Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Diluting Appendix N

So there is a new Appendix N book out. Which makes sense, I suppose. After all, who can get enough of the authors that Gary Gygax so famously listed in what was once an obscure corner of the 1979 Dungeon Masters Guide?

Mind-bendingly stellar authors like A. Merritt, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Leigh Brackett, Roger Zelazny, L. Sprague de Camp, and Fletcher Pratt– authors who not only had a direct impact on the development of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons but who defined fantasy for ALL of the game designers creating the first big wave of role-playing games. And I have to say, it is nice to have a big bunch of Appendix N packed within the pages of spiffy paperback. Or it least it would be, anway. As none of the INCREDIBLY INFLUENTIAL YET CRIMINALLY OVERLOOKED authors I just mentioned appear within these pages. 

In their place are three authors that are “sorta kinda almost” Appendix N authors due to their appearance in the anthology Gygax gave a nod to, Swords Against Darkness III.Omissions are one thing and borderline inclusions are another. And I suppose it would be fine if that were the end of it. But for some reason, stuff that doesn’t even have a tenuous connection to Gygax’s list shows up in here.

I don’t get it.

Why are C. L. Moore and Clark Ashton Smith present in a volume that purports to be a compendium of Appendix N stories? The Appendix N list is the compelling time capsule that it is precisely because of its idiosyncrasies. There are no valid grounds for embellishing it– unless the book isn’t really about Appendix N as it is, but rather Appendix N as someone would like it to be. Appropriating the title and subtitle of my PHENOMENALLY SUCCESSFUL book would seem to argue for the former, but the sleight of hand here of casually introducing new literary landmarks as if they had always been present is another thing entirely. Bebergal wants it both ways. I doubt he bothered to read my book before co-opting its title to his purpose.

Anyone who had read it would know why the hatchetmen associated with traditional publishing are INCAPABLE of shedding any light on this topic at all. They are, after all, the ones responsible for suppressing the fantasy canon in the first place!

12 responses to “Diluting Appendix N

  1. Wayne's Books March 4, 2021 at 8:26 am

    I very much enjoyed your Appendix N book. Really got me seeing the pulp classics in a new light.

  2. Joshua Shaw March 4, 2021 at 10:59 am

    Let me if I understand this correctly, lazy OldPub editors literally stole your Hugo nominated title and couldn’t even be bothered to actually keep their anthology (mined from public domain works no doubt) within the limits of the actual Appendix N?

    • Cirsova March 4, 2021 at 3:12 pm

      Like when Paizo put out a line of Planet Stories books where hardly any books in the line were by Planet Stories authors or even remotely the sorts of stories that Planet Stories published.

      • defling March 4, 2021 at 6:27 pm

        What’s the endgame? Seems like someone wants to move goalposts. Why?

      • Cirsova March 4, 2021 at 10:14 pm

        People getting their crappy favorites shoehorned into the “inspirational reading lists” to justify the shitty D&D they play at their table?

  3. pcbushi March 4, 2021 at 2:53 pm

    Let me riff off this for a moment, if I may. It is puzzling to see an Appendix N Anthology featuring authors who weren’t “on the list.” Especially, like, Tanith Lee? And a couple other writers I’ve never heard of.

    At least Moore and Smith are Appendix N adjacent. By that I mean that Smith was a friend of sorts (or at least colleague) to Lovecraft and Howard, and wrote in partial collaboration, as you know. Moore, too, corresponded with Lovecraft. The influence of Moore and Smith upon some of the Appendix N writers, while outside the scope of Appendix N, could be an interesting avenue.

  4. defling March 4, 2021 at 3:07 pm

    That would be great for a collection titled “Eldritch Origins: The Misty Milieu of the Dawn of Gaming.”

  5. Cirsova March 4, 2021 at 3:15 pm

    What did he mean by this?
    “Appendix N explores and contextualizes these ambitious lyrical excursions”
    Is it an anthology or is it a contextualizing exploration of the subject matter?
    Angry Appendix N fans want to know!

  6. Jeffrey Boyd Garrison March 4, 2021 at 4:04 pm

    Why are we seeing entire books about a single page in the DMG that simply references… other books? *laughs in grognard*

    For the high crime of RPG drama heresy, I sentence you to 5 years of playing Kriegspiel.

  7. jeboyle2 March 5, 2021 at 12:35 am

    Hmmm. So this is an anthology? Or is it analysis, reviews, opinion on Appendix N?
    Explores and contextualizes?

    I’d like a little more information before I put down money for what looks like a cheap, thin knock-off of your book.

  8. Pingback: Sensor Sweep: Appendix N, Star Gate, Gun Runner – castaliahouse.com

  9. JD Cowan March 12, 2021 at 11:07 am

    Jeffro, if you were to cobble an anthology of Appendix N stories yourself as a companion to your book I’m certain there are many such as myself who would jump on it.

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