolkien simply by saying that it must be because everyone had Tolkien on the brains. They didn't. Tolkien had a decent influence on D&D, and the places where it was obvious (Chainmail, races) it's really obvious. But it quickly devolves into error when you begin to ascribe everything to Tolkien. It's a tautological argument that eventually turns into "It must be Tolkien."
Yes. Although the dungeon Svenny and those guys had their delve into in pursuit of the wizard and Balrog and retrieving the magic sword was already more akin to a D&D dungeon than a castle basement/prison dungeon, as the accounts I've read depicted it. It was already a large multi-level complex.

Adventuring bards, of course, have clear pulp fiction antecedents in two of the authors Gygax cites in Appendix N- Poul Anderson's Cappen Varra, and Manley Wade Wellman's Silver John and Kardios of Atlantis. While the original class write up doesn't mention them, in favor of citing historical and mythical Irish and Welsh antecedents instead, those three heroes seem pretty clear inspirations.

Nah, Tom Bombadil is why we have DM PCs.

A good case could be made for Beorn including Druids, though moreso over time as Wildshape became a schtick.
Druids getting to shapechange into the forms of various woodland animals 3x/day at 7th level is not very similar to Beorn at all. Druid prestige classes which are more similar (focusing on shapechanging, or on bear form more specifically) date back to 3rd ed. Maybe a kit in 2nd? Certainly the 0E and 1E Druids bear virtually no resemblance to anything in Tolkien.

Druids are based in a very 1970s conception of Celts as reported by Romans, that, for whatever reason, took hold in the popular imagination of the time (this was when environmental consciousness was taking off).

The entire class is, putting it nicely, based on a bizarre misunderstanding of history that was popular in the 70s. I guess we're just lucky that they didn't have a class that had pet rocks.
Well, the mistletoe bit and a number of other things come from Pliny the Elder, some other details are based on stuff in Commentarii de Bello Gallico.
 
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overgeeked

B/X Known World
The Celtic Revival is where most of modern views on druids stem from. There’s very little that’s historically attested to and what is there is from the Romans, not the druids themselves, as said by others. No written records and all that.

The Celtic Revival gave us things like modern druidry (yes, that’s really what it’s called), mostly based on the forgeries of Edward Williams, aka this guy…


What we actually know about druids is a short paragraph of text, no more.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
First up (and remembering what was searched for),

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Ugh. Edna Stumpf is exactly the type of reviewer I can't stand. It reeks of elitism ironically loaded with apparent ignorance, and is an example of what I was talking about. Cleary they have no idea that Tolkien stole many of his ideas about characters and plots from folklore, but infers that Tolkien created everything, and everyone else just took from Tolkien :rolleyes:

The second big turnoff is this whole idea of "If you don't like doctorate level writing, then you must be part of the unwashed illiterate masses." Novels are meant to be enjoyed; they aren't a literary competency test. I see this elitism often in books, movies and music, and it always bugs me. "Eddings is for children, you're not a real fantasy reader unless you enjoy Guy Gavriel Kay." History has shown that Lester was right, and Edna can sod off.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Ugh. Edna Stumpf is exactly the type of reviewer I can't stand. It reeks of elitism ironically loaded with apparent ignorance, and is an example of what I was talking about. Cleary they have no idea that Tolkien stole many of his ideas about characters and plots from folklore, but infers that Tolkien created everything, and everyone else just took from Tolkien :rolleyes:

The second big turnoff is this whole idea of "If you don't like doctorate level writing, then you must be part of the unwashed illiterate masses." Novels are meant to be enjoyed; they aren't a literary competency test. I see this elitism often in books, movies and music, and it always bugs me. "Eddings is for children, you're not a real fantasy reader unless you enjoy Guy Gavriel Kay." History has shown that Lester was right, and Edna can sod off.
I mean, you can read the Medieval and folk literature, Tolkien, and Brooks and compare and contrast. The difference in how they appropriated older material is qualitative.
 


