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Saturday, March 20, 2010

"Appendix N"

As I sit, blogging away my remaining hours of spring break, I find myself nosing around on other people's blogs. asks an interesting question: "What's your Appendix N?"

The original Dungeon Master's Guide included several appendixes. Appendix N was a list of literary influences on the D&D game -- the original Conan novels, Lord of the Rings, and so on. It made me think -- what was MY "Appendix N?"

Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit (the novels, of course. Animated movie didn't come out until I was already gaming heavy, and the Peter Jackson movies were decades to come).
Conan (the comic books were my first big influence, weirdly enough. The paperbacks were good, but trying to FIND them when you lived in a little teeny cow town out in the middle of nowhere was a bit of a trick)
Hawk The Slayer, that great old swords and sorcery movie. First saw it on ... Showtime, I think it was... on a Saturday afternoon. Never forgot it. Ghod, it was awful, but back then, it managed to be magical.
Edgar Rice Burroughs. Weirdly enough, I never read any of his Tarzan books as a child, although my wife and father in law lived on 'em in their youths. I grew up on the first four John Carter of Mars books, The Land that Time Forgot, and At The Earth's Core, the last two being movie-photo-cover editions that accompanied the release of some remarkably bad movies... but the books were all pretty good.
DC Comics had a bunch of second string characters -- Claw the Unconquered, Dragonsword, and so on -- that had an effect on me.
The Elric books, by Michael Moorcock. I found the first two at a garage sale in my little bitty cow town. They were great. They had an immense effect on me.
Glory Road, by Robert Heinlein. Man, Nevia was MADE for dungeoneering... all the way from wild dragons in the forest, down to the poetic insult as an art form.
Dragon Magazine. I subscribed not long after I got my Player's Handbook. Once a month, all the geekdom in existence was opened for me. Their "Giants in the Earth" feature pretty much influenced the books I read for a couple years, when I could find them -- I never would have discovered Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser or the works of Poul Anderson without the Dragon.
The Magic Goes Away, by Larry Niven. The title caught my eye, but Boris Vallejo pretty much picked the book up, stuck in my hand, dragged me to the counter by my nose and took my wallet out and paid for it. Fantastic, iconic Boris cover! And the book was every bit as good as the cover! If only he'd done the interior illustrations, too... back before he was Frazetta-level famous...
H. P. Lovecraft. I really liked his stuff. I didn't even read his BEST stuff until I got to college. Too dratted hard to find out in the Great Fried Empty.
Bad movies. There was an awesome forgotten film called Wonder Women Vs. The Super Stooges (aka Amazons Vs. Supermen) that would have made an awesome D&D campaign -- a village of zero level farmers is threatened by a mob of 1st and 2nd level amazons, who must face off against three seventh level heroes: a monk, a barbarian, and... um... well, basically, a Mexican wrestler with the power to make fifty-foot broad jumps straight up cliffs. AWESOME fun from some Hong Kong chopsocky factory, and it would still make an awesome adventure. And, of course, all those Italian sword and sandal epics. I sure wish I could find WWvstSS on DVD these days...
Star Wars taught me a lot about excitement, climax, and pacing. Influenced my Traveller game, too.

No doubt I will remember others...

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