Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Category Archives: Appendix N

Appendix N: An Amazing and Rewarding Journey

Praise for Appendix N continues to roll in!

This article over at Shop on the Borderlands drops this particularly nice shout-out:

If you look around on the internet, you’ll find plenty of other articles about Appendix N, including plenty of reviews of the (sometimes obscure) works listed. I would particularly recommend Jeffro Johnson’s work, including his excellent book “Appendix N: The Literary History of Dungeons & Dragons”. Johnson has a true appreciation for the style of writing typified by Appendix N, and for old school roleplaying.

Meanwhile, I’ve pulled down yet another five star review over at Goodreads with this entry from “DNF with Jack Mack”:

While reading The greatest Modules of All time, I discovered a lefthand D&D path I hadn’t pursued, having been lured away by the Advanced label. This path was mostly Arneson and largely Science-Fantasy. Disappointed by Fourth Ed., I switched to DCC. Goodman’s Game had been inspired by Appendix N, so I followed suit. It’s an amazing and rewarding journey that I am still on.

I had a blast reading Johnson’s book, and I was shocked to discover how much our views are in accord– considering how fussy I usually am. I’d recommend this to anyone with an interest in Science Fiction and Fantasy.

I’d wager there are less than two thousand living people who have completed this quest, so it’s remarkable that Jeffro would write such a thing. Salud.

Join us: the few, the well read, the Appendix N’s!

Meanwhile gaming legend Ken St. Andre recently dropped this on Twitter:

“I got a copy of Appendix N from @CastaliaHouse in the mail yesterday. Well written and researched–almost too much knowledge there.”

(Okay, that last one especially blows me away. Wow!)

If you haven’t already picked up a copy… now’s the time! It’s not only a survey of a great many lost treasures of fantasy and science fiction, but also details their relationship to some of the most iconic works in tabletop gaming.

Check it out!

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Who Created the Pulp Revolution?

Declan Finn claimed today that I “more or less created the Pulp Revolution with Appendix N.” And I tell you, my first impulse was to argue back a little. Of course, I didn’t chew Alex Kimball out when he called Appendix N the book that launched a movement. And yeah… when I was trying to get the introduction to the thing just right, I did go and have twelve people attempt to explain why it was that the book had done what it did.

But there are many significant actors involved here, all of whom worked together to make the Pulp Revolution happen:

  • There is Larry Correia, who not only ignored what his writing teachers told him… but who also pulled off one of the greatest pranks in science fiction history. He got a lot of people talking about something that wasn’t immediately obvious.
  • There is Edgar Rice Burroughs, who single-handedly set the tone for fantasy, science fiction, pulp, comic books, role-playing games, and Star Wars.
  • There is Gary Gygax, who created a time capsule that preserved that vision in the face of an industry and gatekeeping establishment that was hellbent on seeing it extinguished.
  • There are game bloggers like Ron Edwards, James Maliszewski, and Jeff Rients who brought this to the attention of fans of role-playing games.
  • There is John C. Wright, who never got the memo that Appendix N style fantasy was out of style.
  • There is Alex Kimball, who offered to pay semi-pro rates for people that wanted to bring back more of it to the short fiction scene.
  • There is Daddy Warpig, who observed that something was happening and called it what it was before anyone could grasp its significance.
  • There is Dan Wolfgang and QuQu, who reported on what was happening with first class coverage.

That’s quite a list!

But I tell you. As crazy and strange and hilarious as the story of how the Pulp Revolution came to be is, I’m happy to say that it pales in comparison to the works that are coming out under its banner. Novels like Jon Mollison’s Sudden Rescue. John C. Wright’s Swan Knight’s Son. And Ben Wheeler’s In the Seraglio of the Sheik of Mars. And while commentators like me have had a field day the past few years here, I have to say… at the end of the day it’s the authors that really create the Pulp Revolution. And I’m really glad that they do.

So many people had just walked away from science fiction and fantasy over the past few decades. So many people had thought that no one would write stories like Robert E. Howard and Fritz Leiber did again. Even five years ago that was unimaginable. And now… against all odds, against all hope… there’s something for those people to come back to.

It’s awesome. It really is.

So kick back. Pop some popcorn. Queue up that audio book. Fire up the Kindle. And crack open that case bound omnibus. This party is just getting started!

The OSR’s Fourth Wave: Cirsova, Dungeon Grappling, and Appendix N!

