- "All of the above authors, as well as many not listed, certainly helped to shape the form of the game. For this reason, and for the hours of reading enjoyment, I heartily recommend the works of these fine authors to you."
- — Gary Gygax, Dungeon Masters Guide (1e) (1979)
Appendix N: Inspirational and Educational Reading is a section at the back of the AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide (1e) (1979), p.224, listing authors and works which influenced the creation of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.
An expanded version of this list appears in the Player's Handbook (5e) (2014), p.312, Appendix E: Inspirational Reading.
Gygax cites the following twenty-eight authors in particular as having shaped the form of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Of these, he lists the most notable as L. Sprague de Camp, Fletcher Pratt, Robert E. Howard, Jack Vance, H.P. Lovecraft, and A. Merritt. In 2003, he added Fritz Leiber to his set.
Poul Anderson published numerous works of science fiction and fantasy between 1948 and 2001. Appendix N lists Anderson's works Three Hearts and Three Lions (1961), The High Crusade (1960), and The Broken Sword (1954, revised 1971).
Three Hearts and Three Lions follows a World War II resistance fighter who finds himself sent back in time to mythic France. Its influences on D&D include the Law vs Chaos alignment system, trolls with the ability to regenerate wounds, and the nixie and swanmay. Gygax also attributed his elves to French myth rather than Tolkien, which may have been inspired by this novel. Dwarves and wizards also appear in this book.
TSR later adapted Anderson's The High Crusade into a boardgame in 1983. Michael Moorcock, who also appears in Appendix N, cited Anderson's The Broken Sword as one of his influences.
Project Gutenberg has several out-of-copyright works by Poul Anderson.
John Bellairs published numerous fantasy works between 1966 and 1991.
Appendix N cites The Face in the Frost (1969), in which a wizard must study his spellbook in order to cast spells.
Leigh Brackett published numerous science fiction stories between 1940 and 1978. Brackett also worked on the screenplay for Star Wars movie The Empire Strikes Back, although this movie would not be released until 1980, the year after the Dungeon Masters Guide.
The Player's Handbook (5e) (2014) adds the specific recommendations of The Sword of Rhiannon (1953), The Long Tomorrow (1955), and the anthology The Best of Leigh Brackett (1977).
Project Gutenberg has several out-of-copyright works by Leigh Brackett. These include four stories appearing in the mentioned anthology: Enchantress of Venus, Shannach—The Last, The Jewel of Bas, and The Vanishing Venusians.
Fredric Brown published numerous science fiction and fantasy stories between 1936 and 1965.
His short story The Arena (1944) is credited as inspiration for the Star Trek episode Arena (1967), in which Captain Kirk fights the Gorn on Cestus III. However, according to the reference book Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, episode writer Gene L. Coon had not been aware of the similarity.
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Edgar Rice Burroughs published numerous novels from 1911 to 1950. He is noted for creating Tarzan and the John Carter stories.
Appendix N particularly cites the Pellucidar series, an action-adventures series which may have gone on to inspire D&D's Hollow Earth setting; the Mars or Barsoom series, in which 19th century human John Carter finds himself adventuring on Mars; and the Venus series. The US copyright on many of these works has expired.
Project Gutenberg has several out-of-copyright works by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Lin Carter published numerous works of fantasy and science fiction between 1965 and 1988. He also served as editor of anthologies including the Flashing Swords! series, which featured many of the authors on this list.
Appendix N cites the World's End or Gondwane series, first published 1969-1977, a fantasy series set hundreds of millions of years into the future.
L. Sprague de Camp
L. Sprague de Camp published over 100 works between 1937 and 1996, including science fiction, fantasy and historical fiction.
Appendix N particularly cites Lest Darkness Fall (1941), in which a 20th century American is sent back in time to ancient Rome; and The Fallible Fiend (1973), in which a demon of the Twelfth Plane is summoned to the Prime by a human sorcerer.
It also cites collaborations between de Camp and Pratt: The Carnelian Cube (1948), in which an archaeologist travels between alternate dimensions; and the Harold Shea stories, where the protagonist travels to alternate realities, including those of Norse mythology.
August Derleth published over 100 books and 150 short stories between fantasy, horror and science fiction between 1926 and 1971.
The Player's Handbook (5e) (2014) adds the specific recommendation of Watchers out of Time (1974), a collaboration with H.P. Lovecraft.
Project Gutenberg has several out-of-copyright works by August Derleth.
Edward Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany, better known as Lord Dunsany, published numerous works between 1905 and 1954. Numerous writers have cited Lord Dunsany as an influence, including H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard and J.R.R. Tolkien.
