D&D General What Obscure/Lesser-Known Book Series Got You Into D&D?

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
I'm gonna break your rules, a little bit.

As a kid, I loved books on mythology - tales of Greek and Norse gods and heroes, told to me by my stepfather then siphoned into my brain by copious reading, filled my lil' mind. Movies like Dragonslayer and Ladyhawke did it too, and all of that led me to the Dragonlance Chronicles.

Now, that didn't lead me directly into D&D - in fact, the first I ever heard of the game was when my friend's mother refused to let him read my Chronicles omnibus because "it was Dungeons & Dragons." That statement confused me greatly at the time because as far as I could tell that wasn't true; nowhere in my book did it say anything of the sort. But I didn't worry about it, and the Chronicles led me to the Legends and deep into a Weis & Hickman fandom - I still adore the Darksword books and my all time favorite W&H series, the Rose of the Prophet.

All of this reading, plus other mostly forgotten stuff like the Seven Altars of Dûsarra series by Lawrence Watt-Evans, The Myth-adventures of Aahz and Skeeve by Robert Aspirin, and the Dragon Prince and Dragon Star series by Melanie Rawn, led me to the Earthdawn roleplaying game in 1993 or so. About a year after that I was introduced to my one true love, Dungeons & Dragons (I'd say don't tell my spouse, but I'm pretty sure it's no secret).

And I never looked back.

EDIT: Oh yeah, and Alexander's Prydain series and Louise Cooper's The Dark is Rising series.
 
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cbwjm

Legend
Not sure on the book series, I think it was a natural progression from playing the fighting fantasy game books, including advanced fighting fantasy. I also read the magician by Raymond E Feist, dragons of Perth by Anne mccaffrey, and every Conan book I could find. Combine that with the various mythology books I used to read (probably started with mum's Norse mythology book that I used to read constantly) and I think moving into DnD was a given since it let me play the characters that I read about... more or less
 

cbwjm

Legend
I'm gonna break your rules, a little bit.

As a kid, I loved books on mythology - tales of Greek and Norse gods and heroes, told to me by my stepfather then siphoned into my brain by copious reading, filled my lil' mind. Movies like Dragonslayer and Ladyhawke did it too, and all of that led me to the Dragonlance Chronicles.

Now, that didn't lead me directly into D&D - in fact, the first I ever heard of the game was when my friend's mother refused to let him read my Chronicles omnibus because "it was Dungeons & Dragons." That statement confused me greatly at the time because as far as I could tell that wasn't true; nowhere in my book did it say anything of the sort. But I didn't worry about it, and the Chronicles led me to the Legends and deep into a Weis & Hickman fandom - I still adore the Darksword books and my all time favorite W&H series, the Rose of the Prophet.

All of this reading, plus other mostly forgotten stuff like the Seven Altars of Dûsarra series by Lawrence Watt-Evans, The Myth-adventures of Aahz and Skeeve by Robert Aspirin, and the Dragon Prince and Dragon Star series by Melanie Rawn, led me to the Earthdawn roleplaying game in 1993 or so. About a year after that I was introduced to my one true love, Dungeons & Dragons (I'd say don't tell my spouse, but I'm pretty sure it's no secret).

And I never looked back.
Those are some great books right there, I don't think I realised, or at least recalled that W&H wrote the rose of the prophet series. If it's the series I'm thinking of, I loved it. The Deathgate cycle was another favourite series of mine.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
Those are some great books right there, I don't think I realised, or at least recalled that W&H wrote the rose of the prophet series. If it's the series I'm thinking of, I loved it. The Deathgate cycle was another favourite series of mine.
Death Gate was awesome, but it irked me a little that you could literally skip the first two books and not lose out on the story at all. And while the second book was really entertaining, especially for Dragonlance fans, there is almost no reason whatsoever to read the first one.

Though I also liked how the Spells and Magic book for AD&D 2e included the School of Geometry and the School of Song as options for wizards, in what I felt was a clear nod to the Patryn and the Sartan.
 

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
I'm seeing a lot of people talking about the Chronicles of Prydian. That series was one of my favorites when I was younger, a teacher introduced me to it in 3rd grade, along with The Castle in the Attic. The Book of Three was the first fantasy book I was ever chose to read on my own (my mother read the Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter books to me when I was too young to read). This brings back memories.
The last book in that series seriously scarred me. I'd never read anything before where half the cast got slaughtered!
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
The last book in that series seriously scarred me. I'd never read anything before where half the cast got slaughtered!
The sequel to The Castle in the Attic is what scarred me. I read it when I was still in elementary school, and the giant rat that ate people gave me nightmares for months.
 

I didn't give the Chronicles of Prydain a shot until my twenties. I had them as a kid, and still have some of those original copies, but I never gave them a shot, and that's something I regret taking so long to do.

