Updated: Dec 22, 2022
If you've been a longtime player of D&D, you might remember a section in the back of the Dungeon Master's Guide back during AD&D in which Gary Gygax created an "Appendix N" - basically a bibliography of sorts in which he listed his influences that contributed to the creation of the game D&D as we have come to know it.
Without his narrative included, here is what the Appendix N of Gary Gygax looks like (and if you play 5E - there is an updated version on pg. 312 of the Player's Handbook):
Now, as GMs - we probably all have our own version of Appendix N. Gary Gygax's were all books, but I think our society has evolved (or maybe devolved, depending on how you look at it) to include more screentime in our lives so modern Appendix N lists might have more movies or video games or comics or things other than books comprising them. We here at Headless Hydra Press thought it might be fun to list our own "Appendix N" lists. These are pop culture properties or books that have had a large impact on our imaginations and from which we may pull inspiration from in order to run our own campaigns or create our own NPCs or even characters. If you are interested in how to pull from pop culture in order to inspire your own game nights, check out THIS POST I wrote on the subject.
SHANE COLLINS - CEO, HEADLESS HYDRA PRESS
BOOKS: A Farewell to Arms (Ernest Hemingway), Borrowed World series (Franklin Horton), Cujo (Stephen King), Dragon Crown series (Michael A. Stackpole), Halo: Fall of Reach (Eric Nylund), Lord of the Rings (J R R Tolkien), One Second After (William Forstchen), Phantoms (Dean Koontz), Song of Ice and Fire (George R R Martin), The Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad (FM 7-8), The Road (Cormac McCarthy), The Stand (Stephen King), The Things They Carried (Tim O'Brien), The Watchers (Dean Koontz), World War Z (Max Brooks)
MOVIES: 13th Warrior (John McTiernan/Michael Crichton), Alien (Ridley Scott), Aliens (James Cameron), Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola), Black Hawk Down (Ridley Scott), Braveheart (Mel Gibson), Brick (Rian Johnson), Dawn of the Dead (George A Romero), Gladiator (Ridley Scott), Jason and the Argonauts (Don Chaffey), Jaws (Steven Spielberg), Jurassic Park (Steven Spielberg), Mimic (Guillermo del Toro), Open Range (Kevin Costner), Phantoms (Joe Chappelle), Predator (John McTiernan), Rambo: First Blood (Ted Kotcheff), Red Dawn (John Milius), Saving Private Ryan (Steven Spielberg), Star Wars trilogy (original - George Lucas), The Abyss (James Cameron), The Dark Knight Rises (Christopher Nolan), The Edge (Lee Tamahori), The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola), The Karate Kid (John G Avildsen), The King (David Michôd), The Lord of the Rings trilogy (Peter Jackson), The Pianist (Roman Polanski), The Relic (Peter Hyams), The Rock (Michael Bay), The Terminator (James Cameron), Tombstone (George P Cosmatos), Tremors (Ron Underwood), Wild (Jean-Marc Vallée)
SHOWS: Battlestar Galactica (Glen A Larson/Ronald D Moore), Breaking Bad (Vince Gilligan), Game of Thrones (David Benioff/D B Weiss), House of Cards (Beau Willimon), Lost (J J Abrams/Jeffrey Lieber/Damon Lindeloff), Mobile Suit Gundam Wing (Masashi Ikeda), Rome (Bruno Heller/William J MacDonald/John Milius), Supernatural (Eric Kripke), The Walking Dead (Frank Darabont)
VIDEO GAMES: Age of Empires (PC), Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun (PC), Dragon Age: Origins (Xbox 360), Half-Life (PC), Halo: Combat Evolved (Xbox), Mass Effect (Xbox 360), Max Payne (Xbox), Mech Commander (PC), Pokémon Blue (Game Boy), Rome: Total War (PC), Star Wars Galaxies (PC), Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (Xbox 360), Sudden Strike (PC), The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Xbox 360), The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Nintendo 64), The Long Dark (Xbox One)
PODCASTS: Dan Carlin's Hardcore History, Missing Maura Murray, Serial, S*** Town
JOSEPH CARRO - COMMUNITY MANAGER, HEADLESS HYDRA PRESS
BOOKS: A Game of Thrones (George R R Martin), Annals of the Western Shore series (Ursula K le Guin), Beowulf (Seamus Heaney), Bloodstone (Karl Edward Wagner), Choose Your Own Adventure series (Bantam Books), Dracula (Bram Stoker), Dragonlance series (Various Authors), Excalibur (Sanders Anne Laubenthal), Forgotten Realms series (Various Authors), Gods and Generals (Jeff Shaara), Harry Potter series (J K Rowling), Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad), Journey to the Center of the Earth (Jules Verne), Little House series (Laura Ingalls Wilder), Lord of Light (Roger Zelazny), Lord of the Rings series (J R R Tolkien), Magic Kingdom of Landover series (Terry Brooks), Mistborn series (Brandon Sanderson), Moby Dick (Herman Melville), Odd Thomas series (Dean Koontz), Perdido Street Station (China Miéville), Ranger's Apprentice series (John Flanagan), Redwall series (Brian Jacques), Star Wars series (Various Authors), Sword