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The New ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ Canon: Scott Lynch

I didn’t read much fantasy when I was a kid, but that all changed when I got my hands on a copy of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide. Toward the back of the book, past all of the recondite information about medieval siege warfare and the cost of hiring a goblin mercenary was a magical little entry called “Appendix N: Inspiration and Educational Reading”. In it, D&D creator Gary Gygax listed a few of the books that had inspired the game. It was like a fantasy primer; a key to an heretofore unexplored world.

Appendix N was my introduction to fantasy, and I imagine that it probably played a similar role in the lives of other kids. I still return to it for further inspiration, and while I haven’t read all of the books on it, I can say that I’ve discovered a lot of favorites among the ones I have read. (You can read Gygax’s original Appendix N below this interview.)

Several decades later – a couple of weeks ago, to be exact – I cracked open the new fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook and found what appeared to be a reprint of my beloved Appendix N. It wasn’t though. It was better: It was all of the fine fantasies of the Gygax’s original appendix plus several new, worthy additions! This was Appendix E.

I attacked Appendix E in much the same manner that I had Appendix N so many years ago. Some old favorite old authors had made their way in, plus several new ones:

Appendix E: (New additions to Appendix N)

Ahmed, Saladin: Throne of the Crescent Moon
Alexander, Lloyd: The Book of Three and the rest of the Chronicles of Prydain series.
Anthony, Piers: Split Infinity and the rest of the Apprentice Adept series
Augusta, Lady Gregory. Gods and Fighting Men
Bear, Elizabeth: Range of Ghosts and the rest of the Eternal Sky trilogy
Brooks, Terry: The Sword of Shannara and the rest of the Shannara seris
Cook, Glen: The Black Company and the rest of the Black Company series
Froud, Brian & Alan Lee: Faeries
Hickman, Tracy & Margaret Weis, Dragons of Autumn Twilight and the rest of the Chronicles Trilogy
Hodgson, William Hope: The Night Land
Jemisen, N.K. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and the rest of the Inheritance series, The Killing Moon, and The Shadowed Sun
Jordan, Robert: The Eye of the World and the rest of the Wheel of Time series
Kay, Guy Gavriel: Tigana
King, Stephen: The Eyes of the Dragon
LeGuin, Ursula: A Wizard of Earthsea and the rest of the Earthsea series
Lynch, Scott: The Lies of Locke Lamora and the rest of the Gentlemen Bastard series
Martin, George R.R: A Game of Thrones and the rest of the Song of Ice and Fire series
McKillip, Patricia: The Forgotten Beasts of Eld
Mieville, China: Perdido Street Station and the other Bas-Lag novels
Peake, Mervyn: Titus Groan and the rest of the Gormenghast series
Pratchett, Terry. The Colour of Magic and the rest of the Discworld series
Rothfuss, Patrick: The Name of the Wind and the rest of the Kingkiller series
Salvatore, R.A.: The Crystal Shard and the rest of The Legend of Drizzt
Sanderson, Brandon: Mistborn and the rest of the Mistborn trilogy
Tolstoy, Nikolai: The Coming of the King
Wolfe, Gene: The Shadow of the Torturer and the rest of The Book of the New Sun

It occurred to me then that these authors were part of the new canon of Dungeons & Dragons. They’re officially part of the games history. I knew I had to reach out to some of them and ask what they thought. First up is Scott Lynch. Dungeons & Dragons had popped up in a conversation we had last year at Comic Con, so it seemed germane. Here’s what he had to say:

I know you’re an incredibly busy professional writer now, but did you ever have a go at Dungeons & Dragons or other fantasy games? Did you learn anything from them?

I discovered copies of the AD&D Monster Manual and the Deities and Demigods book at my local library when I was around 10. I was loosely aware that there was some sort of game to be played, but I had no idea what the statistics meant. Despite this, I thought they were extremely cool… Zeus could throw this many lightning bolts per minute, Sir Lancelot had these magical abilities, giant centipedes had paralytic saliva of such-and-such potency… I did start gaming extensively in high school, but didn’t play AD&D itself. I fell in love with D&D anew when 3rd edition came out in 2000.

How do you feel about being listed among the generation’s classics as on “E” as a canonical influence on Dungeons & Dragons?

I’m absolutely insanely delighted, full stop. Double underlined. Many exclamation points. I’m so pleased to see many of my friends and peers on the list, too.

Appendix N sent many a young gamer scurrying to the musty shelves of his or her local used book shelves or library, and for many of us – myself included – ignited a love for fantasy that never went away. What do you hope that they discover within The Lies of Locke Lamora?

With The Lies of Locke Lamora, I wanted to kindle a sense of rousing, swashbuckling adventure and convoluted trickery, but I also wanted to underpin it (hopefully!) with real emotion and gritty danger.

I can’t help but imagine that some of these young gamers will probably create characters based upon or influenced by your own. How do you feel about the possibility of hundreds of little Locke Lamoras set loose to wreak havoc in the lovingly crafted fantasy realms of Dungeon Masters everywhere?

The thought is nothing but sheer delight for me. In my own games (whether electronic or pen-and-paper), whenever I have the chance to play, I almost always play the sneaky, light-fingered sort of character. Hell, I played a rogue in World of Warcraft for four years. Skulkers of the world, unite and take everything that isn’t nailed down!

Anything else you want to say?

When you’ve taken the stuff that isn’t nailed down, get a pry bar and come back for the rest of the stuff later.

Click through for Appendix N:

Here’s the rest of the original “Appendix N” for your enjoyment. Discover a few favorites!

“APPENDIX N: INSPIRATIONAL AND EDUCATIONAL READING”

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 (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 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 just about any other imaginative writing or screenplay you will be able to pluck kernels from which grow the fruits of exciting campaigns. Good reading!

Inspirational Reading:

Anderson, Poul. THREE HEARTS AND THREE LIONS; THE HIGH
CRUSADE; THE BROKEN SWORD
Bellairs, John. THE FACE IN THE FROST
Brackett, Leigh.
Brown, Fredric.
Burroughs, Edgar Rice. “Pellucidar” Series; Mars Series; Venus Series
Carter, Lin. “World’s End” Series
de Camp, L. Sprague. LEST DARKNESS FALL; FALLIBLE FIEND; et al.
de Camp & Pratt. “Harold Shea” Series; CARNELIAN CUBE
Derleth, August.
Dunsany, Lord.
Farmer, P. J. “The World of 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)
Norton, Andre
Offutt, Andrew J., editor 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.
Weinbaum, Stanley.
Wellman, Manly Wade.
Williamson, Jack.
Zelazny, Roger. JACK OF SHADOWS; “Amber” Series; et al.

The most immediate influences upon AD&D were probably de Camp & Pratt, REH, Fritz Leiber, Jack Vance, HPL, 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.”