Ugh. Edna Stumpf is exactly the type of reviewer I can't stand. It reeks of elitism ironically loaded with apparent ignorance, and is an example of what I was talking about. Cleary they have no idea that Tolkien stole many of his ideas about characters and plots from folklore, but infers that Tolkien created everything, and everyone else just took from Tolkien :rolleyes:

The second big turnoff is this whole idea of "If you don't like doctorate level writing, then you must be part of the unwashed illiterate masses." Novels are meant to be enjoyed; they aren't a literary competency test. I see this elitism often in books, movies and music, and it always bugs me. "Eddings is for children, you're not a real fantasy reader unless you enjoy Guy Gavriel Kay." History has shown that Lester was right, and Edna can sod off.

I wonder if this tendency is some sort of inherent selfishness; as this kind of elitism makes me think of people who will deny something being made easier simply because they had to suffer through hardship originally.

In a way, because Tolkien or some other media might take considerable effort to get through, those who find the enjoyment in it but can't reconcile what they got from the, what is basically, trauma of having to get it, rationalize the whole thing as being the marker of quality when it really isn't.

Because after all, it actually takes a great deal of skill to deliberately write in a way thats both easily digestible and still just as evocative or even thematically dense as something thats not easily digested.

Childrens literature is notoriously hard to write, for instance, as its deceptively simple, and you can see a lot of this play out in the poetry world.

Its pretty hard to replicate The Red Wheelbarrow without being derivative, and its way too easy to just end up plagiarizing.

And insofar as Tolkien copying myths goes, popular culture has been doing this since forever. Disney made their empire on repackaging Shakespeare and other folktales, and Id even go as far to say that some of what Disney did is actually better than the originals in a lot of ways.

While Im a fan of Shakespeare as a poet, I've always considered him to be a hack playwright, and I'll readily rewatch The Lion King or The Northman than suffer through another reading of Hamlet.
 

It only took me getting as far as the loup garou encounter to decide that Three Hearts and Three Lions is the D&Diest book that is not a D&D book and is more "D&D" than some books set in D&D worlds!

(also Bronson Pinchot is an amazing voice actor, who knew?)

perfect strangers vintage GIF

Three Hearts really is concentrated D&D inspiration.

It would be like saying Tolkien didn't know about Lord Dunsany, because The King of Elfland's Daughter (Dunsany's most popular book) wasn't well known until the late 60s despite being written well before The Hobbit. I think we can agree that Tolkien was probably more than aware of Dunsany, just like Poul was more than aware of Tolkien.

Kind of how most people in general don't know who Tad Williams is, but fantasy authors and most of us probably do.

Lord Dunsany is another one that absolutely should be read by more people these days. I don't know that King of Elfland's Daughter is as important to D&D* as Three Hearts, but it is a gorgeous book.

*DCC RPG does have the excellent module Queen of Elfland's Son, which is inspired by it, at the least.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
The second big turnoff is this whole idea of "If you don't like doctorate level writing, then you must be part of the unwashed illiterate masses." Novels are meant to be enjoyed; they aren't a literary competency test. I see this elitism often in books, movies and music, and it always bugs me. "Eddings is for children, you're not a real fantasy reader unless you enjoy Guy Gavriel Kay." History has shown that Lester was right, and Edna can sod off.

I wonder if this tendency is some sort of inherent selfishness; as this kind of elitism makes me think of people who will deny something being made easier simply because they had to suffer through hardship originally.

Or maybe she just thought it wasn't done very well compared to what she usually read and didn't have enough else to redeem it? She certainly does what some other reviewers do and really lays the hammer down when she doesn't like something.

In any case...

She really likes Pratchett, LeGuin, Samuel R Delany, and Bruce Sterling,
She thinks Watership Down is an undisputed classic and loves Richard Adams in general.
She zings Douglas Adams but then seems to love him.
She at least sometimes seems fine with both borrowing from others and not being literary enough: she notes a book by Michael Coney has things that strongly resemble pieces from a variety of other authros - praises it - notes it's "a fan book" and "not great fiction"... but found it delightful.
She gushes over Silverberg's choices for "The Arbor House Treasury of Modern Fiction".
She wishes Stephen King's books read better to her, but always says positivish things "He may never write literature or even the perfect thriller, but he will get better because he cares and he tries like hell." [Edit: in 1983 she is really positive, but by 1993 she's a bit less effusive.]
She criticizes the grammar in parts of Clive Barker's Galilee, but is still obviously a fan [Edit: of that one, she finds the gore, I think, too much in a later one.]
She did not like Thomas Covenant.

etc...
 
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