Appendix N was a list of fiction books that inspired Dungeons and Dragons, per Gary Gygax.
Similar appendices exist in the D&D 5e Players Handbook as Appendix E and in the Dungeon Master’s Guide as Appendix D (mostly non-fiction that should help with plot and inspiration too).
Appendix ï is my ongoing attempt to build up my own list of sources, though I’ll also have a list of inspirational material for a few of my homebrew settings separately.
This page is going to be a series of links to books, websites, articles, everything I think makes for a good grounding in the hobby of roleplaying and that I think has influenced me in some way (there is a lot of stuff I want to add that I have no experience of whatsoever, so I don’t feel like I can add it to this list yet!).
Obviously, some of the bits are for Players and some for Game Masters, but I’m an eternal GM. A lot of this stuff is going to be from the perspective of me peeping out from behind the screen – even if I’ve never used a physical GM screen.
I’ve decided to start with D&D sources because I’m basing this from a D&D source. So, without further ado:
Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide – So this goes for multiple editions really. There’s usually some advice in there somewhere that’s useful.
Unearthed Arcana – by which I mean the older, bound book versions and not the articles on the D&D website
The aforementioned Appendix N, Appendix E and Appendix D – (see this helpful link for a full list and some additional stuff from Dungeons and Possums and James Introcaso‘s own Apppendix N. Apologies if any of this stuff shows up on my list.)
Sage Advice – useful for rules queries, but honestly I hate paying attention to it. Download the consolidated document and use that.
13th Age – an alternate take on D&D, my particular loves for this version are the ‘one unique thing’ element and the mysterious Icons and how they affect the player characters.
Pathfinder – another alternate take on D&D. I’ve only played a little of what is now their first edition. I need to look more at the new edition, but similar to the DMG above, there’s advice for playing and running games here, and the Golarion setting has some interesting locations to play in.
Kobold Guide to Gamemastering –
Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding –
OK, moving on to different games:
Vampire the Masquerade Player’s Guide – the Revised Edition that’s actually a series of essays on roleplaying. It’s legitimately fantastic, including a whole article on why not to play the lone wolf character in a game of collaborative storytelling.
FATE, Fate Accelerated, Fate Condensed –
Smallville RPG –
Feng Shui – Just from a pure concept, the players bend reality to their ideals. Add in a time travel element, and they can radically change the present and the future by travelling to the past. Unfortunately, there are others doing the same.
I love the setting of this game, even if I’ve only run the game once. It was especially worth it to see the players and their pre-made modern characters fight a fire-wielding eunuch sorcerer. I may not have told them much about the setting beforehand…
“How’s he doing it? It’s probably just some kind of gizmo… right?”
Websites – not YouTube
The Alexandrian – This website has been around for fifteen years at this point. It gives great advice, insight into rules and settings, discussion points, book reviews. It’s absolutely fantastic.
This post from over a decade ago about session preparation and plot railroading has been particularly invaluable for me when plotting out adventures.
Very importantly, a lot of posts are collected into one page called Gamemastery 101, and it’s great. Go, read!
DMsGuild & DrivethruRPG – if you’re ever in need of inspiration, always a fun source. If needed, look out for deals, bundles, or free products for holidays (Halloween is always good for some free picks)
Modern Appendix N – This blog looks to be dead for years at this stage, however it still shows all the posts.
Reviews of various books, both fiction and gaming aids, and ways to use them and their ideas in your games. Worth a read.
The Piazza – an olde timey board forum absolutly filled with great resources and users. This place is invaluable, It’s largely for D&D but also covers Pathfinder, Call of Cthulhu, Gamma World, Traveller, and even TORG!
Web DM – I’ve linked to these videos a good few times now. If you’re looking to run a game, go take a look. If you’re looking to play a specific race, go take a look. If you want a little background on some classic settings, go take a look.
Their sister channel Web DM Plays is great for actual play videos.
Critical Role – (I know it’s available on Twitch, but I barely use it.) I watched a few episodes, but I just didn’t have the time to sit down and catch up (and that was when I was ten or so episodes behind on season two!). There’s a lot of content here, and the inspiration for the Tal’Dorei setting book and Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount.
Nerdarchy – tips and tricks for gamemasters and players, interesting takes on powerful character builds, and videos of the team playing games. It’s a really great channel for advice, I haven;t watched enough of the actual play videos to know how good they are.
How to be a Great Gamemaster – A fantastic resource of tips, tricks and long-form advice for even veteran GMs. Plus it’s nice to have an accent on this list that isn’t from the United States.
