The story of Appendix N goes with Dungeon Crawl Classics like fish and water. Peanut butter and jelly. Robert E. Howard and Conan. But what exactly IS Appendix N?
Appendix N is the list of books that inspired Gary Gygax to create D&D. This bibliography first appeared as an appendix in the AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide—specifically, Appendix N—which is why the list is known by that name. To write DCC RPG, author Joseph Goodman read every book in Appendix N (over the course of several years) to try to channel the same inspirations as Gary Gygax.
And you know the results.
The books in Appendix N are a whos-who of classic fantasy, sci-fi, and sword-and-sorcery fiction. Many of the authors listed there first made a name for themselves in the pulp magazines of the 1930’s, and were later reprinted in paperback form—which is where Gary Gygax probably read them.
The flavor of Dungeon Crawl Classics owes a lot to these works. Many DCC modules are directly inspired by the Appendix N authors—some direct, some indirect. For example, DCC #83: The Chained Coffin comes from the works of Manly Wade Wellman, and DCC Lankhmar is based on the seminal works by Fritz Leiber, and there are many other examples.
That explains the origins of Appendix N and how it has impacted Dungeon Crawl Classics and Goodman Games as a whole.
What it doesn’t do is tell you the books from Appendix N, or the exact words from Gary Gygax. So let’s do that right here. Enjoy.
“Inspiration for all the fantasy work I have done stems directly from the love my father showed when I was a tad, for he spent many hours telling me stories he made up as he went along, tales of cloaked old men who could grant wishes, of magic rings and enchanted swords, or wicked sorcerors [sic] and dauntless swordsmen.
Then too, countless hundreds of comic books went down, and the long-gone EC ones certainly had their effect. Science fiction, fantasy, and horror movies were a big influence. In fact, all of us tend to get ample helpings of fantasy when we are very young from fairy tales such as those written by the Brothers Grimm and Andrew Lang. This often leads to reading books of mythology, paging through bestiaries, and consultation of compilations of the myths of various lands and peoples.
Upon such a base I built my interest in fantasy, being an avid reader of all science fiction and fantasy literature since 1950.
The following authors were of particular inspiration to me. In some cases I cite specific works, in others, I simply recommend all of their fantasy writing to you. From such sources, as well as any other imaginative writing or screenplay, you will be able to pluck kernels from which will grow the fruits of exciting campaigns. Good reading!
Anderson, Poul: THREE HEARTS AND THREE LIONS; THE HIGH CRUSADE; THE BROKEN SWORD
Bellairs, John: THE FACE IN THE FROST
Burroughs, Edgar Rice: “Pellucidar” series; Mars series; Venus series
Carter, Lin: “World’s End” series
de Camp, L. Sprague: LEST DARKNESS FALL; THE FALLIBLE FIEND; et al
de Camp & Pratt: “Harold Shea” series; THE CARNELIAN CUBE
Farmer, P. J.: “The World of the Tiers” series; et al
Fox, Gardner: “Kothar” series; “Kyrik” series; et al
Howard, R. E.: “Conan” series
Lanier, Sterling: HIERO’S JOURNEY
Leiber, Fritz: “Fafhrd & Gray Mouser” series; et al
Lovecraft, H. P.
Merritt, A.: CREEP, SHADOW, CREEP; MOON POOL; DWELLERS IN THE MIRAGE; et al
Moorcock, Michael: STORMBRINGER; STEALER OF SOULS; “Hawkmoon” series (esp. the first three books)
Offutt, Andrew J.: editor of SWORDS AGAINST DARKNESS III
Pratt, Fletcher: BLUE STAR; et al
Saberhagen, Fred: CHANGELING EARTH; et al
St. Clair, Margaret: THE SHADOW PEOPLE; SIGN OF THE LABRYS
Tolkien, J. R. R.: THE HOBBIT; “Ring trilogy”
Vance, Jack: THE EYES OF THE OVERWORLD; THE DYING EARTH; et al
Wellman, Manley Wade
Zelazny, Roger: JACK OF SHADOWS; “Amber” series; et al
The most immediate influences upon AD&D were probably de Camp & Pratt, R. E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, Jack Vance, H. P. Lovecraft, and A. Merritt; but all of the above authors, as well as many not listed, certainly helped to shape the form of the game. For this reason, and for the hours of reading enjoyment, I heartily recommend the works of these fine authors to you.”
– E. Gary Gygax, 1979, AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide, p. 224