Monday, July 12, 2021

The First Appendix N

Long ago, I posted very briefly on this blog about the strange serendipity between the bibliographies of 1978's RuneQuest and 1979's Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Masters Guide. Both bibliographies are the fourteenth appendix in their respective volumes, which is quite a coincidence – and a coincidence I am sure it is (for logistical reasons, if nothing else). Even if it weren't, the writers of RQ make it quite clear that, despite superficial similarities, their Appendix N is actually very different in both its content and intention than Gygax's own list. This becomes even clearer as you take a closer look at it.

The first section of the RuneQuest bibliography is an interesting mix of books, equal parts fiction and non-fiction. Unless my memory fails me, there isn't a single non-fiction work on Gygax's Appendix N. The non-fiction books consist largely of books about the the ancient world, arms, and armor, while the fiction books include authors you'd probably expect. Here's a scan of the selections:
I appreciate the comments after each entry. Unlike those in Gygax's Appendix N, those here give the reader a sense of why they were included and that's helpful. For example, we see that illustrations factored into whether many non-fiction books appeared. In the case of fiction, the phrase "basic source of modern fantasy" appears several times. Note, too, how often the west coast term "FRP" is employed, a term that pops up regularly in the pages of Different Worlds magazine. The inclusion of Clark Ashton Smith – in particularly his stories of Hyperborea – makes me smile, since Gygax inexplicably did not include him in his Appendix N.

The second section highlights "other fantasy role-playing games," along with the addresses of their publishers.
This is an odd list, most because it's not especially selective. Most of the RPGs available in print at the time are included, the vast majority of which, I'd wager, exercised no influence whatsoever over the design and development of RuneQuest. I draw your attention to the inclusion of the game Legacy by David A. Feldt; it's a good example of a RPG with zero influence on RQ (or any subsequent roleplaying game, for that matter), yet here it is listed alongside Dungeons & Dragons and Tunnels & Trolls. 

My suspicion is that the authors were trying to be exhaustive in an effort to promote the hobby more generally, not just their own contributions to it. That's one way that Chaosium – or the Chaosium, as it was still known at the time – was quite different than, say, TSR of the same era: the company was always trying to promote roleplaying in general and not just their own products. I still find that quite an admirable stance.

Appendix N continues with two more sections. The first is entitled "For Living in the Period" and includes the address of the Society for Creative Anachronism. The role the SCA played in the development of the hobby of roleplaying is, I think, under-appreciated. Many early gamers and game designers, especially on the west coast, were either directly or peripherally involved with the SCA. For example, Basic Role-Playing owes a lot to Steve Perrin's experiences in that organization, especially its combat system. The SCA was, in those days, a meeting place for science fiction and fantasy writers, fans, and elements of the late '60s counter-culture, so it's little surprise that it served as a crucible for the burgeoning fantasy gaming scene. 

The final section is entitled "For Multi-Sided Dice" and lists only Lou Zocchi & Associates, along with its address. At the time RuneQuest was first published, there were, of course, other manufacturers of polyhedral dice but Zocchi's dice had the reputation for being the best. Most RPGs at the time, if they  included dice at all, included Zocchi dice. I remain very fond of them myself to this day, largely for esthetic reasons: I simply prefer the sharp edges of precision dice over rounded ones.

RuneQuest's Appendix N offers a fascinating contrast to Gygax's own. Both speak, I think, to the fundamentally literary origins of early RPGs, even as they reveal their authors' different literary preferences. Reading them side by side, one is immediately struck by the different cultures that produced each game – as anyone who has played them can attest. It's precisely those differences that enabled them to exist side by side, appealing as they did to different tastes, sensibilities, and interests. There has never been a one-size-fits-all fantasy roleplaying game, despite the claims of overly zealous partisans; there's more than enough room for many. Indeed, given the wide variability of the fantasy genre, I would even go so far as to say there's a need for many fantasy roleplaying games.


