D&D General What is your personal Appendix N?

Hmm. If I look at what I was reading right when I picked up the basic D&D set, I'd have the following:

Robert Asprin's Myth Adventures series
Thieves World Anthologies (Definitely was way too young to be reading this series, but it inculcated a love of city adventures)
Rose Estes' Endless Quest series
JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit and LOTR
The D'Aulaires Greek and Norse books

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Hmmm...only going to list the ones that have had a significant effect on my fantasy gaming

Book of Swords (I, II, III) by Fred Saberhagen
Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Fire & Ice (movie) by Ralph Bakshi
The Hobbit (primarily the animated movie)/The Lord of the Rings (primarily the recent movies)
The High King/Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander (haven't read the rest of the series)
The Odyssey by Homer
Dinotopia by James Gurney
Dragonslayer (movie) by Matthew Robbins


Jedi Master
I get my inspiration from a variety of media types, so trying to keep it to 3-4 per.

The Expanse
The Dark Tower
Snow Crash
The Wheel of Time (Just started this series this year and am 5 books in, but can tell it's going to have a huge influence on my future games)

Star Wars
Mission: Impossible

Video Games
Phantasy Star
Legend of Zelda
Baldur's Gate
Mass Effect

Game of Thrones

Led Zepplin
Avenged Sevenfold
Killswitch Engage

Critical Hit
Adventure Zone
Critical Role

D&D Books
PHB 2ed
Manual of the Planes 3e
Monster Manual 5e


I don't believe in the no-win scenario
Since it's Dungeons & Dragons im going with a (mostly) fantasy theme.
  • Game of Thrones
  • Conan The Barbarian + Red Sonja
  • Clash of the Titans
  • Indiana Jones
  • The Dark Tower
I prefer what I would call sophisticated sword and sorcery. By that I mean ancient secrets and knowledge but in a modern medieval age. High amounts of political intrigue, but low amounts/occurrences of highly powerful magic. Sense of wondrous adventure is more important than world ending threats and super heroics.

So, I bumped Lord of the Rings off because... I'm bored of the rings. while I appreciate what Tolkien did for the genre and literature, I found it an absolute chore to read his works. Dry, no sense of personality in the characters, repetitive world ending matters that just get exhausting.

I added The Dark tower because of the plane jumping and world building. King writes strange anomalies that are interesting and characters that work well right along side of it.

Indy made the list because I believe the movies were the blueprint of Paizo's Pathfinder, PFS, and adventure paths. Its an interesting story that starts out as lost secrets that ramp up to grand schemes and finales. Making fantasy Indy was a killer move and gives PF a brand identity that D&d just cant seem to come up with.

Clash of Titans because I love the politics of Gods and men. The interesting monsters and sense of adventure. Its just a great example of a fantasy adventure filled with wonder and baddies.

Conan and Sonja have that classic sword and sorcery. No magic marts, plenty of players across the board, sense of wonder, etc.. On top of that, lots of what the kids call mundanes kicking the life out of overconfident sorcerers and cultists on repeat.

Finally, Game of Thrones. Less on the lethal anybody (but Tyrion anyways) can die at any moment. However,love that no character is central and of utmost importance, while at the same time can be key to any story arc or plot development. The political maneuvering, the excellent characters and exposition, etc.. Speaking of which, where the hell is 5E Birthright?


The Lord of the Rings: I mean, obviously.

The Elder Scrolls: I like that nonhuman races have full-blown nations of their own, rather than just having lairs or even solitary cities here and there. And I like how, while the gods clearly  exist, they are mysterious enough for different cultures to have radically different ideas about them. And, my world has a big silver tower holding the sky up.

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: This has influenced how I portray Law and "Chaos" (Despite) in my setting. Also I have the demondim/viles/ur-viles in my world, names and all. Oh, and the last remaining forested regions are protected by Forestals.

Harry Potter: Mainly this is why my wizards usually have wands instead of staves.

Dragonball: Mainly just that one of the PC's in my game got ahold of a stretchy staff like Goku's, once.

The Legend of Zelda: There is a region of my world inspired by Wind Waker's Great Sea. Also, the PC's have had encounters with octorocks, wall masters, and armoses.

Magic the Gathering: Planeswalkers exist and you might meet one. Also, one of the nations in my setting is inspired by the "Dragons of Tarkir" set.

Dragonriders of Pern: Obviously there had to be a good guy faction riding chromatic dragons to fight back against those evil dragons from Not!Tarkir.

Fallout: I have a bad guy faction based on Ceasar's Legion. No, not the Roman Empire, but Ceasar's Legion from New Vegas.

Warhammer 40,000:
My world's thri-kreen are based on the Imperium of Man. There's no time to explain, I have more influences to list.

Darkover: One of the nations in my setting is ruled by psionicist aristocrats and features a guild of feminist mercenaries. And, my PC's have encountered "banshees" (giant, screaming terror birds with compound eyes).

Yu-Gi-Oh: If you find an artifact in my world, it probably has a ghost living inside.

Black Butler: The first BBEG ever encountered in my setting was based on Ciel Phantomhive (assisted by his demonic footman.)

Vampire Academy: This is how the vampires in my setting work (and why they are a playable race). Moroi are alive but need blood to stay that way. Sometimes they go nuts and become transformed into a strigoi (a more traditional, evil undead vampire).

There is so, so much more. When I consume any piece of media, there's like a 50/50 chance some element of it will get grafted on to my campaign setting. So, I'm stopping myself before this post gets longer.


