Appendix N

The Dungeon Master’s Guide for 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons has several appendices, ranging from discussion on traps, dungeon dressing, random terrain generation, to one of the more important (in my opinion) ones — Appendix N: Inspirational and Educational Reading.

It’s useful to know what inspired the people that created a game you like to play, that you invest your time into, and to understand why they made certain choices. To that end, I’ve decided to compile my personal “Appendix N”, which is the media that inspired me and what flashes as inspiration in my thoughts. What will follow is not a list of all media that I have drawn inspiration from but instead, only the ones that inspired my younger self as I dove into the mishmash D&D we played by mixing red box with the hardcover AD&D books.

For me, it’s a mix of reading list and movies, but that’s because I spent my D&D formative years watching HBO on rainy summer days. Some of the list is definitely bad media, others were probably not appropriate for a child to watch, but they all captured my imagination and made me want to play the game — badgering my older brother to let me play until he allowed me to make a thief. Who promptly died to a trap in the first room.

Anyway … the list:

  • Another Fine Myth, by Robert Asprin. Most of the jokes flew over my head when I read this the first time. But I was hooked, and read almost all the MythAdventures series.
  • A Malady of Magicks, by Craig Shaw Gardner. The chapter intros still entertain even the story is not the best, in hindsight. A demon cursed to rhyme and wizard allergic to magic is still funny though.
  • I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe of course, I don’t think much more needs to be mentioned of it.
  • At some point, I found Terry Pratchett’s The Light Fantastic in the city library. I ended paying a $5 fine on the book because I reread it and ended up keeping it past the due date.
  • While it was “inspired” by a book, the movie The Beastmaster made me want to play rangers. It was not age appropriate, but it was almost always showing on HBO.
  • One of my friends had Conan the Barbarian on laserdisc, along with Tron. We watched both of those a lot. Yeah, I know that Tron is sci-fi. Does the difference really matter?
  • Before I had ever seen Monty Python, I saw (again on HBO) Time Bandits.
  • It wasn’t super impactful on how we played the game, but Highlander was watched a lot. Mostly because the Kurgan is a great villain, but also because the soundtrack is great. (Similarly, Flash Gordon has a great soundtrack, but I already put one sci-fi film on the list).
  • Hawk the Slayer … is a bad movie. But it was great fun for young me and my friends. We realized sometime in our teenage years how bad it really was.
  • Excalibur and Wizards rounds out the list. Both are in the category of “why did my parents let me watch this”, but hey that was part of being gen X.
  • I would be remiss to not have some music in the list, but there’s just too much, so it would be easier to just list the bands that we listened to as “pre-game hype music”: Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin, Dio, and Manowar.

Did I miss any obvious inspirational movies? Shrug. I probably missed books, but I didn’t really much if it wasn’t in the vein of Pratchett or Adams. What’s on your list?


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