The Player's Handbook (5e) (2014) adds the specific recommendations of The Gods of Pegāna (1905), The Sword of Welleran and Other Stories (1908), The Book of Wonder (1912), and his most notable fantasy work, The King of Elfland's Daughter (1924, reprinted 1969). It also names two recent compendiums of out-of-copyright Dunsany works: Lord Dunsany Compendium (2012) and The Essential Lord Dunsany Collection (2013), comprising in all eight works other than those mentioned (A Dreamer's Tales, Don Rodriguez, Fifty-One Tales, Plays of Gods and Men, Plays of Near and Far, Selections from the Writings of Lord Dunsany, Tales of Wonder, and Time and the Gods).
Project Gutenberg has several out-of-copyright works by Lord Dunsany. All works mentioned in the Player's Handbook and in the listed compendiums are available at Project Gutenberg.
Philip José Farmer published numerous works of science fiction and fantasy between 1952 and 2009, including almost 60 novels and over 100 short stories and novellas.
Appendix N particularly cites the World of the Tiers series, a science fiction series set in artificially-constructed pocket universes. Like the demiplanes of D&D, these worlds are visited via gates. The series features a solar system where the sun revolves around the planet, much as the solar system of Oerth.
Project Gutenberg has several out-of-copyright works by P.J. Farmer.
Gardner Fox wrote several novels and more than 4,000 comics, including over 1,500 for DC Comics. He cited A. Merritt and Edgar Rice Burroughs as inspiration.
Appendix N particularly cites the Kothar series, which inspired the lich; and the Kyrik series.
Project Gutenberg has several out-of-copyright works by Gardner Fox.
Robert E. Howard
Robert E. Howard is best known as the author of the Conan the Barbarian series. Howard's bibliography includes numerous other works of fantasy, horror and historical fiction, some of which is currently in the public domain.
Appendix N cites Howard's Conan the Barbarian series as a major influence on Dungeons & Dragons.
Project Gutenberg has several out-of-copyright works by Robert E. Howard.
Sterling E. Lanier is perhaps best known as the editor who convinced Chilton Books to publish Frank Herbert's Dune in 1965.
Appendix N cites Lanier's novel Hiero's Journey (1973), in which a priest explores the mutant wastes of North America. The Player's Handbook (5e) (2014) adds The Unforsaken Hiero (1983).
Project Gutenberg has at least out-of-copyright work by Sterling Lanier.
Fritz Leiber is the author who coined the term sword and sorcery. He published numerous works between 1934 and 1992.
Appendix N particularly cites the Fafhrd & Gray Mouser series, which heavily influenced the fantasy genre. Gygax cited Gray Mouser as one of the inspirations for the thief character class.
TSR later included deities and characters from the setting of Fafhrd & Gray Mouser in Deities & Demigods (1e) (1980), Legends & Lore (1e) (1985) and Legends & Lore (2e) (1990). TSR further published an entire series of books based in the setting, including Lankhmar: City of Adventure (1e) (1985), LNA1 Thieves of Lankhmar (1990), LNR1 Wonders of Lankhmar (1990), LNA3 Prince of Lankhmar (1991), LNR2 Tales of Lankhmar (1991), LNQ1 Slayers of Lankhmar (1992), Lankhmar: City of Adventure (2e) (1993), Rogues in Lankhmar (1994), Avengers in Lankhmar (1995), Cutthroats of Lankhmar (1995), and Fritz Leiber's Lankhmar (1996).
The long-running Dragon Magazine column Bazaar of the Bizarre was named for the magic emporium in Lankhmar.
Project Gutenberg has several out-of-copyright works by Fritz Leiber.
H.P. Lovecraft is best known as a horror author and creator of the Cthulhu mythos. Lovecraft's influences included A. Merritt, the fantasy works of Lord Dunsany, and his own nightmares.
The gods of the Cthulhu mythos appeared in the first printing of Deities & Demigods (1e) (1980), p.43-48, but were removed from the second printing for copyright reasons. Direct references to the Cthulhu mythos would later be made in Elder Evils (2007), and Cthulhu is mentioned by name in the Player's Handbook (5e) (2014).
The Cthulhu mythos likely inspired the Far Realm, a twisted place of insanity.
Project Gutenberg has several out-of-copyright works by H.P. Lovecraft.
Abraham Merritt published numerous works of fiction between 1917 and 1943.
Other works of Merritt, including The Metal Monster (1920), are out of copyright in the US.
Project Gutenberg has several out-of-copyright works by A. Merritt.
Michael Moorcock is a fantasy author who has published works from 1957 to the present day.