  1. As an aside, I'll note that the first edition of Runequest in 1978 has the same list, but it's only titled "BIBLIOGRAPHY" rather than "N. BIBLIOGRAPHY", as there is no section titled "APPENDICES" in the first edition. The title was revised to "N. BIBLIOGRAPHY" for the second edition when the material was reformatted. I'm not sure of the publication date of 2E, as Wikipedia says 1979, but the 2E reprint by Chaosium is labelled 1980. It's even possible it has a copyright date of 1979 but was not released until 1980. Anyway, Runequest's list was definitely first, but which one was first in labeling it Appendix N is not clear to me. It's still a weird occurrence!

    1. I worried that the 1st edition of RQ didn't call it Appendix N, but I don't own a copy and have never seen it. Thanks for the clarification; it is helpful.

    2. The second edition of RQ was published in September of 1979.

  2. Poking around, I'm pretty sure there was a 1979 release of RQ2. Acaeum lists an RQ2 with old logo for 1979 and new logo (and hardcover and boxed sets) for 1980.

  3. Nice post. It’s interesting to compare that to this:

  4. I'm a fanboy of Gary. I really am.

    But let's face it- an entire industry sprung up around him (and many AGAINST him) because of how he handled D&D and TSR (for better or for worse). He managed to alienate the co-creator of the game, the only guy (Bledsaw) he ever licensed to use the D&D name, unite the rest of the executives @ TSR against him, and piss off a rather large number of people playing his game, many of which started their own gaming companies.

    The Chaosium, Flying Buffalo, and others were very different in how they handled the business side of things (for better or worse). They worked with other companies to cross-stat their products so gamers had more stuff to use, they recommended other companies games, they designed "universal" product so you could use it with whatever (e.g. Catalyst).

    I found Runequest's "appendix N" along with everything else about the game and company making it a breath of fresh air at the time. And today looking back it's a great reminder of exactly what you said James- "there's a need for many fantasy roleplaying games"

  5. Turns out George Bibby should be Geoffrey Bibby.

  6. Dave Hargrave's Bibliography from Chapter XV of The Arduin Adventure (1980):
    Alien Landscapes by Robert Holdstock and Malcom Edwards (1978)
    Authentic Thaumaturgy by P. E. I. Bonewitz (1979)
    Beauty and the Beast by Chris Achilleos (1978)
    An Atlas of Fantasy by J. B. Post (1979)
    The Complete Guide to Middle Earth by Robert Foster (1975)
    The Complete Illustrated Book of the Psychic Sciences by Walter B. and Litzka Gibson (1966)
    An Encyclopedia of Fairies, Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies and Other Supernatural Creatures by Katharine Briggs (1976)
    The Encyclopedia of Magik & Superstition (1974)
    The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology, by Rossell Hope Robbins (1959)
    Faeries by Brian Froud and Alan Lee, Harry N. Abrams (1978)
    The Fantasy Almanac by Jeff Rovin (1979)
    Giants, illustrated by Julek Heller, Carolyn Scrace and Juan Wijngaard (1979)
    A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration, and Use of forms and Armor in All Countries and in All Times (And Some Closely Related Subjects), by George Cameron Stone (1961)
    Japanese Short Stories, by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, translated by Takashi Kojima (1961)
    Magik, White and Black, by Franz Hartmann, M.D. (1970)
    Martial Arts, ‘by Michel Random (1978)
    Medieval Warfare, by Terence Wise (1976)
    Men Of The Earth (An Introduction To World Prehistory), by Brian M. Fagan (1974)
    Morning of the Magicians by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier, translated by Rollo Meyers (1969)
    Mysterious Monsters, by Daniel Farson and Angus Hall (1 975)
    The New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology (1959)
    The Phoenicians, by Donald Harden (1962)
    Secrets of the Samurai, by Oscar Ratti and Adele Westbrook (1973)
    Seven Magik Orders, by Shan Mui and Ruth Tabtah (1973)
    Solar Wind,. Illustrated by Peter Jones, (1980)
    The Supernatural, by Douglas Hill and Pat Williams (1965)
    A Tolkien Bestiary, by David Day (1979)
    Tomorrow and Beyond, Edited by Ian Summers (1978)
    War Through The Ages, Lynn Montross (1960)
    Wonder Works, by Michael Whelan (1979)
    Zoo of the Gods, by Anthony S. Mercatante (1974)
    The following publications are for those of you who are really interested in all aspects of Role-Playing. The magazines will give you an expanded insight into what Is happening in the fantasy gaming world and the fanzine will allow you to contact and correspond with garners worldwide.
    Alarums and Excursions; the greatest fanzine of all time (66 issues); Lee Gold, 3965 AlIa Rd., Los Angeles, CA 90066
    Different Worlds: Magazine of Adventure/Roleplaying Games; P.O. BOX 6302, Albany, CA 94706
    Sorcerer’s Apprentice; Adventure gaming magazine: P.O. Box 1467, Scottsdale, AZ 85252
    Personal thanks are given to the following:
    Robert Lynn Asprin for his wondrous Thieves World and Tales From The Vulgar Unicorn anthologies. He has to be a gamer.
    Stephen R. Donaldson for his series on Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever It is a tour de force on Role-Playing if ever there was one.
    Lastly, in memoriam to Clarke Ashton Smith for his fantastic tales of wonder and glory, but mostly for
    Zothique, the true progenitor of ARDUIN. Thank you.
    In addition, the following have served as wonderful sources of fun and ideas:
    ELFQUEST Warp Graphics, 2 Rens Rd, Poughkeepsie, NY 12603. A beautiful combination of art and story.
    The entire works of J.R.R. Tolkien. A must read for every adventure gamer.
    MARVEL COMICS. An unlikely, but valuable source of inspiration.