Jedi Master
@payn Clash of the Titans (original) and Indiana Jones are both huge influences for me as well, and just barely didn't make my original list. The Dark Tower is my favorite fantasy series of all time, getting ready to start my 3rd readthru of the series.

Following the directions of the thread, these are probably the top 10 that come to mind:

The Last Unicorn
The Return of the King
HP Lovecraft - Selected works
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Robin Hood: Men in Tights
The Princess Bride
A Monster Calls
Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher
He-Man and She-Ra

Ignoring the limit, here are some less important honorable mentions:
Neverending Story
Spirited Away
Princess Mononoke
Jason and the Argonauts (Harryhausen)
Clash of the Titans (Harryhausen)
The Raven (movie)
Flight of Dragons
Mysterious Cities of Gold


Moderator Emeritus
The Lord of the Rings - I know a lot of people have listed these, but the novels and especially the appendices (the movies are good too, but get a little too cartoony action hero-y for my tastes in places) in terms of world-building and the importance of history on the present moment - and of course the view of elves and dwarves. The picaresque approach to travel and meeting people is a big part of my games as well. I love describing the landscape and weather and I could listen to the Robert Ingliss read those passages over and over in the best audio book version of the series (and sometimes do).

The Earthsea Cycle - LeGuin is one of my all-time favorite writers and the original Earthsea trilogy was a huge influence in the creation of my long-time homebrew, Aquerra. Heck, that homebrew even has an Academy of Wizardry! It was the only fantasy book I knew of as a teen that had black and brown people are the main protagonists and the white people were the "weirdo foreigners." However, the last two books she wrote, digging into the toxic male-dominated view of magic in the world of the first three books and challenging the assumptions of traditional fantasy were a big influence on my 5E-era running of games.

Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber - While not particularly D&Dish, the role of familial relations, the yin-yang take on law vs. chaos, the fluid description of moving between worlds (called "shadows") and magical tarot cards used for communication and travel have all made appearances or had an influence on my D&D games.

Hickman & Weiss's Deathgate Cycle - While the ending of this 7-books series felt perfunctory and rushed, I loved the first five books when I read them (some twice as I awaited later ones to be released) and the way each of the four worlds is described were based on a classical element and found a new way to organize the classic fantasy peoples of dwarves and elves, etc. was an eye-opener to me. To this day, the faultless bird (for sending messages) described in one of those books, still appear in my games.

Ed Greenwood's original Forgotten Realms-based articles for Dragon Magazine - This is kind of cheating, but long before the Realms was an official D&D setting, Greenwood was using it as the basis for "generic" stuff to include in your own D&D campaigns. Back then the sense of mystery along with lots of detail was hugely influential on my own worldbuilding. I know it is hard to think of the Realms as "mysterious" nowadays given how many supplements, adventures, and novels have been set there, but back then, it was the sense of a small piece of a much larger and unknowable whole was influential as heck.

Moorcock's Eternal Champion books (Elric, et al. . .) I could not stop reading these once I got my hands of these. I can't say anything specific influenced me (though I took the Red God of the East from the Hawkmoon books and made it the Red God of the West in Aquerra) but the overall feeling of tragedy even when succeeding definitely pervades my games. Much like the "Scouring the Shire" in LotR, no heroic undertaking is free of loss and change for the so-called heroes.

The Chronicles of Narnia - Talking animals? Multiple worlds? The direct involvement of gods or their servants? Yes, yes, and yes. Some people talk about the allegory like it is some kind of secret crime against children, but I never let an allegory get in the way of my enjoying a story and world. As a kid, I only ever (barely) saw it in the first book and didn't care and as an adult I found his attempt fascinating. Anyway, until my current campaigns, gods and religion have always been a big part of my games, and to the degree it is not in my current setting, I miss it and felt like I made a mistake not making it more proscriptive. I could probably add Dune to this list for similar reasons expressed in a completely different way.

Claremont Era X-Men Comics - Serialized drama? Complex relationships with villains? Distrust of corrupt authority? Powerful women? Yes, please!

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - the book that put the (contentious) term "magical realism" on the map, and the first book I immediately began to read again as soon as I finished it the first time, and the book that drove me to graduate studies in literature (despite not ending up focusing on Latin American lit too much). The generational sense of time and the loose relationship with history built from the re-told events of those generations passed down still has a influence on my running games. Once upon a time, I was a stubborn and steadfast worldbuilder that felt like he needed everything pinned down, but this book helped me to realize that history is malleable and built from stories and what matters is how we interact with it in the present based on our view of the past, not a sense of canonical reality (which never really exists anyway). This game me a looser hold on my homebrewing and the willingness to not only accept contradiction, but to see it as a necessary element in making a world feel immersive.

There is a ton of non-fiction that also influenced me, books on Greek/Roman and Norse and other global mythology esp. but also history books.
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Moderator Emeritus
Oh, and I can't believe I forgot Lawrence Watt-Evans's Ethshar books. They aren't all that well-written, but are fun and have a definite D&D world sense - (like I would not be surprised if it was based in part on a D&D campaign he ran) - down to multiple competing magic systems. I learned about these books from "The Role of Books" in Dragon Magazine #107 which included a review of The Misenchanted Sword. With a Single Spell was a foundational influence on my "Out of the Frying Pan" campaign. All the books in this series are self-contained (sometimes featuring cameos from characters in previous books) which I also appreciate. Yes, these books have problematic elements, but so do all these books. Finding inspiration in a book series is not the same as condoning the weird sexual obsessions of fantasy writers (see John Norman's Gor series).

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