Appendix N particularly cites Stormbringer (1965) and Stealer of Souls (1963) of the Elric of Melniboné series; and the Dorian Hawkmoon series, especially the first three books: The Jewel in the Skull (1967), The Mad God's Amulet (1968), and The Sword of the Dawn (1968).
Andre Norton published science fiction and fantasy from 1934 to 2005. She is one of only three female science fiction and fantasy authors to feature in Appendix N.
In 1976 Gary Gygax invited Norton to play Dungeons & Dragons. She subsequently wrote the Greyhawk novel Quag Keep (1979).
The Player's Handbook (5e) (2014) adds the specific recommendations of Quag Keep (1979) and Witch World (1963).
Project Gutenberg has several out-of-copyright works by Andre Norton.
Andrew J. Offutt
Andrew J. Offutt edited the Swords Against Darkness series of fantasy short story anthologies between 1977 and 1979.
Appendix N specifically cites Swords Against Darkness III (1978), plausibly the latest released at the time Appendix N was written. It includes The Guest of Dzinganji by Manly Wade Wellman, who also appears in Appendix N.
Project Gutenberg at least one out-of-copyright work by Andrew J. Offutt.
Fletcher Pratt wrote fantasy and science fiction between 1941 and 1951, including the Harold Shea stories and the novel The Carnelian Cube (1948) in collaboration with L. Sprague de Camp, who also appears in Appendix N. Also specifically cited is The Blue Star (1952), depicting an alternate world of witchcraft.
Project Gutenberg has several out-of-copyright works by Fletcher Pratt.
Fred Saberhagen published fantasy, horror and science fiction between 1964 and 2005. Appendix N specifically cites Changeling Earth (1973), reprinted in 1979 as Ardneh's World.
The Player's Handbook (5e) (2014) adds the recommendation of The Broken Lands (1968). Both this and Changeling Earth are part of the Empire of the East series.
Margaret St. Clair
Margaret St. Clair published eight science fiction novels between 1956 and 1974, as well as numerous short stories. Appendix N cites The Shadow People (1969); and Sign of the Labrys (1963), in which the hero explores subterranean complexes.
The Player's Handbook (5e) (2014) adds the recommendation of Change the Sky and Other Stories (1974).
Blogger James Maliszewski described St. Clair as the most obscure writer listed in Appendix N. Possible influences on D&D include the gnoll (The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles), the drow (The Shadow People), and underground multi-layer dungeon complexes (Sign of the Labrys).
Project Gutenberg has several out-of-copyright works by Margaret St. Clair.
D&D was influenced by Tolkien's works via Gary Gygax's 1972 wargame Chainmail, which itself drew several fantasy creatures from Leonard Patt's fan-made 1971 wargame Rules for Middle Earth. Creatures originating in that game include the dwarf, elf, halfling (originally hobbit), orc, treant (originally tree-ent), troll, and of course the dragon, although many of these also had other inspirations outside of Tolkien. Chainmail also included the wraith and balrog, later changed to balor.
Further Tolkien influences include the ranger class, who draws inspiration from the character Aragorn; the werebear, likely inspired by the shapechanger Beorn; and the cloak of elvenkind. However, Gygax often downplayed Tolkien's influence on Dungeons & Dragons following a legal threat from Saul Zaentz, who owned the merchandising rights to Tolkien's mythos.
Jack Vance published fantasy and science fiction from 1950-2009. His works are cited as a massive influence on Dungeons & Dragons, particularly its magic system, whose original method of spell memorization is termed the Vancian magic system.
Appendix N particularly cites The Eyes of the Overworld (1966), whose protagonist Cugel the Clever would later be cited as inspiration for the thief class, and The Dying Earth (1950), in which wizards can cast only memorize a handful of spells and forget them after casting.
The Dying Earth series is the creative origin of the ioun stone.
Project Gutenberg has at least one out-of-copyright work by Jack Vance.
Stanley Weinbaum published science fiction for only a year and a half, between 1934 and 1935. His best known work is A Martian Odyssey (1934), a short story set on Mars in the early 21st century. A crater on Mars is named in Weinbaum's honor.
Project Gutenberg has several out-of-copyright works by Stanley Weinbaum.
Manly Wade Wellman
Manly Wade Wellman published an estimated science fiction and fantasy stories betwen 1929 and 1987, including The Guest of Dzinganji (1978).
Project Gutenberg has several out-of-copyright works by Manly Wade Wellman.
Jack Williamson published science fiction between 1928 and 2006. He is credited with inventing the term "genetic engineering" and popularizing the word "android".
Project Gutenberg has several out-of-copyright works by Jack Williamson.
Roger Zelazny published science fiction and fantasy between 1965 and 1995.
