Want to improve your gaming? Read fantasy and science fiction. But you cannot just read any fantasy or science fiction. You need to find something that that inspires you, something that ignites a sense of wonder deep in your soul.
Let’s face it, most of what passes for fantasy and science fiction these days does not do that. If only there was some sort of list of great works of fantasy and science fiction that opens your eyes to the possibilities. Maybe even a list that was influential in the formation of D&D…
There is such a list.
Appendix N, which can be found in the back of the 1st edition AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide, is that list. Jeffro Johnson just wrote a book about Appendix N (which I highly recommend) and earlier today, he went on Geek Gab to talk about. Link below. It is an hour long, but it worth every minute.
(Jeffro, if you are reading this, please get JimFear138 to do the audiobook of your Appendix N book!)
I am the first to admit that I have not read everything on the list, but what I have read so far has been absolutely astonishing. In the past, I thought I was somewhat well-read on fantasy and science fiction. Yet, when I realized that I had not even heard of some of these authors, I realized that the history of this hobby, tabletop gaming, has been hidden away. While reading stuff from the Appendix N list, I am seeing direct inspiration for aspects of the way the game is played.
Beyond just the D&D history lesson, beyond just being well-written works of literature, these books are imaginative. They will douse your creative fire in gasoline. I have a bunch of scribblings in my Idea Notebook, I have some (terrible) short stories sitting on my hard drive, and a partially-completed adventure module on my clipboard right now. Appendix N has been inspiring me to create. Even if no other human being ever sees them, working on these things is helping to take my GM-ing to the next level.
There are some modern authors, publishers, and magazines trying to recapture this magic and I encourage you to check them out, but please look at some of the Appendix N stuff. If you do not have a lot of money, “A Princess of Mars” is in public domain in the United States!