Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Appendix N and Picaresque

While it’s true I’ve caught my share of unreasonable flak over the course of the year, my ridiculous pseudonym is now so associated with the topic of Appendix N that I’m starting to get credit for writing and research that I didn’t actually do.

Now… to some extent I actually did plan for this. In all of my Appendix N posts I have been careful to credit the many game blogs that did the work that made my series possible in the first place. I fully expected that in bringing these discoveries to an audience outside of the dedicated game blogging scene that this sort of thing could happen. But I while I have uncovered a few things that really are original discoveries and commented on some things that nobody else seems to have wanted to touch, I really don’t want to take credit for someone else’s work.

Now the one guy that has written the most extensively on the topic of Appendix N as a “thing” before me is James Maliszewski. His game blog Grognardia is, even after years of going without new posts, still pretty much the definitive game blog. His megadungeon project Dwimmermount is a big deal for tabletop gamers and is as far as I know the most Appendix N infused adventure product in existence.

Because of that, I am especially keen on clearing up the following minor but significant attribution error. John C. Wright in his post The Canon Gap credits me for bring up the idea of picaresque and its relationship to Appenix N. But it was James Maliszewski that broke that story back in 2008 with Picaro and the “Story” of D&D. I think this mixup might have occurred because both Maliszewski and myself are quoted in an excellent post over at Tales to Astound. (I don’t think that’s happened before now that I mention it…!) But let me make it clear: I don’t know anything about “Picaresque” that I didn’t read at Grognardia!

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7 responses to “Appendix N and Picaresque

  1. Gaiseric December 21, 2015 at 11:55 am

    That Tales to Astound link is broken.

  2. Christopher R. DiNote December 31, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    Jeffro, side question here. Have you ever thought about looking at music that may share literary or popular culture links to the Appendix N series? I don’t think there is too much in the way of deliberate connection, other than in the ’70s several hard rock bands went nuts for the New Wave of SFF, especially Michael Moorcock (see Deep Purple and Blue Oyster Cult), but the other day in the car, Black Sabbath’s “Electric Funeral” came on, and listening to the lyrics, it seemed to capture the whole gist of post-apocalyptic science fantasy that Gygax and co would have immediately recognized. It absolutely made me think of Fred Saberhagen’s “Changeling Earth” especially. Sabbath deserves mention because Geezer Butler has made no mystery of his writing inspirations coming directly from science fiction TV and movies, but I can’t recall if he’s ever made any ties to pulp magazines or novels.

    • jeffro December 31, 2015 at 4:24 pm

      I think that stuff is a big deal, though I think Ron Edwards and Cirsova are probably hip to way more about it. The video clips of guys dressed up like Elric on stage are pretty wild. I love looking up the popular songs that are referenced in the stuff from right at the turn of the century. (Moon Pool has a good song reference from then.) I have an outline for a post on “Appendix N and Jazz”. And the futuristic dance music Fredric Brown wrote about was pretty striking to me. But yeah, New Wave, D&D, and seventies music are all part of the same zeitgeist. It’s wild.

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  4. ashley858 June 3, 2016 at 8:30 am

    Back when I first played D&D (the original before it became OD&D) the tradition we (as in the GM) played was that of the wargame, and hence everyone was a person who would use force/skullduggery to achiever their aims, because that’s what wargames are: simulations of conflict. So for me the picaresque makes sense and even back then, before Traveller and Call of Cthulhu, D&D lacked the epic because its roots were as a wargame rather than an adventure story per se.

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