    1. Why he thinks Marvel is an "unlikely" source of inspiration is beyond me. They (and DC) were still publishing multiple sword & sorcery books in that era, including Conan (with savage Sword full of particularly faithful adaptations), Red Sonja, Thongor, John Carter of Mars, Tarzan, Beowulf, Claw, the literal Sword & Sorcery title (which included Leiber adaptations), Wulf, Ka-Zar, Tor, Warlord, Arion, etc etc etc. The utter dominance of superhero comics didn't really happen till the late 80s and 90s.

    2. The inclusion of Star Probe and Star Empires on the list of TSR FRPs is an odd one, given that both were really more board/minis games (I recall playing them with Stardate 3000 figs) than anything. Maybe because they both focused on campaign play over many, many sessions, much as RPGs do?

    3. I think Hargrave thought people wouldn't necessarily think of comics as inspiration for FRPGs, not that there wasn't plenty of material there.

    4. I believe Hargrave's thinking at the time was mainstream comics like X-Men and himself was a huge Marvel fan. He even wrote his own (unpublished) superhero RPG called "Glory Wars."

  7. No offence, but the scan quality is very low.

    1. Yep. It's from an image I managed to find online elsewhere, since I don't have a PDF of the RQ2 rulebook myself. If anyone has a better scan, I'd be happy to replace the one in the post.

    2. FWIW, here's a fresh scan of the relevant page (p111), limited mainly by my antique scanner (300dpi max)

  8. My public library had those Peter Conally books on Greek and Roman armies. They're pretty great. They were really inspirational for me as a kid.

  9. Good article, with some genuine insight.

  10. The second edition of RuneQuest was in layout by the summer of 1979, and was published in September of that same year. The bibliography was the 13th topic in Chapter 10 of the RQ1 rulebook that was published in June of 1978. When this was updated for the second edition, Chapter 10's title was changed from "Referee Notes" to "Appendices". The Bibliography was the 14th topic, so it was assigned the letter N. The pics in the RQ1 bibliography were not assigned letters, but if they were, the bibliography would have been assigned the letter M. Regardless, I am 99% certain that Greg and company did not make the Bibliography "Appendix N" because Gary Gygax had done so in the first edition of the DMG, which was published in August of 1979.

    1. Ah, good, we managed to summon Rick with firm details... Thanks Rick for clarifying release dates.