D&D General What is your personal Appendix N?

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
We all know that the early D&D milieu was inspired by many sources, with a strong focus on sword and sorcery and other pulp fantasy from the mid century and its pastiches popular in the 70s. But both D&D and its influences have evolved over time, especially the circular relationship between D&D, other RPGs, video game, paperback fantasy and anime/animation. Moreover, I believe each of us has our own list of influences, our own personal Appendix N, that informs our take on what D&D, as a milieu, looks like.

So, if you had to distill a list of 5 or 10 formative sources for how you define what "D&D is" for you, what would you put on that list?

Off the top of my head (and this is certainly subject to change) mine looks something like:

The Lord of the Rings: I like the feel of a world on the edge of collapse, but with a sense of hope. I like the world dotted with ancient ruins and the sense of deep history. I like the dark fantasy trappings adjacent to an Arthurian mindset.

Star Wars (most of it): Almost in opposition to the above, I like the shallow but compelling world building and the sense of scope and operatic melodrama.

TSR D&D: This is cheating a little, but I still embrace much of the milieu of TSR D&D, primarily BECMI and 2E with their colorful art of high fantasy adventures with the occasional dip into the weird.

WoW Cinematics: I want to enjoy World of Warcraft, and I give it another go every once in a while, but I end up getting bored or bouncing off it. However, i could watch WoW cinematic trailers all day. As much as I like certain aspects of fantasy to be grounded, i also love huge bombastic epic super powered fantasy elements and nothing displays that better than WoW cinematics.

History: I don't want my D&D to be historically accurate, but I do like how history is full of the most unexpected events and people, and those are things that I want in my D&D. I listen to a lot of history podcasts, audiobooks and Great Courses and I always find something to inform how I see "my D&D" worlds.

Clark Ashton Smith: If there is one author from the AD&D Appendix N that i really continue to embrace and be inspired by, it is CAS. His stuff is beautiful and dark and weird and different.

Dragonlance: This is almost unintentional, but when I was a tween and young teen, i devoured everything Dragonlance and internalized much of its themes and imagery through Elmore's amazing art. Even when I don't mean to, I find myself inserting DL themes into D&D.

Frazetta and Elmore: Speaking of artists, these two ARE D&D to me.

What is your personal Appendix N?
 

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Cadence

Legend
Supporter
We all know that the early D&D milieu was inspired by many sources, with a strong focus on sword and sorcery and other pulp fantasy from the mid century and its pastiches popular in the 70s. But both D&D and its influences have evolved over time, especially the circular relationship between D&D, other RPGs, video game, paperback fantasy and anime/animation. Moreover, I believe each of us has our own list of influences, our own personal Appendix N, that informs our take on what D&D, as a milieu, looks like.

So, if you had to distill a list of 5 or 10 formative sources for how you define what "D&D is" for you, what would you put on that list?

Off the top of my head (and this is certainly subject to change) mine looks something like:

The Lord of the Rings: I like the feel of a world on the edge of collapse, but with a sense of hope. I like the world dotted with ancient ruins and the sense of deep history. I like the dark fantasy trappings adjacent to an Arthurian mindset.

Star Wars (most of it): Almost in opposition to the above, I like the shallow but compelling world building and the sense of scope and operatic melodrama.

TSR D&D: This is cheating a little, but I still embrace much of the milieu of TSR D&D, primarily BECMI and 2E with their colorful art of high fantasy adventures with the occasional dip into the weird.

WoW Cinematics: I want to enjoy World of Warcraft, and I give it another go every once in a while, but I end up getting bored or bouncing off it. However, i could watch WoW cinematic trailers all day. As much as I like certain aspects of fantasy to be grounded, i also love huge bombastic epic super powered fantasy elements and nothing displays that better than WoW cinematics.

History: I don't want my D&D to be historically accurate, but I do like how history is full of the most unexpected events and people, and those are things that I want in my D&D. I listen to a lot of history podcasts, audiobooks and Great Courses and I always find something to inform how I see "my D&D" worlds.

Clark Ashton Smith: If there is one author from the AD&D Appendix N that i really continue to embrace and be inspired by, it is CAS. His stuff is beautiful and dark and weird and different.

Dragonlance: This is almost unintentional, but when I was a tween and young teen, i devoured everything Dragonlance and internalized much of its themes and imagery through Elmore's amazing art. Even when I don't mean to, I find myself inserting DL themes into D&D.

Frazetta and Elmore: Speaking of artists, these two ARE D&D to me.

What is your personal Appendix N?

I like the variety of types of sources you used... this one will make me think for a while now before I can give my own list!
 

In some kind of order:

Doctor Who
Tolkien
Pratchett - Discworld
Star Wars
Star Trek
CS Lewis - Narnia
Moorcock
REH - Conan (books, unimpressed by the first movie, preferred the second)
 
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TwoSix

"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
I tend to use D&D more as a fantasy toolkit than as a distinct genre in and of itself, so this is both my Appendix N and just my personal fantasy wellspring.

-Neverending Story (my personal fantasy ur-text)
-Final Fantasy (particularly 1, 4, 6, and oddly 15)
-SSI Gold Box games (kind of self-referential, I know.)
-The Belgariad by David Eddings
-The Blue Sword; The Hero and the Crown by Robin Mckinley
-The Saga of Pliocene Exile by Julian May (psionics!)
-The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
-Sailor Moon
-Mage: The Ascension
-The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie
-The Wandering Inn
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
I hate to begin sounding like a broken record at only the third post! hahaha. But, I suspect, many of us of a certain age are going to have very similar looking lists. I'll try not to repeat tooooo much.

