In 2019 my wife grabbed me several books that I've been wanting beyond the usual authors found in Appendix N of the first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master's Guide:
APPENDIX N: INSPIRATIONAL AND EDUCATIONAL READING
Inspiration for all the fantasy work I have done stems directly from the love my father showed when I was a tad, for he spent many hours telling me stories he made up as he went along, tales of cloaked old men who could grant wishes, of magic rings and enchanted swords, or wicked sorcerors [sic] and dauntless swordsmen.
Then too, countless hundreds of comic books went down, and the long-gone EC ones certainly had their effect. Science fiction, fantasy, and horror movies were a big influence. In fact, all of us tend to get ample helpings of fantasy when we are very young from fairy tales such as those written by the Brothers Grimm and Andrew Lang. This often leads to reading books of mythology, paging through bestiaries, and consultation of compilations of the myths of various lands and peoples.
Upon such a base I built my interest in fantasy, being an avid reader of all science fiction and fantasy literature since 1950.
The following authors were of particular inspiration to me. In some cases I cite specific works, in others, I simply recommend all of their fantasy writing to you. From such sources, as well as any other imaginative writing or screenplay, you will be able to pluck kernels from which will grow the fruits of exciting campaigns. Good reading!
Anderson, Poul: THREE HEARTS AND THREE LIONS; THE HIGH CRUSADE; THE BROKEN SWORDThe most immediate influences upon AD&D were probably de Camp & Pratt, R. E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, Jack Vance, H. P. Lovecraft, and A. Merritt; but all of the above authors, as well as many not listed, certainly helped to shape the form of the game. For this reason, and for the hours of reading enjoyment, I heartily recommend the works of these fine authors to you.
Bellairs, John: THE FACE IN THE FROST
Burroughs, Edgar Rice: "Pellucidar" series; Mars series; Venus series
Carter, Lin: "World's End" series
de Camp, L. Sprague: LEST DARKNESS FALL; THE FALLIBLE FIEND; et al
de Camp & Pratt: "Harold Shea" series; THE CARNELIAN CUBE
Farmer, P. J.: "The World of the Tiers" series; et al
Fox, Gardner: "Kothar" series; "Kyrik" series; et al
Howard, R. E.: "Conan" series
Lanier, Sterling: HIERO'S JOURNEY
Leiber, Fritz: "Fafhrd & Gray Mouser" series; et al
Lovecraft, H. P.
Merritt, A.: CREEP, SHADOW, CREEP; MOON POOL; DWELLERS IN THE MIRAGE; et al
Moorcock, Michael: STORMBRINGER; STEALER OF SOULS; "Hawkmoon" series (esp. the first three books)
Offutt, Andrew J.: editor of SWORDS AGAINST DARKNESS III
Pratt, Fletcher: BLUE STAR; et al
Saberhagen, Fred: CHANGELING EARTH; et al
St. Clair, Margaret: THE SHADOW PEOPLE; SIGN OF THE LABRYS
Tolkien, J. R. R.: THE HOBBIT; "Ring trilogy"
Vance, Jack: THE EYES OF THE OVERWORLD; THE DYING EARTH; et al
Wellman, Manley Wade
Zelazny, Roger: JACK OF SHADOWS; "Amber" series; et al
- E. Gary Gygax, 1979, AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide, p. 224
This list was taken straight from the AD&D DMG from here
The authors that I'm going for are Robert E.Howard because he was a part of the Lovecraft circle, William Hope Hodgeson, & the works of Arthur Machen. But these volumes of forbidden & forgotten lore are not the only ones.
I'm in the process of hunting down the works of Algernon Blackwood, Lord Dunsany, & more M. R. James. While most folks would think that this is for a Call of Cthulhu rpg game campaign its not. This list is fundamental for my Cha'alt/Godbound campaign's next arch.Why?! Because of the OSR rpg table top systems Goblinoid Games Realms of Crawling Chaos is essential. And that OSR material plugs into the back burner of this literature.
The alien devices, weird racial options,etc. are not simply indicative of H.P. Lovecraft but of the type of Lovecraftian Dark Fantasy that's welling across the world in my current campaign. This is mostly due to my uncle's notes on his old Advanced Dungeons & Dragons campaign. He went that step beyond to ensure that his kids, & players knew more then a bit of classic literature. Gary Gygax's Appendix N is a stepping stone into the deeper pond of science fiction, pulp fantasy, & much more! But all of this reading goes back into the lore of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition. The idea of the corruption the beyond being right below our collective feet while we all go about our daily lives. You can see this laid down in Gary Gygax's 'D1-2 Descent Into the Depths of the Earth'.
Gary Gygax's 'D1-2 Descent Into the Depths of the Earth' is about the players picking & choosing their battles to win the war rather then simply 'hacking & slashing' at the adventure campaign around them. They have to cut out the cancer at the heart of the adventure rather then simply go in. There is a far more subtle lesson that the dungeon master needs to learn with these modules. D1-2 is as much source book as it is adventure & we had really solid teachers & dungeon master's at my uncle's table. For now the quest continues!