Appendix N particularly cites Jack of Shadows (1971), featuring a world divided between science and magic; and the Amber series, which at the time of the Dungeon Masters Guide's publication consisted of five books: Nine Princes in Amber (1970), The Guns of Avalon (1972), Sign of the Unicorn (1975), The Hand of Oberon (1976), and The Courts of Chaos (1978).
The D&D Planescape Planes of Conflict, Liber Malevolentiae (1995) was dedicated to the memory of Roger Zelazny.
In addition to the listed authors, Gygax cites the rambling fantasy tales told by his father, comic books (including EC Comics), movies (science fiction, fantasy and horror), fairy tales (including Brothers Grimm and Andrew Lang), and historic reference books on mythology and medieval bestiaries.
In 2007, Gygax also cited several science fiction authors whose works he enjoyed. Those not previously mentioned in Appendix N were Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick, Harlan Ellison, Hugo Gernsback, Edmond Hamilton, Raymond F. Jones, Damon Knight, Keith Laumer, Sam Merwin Jr., Edgar Pangborn, Mack Reynolds, Robert Sheckly, Richard S. Shaver, William Tenn, and A.E. van Vogt.
Reception and influence
In 2019, Tim Kask spoke highly of the authors included in Appendix N, describing them as still some of the best swords & sorcery fiction, and judging their influence on Dungeons & Dragons to be significant. However, he admitted that much excellent fantasy has been published since then which would equally useful to a modern audience:
- "When we published this, when we compiled it, we did it as an aid to game masters everywhere that were desperately looking for ideas to steal, to amalgamate, to modify, to incorporate, to do a Borg on, and make their own adventures. So we were saying, 'Hey, we really like these books! We think you will too.' Now, today—have you read the Potter books? Fine. Adapt it to D&D. Easily done."
- "Appendix N gives us a common ground to understand what those of us that were involved in the creating read as our source material that we mined for ideas. It's hardly any magic item in there that we didn't read about somewhere else or read something like it and then modify it, hardly. There probably are some, but hardly."
In 2021, MIT Press released Appendix N: The Eldritch Roots of Dungeons and Dragons (ISBN 978-1907222740), an anthology of works by writers on this list and others.
D&D 5th edition's Appendix E
The inclusion of Appendix N in AD&D 1st edition encouraged Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition's Player's Handbook (2014) to print an expanded list including additional works which had inspired the designers of later editions, known as Appendix E.
Appendix E includes all authors in the original Appendix N, plus the following additions:
- Saladin Ahmed, Throne of the Crescent Moon (2012)
- Lloyd Alexander, Chronicles of Prydain series (1964-1968)
- Piers Anthony, Apprentice Adept series (1980-1990)
- Lady Gregory Augusta, Gods and Fighting Men (1904)
- Elizabeth Bear, Eternal Sky trilogy (2012-2014)
- Terry Brooks, Shannara series (1977-current)
- Thomas Bullfinch, Bullfinch's Mythology (1881)
- Glen Cook, Black Company series (1984-2018)
- Brian Froud and Alan Lee, Faeries (1978)
- Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis, Dragonlance Chronicles series (1984-1985)
- William Hope Hodgson, The Night Land (1912)
- N.K. Jemisin, Inheritance series (2010-2015), The Killing Moon (2012), and The Shadowed Sun (2012)
- Robert Jordan, Wheel of Time series (1990-2013)
- Guy Gavriel Kay, Tigana (1990)
- Stephen King, The Eyes of the Dragon (1984)
- Ursula LeGuin, Earthsea series (1964-2018)
- Scott Lynch, Gentlemen Bastards series (2006-current)
- George R.R. Martin, Song of Ice and Fire series (1996-current)
- Patricial McKillip, The Forgotten Beasts of Eld (1974)
- China Mievelle, Bas-Lag series (2000-2004)
- Mervyn Peake, Gormenghast series (1946-2009)
- Terry Pratchett, Discworld series (1983-2015)
- Patrick Rothfuss, Kingkiller series (2007-current)
- R.A. Salvatore, The Legend of Drizzt series (1982-curent)
- Brandon Sanderson, Mistborn trilogy (2006-current)
- Clark Ashton Smith, The Return of the Sorcerer (1931)
- Nikolai Tolstoy, The Coming of the King (1988)
- Gene Wolf, The Book of the New Sun series (1980-1983)
D&D 5th edition's Appendix D
- Main article: Appendix D
- Adventures in Fiction, Goodman Games. A collection of articles on the authors appearing in Appendix N.
- #Appendix N, Grognardia, James Maliszewski's blog articles on works appearing in Appendix N.