Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Tim Kask on Appendix N

The recent discussion on Appendix N has been brisk and heated, but I think you’ll find Tim Kask’s comments of particular interest if you’ve been following the story:

While I agree with you that Maz is often a douchebag, and his reverence of Appendix N as though it were graven on tablets a bit absurd, many of you are missing the point, but some have hit the nail on the head.

I helped compile that list. They were not just Gary’s favorites. We both had nominations that did not make the list in the end.

We made that list for two reasons. The first was an encouragement to read; both Gary and I were sort of annoying in that regard.

The second was in response to a slew of questions that sort of boiled down to “Where are you (D&D) coming from?” We thought that if more people read Vance’s Dying Earth, for example, they would know where the memorizing your spells thing came from.

At that point in gaming history (sort of pretentious-sounding, I know) we were encouraging players to lift and modify things from books and movies; Appendix N was meant to serve as a starting point for good sources.

It is so damned easy to sit and pontificate about something we did 40 years ago, and quite frankly I am tired of people second-guessing and speculating on what we did without once asking anyone who was there.

13 responses to “Tim Kask on Appendix N

  1. Cirsova June 7, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    The interesting bomb dropped here is that it’s not “Gary’s List”. Everything else pretty much vindicates what’s been happening with bloggers who’ve been digging into it and looking at the “why are things done this way?”

    • jeffro June 7, 2016 at 4:55 pm

      Given the number of people that have sneered about this “list of books that Gary Gygax liked when he was a kid” (etc. etc.) I am REALLY glad to hear this.

      • Cirsova June 7, 2016 at 4:57 pm

        I guess the question is now, which ones of Tim’s and Gary’s picks didn’t make the final cut?! And who did the cutting?!

  2. Brooser Bear June 7, 2016 at 5:33 pm

    Ones that didn’t make the cut will be interesting. I believe that the “Specials” list in GG’s DMG Dungeon design Appendixes was lifted directly from the Appendix N as well as from the medieval fantasy literature. One of the definitions of the Medieval Fantasy Romance genre is the presence of mysterious (magical) fountains and other “Specials” listed in the DMG.

  3. Hooc Ott June 7, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    “We made that list for two reasons. The first was an encouragement to read

    The second was in response to a slew of questions that sort of boiled down to “Where are you (D&D) coming from?””

    “Appendix N was meant to serve as a starting point for good sources.”

    Don’t sound like “filler”

    Also this does not appear to be true “that it was just a list one guy made of books he liked,” in at least two points. Not one guy. Not just a list of books he liked.


    “without once asking anyone who was there.”


    We can ask questions?!?!?!

    How does one get in contact with Kask? Cuz i got plenty of them.

  4. jlv61560 June 7, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    Ouch. Looks like the Pundit is getting his arse handed to him over on the comments section. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy. What’s particularly ironic about this whole thing is that (1) he’s doing the exact same thing he accuses those who are interested in Appendix N of doing; stating what the “one twue way” of doing OSR is or ought to be (and that, apparently, DOESN’T include reading anything on “that f**king Appendix N”); and (2) acting the same way that his supposed nemesis (YDIS) acts.

    I’m not entirely sure why people like him think repeated use of the word “fuck” in all its forms gives them some sort of “authoritaa,” but there he is, in all his glory, as this particular ship sinks out from under him.

    As for Kask, thank God that he finally weighed in — and stated pretty much what most of us thought at the time (and yes, I was there, even earlier than our hero, the Pundit, was) — it was a good starting point to get ideas from, and from there we could branch out on our own. Which is why I’ve enjoyed your retrospective so much, Jeffro: you provided some insight on what YOU got out of the books on the list…which encouraged me at least to go back and start reading them again, and more importantly finally do the hard work of tracking down the ones I never got to read back in the day. So thanks for that, anyway.

    • jddyalblog June 8, 2016 at 10:31 am

      It’s also ironic, because his grating personal style makes him almost impossible to stomach quite frequently, but he’s not entirely wrong with what he calls the OSR Taliban. He really is his own worst enemy, quite often.

      As an aside, so when do we get to read the Jeffro interview of Tim Kask as an appendix to the work on the Appendix N?

  5. pcbushi June 8, 2016 at 7:39 am

    The way he talks about the “OSR Taliban” and their rigidity and how no one has the right to question his use of the expression is absurd to the point of almost being laughable. The guy truly lacks self-awareness, and it’s clear that he’s entrenched himself so deeply that all he can do is keep digging in the hopes of emerging somewhere on the other side or in some hidden, lost world beneath the earth.

  6. oakesspalding June 8, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    That comments thread over at RPG Pundit is the awesomest ever. It should be framed with gold and put on a marble pedestal–along with Appendix N, of course. :)

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