The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings trilogy, really has to have top billing. Once I was introduced to the original red box, these were the first things I read...and watched, between the Rankin/Bass and Bakshi animated flicks.

The Last Unicorn animated feature. Great call, Taran. And to an extent, the bevy of 70s & 80s fantasy flicks we were privileged to live through are all deserving of space on this list: Excalibur, Legend, Ladyhawke, Time Bandits, Dragonslayer, The Beastmaster, the Conans, of course, The Princess Bride! The Dark Crystal!! [EDIT: OMG, How did I forget the Neverending Story?! /EDIT] All formative to my shaping of fantasy, storytelling, magic, and all with elements that found their way into my D&D games/stories/characters.

Arthurian legend/literature, and to a greater extent the UK & Ireland as a whole. I was obsessed back in the day, from Geoffrey of Monmouth to the Mabigonion to (many years later) The Mists of Avalon.

The works of Joseph Campbell: The Power of Myth and Hero with a Thousand Faces, specifically. I forget how or who caused me to discover Joseph Campbell in my early teen years. But I think it could definitely be said to have shaped and expanded my understanding of storytelling, myth-reading - which goes hand in had with this, I suppose. Anything mythology, legends/folklore, ancient religions -of any culture/civilization- related I could get my hands on, I soaked up like a sponge. It definitely influenced -and I would hope/like to think- improved my D&D.

The art of Larry Elmore, for sure, shaped my imaginings of what my characters (all characters, and the sprawling backgrounds/panoramics of the fantasy world) looked like. With a healthy dose of comic book/superheroic stylings of Jeff Dee and Bill Willingham from the early TSR books and modules.

The Elfquest comics/graphic novels. I basically turned anything called a "Wood or Wild elf" in my homebrew setting into Pini elves, three-fingered hands and all.

Special Mention: I read the Dragonlance Chronicles, of course (who didn't back then? haha), but I feel like that was reading a series of stories about D&D. That is, they were stories and characters that I already would have immediately associated as "D&D" stuff....which they were/created for. So I don't really look at that as an "Appendix N/formative thing." Loved them. Made it through the second trilogy - was that Legends?-before losing interest. But, not really, a "shaping my D&D aesthetic" thing.
 

I'm going to include a couple of actual D&D books because I got into D&D aged 10 or so and hadn't read a huge amount of fantasy prior to that, so they were very impactful.

Taladas - Zeb Cook's amazing setting, which avoided most of the classic fantasy fallbacks. Featuring playable and non-evil minotaurs, goblins, ogres and lizard men, wonderful cultures based on Byzantium, parts of the Pacific Rim/Islands, multiple powerful steppe tribes (notably elves and half elves in the barbarian role!), various Finno-Ugric equivalents, the late Western Roman Empire and just a lot of pure fantasy cultures like non-dumb tinker gnome machinists living in a lava sea, Fremen-esque "glass sailors", a sort of fantasy apartheid situation that was gradually collapsing under its own contradictions, a vibrant fantasy melting pot of various refugees, and so much more. It was a huge cut above other settings in every way I could care about, and unfortunately I saw it before most other settings because it came out in 1989 and I got it in like 1990. Absolutely fundamental to how I see D&D.

Forgotten Realms Adventures - from 1989 or 1990, this was supposed to update FR DMs on the FR but it was my introduction to D&D settings even before Taladas and had nearly as much impact. The FR is beautiful to me because of the way it was presented in this book.

Greek mythology - I had been read or read a huge amount of Greek myth, including the risque stuff, and this definitely impacted how I saw polytheistic religion and the gods and heroes and monsters, though not always in a pro-Greek-myth way. Including the illiad and Odyssey.

Arthurian myth - in various forms, it was hard to escape in the UK. Excalibur particularly.

Conan the Barbarian - The film not the books. Still one of my top movies honestly.

Disney fantasy depictions including Gummi Bears - I'm being real here because whilst I didn't seek this out particularly, I have siblings and saw a lot of this and frankly, liked most of it and it definitely had an impact.

Various grim 70s and 80s British kid-oriented fantasy novels, not sure exactly which but I know one of them involved a teenage girl killing an adult man with a heel-palm strike to the nose!

A Wizard of Earthsea - Huge influence - I was kind of unimpressed with fantasy including The Hobbit, until I read these, which really spoke to me and my vision of fantasy.

Anti-influence: CS Lewis' fantasy novels - I was made to read them by adults and I came.to loathe most of the characters (not Aslan so much but all the humans we were supposed to like or agree with). Made me want to actively not do fantasy like that.

Maybe add more later.
 

TwoSix

"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
Disney fantasy depictions including Gummi Bears - I'm being real here because whilst I didn't seek this out particularly, I have siblings and saw a lot of this and frankly, liked most of it and it definitely had an impact.
Oh yea! I forgot to mention that. I was born in '78, so '80s cartoons (He-Man and She-Ra come immediately to mind) definitely were also a formative influence.

And considering the weird starting point, Gummi Bears was an excellent fantasy cartoon.
 


CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
in no distinct order:
lord of the rings (movies) and the hobbit (book and movie trilogy)
terry pratchett's discworld
the legend of zelda series (notably OoT+MM, LttP, WW+PH, TP, MC, SS being the ones i played the most of)
the metroid series (notably the prime trilogy)
garth nix's the old kingdom
the final fantasy series (notably 1, 2, 5 and 10 being the ones i played the most of)
one peice
christopher paolini's the inheritance cycle
rick riordan's percy jackson series and the kane chronicles
 
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