What is your personal Appendix N?


Jun 29, 2021 12:39 am
Appendix N is a famous list at the back of the AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide that revealed the books that inspired Gary Gygax and shaped D&D. But everyone who plays RPGs finds their own inspirations and from a variety of media sources - books certainly, but also shows, movies, video games, comic books, anime, and so on!

What's your Appendix N? What media most shapes your games? What stories haunt your mind and repeatedly sneak their way into your characters, NPCs, plots, and worlds?
Here's my answer! Format yours as you see fit, invent categories that are meaningful to you, and have fun! I'm organizing mine by genre.

Fantasy Inspiration:
Baldur's Gate I
Dark Sun: Shattered Lands, Strategic Simulations
Fighting Fantasy choose your own adventure books.
Heavy Metal magazine
Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself series
Larry Elmore's art
Mr. Elliot, my grade 9 English teacher
Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen
The Neverending Story
The Pirates of Dark Water
JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit and LotR

SciFi Inspiration:
Blade Runner
Cowboy Bebop
Heavy Metal magazine
Star Trek: TNG
The Empire Strikes Back
The Fifth Element
The Wrath of Khan
Jun 29, 2021 1:00 am
Damn, what a great question that I'm completely unprepared to answer! It's hard because I'm not really a fiction writer or a DM, but let me give it a shot.

Fantasy Inspiration:
Black Company
Lord of the Rings
Diablo II
Greek Mythology (though mythology of other cultures is also fascinating and inspiring)
Stephen King (for sci-fi too, really)
The Witcher (especially Witcher 3)
Video game/movie concept art
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

Sci-fi Inspiration:
Cowboy Bebop
Old Man's War
Starship Troopers (both the book and the movie)
The Fifth Element
Ender's Game
Star Wars

Unfortunately, that's all that comes to mind at the moment. I know I've got more rattling around in my noodle, but I've got a brain that works by links: I remember things beat when I have something to remind me of them. If you gave me a list of 100 fantasy/sci-fi books, I'd add a bunch more that created my imagination over the years.

I'm also heavily influenced by what I've been consuming lately. When I just finished Witcher 3, all I wanted to do was write stories that felt the same way. If I DM a game, you could probably read back what I've been consuming depending on how well you could analyze my writing.
Jun 29, 2021 1:10 am
Smiles. I used to read some of those book from my ancient DMG too.
Jun 29, 2021 1:40 am
Man, that's kinda hard. I mean, pretty much anything can inspire me under the right circumstances...
Jun 29, 2021 2:22 am
Fantasy Inspiration:

She-Ra And The Princesses Of Power
Tanith Lee
Legend Of Korra/Avatar The Last Airbender
Jack Vance
Major aspects of Star Wars
Neil Gaiman's The Sandman
Lord Of The Rings
Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Dragon Age (I particularly love that practically all of the lore and world-building is delivered through unreliable sources who have not one actual clue what they're talking about)

Sci-fi Inspiration:

Babylon 5
Blakes 7
Doctor Who
The wild west fringe side of Star Wars
Peter F. Hamilton
Neal Stephenson
Iain M. Banks
Jun 29, 2021 4:31 am
What is influence, what is it to say that one thing influences more than others, is there a ranking system, a device that measures? Barring scientific measurement, here are some random ones I think I touch over and over.

Conan, Conan, Conan - The comics, the stories, the movies
Solomon Kane - more Robert E. Howard
The Three Musketeers
The Hobbit
The Chronicles of Narnia
The Reluctant Swordsman by Dave Duncan
The Arthurian romances
The Malazan Books of the Fallen

Sci Fi
The Lensmen
anything by Asimov
Babylon 5
Dune series
More recently, Dark Matter and Killjoys
Gatchaman / Battle for the Planets

At the Mountains of Madness - all of my games are touched by dreams of Cthulhu
Sergio Leone - The Man With No Name spaghetti westerns
Jun 29, 2021 5:02 am
My list is mostly covered here, but a book I really enjoyed that kind of combined scifi and fantasy is Dreampark. I loved that book.
Jun 29, 2021 6:32 am
Lots of overlap with others, especially Qralloq, but if I stick to my youth, ignore the obvious ones and dig a little deeper...

