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D&D General What is your personal Appendix N?

Xenophon223

Explorer
This is a super fun topic. Let's see if I can keep the list reaonsable:

Literature:
Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and Mouser Books
: These are my absolute favorites. The combination of swashbuckling fun and weird world building is my favortie kind of fantasy
Neil Gaiman's Sandman Comics: The world building is exquisite as well as the deep ideas explored
Joe Abercrombie's works: I love Leiber, but no one writes characters as well as Abercrombie. He has written the best Wizard and the best Berserker in fantasy as far as I'm concerned. The world of the Fist Law is great and realistic while still feeling fanatastical and wonderous.
Patrick O'Brien's Aubery and Maturin books: If you've seen Master and Commander and liked it you should read the books. They are the perfect combination and over the top action and detailed slice of life. Even though they are historical fiction they do more world building that many fantasy books.
The Lovecraft Mythos, various authors: I love weird Far Realms stuff and nothing is better for really scaring the poop out of the PC's

Game Material:
Ed Greenwoods Volo's Guides:
I love minutiae. What shop is on what street? What is the best dish at that inn? What cheese is that town famous for? Ed does that better than everyone.
Second Edition Planescape: The setting is so cool and and it embodies meta ideas behind what is happening. It also is filled with memorable and unique characters.
7th Sea: I've never run the system, but man it has really cool ideas to steal for D&D. The second edition books are also gorgeous.

Movies and TV:
The Three Musketeers (1973/74), (1993) and The Musketeers (BBC 2014-16)
: Buckles must swash in D&D. I love running a free wheeling game with outrageous duels, romance and dashing. The Three Musketeers are the epitome of swords and heroism for me ans these three versions are what I try to emmulate in my games.
Bleach: Intelligent swords and everyone having a unique figthing style? Yes please! Anime has it's own style of swashbucking and no one does over the top sword duels like Bleach.
The Legend of Vox Machina: It's animated D&D! This is how I always pictured D&D to look like, appareantly the CR gang did too.
Pirates of the Carribean (The first movie): Once again peak swashbuckling and excelelnt characters.
Black Sails: Pirates done really well. Complicated politics and everyone kind of sucks. Very memorable characters though.
Master and Commander: See above

Video Games:
The Elder Scoll Series, Fallout Series, and Dragon Age Series
: I steal adventure ideas from these constantly. Video game designers know how to write a tight adventure.

Music:
Power Metal like Gloryhammer, Windrose, Powerwolf, etc
: Not only do I listen to these while I prep adventures, the bands make random appearances in game. These are the modern soundtrack to D&D
Prog Rock like King Crimson, Yes and Jethro Tull: I wrote a whole adventure around the Court of the Crimson King. These are also great to listen to while I write.

I'm sure I've forgotten so many things, but these are all part of my own personal appendix N.
 

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SakanaSensei

Adventurer
-The Final Fantasy series of games, broadly. The tenth game in the series was particularly formative for me, and the recent sixteenth installment was inspiring.
  • The Elder Scrolls series of games, particularly in its presentation of esoteric lore in the third installment.
  • A Knight's Tale, the anachronistic jumble of a movie, is my favorite movie of all time and definitely hits a lot of the tone of tabletop sessions, in my mind.
  • While I've stopped playing the company's games for various reasons, I can't just pretend my teens and early twenties weren't heavily influenced by Warcraft. My goblins still all have very, very bad East Coast accents and lean more towards "little guys" than "black-hearted thieves."
  • The Locklands series of books by Robert Jackson Bennet are a very cool mashup of genres that I found inspiring. Cyberpunk peanut butter in an Italian renaissance themed fantasy chocolate.
  • Babel, or the Necessity of Violence by R.F. Kuang was a fantastic read and got me to think a lot about what language means, thematically, in storytelling. It will likely influence future games I run.
 

Hussar

Legend
Some fantastic reads there. I'd like to add a couple:

Black Company - Glen Gook. Loves me the books and they have seriously impacted how I run games.

The Malazan Empire books - Steven Erikson - another series that has absolutely featured in virtually every single campaign I've run in some form or other since I read them.

Moorcock - specifically Krieghund and the World's Pain series. My absolute fav.

China Mieville - lots of books. Again, I'm a huge fan of weird and this just fits right in with what I want to feature in my games.

