“Inspiration for all of 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 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 Long. 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 their fantasy writing to you. From such sources, as well as iust about any other imaginative writing or screenplay you will be able to pluck kernels from which grow the fruits of exciting campaigns. Good reading!” — E.G.G. (from the 1E DMG, p. 224)
Here is my own list of “inspirational and educational” books, some of which Mr. Gygax had on his list as well. My parents were both avid SF&F readers and I grew up in a house full of classic speculative fiction from the 60’s and later – including boxes of the old Magazine of Fantasy and Science-Fiction, Analog, and Galaxy magazines. I was also a voracious reader – and one with an rather savant-level of reading speed and comprehension (which, alas, a never really applied myself to academia until I returned to school in my 30’s) so I was early and widely exposed to a huge range of writing because my parents encouraged me to read as widely as possible. Note that this is a work in progress and I’ll likely add stuff here as I remember it.
The Early Influences:
- Akers, Alan Burt – The Dray Prescot series is a fantasy planetary romance in the same vein as ERB’s John Carter of Mars, though with (if possible) a more pulpy feel. A guilty pleasure.
- Bradley, Marion Zimmer – Her Darkover novels are probably the reason I never had a problem with psionics in AD&D. To this day I flirt with red hair being a marker of psionic ability.
- Brust, Steven – Both his Taltos series and his Khaavren Romances. My home brew even uses the nominal title of “Sun, Moon, and Stars” as an homage to him – though I can’t say that he is my strongest influence at all.
- Delaney, Samual R. – His Neveryon novels firmly sit here.
- Howard, Robert E. – Conan, Soloman Kane, Kull… I read them early and often! The Conan of my youth is the Ace editions, I’ve been slowly getting ready to dive into the Wandering Star/Del Rey editions
- Kurtz, Katherine – Her Deryni series is the other reason I don’t mind psionics in AD&D either. The only event I ever “won” at GenCon was a Deryni-themed game of AD&D. I still have that award certificate somewhere I think… Kurtz’s ability to apply magic to a fantasy Europe and make it believable was also a major inspiration for me.
- Lieber, Fritz – Fafherd and the Grey Mouser were an early enjoyment as well.
- McKillip, Patricia – Her Riddle-Master series profoundly influenced me and still does. Her other works are just as inspirational for a feeling of mythic and poetic faerie tales and fantasy.
- Moorcock, Michael – Elric, Corum, Hawkmoon… Yup, loved ’em all and still do. My son just bought me a set of the reprinted classics for Yule a couple of years ago.
- Norton, Andre – Both her Free Trader and Witch World series.
- Tolkien, J.R.R. – Pretty much all of it, including his Lost Tales because I was a real Tolkien geek. My elves are much more like Tolkien’s, but I hated “Halflings” in the AD&D game and dropped them to use the term for my Gnomes.
- Zelazny, Roger – Not just his Amber novels, but works like Lord of Light and Isle of the Dead as well. Pretty much his entire corpus of work influenced me.
These pretty much all influenced my early days of playing AD&D and other games as well – Traveller and Call of cthulhu being the two biggies that are worth mentioning (Cyberpunk 2020 deserves it’s own list because the inspirational material is so radically different). The following books are later influences, but ones that have none-the-less really impacted my campaign world and the games I like to play.
The Later Influences-
- Bishop, Anne – The Blood Jewels series.
- Carey, Jacqueline – The works of her Kushiel series.
- Cook, Glen – The Black Company novels, the early ones were fantastic – but his Dread Empire novels were even better. I remember tripping over them early on, but I didn’t read them until the recent reprints.
a work in progress