Brokedown Palace, Dragonlance Chronicles, The Wheel of Time, Watership Down, Disney's Robin Hood, Sleeping Beauty, The Sword in the Stone, The 7th and Golden Voyages of Sinbad, The Sword and the Sorcerer, Clash of the Titans, Legend, Willow, Highlander, Fire and Ice

Ender's Game, Terminator, Alien, Aliens, Star Trek TOS, The Road Warrior, Dune (the film), Space 1999, Man from Atlantis, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Battlestar Galactica, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Final Countdown, The Land that Time Forgot, Land of the Lost, Space Ghost, Herculoids, Thundarr the Barbarian, The Light Years (Gandahar), Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Battle of the Planets, Starblazers, Starlost, Voltron, Forbidden Planet, Logan's Run, Fantastic Voyage, The Prisoner, Starchaser: The Legend of Orin

All Monty Python, The Far Side, Calvin & Hobbs, Early David Letterman
HP Lovecraft, Amityville Horror, The Wolfen, The Howling, American Werewolf in London, The Thing, Videodrome
The Outlaw Josie Wales, Fist Full of Dollars, A Few Dollars More, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
All James Bond Movies
All Godzilla Movies
So, so many comic books
Jun 29, 2021 7:58 am
That is a hard one

The Witcher (game), Game of Thrones (book/TV), Dragon Age (game)

The Dresden files (book), Warehouse 13 (TV), The Librarians(TV)

Alien(TV), Star Treck(TV), Predator(TV), Star Gate(TV), Star Wars(TV), Shadowrun (rpg, game, books), Dr Who (TV), Babelyn 5 (TV)

There is most likely much much more
Last edited June 29, 2021 11:17 am
Jun 29, 2021 8:00 am
Dragon Age (game)
Dragon Age is a big one for me. Because of it, I still struggle with accepting the concept of dwarven spellcasters 😅
Jun 29, 2021 11:01 am
I could probably add stuff to this all day long, but this is the stuff that jumped out at me this morning. Goosebumps should be on this list too, but is leaped from genre to genre despite being marketed as "horror."

D&D Fantasy
Lord of the Rings

The Invisibles
John Dies at the End

Sci-fi…IN SPACE!!!
Battlestar Galactica (reimagined)
Mass Effect

The Outer Limits (90s version)
The Matrix trilogy
12 Monkeys
They Live
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (I am sorry, but I don’t like Blade Runner…)
Valis Trilogy

Tales from the Crypt
Are You Afraid of the Dark?
The Metamorphosis
The Trial
Jacob’s Ladder

Standard Superheroes
Jack Kirby
Kurt Busiek
Geoff Johns

Street Level Superheroes
Frank Miller
Brian Michael Bendis
Last edited June 29, 2021 1:32 pm
Jun 29, 2021 12:21 pm
I'll play too! I've read some of the stuff from the original Appendix N, and it's pretty clear to see where the D&D influences came from, but not all of those books aged particularly well. Pretty much everything that has been posted before I put this up has been great. I see a lot of similar tastes and influences.


Tolkein's works
The Pit Dragon Series by Jane Yolen
Old TSR D&D novels
Tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table
Robin Hood
The Princess Bride
The Dark Crystal
Conan stories
Ninja Scroll


Early stuff by William Gibson, i.e. Neuromancer, Virtual Light, and so on
Star Trek
Star Wars
Mad Max
Twilight Zone


Cthulhu Mythos/Lovecraft
Edgar Allen Poe's classic short stories
TSR's Ravenloft Novels
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Dracula by Bram Stoker
The Prophecy Movies
The Craft


Mythology and Folklore
Old detective stories (this includes pulp stuff and characters like Dick Tracy)
The Toxic Avenger and various other B-Movies
Old martial arts films, i.e. Five Deadly Venoms
Superhero comics
Perfect Blue

