D&D General How many books/authors of the original AD&D Bibliography have you read? Do you feel you see D&D differently than people who have not read any?


I've read 11 in that original list, and the most influential to DnD 1e, IMO, was Jack vance. Even more than Tolkien. Not just how magic works, but the vernacular. Gygax feels much more Vance to me reading the 1e books than he does to Tolkien.

That being said, one of my first fantasy series isn't even on that list by the OP but was written in the 60s--The Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander. Which is how I based much of my fantasy impressions on.

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I've read the Edgar Rice Burroughs stuff, most (if not all) of Howard's Conan stories, all of Leibers's Fafhrd & Gray Mouser, most of Lovecraft's stuff, Morcock's Elric and (possibly, it's hard to remember all of the stuff I've read as I have gotten older) Hawkmoon, Saberhagen's Empire of the East and The Books of Swords series, Tolkien's The Hobbit and Zelazny's Amber series.

I have tried to read the Lord of The Rings books three times and could never get more than a few chapters in, they just never grabbed me.

Like a few others have mentioned, I was playing D&D before I ever read any of those books.


Staff member
Q1 A: Looking at that list, I know I’ve read works by at least 12 of the writers listed.

Q2 A: I’ve never asked anyone about their readings from that list…because I think until tonight, I’ve never looked at that list for more than a few seconds at a time. Usually, I was just checking to see if something I saw in the game was actually inspired by what I thought it was. The only thing on the list I read because I saw it on the list was Vance’s Dying Earth.

IOW, other gamers’ exposure to Gygax’s inspirations never been an issue largely because I’ve never cared much about my own.


I've read "The Broken Sword" by Anderson, "The Long Tomorrow" by Brackett, and the two Elric books by Moorcock, plus all the listed works by Lieber, Tolkien, Howard, and Vance. With the exception of Tolkien, I'd been playing for at least a decade before reading.

I would like to have read more, but a lot of the works were always fairly obscure, and are either hard or expensive (or both) to acquire.

One thing that I've taken away from most of these works (Tolkien apart) is that the emphasis tends very much to be on a central idea and then the specific adventure, and much less on building a complete world around it - for instance, although the city of Lankhmar is fairly well defined, the world around it is vaguely sketched at best. I think perhaps that Tolkien, being by far the most read author on the list, gives something of a false impression of how things 'should' be done.


Elder Thing
I've read works by 13 of the authors on that list, and like others here I would add a few more influences to it: Raymond Feist's Riftwar, Melanie Rawn's Dragon Prince and Dragon star series, Lloyd Alexander, the Lords of Dûs series by Lawrence Watt Evans, Robert Asprin's Myth series, and more.

Absolutely I think I view D&D differently than folks who haven't read any of those; our knowledge and preferences inform how we play or run the game, and that's how we all bring different stuff to it. How dull would it be if we all just read and emulated the same things!


I've read a number on that list.

But, then again, I started gaming at about age 10. I was learning D&D at the same time as reading those books, so, it's kinda circular.

Moorcock would be probably my most memorable influence I suppose. Other than Tolkien obviously.

But, then again, I'd say that Terry Pratchett probably influences me more than anyone else on that list and, over the years, I've gravitated far more into SF than fantasy, so, no, I'd say that it doesn't impact my games too much.


Of that list, I've only read Tolkien, Zelazny, Lovecraft, and maybe some Dereleth. I really have never had a desire to do a deep dive into DMG's list.

Lord Shark

I've read most of them. I haven't read any Brackett or St. Clair or much of Burroughs, Saberhagen, Williamson, or Fox (whose novels were mostly Conan knockoffs anyway).

In any case, as good as most of the Appendix N books may be individually, most of them are not standing the test of time other than Tolkien, Burroughs, and Howard; even Lovecraft is known today more from modern creators using his work for inspiration and/or subversion (Matt Ruff, Victor LaValle, the various Cthulhu-based games, etc.) than his own dubious virtues. D&D, or D&D-esque fantasy, can't be tied forever to books that the majority of players aren't reading.


I’ve read maybe half of the listed authors and works, but I don’t think they’ve had much effect on my conception of Dnd. If I try to tease apart the various things that have inspired characters, campaigns, and the general tone of the game for me, it would be more like Dumas (and the many adaptations of his work), Neil Gaiman, Lois McMaster Bujold, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Bruce Sterling, and Tamsyn Muir.

The only authors from the list who I’d say are relevant to my Dnd play are Tolkien (because he’s inescapable), Lieber (for Fafrd and the Grey Mouser, who as I believe another poster has pointed out we’re way ahead of their time), and Morcock and Zelazny (who are so influential that it’s impossible to imagine the modern fantasy I am drawing from without them).

John Lloyd1

But if I had to recommend a single volume from the list, based on quality and literary legacy, I'd go with Lord Dunsany's King of Elfland's Daughter. It's gorgeous and deep, and completely magical. There are books on the list that feel more "D&D-ish," but Dunsany's writing is amongst the best of it.
I love the King of Elfland's Daughter. There is even a musical.

