Lots has been said about Gygax’s famed “Appendix N”, a selection of inspiring books that are associated with the creation of Dungeons & Dragons.
Honestly, I have read very few of those Appendix N books. This is largely down to my preference for reading RPG tomes in my spare time, along with a preference for non-fiction in general.
That said, there is a personal “Appendix N” entry that needs to be mentioned: Frank Frazetta’s “Death Dealer”.
I first saw this image as a young teen when my Dad bought a jigsaw puzzle of the picture. This puzzle was created in 1973 and entered my imagination perhaps around 1977, when I first have memories of wargaming with my Dad and doing puzzles.
By the time I was 14 years old, I began to have dreams that featured the Death Dealer. The image was intensified in my subconscious by the music from Manowar’s heavy metal album, “Fighting The World” (1983) and began to coalesce with my existential fear to become the basis of the fantasy realm of Mykovnia.
The original dream of Mykovnia was a world in which magick was wild and rare, in which heroes were few and in which four “horsemen” had come and crushed the peoples under their dark heels. As you can imagine, this was a dark world of relatively low tech and much blood.
When I reflect on this, Mykovnia and the dreams I had when I was young completely colour my preferences in roleplaying: worlds of low-magic, low-tech, dark themes, blood and violence, and fiery themes. Blended with my love of Dragonlance (1984) – especially the idea of Lord Verminaard – and images of Moria from The Lord of The Rings, I think it’s easy to see how I came to fall in love with this rich imagery.
What I suppose I am saying is that Appendix N for me wasn’t so much fiction writing as fantasy artwork. To this day, I am drawn to strong images of this ilk and my heart quickens when I see any image by Frazetta.