Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Appendix N


Since returning to gaming this year, I don't seem to be able to lift a stone without finding something about Appendix N beneath. Appendix N of the Dungeon Master's Guide contained Gary Gygax's "Inspirational and Educational Reading" - a list of authors who inspired Dungeons and Dragons.

I must have read the DMG dozens of times throughout the 80s, and yet I have no memory whatsoever of Appendix N. Perhaps because it didn't relate directly to gaming, perhaps because I was already reading many of these authors, and would doubtless be reading the rest in good time. Whatever, it left no impression on me at all. And so it's strange that, in 2021, it seems to be namechecked on almost every blog I visit.

So it was interesting and apt to receive an email yesterday from the wonderful Strange Attractor Press notifying me that they have just published a book called Appendix N - The Eldritch Roots of Dungeons and Dragons.

Meanwhile, here's my Appendix N:
  • Viriconium Nights by M John Harrison
That's it. That's about all you need. The other Viriconium books are great, but Nights contains their pure essence. I've written before on my main blog about how Viriconium changed my life and about my recent return to Viriconium. In essence, the Viriconium books ended fantasy for me forever, they pulled back the curtain and showed the sad little men behind. Fantasy is almost entirely about epic battles of good vs. evil, it is the distillation of the lie of cowboys and superheroes. It is a load of old pernicious bollocks.

I read Viriconium Nights book in 1986, and I've scarcely felt the desire to read a fantasy book ever since. 

Read a proper book. Read some history, some psychology, a little biology and physics. Read novels by Robert Irwin, George Saunders, Magnus Mills, David Mitchell. Read "magical realism". Read old shit. Read widely and well. But, while I'm sure there are exceptions, I advise giving fantasy a wide berth.

I shall probably be buying the new Strange Attractor book. So help me.

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Why Peakrill?

The Hope Valley - old OS map and my interpretation

What is a Peakrill, and what relevance does it have to this blog? Well, the what part is easy: 

Peakrel (also Peakrill, Peakril) - Pronunciation /หˆpiหkr(ษ™)l/  - NOUN, rare British - An inhabitant of the Peak District.

What a brilliant word, eh? And as for the why, well it relates to the campaign that I am writing. For more, read on...

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Money and coinage in RPGs

Dinar of Varahram III by Ashley Van Haeften

I recently read the book Debt: The First 5000 years by David Graeber, and as well as turning my ideas about money on their head, it got me thinking about the way that money is handled in RPG rules (I'm talking D&D-alike fantasy RPGs here, although I imagine that some of these points can be applied to other genres).

All 5s and 7s poetry dungeon


Here is my response to Patrick Stuart/False Machine's challenge to write a poetry dungeon - in this case, more poetic than playable, and not very poetic at that - All 5s and 7s.