Appendix N: A Literary History of Dungeons & Dragons release

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Appendix N: A Literary History of Dungeons & Dragons release

Postby NPCDave » Tue Jan 17, 2017 12:59 am

https://www.amazon.com/Appendix-Literar ... 01MUB7WS6/

From the Amazon blurb-
APPENDIX N: A LITERARY HISTORY OF DUNGEONS & DRAGONS is a detailed and comprehensive investigation of the various works of science fiction and fantasy that game designer Gary Gygax declared to be the primary influences on his seminal role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons. It is a deep intellectual dive into the literature of science fiction's past that will fascinate any serious role-playing gamer.

From an interview
I asked Jeffro about his focus on Appendix N and he mentioned his desire was to understand why early D&D was so strange to him. “I wanted to solve problems I faced in running games– problems that I now see stemmed from a stunted imagination,”

Currently an ebook, it will eventually be printed.
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Re: Appendix N: A Literary History of Dungeons & Dragons rel

Postby Big Mac » Wed Jan 18, 2017 6:56 pm

I see several five-star reviews there.
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Re: Appendix N: A Literary History of Dungeons & Dragons rel

Postby Havard » Wed Jan 18, 2017 10:13 pm

I always find it interesting when people are making a serious effort to research the early influences of our hobby. I might check this book out. It does look like this person (whom I have never heard of?) has take his time to do the research.

I do find the title somewhat problematic for two reasons:

1) If you are going to look into the origins of D&D, you need to investigate both D&D co-creators and probably some of the other people involved as well.
2) To what extent was really literature the most important influence of D&D? My impression is that Gary was a gamer much more than a literate. Elements found in books surely appear in D&D, but based on some of his statements, it also seems that Gary had a tendency of evaluating literature based on what would be useful in a game or not.

Many of Gary's later statements about fantasy literature are clearly influenced by the commercial interests of TSR, including his negative opinion on Tolkien (TSR was involved in a legal battle with the Tolkien estate at the time) and his high praise of Fritz Leiber (Leiber was Gary's friend and allowed him to use the Lankhmar stuff in D&D). I wonder if one of the primary functions of Appendix N might not have been to send the Tolkien Estate a message?

I wonder if this book goes into any of these issues at all, or whether it simply takes the appendix and investigates the novels listed there?

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Re: Appendix N: A Literary History of Dungeons & Dragons rel

Postby NPCDave » Thu Jan 19, 2017 1:07 am

The book consists of essays which the author wrote after reading each book from Appendix N, discussing how and where that book ended up influencing or appearing in early D&D rulesets.

I have a couple of quotes that can give you a better idea of what you can get out of the book and whether it may interest you.

The first is from the author's own words in response to some sharp criticism of his Appendix N analysis...

Appendix N was quite a bit more than just “filler”. It was an acknowledgement of where large swaths of the AD&D game came from, from spell components to spell memorization to alignment and even the planar cosmology. Traveller has a similar list of sources, and let me tell you… it kind of stinks that they were never cited directly within the game booklets. Arguably, that’s all academic, sure. But at the end of the day, it is what it is. Like Appendix N author Leigh Brackett’s contribution to Star Wars, it should neither be blown out of proportion nor artificially diminished.

But is gaming enlightenment in the cards for anyone that dives into the works that inspired D&D? Well look, there are a great many things in D&D that always looked weird to me back in the day. I kind of like having a better understanding of why things were done like they were. Just as one example of that, the white ape monster in my battered copy of Moldvay Basic went from lame to uber cool when my son pointed out to me where it came from. I wouldn’t characterize that as “enlightening” per se. And sure, you don’t need this sort of thing to make a good game. But if you’re looking to go back to the axioms of classic role-playing and then go in a slightly different direction… this sort of information is invaluable. How many people genuinely want to do that? You’re talking hundreds of people and not thousands– a small number of people within a small hobby that is dwarfed by video gaming. No big deal.

...

Did people care about Appendix N back in the day? Yes they did. Appendix N was synonymous with fantasy in the seventies. When people sat down to “play anything”, they wanted to play characters from those books. The books provided the frame of reference needed to explain the class archetypes when the idea of role-playing was brand new. And when designers decided that some aspect of the game was incorrect or needed development, it was the “authority” of those authors that often drove the creation process. Again, this is largely academic at this point. If it’s not fun for you, go do whatever floats your boat.

But for some people, this is a lot of fun.


And the second quote is a comment by Tim Kask

I helped compile that list. They were not just Gary’s favorites. We both had nominations that did not make the list in the end.

We made that list for two reasons. The first was an encouragement to read; both Gary and I were sort of annoying in that regard.

The second was in response to a slew of questions that sort of boiled down to “Where are you (D&D) coming from?” We thought that if more people read Vance’s Dying Earth, for example, they would know where the memorizing your spells thing came from.

At that point in gaming history (sort of pretentious-sounding, I know) we were encouraging players to lift and modify things from books and movies; Appendix N was meant to serve as a starting point for good sources.
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Re: Appendix N: A Literary History of Dungeons & Dragons rel

Postby Dartamian » Thu Jan 19, 2017 1:53 am

Havard wrote:Many of Gary's later statements about fantasy literature are clearly influenced by the commercial interests of TSR, including his negative opinion on Tolkien (TSR was involved in a legal battle with the Tolkien estate at the time) and his high praise of Fritz Leiber (Leiber was Gary's friend and allowed him to use the Lankhmar stuff in D&D). I wonder if one of the primary functions of Appendix N might not have been to send the Tolkien Estate a message?


Was wondering about this a little myself, so I cracked open the old DMG and looked up Appendix N, and Tolkien is listed with "The Hobbit" and "Ring Trilogy". Of course it is just one of many listed but still listed.

Side Note: Forget all the wonderful appendixes in the DMG, Random Dungeon Generator, how great is that?
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Re: Appendix N: A Literary History of Dungeons & Dragons rel

Postby Havard » Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:00 pm

Dartamian wrote:
Havard wrote:Many of Gary's later statements about fantasy literature are clearly influenced by the commercial interests of TSR, including his negative opinion on Tolkien (TSR was involved in a legal battle with the Tolkien estate at the time) and his high praise of Fritz Leiber (Leiber was Gary's friend and allowed him to use the Lankhmar stuff in D&D). I wonder if one of the primary functions of Appendix N might not have been to send the Tolkien Estate a message?


Was wondering about this a little myself, so I cracked open the old DMG and looked up Appendix N, and Tolkien is listed with "The Hobbit" and "Ring Trilogy". Of course it is just one of many listed but still listed.


Oh yes it is listed. If he had not listed these novels, that would have been beyond dishonest.

I think that Appendix N did serve a purpose for gamers of providing them with a list of basically everything that was available in the fantasy genre at the time.

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