Venger Satanis recently suggested that the OSR has a fourth wave and sketched out what he thought set it apart from the earlier phases within the scene:

4th wave OSR incorporates the spirit, tone, objectives, aesthetics, play-style, rules philosophy, mechanical principles, and hobbyist attitude from the 70’s, 80’s, and early 90’s into RPG material that does it’s own thing.  Many consider these products neo-OSR, OSRish, OSR adjacent, or quasi-OSR because they’ve taken the next logical, evolutionary step away from original D&D, Traveller, Call of Cthulhu, Gamma World, Ghostbusters, Toon, Vampire: the Masquerade, etc.

I think he’s right that this did in fact happen.

Dungeon Grappling is of course a fusion of the best ideas of the old school D&D scene mixed together with one of the most innovative designers to come out of the GURPS side of the hobby. Cirsova takes the “git it done”, “do it yourself” approach to ‘zines that fueled magazines like Fight On! and applies it to an effort to create a science fiction and fantasy magazine that is more in line with the sort of thing that inspired fantasy role-playing in the first place. My own Appendix N takes the sort of gaming commentary that typified the second wave of the OSR (and which was subsequently repudiated by third wavers), gives it a first class treatment, and then takes outside of the OSR scene and into an entirely new audience.

That’s just the stuff that I have on hand here, but there is of course more on the way. The Mixed GM’s Demons In Space fuses a popular video game franchise with a reskin of a very familiar game. And Autarch’s Heroic Fantasy & Barbarian Conquerors supplements promise to take some of the discoveries of the pulp revival and consciously apply them to one of the best retroclones on the market. (Adventure Conqueror King System, natch!)

The OSR didn’t simply declare victory and call it day when 5th edition back away from some of the more mind-splitting elements of 4th edition. A new wave of designers came along that took what the OSR had proven to work, returned to the roots of the hobby, and then went forward with their own way of doing things.

And it’s just getting started!

Appendix N: That Moment When The Box Arrives

You know the scene. Marty McFly has come back from 1955 after saving history with his pal Doc Brown. But something is different.

Instead of wrecking the car, Biff is waxing it. Instead of working a Burger King, Marty’s brother has job at an office. And George McFly… he’s cool, confident, and at the top of his game.

But this isn’t enough to establish that things have really changed. There’s one more beat to go here in order to clinch it. Biff shows up with a box: it’s George Mcfly’s book. He’s a big time published author and he now hows the hard cover book with his name on it!

I remember seeing that movie when it came out and thinking… that’s going to be me some day.

Well, today is the day!

And yes. This thing is certainly turning heads.

You can get it at Amazon for either Kindle or in hardback.

What are people saying? Well here’s a sample:

I gave up reading for ten years maybe only reading a handful of novels in the last five years. But then I read Jeffros posts and downloaded Pirates of Venus and now have a tbr list of seventy books.

Thank you for giving me back the joy of reading.

Get your copy today and join the revolution in publishing!

Appendix N is out in Hardback!

People have hounded me about this for months. When, Jeffro? When?! When is APPENDIX N going to be out in some kind of honest to goodness book format.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve approached complete strangers in order to wax eloquent on the brilliance of my literary exploits only to find out that there of mass quantities of people out there that will not read anything unless it is real. No, an ebook reader will not do! It’s gotta be old-fashioned wood pulp. It’s got to be something nice that would make for a touching gift or something uber-cool that would look good on the coffee table.

But I tell ya, it’s the pleading that really got to me– the people that came to me, desperate to read my book, begging for me to do anything I could to facilitate the process of it being transformed into a real world artifact. And they wouldn’t take no for an answer, but rather they’d just keep coming, asking over and over and over. Each time I’d say, “not yet”, they looked just a little bit dimmer. The pain of not being able to read my book as a manifestation of elements of the prime material plane was actually causing them to disencorporate!

So people, when I tell you that I know how difficult these past few months have been, what I mean by that is that I know how difficult these past few months have been. But those days are gone! A new one is dawning. One in which not only do people begin to play classic fantasy role-playing games the way they were designed to be played, but also in which the face of fantasy and science fiction genre is transformed by a return to the sort of heady elements that transfixed countless generations before us.

This is quite simply the most influential book I have ever written. Buy a copy today. Buy two. Buy several to give away. You know how betrayed you felt as read author after mind-blowing author, wondering why it was that nobody told you how great they were until now. It’s up to you now to be the change that you wish you’d encountered decades ago.

There’s never been a better time to get on the right side of history. And it’s never been more hilarious that the backstory of everybody’s favorite games have turned out to be the key to that.

APPENDIX N. In hardback. Buy it!