Robin Hobb's Liveship Traders series has also really fed into my absolute love for trying to do nautical campaigns (and my crestfallen disappointment when they never actually pan out. :'( )
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
The problem I'm having is that there is some fantasy I love, but I don't think has actually had a sizeable impact on my play or DMing: Earthsea, Narnia, and Princess Bride. Or things that might if I made my own RPG, but haven't yet in D&D: Black Company, Dread Empire, Crouching Tiger, Pirates of the Caribbean, Lord Darcy, and Neverwhere.

I think the ones that have to a sizeable degree include:

  • Hobbit, LotR, Silmarillion - lots of random things
  • The Box Set of Moldvay Basic and B2 - The creature descriptions in there still outweigh the ones in subsequent editions - especially kobolds, B2 is the platonic module (for good or evil), and the DMing advice
  • 1e MM - the LE Devils, CE Demons, and super lethal undead
  • Garrett Files - power level, the multi-species city feeling, rat people
  • Conan - for some of the world feel and how cosmic horror shows up
  • Dying Earth 1-3 and the Songs of Dying Earth tribute anthology - random things

I've used a wide variety of clerics since 1982 and don't know where I got the inspiration for them since they don't usually match anything in IRL mythology. I have a bunch of things that have shown up in campaigns that I have no idea where they came from, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was some book I read, another RPG, or someone else's DMing.
 
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FromSoft's Dark Souls, Bloodborne, Sekiro, and Elden Ring games all heavily influence my aesthetics, as does Berserk.

Mostly manga from there on; Bleach, Hunter X Hunter, Jujutsu Kaisen, Neon Genesis, YuYu Hakusho, Vagabond -> these all changed how I see the idea of "power" and "fighting" and how both of these things can both reflect and develop character They also impacted how I treat powers.

The Silmarillion is the single biggest Fantasy book influence on me, and is still my favorite. I also love Lord Dunsany's stuff, which I ate as a teen. Game of Thrones books, the Conan short stories, and the Elric short stories are also shaped a lot of what my tastes are.

Video games helped a lot too. Assassin's Creed franchise is a big one. Funnily enough, the Return of the King video game was a big influencer on me. The movies as whole were, the books less so. Aragorn/Strider is still my fave fantasy character ever and has a huge place in my mind, and is why Ranger is always my 2nd fave class, even if I think the class design is mid.

These things all boil down into my current tastes and aesthetics when it comes to tabletop specifically.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
Brandon Sanderson's Cosmere, primarily Warbreaker and Way of Kings
Wheel of Time
Magic the Gathering Novels, primarily, Arena and the Urza and Weatherlight cycles
Gail Carringer's Custard Protocols and Alexa Tarrabotti series
Jules Verne
Pirates of Dark Water
Thundarr the Barbarian
Slayers
Legend of Escaflowne (series only, not movie)
Avatar: the Last Airbender

Also, a howling void where Game of Thrones and Lovecraft have been actively excised and their influence rejected.
 

SakanaSensei

Adventurer
Brandon Sanderson's Cosmere, primarily Warbreaker and Way of Kings
Wheel of Time
Magic the Gathering Novels, primarily, Arena and the Urza and Weatherlight cycles
Gail Carringer's Custard Protocols and Alexa Tarrabotti series
Jules Verne
Pirates of Dark Water
Thundarr the Barbarian
Slayers
Legend of Escaflowne (series only, not movie)
Avatar: the Last Airbender

Also, a howling void where Game of Thrones and Lovecraft have been actively excised and their influence rejected.
I think of all of Sanderson's books that I've read, I've liked Warbreaker the best. It's wild to me that he just has it up for free!
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
To save time, I'm just copying what I already wrote in a previous thread on this topic. All sources explain what type they are, since the original Appendix N was just books, and many of these are not books.

