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Fritz Leiber, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Appendix N: Advanced Readings in D&D

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 | Posted by John ONeill

Swords and Ice Magic-smallOver at Tor.com, Tim Callahan and Mordicai Knode continue with their thoughtful and entertaining tour through Gary Gygax’s famous Appendix N, the library of fantasy and SF titles referenced in the back of the Dungeon Master’s Guide. In the past few weeks, they’ve covered Fritz Leiber and Edgar Rice Burroughs — proving once again that they can write these columns faster than I can keep up.

So we’ll play catch-up today. Here’s what Mordicai says about Leiber, author of the genre-defining Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser tales.

Guys, Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and Gray Mouser are basically the bee’s knees. In fact, I might go so far as to say they are the most Dungeons and Dragons of anything on the Appendix N list… The thing about the Lankhmar stories is that they are actually how people play the game as well… Let me illustrate it thus: Fafhrd straps fireworks to his skis at one point in order to rocket across a jump. That sort of insanity is just so… well, so Dungeons and Dragons; I don’t know how Leiber does it… Leiber’s imagination is so fruitful that, well, it is like he has a chaos theory generator in his head. Billions of flapping butterflies.

So true! And here’s Tim on how Edgar Rice Burroughs’s John Carter novels may have influenced level limits.

The racial politics of the Burroughs books aren’t all that different than what we see in early versions of the game, where there’s plenty of racial diversity (Dwarves, Elves, Hobbits… I mean Halflings) but the Humans (always portrayed as white people in the illustrations) are the only ones without class restrictions and level limits. The implicit message is that all races can and should work together, but humans are the best! Those kind of racial restrictions were removed in later editions of D&D, but they seem not dissimilar from the kinds of stories we see in the Barsoom series.

Some fascinating and funny stuff. Check them out. Next up: Jack Vance.

We last covered Mordicai and Tim on June 29th, when they discussed Sterling E. Lanier. The list of authors they’ve covered includes:

Leigh Brackett and J.R.R. Tolkien
Margaret St. Clair and Andrew Offutt
Lord Dunsany and Philip José Farmer
H.P. Lovecraft and A. Merritt
Manly Wade Wellman and Fletcher Pratt
Fredric Brown and Stanley G. Weinbaum
John Bellairs and Fred Saberhagen
Jack Williamson and Lin Carter
Andre Norton and Michael Moorcock
L. Sprague de Camp, Fletcher Pratt, and Gardner Fox
Roger Zelazny and August Derleth
Jack Vance
Fritz Leiber and Edgar Rice Burroughs
Sterling E. Lanier
Poul Anderson
Robert E. Howard

See the complete list here.

6 Comments »

  1. Ah, the famous Appendix N list. I rave about it myself from time to time. As a boy growing up in Kentucky back in the 1970s, I didn’t have a lot of access to fantasy literature. Tolkien and early Terry Brooks were about it. Then I discovered the DMG and the Appendix N list. It opened up whole new worlds for me.

    Comment by Ty Johnston - July 17, 2013 8:34 pm

  2. Ty,

    Glad to hear it! Oddly, I think its original purpose was to give legitimacy to D&D by drawing connections to classic fantasy, rather than the other way around.

    Ironically, D&D became so popular in the late 70s and early 80s that Appendix N became a gateway to discovering fantasy for thousands of young role players, instead of a gateway to D&D for thousands of interested fantasy readers looking for something familiar in Gygax’s creation.

    Either way, I think it’s a very useful tool. I’m very pleased to see it still being used today.

    Comment by John ONeill - July 17, 2013 10:42 pm

  3. Though familiar with Appendix N in the DMG, Deities and Demigods had a deeper influence on my reading material. I first heard of Leiber, Lovecraft, and Moorcock because of their respective mythos sections there. (The Norse mythos section put me on to reading D’Laures.) The accompanying art was much more influential on me than a mere list in an appendix.

    Another influence on my early 80s self was Mark E. Rodgers’ The Adventures of Samurai Cat and the Pinis’ Elfquest. I think I heard about both of those through Dragon Magazine.

    Comment by James McGlothlin - July 18, 2013 7:42 am

  4. Yep — Appendix N was huge and formative, but arguably not as huge and formative as the book reviews in Dragon Magazine back in the day.

    Comment by Joe H. - July 19, 2013 5:02 pm

  5. […] of fantasy and SF titles in the back of the Dungeon Master’s Guide. They’ve already covered Fritz Leiber, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Sterling E. Lanier and Robert E. Howard. Here they are on Jack […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » Jack Vance and Appendix N: Advanced Readings in D&D - July 27, 2013 10:35 pm

  6. […] in Appendix N; so far they’ve covered Robert E. Howard, Poul Anderson, Sterling E. Lanier, Fritz Leiber, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Jack […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » Roger Zelazny, August Derleth and Appendix N: Advanced Readings in D&D - August 7, 2013 2:35 pm


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