Saturday, March 27, 2010

RuneQuest's Appendix N

Herb over at Places to Go, People to Be wrote a post about something I'd actually been meaning to mention for some time: the bibliography at the end of RuneQuest, which is entitled "Appendix N," just like the one in the AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide. So far as I know, RQ is the only game besides AD&D to literally have an Appendix N, but, as I've noted before, bibliographies are a fixture of many an old school game. Indeed, I'd go so far as to say that, if a RPG includes an extensive bibliography (rather than mere ludography or "filmography"), you're probably looking at an old school game, or at least one with old school inspirations.

What's interesting about the RQ Appendix N is where it overlaps with Gygax's list and where it doesn't. You can find Howard, Leiber, Moorcock, and Tolkien among the authors it shares with AD&D, but also Smith, who somehow never made the cut in the DMG. The majority of the remaining books in the appendix are historical books, mostly about the ancient world and military matters, which only makes sense given Glorantha's overall feel and the origins of its game system in the Perrin Conventions for OD&D. Interestingly, RQ's version is an annotated bibliography, so you can read why the books were included.

Anyhow, I'm going to make a point of trying to include an Appendix N in any RPG project I write from now on. It's a great homage to not one but two classics of old school gaming and anything that might encourage gamers to read books other than more game books is a good thing.

15 comments:

  1. "Appendix N" isn't the problem, it's getting Richard to support appendices A-M...

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  2. Well, GURPS for example, includes huge bibliographies (IMHO it's the RPG that has more bibliographies.

    I only have my 4th edition manuals handy, but GURPS Fantasy has 5 pages of bibliography (Sections: Fact and speculation, Critical Studies, Folklore, mythology and Classics, Fiction, Film, Television, Comics Games and GURPS Third Edition, you can check it at this address http://www.sjgames.com/gurps/books/fantasy/bibliography.html) and most GURPS supplements include extensive bibliographies. In fact, the recent PDF only GURPS Gun Fu not only includes a very nice bibliography/filmography, but it's a commented bibliography/filmography, briefly stating important details, and how to model them.

    As an example, here's what appears for Terminator II:
    Terminator 2: Judgment Day (James Cameron, 1991). The T-800 displays the Army of One perk, firing a Colt M79 grenade launcher (High-Tech, p. 142) and a Hawk MM1 grenade launcher (High-Tech, p. 143) one-handed, and man-packing a GE M134 helicopter minigun. In addition, he shows Cross-Trained (Cinematic; every specialization in his files) and One-Armed Bandit (Shotgun), the latter with a sawed-off Winchester Model 1887 (High-Tech, p. 105). In both the original The Terminator (James Cameron, 1984) and the sequel, the T-800 exhibits Connoisseur (Guns). He also displays Akimbo (Rifle and Shotgun) and Mounted Shooting (Automobile/Shotgun and Motorcycle/Shotgun).

    I absolutely love bibliographies. I've discovered more than a good book on RPG bibliographies (I was introduced to Fritz Leiber, Michael Moorcok and Glenn Cook by RPG bibliographies, for example), and I'm sad that they're not more prevalent.

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  3. As I recall, the back of the Arduin Adventure has a biblography section as well.

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  4. "I'm going to make a point of trying to include an Appendix N in any RPG project I write from now on."

    Makes sense to me.

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  5. I think it would be amusing to have an "Appendix N," without appendices A-M, but I'm odd that way.

    security word: "malkato," the name of an evil kitty wizard.

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  6. I can remember a time when I looked through every RPG I bought for a bib, I think adding an appendix N to all your products is a fine idea.

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  7. I always love to see a bibliography in a RPG or particularly a sourcebook. Strangely enough I didn't notice particularly that RQII's bibliography was Appendix N even though I wrote a detailed review of it at RPG.net. I was probably more focused on the game content though.

    I remember an earlier post here made me come up with my own Appendix N. I might go and revisit that now and include commentary and non-fiction sources.

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  8. I agree whole heartedly. Maybe some publishers got weird with supporting authors or books because of their competitive business associations or out of a desire not to offend anyone based on material others did put out. Who knows?

    It is a great homage to add an Appx N. I even put one on my Gygax Legendarium website (still under construction). It was only proper.