In no particular order:
Babylon 5 (TV), J. Michael Straczynski
Star Trek: the Original Series, Next Generation, and Deep Space Nine (TV), many creators, but originally, Gene Roddenberry
The Lord of the Rings (books), JRR Tolkien
Indiana Jones (films and TV), George Lucas
King's Quest and Space Quest series (video games), Roberta Williams, Scott Murphy, and Mark Crowe
Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen (books), Garth Nix
Doctor Who (TV), many creators
Star Wars (films), George Lucas
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (books, film, etc.), Douglas Adams
Knights of the Old Republic II (video game), Obsidian Entertainment
The Bible (the Book), many creators (and one Creator!)
The Tempest (book, play), William Shakespeare -- though honestly several other bits qualify too
The Iliad and Odyssey (books), Homer
Avatar: the Last Airbender (TV), Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko
A Princess of Mars (book), Edgar Rice Burroughs (though TBH I read it when I was very young so I barely remember it)
Conan the Barbarian (film; I haven't read much of the written works), originally Robert E. Howard
Of all things, Heavy Metal (film), specifically the final segment regarding Taarna, not sure who credit goes to there
Below the Root series (books), Zilpha Keatley Snyder
The Left Hand of Darkness (book), Ursula K. Le Guin
The Lathe of Heaven (book, TV movie), Ursula K. Le Guin
The Chronicles of Narnia (books), C.S. Lewis
Dragonriders of Pern (books), Anne McCaffrey
The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor (book), unclear original authorship (and the related, but distinct, Thousand and One Nights)
The Foundation and robots stories (books), Isaac Asimov
I Sing the Body Electric (short story), Ray Bradbury
Babar (TV), adapted from the works of Jean de Brunhoff
Rupert (TV), the 1990s series, adapted from the works of Mary Tourtel
The collected works of Beatrix Potter (books)
The Sherlock Holmes stories (books), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

There's probably more I'm forgetting.
 

This is a really hard list to write. Based purely on what I'm thinking of at this moment:

  1. I second (or third) the Earthsea books. Especially the second one. The later books (I'm halfway through the 5th) are criminally underrated, and give you a magnificent, naturalistic, morally- and politically-charged approach to fantasy that is somehow still whimsical, and exactly what I want from RPGs.
  2. Fighting fantasy books were literally the first books I ever read of my own accord. I'd completely forgotten about them until they came up in this thread. There was something about a dungeon with skeletons in it. I died a lot. Sold me on dungeons with skeletons for life.
  3. Lord of the Rings is kind of an anti-influence. Fellowship was the second book I ever read, but the movies had an aesthetic and cultural impact that was simply wrong and kind of soured me on the whole thing. I'll mention the Hobbit instead. Dragons, spiders, trolls, spooky forests, annoying elves, and treasure!
  4. Morrowind. This one is heavily derivative of a bunch of other stuff I also like, like Dune, Dark Sun, and Heavy Metal comics. The thing with Morrowind is that it's weird and full of cool freaky stuff, but it also makes sense as a world. You feel like real people with real lives can and do actually live there. It's that combination of high weirdness and ground-level politics and history that makes fantasy really sing for me.
  5. Dark Souls. This game is a miracle: it took a bunch of hackneyed D&D tropes and somehow breathed life into them, making them completely its own, turning them strange again. It's an object lesson in not taking generic tropes for granted. Also, it's interesting that it took a Japanese studio to really nail the aesthetic of medieval-inspired Western fantasy and make it look cool again. To me, most Western fantasy art done by Westerers looks like garbage by comparison.
  6. The Birthgrave, by Tanith Lee. Currently reading this (I'm near the end), and I can't believe I never read it sooner. It's got Lee's usual dreamlike, gothic feel of disassociation and psychosexual weirdness, married to old-fashioned sword & sorcery action, a bleakly colourful surrealist planet, and a protagonist who might or might not be a female Thulsa Doom. This book somehow articulates so much of what I want from fantasy RPGs, in ways I've never seen before.
  7. Mad Max. All of them, especially Fury Road. What if your entire game was a car chase, and the car chase told a story? What if there was no hope, and you just kept going anyway?
Hell yeah to all of this list - hooray for dungeons full of skeletons! Dark Souls is fascinating one because it really does somehow preserve a 1E/2E AD&D aesthetic, right to the modern day - Demon's Soul, the predecessor, also did, though the sequels and Elden Ring whilst relating to that and still extremely cool are more their own aesthetic (but an aesthetic I wish an RPG would capture - so far as I am aware all attempts, very much including the official Dark Souls RPG, have failed to do so - that didn't even capture the original DS aesthetic). Mad Max series great choice too.

Added Birthgrave to my "to read" list.
 

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