I think there are four authors' books (Tolkien, Dunsany, Moorcock and Howard) that I have read that are on that list. I think I have read more of the authors, but not their fantasy since I am more of an SF person. It is hard to remember that far back.

I read my first Conan story recently and was very impressed. I thought it had aged reasonably well. The writing was pretty good and the themes hadn't aged as badly as some.

I have added the 5e recommended reading list to my Goodreads 'want to read' list. It is remarkable how many are still there. Only a few have dropped off.


The original 1979 AD&D theme, Greyhawk, and the game rules are based on a wide variety of fantasy novels (as well as miniatures wargaming, history, etc.)
1. How many books/authors have you read from the 1979 bibliography?
2. Do you feel you see D&D differently than people who have not read these?

I have read books or stories from the following authors. I started playing D&D when I was eight so I think the Hobbit was the only one on the list I had going in. I used to read a lot of fantasy anthologies and one offs I grabbed at the library so some of the names sound vaguely familiar, most are definites though.

□ Anderson, Poul:
□ Carter, Lin: - Maybe, sounds familiar.
□ de Camp, L. Sprague: Maybe
□ Derleth, August - Maybe
□ Farmer, P. J.: - Maybe
□ Fox, Gardner: read a short story in Dragon Magazine I think.
□ Howard, R. E.:
□ Leiber, Fritz:
□ Lovecraft, H. P.
□ Moorcock, Michael:
□ Norton, Andre - Maybe
□ Offutt, Andrew J.:
□ Saberhagen, Fred:
□ Tolkien, J. R. R.:
□ Vance, Jack:
□ Zelazny, Roger:

~ Ref AD&D Dungeonmasters Guide (1979; page 224, Appendix N)

I read Poul Anderson's Three Hearts and Three Lions on my kindle this summer and it was amazing, you could see a lot of D&D being lifted straight from it.
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Blue Orange

Gone to Texas
□ Bellairs, John: THE FACE IN THE FROST
□ Carter, Lin: “World’s End” series (2 of 5)
□ de Camp, L. Sprague: LEST DARKNESS FALL
□ Dunsany, Lord
□ Howard, R. E.: “Conan” series
□ Leiber, Fritz: “Fafhrd & Gray Mouser” series; et al
□ Lovecraft, H. P.
□ Norton, Andre
□ St. Clair, Margaret: SIGN OF THE LABRYS
□ Tolkien, J. R. R.: THE HOBBIT; “Ring trilogy”

Some of it I recognized (regenerating trolls from Anderson, snakes, clever fighters, and ruined cities from Howard, disappearing spells from Vance, adventurers on heists and thieves with mild magical abilities from Leiber, Law and Chaos from Moorcock, elves, dwarves, and halflings from Tolkien, complex multilevel dungeons from St. Clair), some of it took me a while. (The mind flayer, for instance, seems to have been inspired by the cover of Lumley's The Burrowers Beneath, which depicts a cthonian, a later monster in the Lovecraftian tradition.) Quite a few of them have questionable connections to D&D (LEST DARKNESS FALL is fun but doesn't seem to have much to do with D&D), and likely were just Gygax's favorite books. The most Lovecraftian element of orthodox D&D, as far as I can tell, is the books that can make you powerful or drive you nuts or cost you levels (book of vile darkness etc.); otherwise, the monsters are usually killable, the books and monsters don't drive you nuts by looking at them, and there is a relative lack of tentacles. Gygax didn't particularly like Tolkien (one of the reasons the demihuman level limits were so low), and the game started out much closer to the sword and sorcery/low fantasy pole to begin with and got more high fantasy with Dragonlance.

There is a book, but I hesitate to recommend it. I did read Jeffro Johnson's Appendix N book (for the uninitiated he is friends with, and the book is published by, Vox Day, a notorious far-right author who's engaged in harassment campaigns and attempts to rig the Hugo awards), and it actually picks up a lot of the contributions each of the books makes to D&D, and I learned some things I found quite fascinating about the books I missed (the green slime monster and psionics being in Hiero's Journey, for instance, Zelazny's Jack of Shadows as the prototypical thief along with the Gray Mouser, or Nine Princes in Amber as a model for the limited number of monks and druids at high levels). You can decide how you want to proceed given the author's associations. Some options might include borrowing it from a library that has it, buying one copy and sharing it among your friends to diminish your support for the guy; donating twice the price to a left-leaning charity of your choice as a sort of 'carbon offset'; or...other methods I won't mention here. It is, unfortunately, the only semi-scholarly treatment of Appendix N I know of; there's a book of short stories by the same authors as the Appendix N authors but that's not the same thing. (Someone else really needs to write a book...)