I blame this cover (kid me looked at a cover with a dragon, then a cover with a giant cat, then picked the book with the dragon on the cover):

1617302150715.png
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen
I didn't give the Chronicles of Prydain a shot until my twenties. I had them as a kid, and still have some of those original copies, but I never gave them a shot, and that's something I regret taking so long to do.

I blame this cover (kid me looked at a cover with a dragon, then a cover with a giant cat, then picked the book with the dragon on the cover):
I really dug them as a kid, though Taren Wanderer was over my head in parts. It's so, so good, though.
 


Dioltach

Legend
Prydain and Earthsea were great reads for kids. Dark, scary, sad, and even though the hero wins, it's always bitter-sweet.

What really scared me was a book of Russian fairytales. Prince Ivan and the Witch Baby - that, and a TV series called Sapphire and Steel, fuelled my nightmares for years.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen
Prydain and Earthsea were great reads for kids. Dark, scary, sad, and even though the hero wins, it's always bitter-sweet.
Earthsea was definitely above my head at the age I read it; I found A Wizard of Earthsea challenging, and really struggled with the next two. I'm planning to re-read them this year, though.
 

Rhenny

Adventurer
It is so cool to read through this thread to see all the great fantasy books people have read, many I also remember reading as well.

For me, it was D&D and fantasy novels simultaneously. I used the list of influences Gary Gygax made way back and read so many. My favorites back in the day were all Michael Moorcock books, especially the Elric series. I also loved the Fritz Leiber Gray Mouser and Fafhrd books. Quag’s Keep by Andre Norton was also a big influence. Later, I loved all the Thieves World compilations by Robert Asprin and the Guardians of The Flame novels by Joel Rosenberg.
 

i started playing at age 10 so my reading preferences were the likes of Beverly Cleary (RIP), my favorite book at the time was Harriet the Spy

As far as obscure fantasy novels that influenced me in my earlier days, then I'd have to go with Gord the Rogue books by Gygax.
 

I can remember the day one of the players showed up raving about this series he'd discovered about this albino with a powerful and cursed black sword. Oh, did he want to have Stormbringer in game...

One thing I'll point out is that while Elric is one of the fantasy greats and hardly obscure now, in 1980s Upstate NY, we were pretty much stumbling across this stuff by word of mouth and just picking stuff out because it had a cool cover or maybe a mention in Dragon. Anything outside of Tolkien was pretty much obscure to us.

My favorites back in the day were all Michael Moorcock books, especially the Elric series.
 
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Ashavan

Explorer
Chronicles of Prydain all the way. Back in 1980, my 4th grade teacher gave each kid in the class a present at a holiday party we were having, and she gave me a copy of The Book of Three. My best friend got The High King. (Or maybe it was the other way around. Either way, we both got Prydain books, and we figured out which was the first one in the series and started with that.) We both really got into it, and soon after that, his parents got him the original red-box Basic D&D set, and the rest is history.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen
TBF, Lloyd Alexander/the Prydain books won a Newbery Award, so they certainly shouldn't be obscure.

But I'm certainly happy to see folks talking about them. :)
 

SiCK_Boy

Explorer
Some people have already pointed out the Lone Wolf and Fighting Fantasy series, but in French, all of those 80s/90s gamebooks were published as a single collection of "Livres dont vous êtes le héros", which included not only Lone Wolf and Fighting Fantasy, but also The Grail Quest as well as the Avenger! (ninja adventures) series, amongst the most well known. Also Golden Dragon, and some Sherlock Holmes adventures.

The Scorpion Swamp is probably the first such gamebook I played.

The series eventually included more "typical" roleplaying games such as Dragon Warriors, "L'Oeil Noir" and Fabled Lands.

The Talisman (2nd edition) board game was also a huge influence in my interest for "fantasy" gaming and culture.

Prior to tasting that fantasy component (which also included Tolkien), I was already in love with adventure stories, like the Three Musketeers.

The old animated Lord of the Rings movie was also a classic, along with other movies such as Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, and Willow.
 

Sakuglak

Villager
A book series that really inspired some of my D&D settings was the Night Watch series by Russian author Lukyanenko.


It's an interesting take on a fantasy cold war stalemate between not good or evil, but individual freedom versus the greater good.

Humans are mostly pawns before the might of the others but you must beware the urge to do good as the tit for tat struggle can be chess like.
 

The Night Watch series was so darn good. The moral complexity, the cynicism vs. hope, distrust of authority, and the fantasy worldbuilding, it all blended together perfectly. I wish the movie series had continued, too, rather than being just a two-film arc.

A book series that really inspired some of my D&D settings was the Night Watch series by Russian author Lukyanenko.


It's an interesting take on a fantasy cold war stalemate between not good or evil, but individual freedom versus the greater good.

Humans are mostly pawns before the might of the others but you must beware the urge to do good as the tit for tat struggle can be chess like.
 

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