Monarchs Factory – this one has a lot going for it: short videos on history, mythology, homebrew, gamemastering, and another accent that’s not from the United States. Yay!
Hello Future Me – tips for writing, building up storylines, and accurately portraying characters.
Questing Beast – A lot of videos of reviews for Old School Revival products, there’s also some advice for gamemastery stashed away here too, and interviews with game and adventure writers.
Dungeon Dudes – two guys dispensing great advice for roleplaying games, mostly applicable to D&D. There’s also actual play videos and explanations of specific rules.
Matt Colville – There’s a lot to say about Matt’s videos – they’re insightful, helpful, repeatedly useful, and contain a great deal of good information on the hobby. There’s also episodes of actual play available up there.
I would advise everyone to check out the MCDM website as well, which has much of the same content and also a shop to buy his gaming products.
Dicebreaker – reviews, tips and actual play videos for roleplaying and board games.
Literature – Fiction
The Discworld series – Terry Pratchett : I was about 10 when I discovered Discworld, and I read all the books in order until I ran out – which took me about a year. From Jingo onward, I bought or was gifted every Discworld novel within a few weeks of release and read it within a few days. I’ve read most of the series several times.
Basically, I would say that Pratchett’s work influenced me a lot more than Tolkien in what I consider a good fantasy setting. It’s what I would credit my love for urban fantasy to, and my love of urban fantasy roleplay as well.
The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien : So, I can still remember my dad reading me this before bed when I was six or seven. I’m sure there must have been other books, but this is the one I remember.
Various – Shakespeare : A Midsummer Night’s Dream, or Much Ado About Nothing or The Comedy of Errors get my vote, but they’re my favourites.
Malazan novel series – Steven Erikson and Ian Esslemont : These novels evolved from a GURPs game, and they’re entirely amazing. The Malazan Book of the Fallen series inspired me in a lot of ways for the Old Crown, from a focus on character-driven narrative (part of the reason I switched to FATE rules) to the Ascension of mortals to godhood. I’ve now managed to read some of Ian Esslemont’s work as well, though I’m still much further behind there. Once I have time to read large amounts of words again, they’re at the top of my list.
Literature – Non-Fiction
Ludotronics – A study in game design, narratology, cinematology, general all-round usefulness. Available from that link on DrivethruRPG.
Any anthology of ancient mythology you can find – Norse, Greek, it’s all good.
Star Wars – Original trilogy first and foremost. I was in my teens when we watched that one bootleg of The Phantom Menace with the cheering in the background and the weird moving logo (if you know which one I mean?). The prequels were fine, but I still enjoy the first trilogy the most. I enjoy the newest films as well, but I don’t think they’ve had an influence on me yet.
Star Trek – The Kirk films yes, including Generations too. First Contact is probably where the films stop being as much of an influence on my style of storytelling, but I’ve always loved a time travel story so maybe that’s why I like it.
I remember watching The Voyage Home repeatedly on TV, but I don’t think I saw Wrath of Khan first? That ear-slug thing was nightmare fuel when I saw it, if I remember rightly.
Lord of the Rings –
The Fifth Element –
The Dark Crystal – I also have the ‘novelisation’ / graphic novel of the film, which was pretty cool to read through years later. All of my demons and devils have Skeksis DNA when I run them.
Star Trek – pretty much every series. I watched the lot of them as a kid, so they definitely influenced how I would look at stories.
Deep Space Nine for best series because Avery Brooks, Mark Alaimo and Andrew Robinson are fantastic, and for Far Beyond the Stars (S6E13).
I enjoy Discovery (Klingon makeup change notwithstanding) and Picard and I’m looking forward to seeing where they go.
Thundercats – another one from the deep recesses of childhood that I eventually went back to as an adult and it started to make more sense. I had action figures and a battle tank at one point. Definitely where my love of sword and planet comes from, though I’m sure He-Man probably had something to do with that too.
Babylon 5 –
Futurama – infinitely better than The Simpsons, and I don’t think that’s just because it wasn’t allowed to have more episodes. They had to invent maths in order to solve a corner they’d written themselves into (S6E10 The Prisoner of Benda).
(No prizes for guessing my main consoles growing up…)
Start with the BIG THREE:
Legend of Zelda – A Link to the Past : Super Nintendo
Secret of Mana : Super Nintendo
Final Fantasy series : Super Nintendo/Playstation/Playstation 2 (I don’t think I’ve played any since Final Fantasy XII)
Chrono Trigger : Super Nintendo
Terranigma : Super Nintendo
Day of the Tentacle : PC
Sam and Max : PC
Monkey Island series : PC