Saturday, August 22, 2009

Appendix 3

So I'm flipping through the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and I come across Appendix 3, "Inspiring Reading." Given that Planet Stories seems to have as its goal the re-publication of a goodly part of Gygax's Appendix N, I was quite interested in what the guys and gals at Paizo considered their primary literary influences. For the benefit of those who haven't seen it, here's the list:

Barker, Clive: The Hellbound Heart, Imagica, Weaveworld
Beowulf (anonymous)
Blackwood, Algernon: “The Willows,” “The Wendigo,” et al.
Brackett, Leigh: The Sword of Rhiannon, Skaith series, et al.
Burroughs, Edgar Rice: Pellucidar, Mars, and Venus series
Campbell, Ramsey: Ryre the Swordsman series, et al.
Dunsany, Lord: The King of Elfland’s Daughter, et al.
Farmer, Philip José: World of Tiers series, et al.
Carter, Lin: ed. The Year’s Best Fantasy, Flashing Swords
Feist, Raymond: Riftwar saga, et al.
Gygax, Gary: Gord the Rogue series, et al.
Kuttner, Henry: Elak of Atlantis, The Dark World
Homer: The Odyssey
Howard, Robert E.: Conan series, et al.
Hugo, Victor: Les Miserables
King, Stephen: Dark Tower series
Leiber, Fritz: Fafhrd & Gray Mouser series, et al.
Lovecraft, H. P.: Cthulhu Mythos tales, et al.
Machen, Arthur: “The White People,” et al.
Martin, George R. R.: Song of Ice and Fire series
Merritt, A.: The Ship of Ishtar, The Moon Pool, et al.
Miéville, China: Bas-Lag series
Moorcock, Michael: Elric series, et al.
Moore, C. L.: Black God’s Kiss
Offutt, Andrew J.: ed. Swords Against Darkness
One Thousand and One Nights (traditional)
Poe, Edgar Allan: “The Fall of the House of Usher,” et al.
Saberhagen, Fred: Changeling Earth, et al.
Saunders, Charles: Imaro series, et al.
Shakespeare, William: Macbeth, et al.
Simmons, Dan: Hyperion series, The Terror, et al.
Smith, Clark Ashton: Averoigne and Zothique tales, et al.
Stoker, Bram: Dracula, Lair of the White Worm, et al.
Tolkien, J. R. R.: Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit
Vance, Jack: Dying Earth series, et al.
Wagner, Karl Edward: Kane series, ed. Echoes of Valor
Wells, H. G.: The Time Machine, et al.
Wellman, Manly Wade: John the Balladeer series, et al.
Zelazny, Roger: Amber series, et al.

It's a good list, to be sure, certainly not identical to my own, but then why would it be? I find it hard to quibble about any list that includes Howard, Kuttner, Leiber, Merritt, and Wagner. And Smith finally earns his much-deserved spot, which makes me happy. There are a few authors there I don't much care for, but that's true of Appendix N as well, if I'm honest.

Would that Pathfinder weren't a 600-page behemoth and I'd probably be happier still.

15 comments:

  1. China Mieville, how did he get on there? You better not let Noisms see that. heh...

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  2. I saw the Pathfinder RPG selling like hotcakes at GenCon and I was quite happy for Paizo. The game's not to my tastes, but I really do wish them success. In fact, I hope they clean WotC's clock.

    Security word: "felpha," perhaps a relative of the Flumph.

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  3. China Mieville, how did he get on there?

    I can't say I'm a huge fan of his stuff either, but lots of otherwise intelligent folks seem to like him, so perhaps I'm just missing some hidden depths to his writing.

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  4. The game's not to my tastes, but I really do wish them success.

    I adore their in-house setting, Golarion -- it's a superb pulp fantasy setting -- but the rules are a bit much for me. I simply cannot imagine running a game using them.

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  5. I keep getting a tickle in the back of my mind to play a B/X game set in Golarion...

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  6. Anthony,

    Thanks! I'm taking your security word idea and running with it... the Felpha now features in Monstrous Menaces #5...

    Drop me a line with your e-mail and I'll comp you a copy of the PDF when it's done.

    Security word: Flessa... hmmm...

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  7. This list underlines my disinterest in Pathfinder (although, to be honest, the 3.5-derived ruleset had already done the job): some of my favorite "Appendix N" authors are missing (Poul Anderson and de Camp & Pratt (both separately and together) being the most egregious -- D&D shorn of their influence wouldn't be D&D to me -- not to mention more subjective personal faves like John Bellairs, Fredric Brown, Gardner Fox, and Margaret St. Clair), several of the added authors I'm not particularly fond of, and those post-70s fantasy authors who I do like and would consider important influences for any updated D&D I'd have any interest in (like Glen Cook, Gene Wolfe, Terry Pratchett, and, perhaps more controversially, Philip Pullman and J.K. Rowling) are generally missing as well.

    Also, while Les Miserables is one of my favorite novels, I have no idea what it's doing on this list, except perhaps that its epic scope is how they envision their Adventure Paths playing out, in which case I'd have to say its influence is a net negative.

    It's cool that they included a list like this, and the thought that it might inspire more fans to seek out the likes of Algernon Blackwood, P.J. Farmer, and Fred Saberhagen warms my heart a bit, but it does nothing to sell me on the game. If anything, the opposite -- D&D - Poul Anderson and de Camp & Pratt + Clive Barker and Raymond Feist is no place I want to go.

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  8. It's cool that they included a list like this, and the thought that it might inspire more fans to seek out the likes of Algernon Blackwood, P.J. Farmer, and Fred Saberhagen warms my heart a bit, but it does nothing to sell me on the game.

    That's fair, I think, but, given how rootless post-Gygaxian D&D has been generally, I nevertheless consider it a small victory to see a list of inspirations that consists of books rather than movies or TV shows.

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  9. Good point. Or video games and graphic novels for that matter. Shows how out of step I am with the "mainstream," I suppose (not that that comes as a big surprise ;)).

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  10. Hm. I secretly suspect Bas-Lag to be Mieville's campaign world, spiffied up for publication.

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  11. James said:
    "That's fair, I think, but, given how rootless post-Gygaxian D&D has been generally, I nevertheless consider it a small victory to see a list of inspirations that consists of books rather than movies or TV shows."

    Rootless is in the eye of the beholder I suppose. My preferred edition is, to me, clearly and deliberately rooted in the lavish video games and slick movies that got me into roleplaying in the first place. Now, I will not claim that the Final Fantasy consol games or movies like "Labyrinth" are anywhere near as sophisticated as the books that formed the substrate of your imaginations, but they are not so lacking in depth and evocative flair that they can't form a respectable base for a leisure activity.

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  12. Rootless is in the eye of the beholder I suppose.

    D&D increasingly has less and less connection to the literary inspirations of Gygax and Arneson. I don't think that's a matter of dispute. Whether that's good or bad is a different question.

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  13. James said:
    "D&D increasingly has less and less connection to the literary inspirations of Gygax and Arneson. I don't think that's a matter of dispute."

    Ah, a semantic misunderstanding. Yes, the tree I'm sitting in only has a few roots left in the original soil, no dispute. I was only reacting to the perceived implication that its newer roots don't count somehow.

    The way I see it, I'm a relative youngster who wants to keep running D&D style games for a good long time, and if movies and TV shows are what keep fresh blood coming to my table then I'm ok with that. Legolas as portrayed by Orlando Bloom serves just as well as the book version for that purpose.

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  14. OFF: I just noticed that it's cover is another Moldvay Basic clone... :-)

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  15. Bard,

    I hadn't noticed that, but you're right!

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