If I let myself sit in front of the computer for a while I could probably think of more, but the composite list from everyone's posts is already overlapping. We should make a master list from all these posts. "Appendix GP", if you will.
Jun 29, 2021 1:26 pm
This is a tough question to answer. I suppose I'm an emulationist, meaning that my list changes from game to game depending on what I'm trying to run. For instance, when I ran a street-level gangs kind of game here, the influences were The Warriors film and the beat-em-up video games River City Ransom, Streets of Rage, and Double Dragon. Now I'm doing a Star Wars noir game where the influences are hardboiled stories (Dasheill Hammett, Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, etc.) and film noir by day, neon noirs by night (Blade Runner, Drive, etc.). I'm hoping to do a conspiracy game soon that will borrow heavily from The X-Files.
Jun 29, 2021 4:58 pm
Love these lists. And forgot one: Asterix books!
Jun 29, 2021 5:37 pm
A lot of my most beloved sources of inspiration have already been called out.

But don't think I saw these for fantasy and are among my most formative:

Gentleman Bastards series
The Shannara books
Sword of Truth series

Nor this one for sci-fi:

Takeshi Kovacs series (the books are much better than the show)
Jun 29, 2021 8:52 pm
Early LucasArts games. old Star Wars books
Jun 29, 2021 10:10 pm
I'm not separating these because 1) I'm writing them as I remember, and my brain is a cluttered space, and 2) some of them aren't exactly one or the other....

The Pearl Saga - Eric Van Lustbader
Safehold series - David Weber
Against the Fall of Night, Childhood's End, Rama series - Arthur C. Clarke
Hothouse - Brian Aldiss
Nightfall, Foundation Series, Black Widowers Series - Isaac Asimov
Paths to Otherwhere, Giants series, The Proteus Operation, Echoes of An Alien Sky - James P Hogan
By His Bootstraps, And He Built a Crooked House - Robert A Heinlein
Fire of Heaven Trilogy - Russell Kirkpatrick
A Tale of Time City - Diana Wynne Jones
The Time Quintet, The O'Keefe Family series - Madeleine L'Engle
Ringworld & Worlds series, Tales of Known Space, Destiny's Road - Larry Niven
The Eternity Artifact - L. E. Modesitt
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - Susanna Clarke
City of Ember series - Jeanne DuPrau
The Two Georges, Worldwar series - Harry Turtledove
Neverwhere, American Gods - Neil Gaiman
Ravenloft series - Christie Golden
Probe - Margaret Wander Bonanno
Dirk Pitt series - Clive Cussler
Sigma Force series - James Rollins
Far Centaurus - A. E. van Vogt
Everything by Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams

... I think I'm going to stop now. There's a lot more, but I have to draw the line somewhere before I start listing every short story I ever read in old copies of stuff like Amazing Stories, Analog, and Locus.


Jun 29, 2021 11:42 pm
Has anyone mentioned Warhammer? This one goes almost unrivaled for me, besides maybe Tolkien.
Jul 12, 2021 12:56 am
Like Qralloq said, what is influence? The sum total of all the things I've experienced, whether I loved them or not, surely shape the stories I tend to tell whether I realize it or not. But I'll use Len's last question to narrow my answer: "What stories haunt your mind and repeatedly sneak their way into your characters, NPCs, plots, and worlds?"

And that still leaves too many things. I bet I'm forgetting a truckload. Off the top of my head right this moment:

• The "Thieves' World" anthologies
• Conan!
• Everything ever written by Guy Gavriel Kay
• The art of Larry Elmore, Frank Frazetta, Michael Whelan, Gerald Brom, etc.
• Those old Dragon magazines I pored over when I was 13

• I ran a game inspired by "The A-Team" where everything from the TMNT, to Sardo Numspa, to The Golden Girls, the R.O.U.S., and the Iron Chefs made an appearance. Not every game I run will have them but I sure am a sucker for 1980's references!
Jul 16, 2021 5:07 pm
The original Schwarzenegger Conan movie will always be the ultimate fantasy inspiration for me.
The soundtrack is AMAZING

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