Appendix N to the Dungeon Master’s Guide is an ever full well. Each dip of the bucket brings up something thirst quenching. Gary Gygax’s pulp influences were as broad as they were deep. Some feel that D&D is best seen as an immersive plumbing of pulp Sword and Sorcery. There is probably much to support that opinion. But even a cursory reading of Appendix N indicates that he did not limit himself to the sub-genre. He mined science fiction, historical fiction, and epic fantasy.
After this web log’s sporadic (perhaps, from your perspective, interminable) consideration of the authors listed in the Dungeon Masters Guide Appendix N, perhaps some sort of summation is required. What do I think of the list? What do I think of its application to the Dungeons and Dragons game?
As it inevitably must, this series on Appendix N reaches its end. At least we go out on a high note, with that nonpareil, Roger Zelazny.
My series on Appendix N of the Dungeon Masters Guide nears its conclusion. Two more entries remain after this. This one presents a bit of a challenge for me. I come to praise Manly Wade Wellman, but I’m finding it difficult. Not Margaret St. Clair difficult. Far from it. But challenging.
I come at last to Jack Vance. Arguably he should be first, to the devil with alphabetical order. Look, there isn’t a lot I need to say about Jack Vance. There are encomiums a plenty to the man, and rightly so. His urbane, genteel command of the language, smoothly integrating an archaic lexicon with slang and invented words is nonpareil. Of course, in context of Appendix N and Dungeons and Dragons every commentary on Vance must refer to The Dying Earth, Vancian Magic, and such iconic spells as Phantasmal Spray.
Writing about J.R.R. Tolkien is challenging unless one cares nothing for originality. Oceans of ink have been used discussing the man and his work. Merely reiterating what has been written before would prove easy enough.
Therein lies the problem. Originality may be illusory, but I still like to strive for it.
I’ve been reluctant to write this one. You know the ubiquitous maternal aphorism “If you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all. “ And I dislike offering particularly critical opinions of other writers. After all, who am I to judge.
But I’d read positive comments regarding Sign of the the Labrys. With my prior experience in mind, I had the library find a copy for me through inter-library loan instead of shelling out cash from my own pocket to procure a copy. I began it with somewhat higher hopes. Now, unfortunately, I have to offer an opinion. That makes me a bit uneasy.
What I’m going to do is provide my opinion in two sections. First, Sign of the Labrys as literature. Second, Sign of the Labrys as an Appendix N contributor to the development of Dungeons and Dragons.
I’ve reached Fred Saberhagen in my Appendix N irregular series of posts. And I’m extremely pleased by that since it afforded me an excuse to re-read Empire of the East. True, one cannot do Saberhagen justice by concentrating on Empire of the East alone, but that’s what I’m going to do anyway.