of Shannara series (Terry Brooks), The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Mark Twain), The Chronicles of Narnia series (C S Lewis), The Chronicles of Prydain series (Lloyd Alexander), The Clockwork Century series (Cherie Priest), The Dark Tower series (Stephen King), The Difference Engine (William Gibson), The Dresden Files (Jim Butcher), The Hobbit (J R R Tolkien), The Iliad (Homer), The Indian in the Cupboard series (Lynne Reid Banks), The Last Unicorn (Peter S Beagle), The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (Washington Irving), The Magic of Xanth series (Piers Anthony), The Neverending Story (Michael Ende), The Odyssey (Homer), The Old Man and the Sea (Ernest Hemingway), The Red Badge of Courage (Stephen Crane),The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (Samuel Taylor Coleridge), The Sound and the Fury (William Faulkner), The Tempest (William Shakespeare), The Time Machine (H G Wells), The Wicked Years series (Gregory Maguire), The Word & The Void series (Terry Brooks), Treasure Island (Robert Louis Stevenson), Where the Wild Things Are (Maurice Sendak), Winterbirth (Brian Ruckley), Young Goodman Brown and Other Short Stories (Nathaniel Hawthorne), Zork series (S Eric Meretzky)
MOVIES: 3:10 to Yuma (James Mangold),13th Warrior (John McTiernan/Michael Crichton), 300 (Zack Snyder), 1917 (Sam Mendes), Alien (Ridley Scott), Army of Darkness (Sam Raimi), Avengers: Endgame (The Russos), Avengers: Infinity War (The Russos), Back to the Future trilogy (Robert Zemeckis), Beetlejuice (Tim Burton), Berry Gordy's The Last Dragon (Michael Schultz), Big Trouble in Little China (John Carpenter), Braveheart (Mel Gibson), Captain America: Civil War (The Russos), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (The Russos), Conan the Barbarian (John Milius), Conan the Destroyer (Richard Fleischer), Dances with Wolves (Kevin Costner), Deathstalker (John Watson), Deathstalker II (Jim Wynorski), Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino), Donnie Darko (Richard Kelly), Eragon (Stefen Fangmeier), E.T. (Steven Spielberg), Evil Dead 1&2 (Sam Raimi), Gladiator (Ridley Scott), Glory (Edward Zwick), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 1&2 (James Gunn), Gremlins (Joe Dante), Heavy Metal (Gerald Potterton), Highlander (Russell Mulcahy), Hugo (Martin Scorcese), Indiana Jones trilogy (Steven Spielberg), Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino), Kill Bill Vol 1&2 (Quentin Tarantino), Labyrinth (Jim Henson), Ladyhawke (Richard Donner), Legend (Ridley Scott), Lincoln (Steven Spielberg), Logan (James Mangold), Mad Max (George Miller), Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen), Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson), O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Coen Brothers), Pan's Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro), Phantasm (Don Coscarelli), Red Sonja (Richard Fleischer), Road to Perdition (Sam Mendes), Saving Private Ryan (Steven Spielberg), Shrek (Andrew Adamson/Vicky Jenson), Sin City (Frank Miller/Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez), Stand By Me (Rob Reiner), Star Wars OG Trilogy (George Lucas), Stardust (Matthew Vaughn), Terminator 2: Judgement Day (James Cameron), The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension (W D Richter), The Avengers (Joss Whedon), The Beastmaster (Don Coscarelli), The Cabin in the Woods (Drew Goddard), The Dark Crystal (Jim Henson), The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan), The Goonies (Richard Donner), The Hateful Eight (Quentin Tarantino), The Incredibles (Brad Bird), The Karate Kid (John G Avildsen), The Last Samurai (Edward Zwick), The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers), The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Stephen Norrington), The Lord of the Rings trilogy (Peter Jackson), The Matrix (The Wachowskis), The Neverending Story (Wolfgang Petersen), The Patriot (Mel Gibson), The Princess Bride (Rob Reiner), The Revenant (Alejandro G Iñárritu), The Shining (Stanley Kubrick), The Usual Suspects (Bryan Singer), Thor: Ragnarok (Taika Waititi), Timeline (Richard Donner), V for Vendetta (James McTeigue), Van Helsing (Stephen Sommers), Willow (Ron Howard)
Thanks to Mike J on our Discord server for bringing Appendix N to our attention via our chats on Discord. PS - we have a lot of fun on there, so consider checking it out. We post memes, we've got discussions about TTRPGs, and we've even got a space for self-promotion. Hopefully this post got you thinking about your own "Appendix N" and how what you view and read informs your TTRPG playing or GMing. I'm sure both Shane and I have many more influences (I didn't even bother including games, shows, comics, graphic novels, or other things because my list was already so long) but this gives you an idea of exactly how many sources build up our pop culture mythos and what we use to draw on for creative work. - Joe