    Ciao!

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  9. The appendix at the back of Dragon Warriors book 6 (the British D&D)provided my introduction to good fantasy, Lieber, Vance, Moorcoock, LeGuin etc. It also included some historical references possibly reflecting the fat that the authors played a lot of RQ.

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  10. Most White Wolf games have a bibliography that covers books, music, and comics as well as film.

    Another interesting point about Runequest was the presence of other games and the SCA on their list (although the Perrin conventions were heavily influenced by the later).

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  11. Yes, ever since I read Runequest's listing I've liked it, and it gives more info than the simple listing in the DMG. B - Weapons Defenintions is also good.

    I don't quite get why there's a tendency that a RPG must only have a list of *just* books. If something else also influenced the game, please list it! Films have been around since what, 1900, tv since 1950, music since the dawn of time. Why must only books be an influence on a game of fantastic imaginations? I'll take inspiration where I find it, purity of the turf be damned.

    For example I wish D&D had listed Hammer, Ray Harryhausen etc. films. In contrast GURPS Horror not only listed influential works (and of various media), it had notes on how each work was influential to GURPS horror, its place in the genre and use for gaming. Easily as useful as the rest of the book, esp. pre-World Wide Web days.

    As for some other RPGs with similar lists, off the top of my head:
    All Flesh Must Be Eaten
    Burning Wheel
    Shock: Social Science Fiction
    Panty Explosion
    Sorcerer

    And many had inspiration pages (not technically lists but still useful)
    Day After Ragnarok
    3:16
    Pendragon

    As well as White Wolf, most of the Forge, Story etc. type games are rather keen on showing their influences so I don't think a bibliography or whatever is indicative of any "school". Just geeks being geeks.

    Hrm, Traveller doesn't have a bibliography, not even a list of inspirations. But it does mention playing out...science fiction movies! Oh noes! New school! :P And its one game where lists might have helped in the core book.

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  12. Hrm, Traveller doesn't have a bibliography, not even a list of inspirations.

    Traveller "back doored" in an inspirational reading/watching list by way of the literary characters detailed in 1001 Characters and Citizens of the Imperium. It's not an exhaustive list (for instance, there are no characters listed from Heinlein, Piper, or Andre Norton even though I'm certain all three of them were key inspirations, moreso than many of the names that are on the list) but it's a pretty good start. Here's the works cited:

    Supplement 1 list:

    Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars series
    The Lensman Series by E.E. "Doc" Smith
    The Deathworld Trilogy by harry Harrison
    The Dumarest Saga by E.C. Tubb
    At the Core and other stories of Known Space by Larry Niven
    Starwell and The Thurb Revolution by Alexei Panshin
    The Flandry Series by Poul Anderson
    The Demon Princes novels by Jack Vance
    The Stars, My Destination by Alfred Bester

    Supplement 4 list:

    Star Wars by Gene[sic] Lucas
    The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison
    Sword and Sceptre and The Mercenary by Jerry Pournelle
    The Sector General series by James White
    The Retief series by Keith Laumer
    Star Trek
    The Stars, Like Dust by Isaac Asimov

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  13. Old Traveller did not have an Appendix N but Mongoose has resurrected the idea in some of their supplements. I think, it is the generic nature of Traveller, that the designers never wanted Traveller to be something other than a toolbox for people to create SF adventures.

    For the more I look over some the old magazines...I see the real tension between keeping Traveller pure (no set Campaign) and what would be later called the Imperial Campaign (or OTU). This is probably explains some of Traveller's longevity...it that as new fiction arises...Traveller provides the right tools for adaptation rather than being anchored in one sub-genre.

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  14. I must say, I'm a little skeptical.

    I mean, I cared when capital-G Gygax did it, but the inclusion of an "Appendix N" in his imitator's works always seemed like pretension on their part that their own influences could be nearly as relevant.

    Frankly, I don't care at all what Joe Blow Game Designer #727626 reads in his spare time, you know?

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  15. "Frankly, I don't care at all what Joe Blow Game Designer #727626 reads in his spare time, you know?"

    I do!

    An Appendix N isn't just a random list of books -- it's a list of books that have significance to that particular product. Either as influences on it or as potential extensions of the ideas described therein.

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