I'd also add that 5th edition is, as far as I know, the first to have its own list of inspirational reading, which includes a bunch of additional authors who have published in the intervening 40 years and is somewhat more diverse. I'm not sure about the copyright implications of reproducing it here--I think it would be fair use, but it's not all over the web like Gygax's Appendix N, and Hasbro's lawyers are likely much better than TSR's. But if you have a copy of the 5e books, open them up and take a look.

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
The original 1979 AD&D theme, Greyhawk, and the game rules are based on a wide variety of fantasy novels (as well as miniatures wargaming, history, etc.)
1. How many books/authors have you read from the 1979 bibliography?
2. Do you feel you see D&D differently than people who have not read these?

□ Burroughs, Edgar Rice: “Pellucidar” series; Mars series; Venus series
□ Farmer, P. J.: “The World of the Tiers” series; et al Read Riverworld□ Leiber, Fritz: “Fafhrd & Gray Mouser” series; et al
Moorcock, Michael: STORMBRINGER; STEALER OF SOULS; “Hawkmoon” series (esp. the first three books)
□ Norton, Andre
□ Saberhagen, Fred: CHANGELING EARTH; et al
□ Tolkien, J. R. R.: THE HOBBIT; “Ring trilogy”
□ Zelazny, Roger: JACK OF SHADOWS; “Amber” series; et al

~ Ref AD&D Dungeonmasters Guide (1979; page 224, Appendix N)

I have read most of the above, although mostly Anderson and Norton's SF stuff, not their Fantasy stuff so much. Although Norton's Beastmaster was great. Zelazny's Jack of Shadows is sitting on my To Read shelf - I don't think I have read it before.

□ Bellairs, John: THE FACE IN THE FROST
□ Brackett, Leigh
□ Brown, Frederic
□ Carter, Lin: “World’s End” series
□ de Camp & Pratt: “Harold Shea” series; THE CARNELIAN CUBE
□ Derleth, August
□ Dunsany, Lord
□ Fox, Gardner: “Kothar” series; “Kyrik” series; et al
□ Howard, R. E.: “Conan” series
□ Lanier, Sterling: HIERO’S JOURNEY
□ Lovecraft, H. P.
□ Offutt, Andrew J.: editor of SWORDS AGAINST DARKNESS III
□ Pratt, Fletcher: BLUE STAR; et al
□ Weinbaum, Stanley
□ Wellman, Manley Wade
□ Williamson, Jack

Lots that I haven't read apparently. Most of which I have no interest in reading now, too much good stuff coming out these days tbh.

For question 2 in the OP, I am sure I see D&D different from everyone else. In fact I think everyone brings their own exact lived experience to their games, including whatever media they have consumed. Some games may be more like my games due to shared media touchstones I guess. One example of this is I have never been much interested in "Sword & Sandals" and "Sword and Sorcery" type fiction nor games. So I guess someone who has read mostly REH Conan our games would be different.


1. I have read only a handful of the Appendix N recommendations, honestly. The works of H.P. Lovecraft and Derleth (the former being off the table for me at this point, the latter at least losing points by extension). Some Conan stories. Some Dying Earth stories, which is probably the only block that came to my attention through D&D. Several others are on my to-read list at some point, but who knows if I ever will. (FWIW, I've also seen the LOTR and Hobbit films, the Conan films and the 1990s cartoon, the John Carter film, and a TV movie of Riverworld.)

2. While tropes from the above have worked their way into my D&D games, I'd honestly say more influence came from other fantasy (and non-fantasy) sources - and D&D itself. I have toyed with the idea of a more low/pulp fantasy game at times, but it would be an attempt to emulate early D&D, not Conan or whatever. In general, though, I tend to favor a more heroic fantasy tone, not the tone of many Appendix N works.


5ever, or until 2024
I have read about a dozen.

Over the years they have certainly influenced my game, though they are far from the only influence.

But as for D&D, I think its original and long standing premise, as touched on by Gygax (and certainly Arneson) many times, can be summarized as:

D&D is a game that you have the freedom--and in fact the duty--to make your own.

From this flows much opportunity, but also much tension. Including from and with Gygax himself.


I've read plenty Howard, Leiber, Moorcock, Borroughs, Lovecraft, and Tolkien. The only immediate connection I see is "this is fantasy".
The Tolkien influence is quite strong in Dragonlance of course, but that was a radical departure from what D&D had been conceptually in the preceeding 10 years.
I think the Known World of Mystara does have an echo of Leiber in it, but again, that came later.

When I think of fantasy influenced by Howard, Moorcock, Borroughs, and Lovecraft, D&D is certainly not the game that comes to mind.

Blue Orange

Gone to Texas
D&D is a game that you have the freedom--and in fact the duty--to make your own.

From this flows much opportunity, but also much tension. Including from and with Gygax himself.
One of the interesting things I remember from the Slaying the Dragon book was that it's hard to make money selling a game that encourages people to use their own imaginations, because then you can't sell them stuff.

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