Companion Adventures

An ‘Appendix G’, if you like…

A thread for discussing the media that is inspiring your gaming.

Post your books/films/music/articles/folklore/pop cultural ephemera etc here! What got you started and what keeps you going? How much of Gary Gygax’s original Appendix N belongs in the ‘Appendix Nice!’ pile and how much is for the ‘Appendix No!’ pile?

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I’ll strongly recommend The Weird and the Eerie by Mark Fisher


I just finished the audiobook of Every Heart a Doorway. It was grim and fun at the same time. And fairly brief. Would make good fodder for a multiportal/dimensional exploration game.


Could you both expand a bit more on why these works have informed your gaming? How have you taken themes or content from them and brought them to the table?


I’ve just finished reading the new Jasper Fforde mystery “Early Riser”, and it’s giving me ideas for running an urban game where one of the factors the players will face is the Winter itself. In the book, the world has humans who have evolved to hibernate, as well as a planet with extremely long and cold winters, glaciers, and megafauna such as mammoths among a 1950s style Europe. Definitely a change-up from “Siberian tundra” style cold environments!


@shanel sure!

The Weird and the Eerie parses the weird (an abundance of presence) and the eerie (an absence of presence) and discusses them in the context of various works by HP Lovecraft, MR James, Daphne du Maurier, David Lynch, Andrei Tarkovsky etc.

It’s a quick read and looks at different types of folk horror/cosmic dread sci-fi/weird fantasy. It’s useful for parsing what is unsettling in different settings, whether it’s a quiet rural landscape a busy urban environment, an abandoned shipyard.

I think that it’ll be a good resource for running any Cthulhu type games, weird fantasy, alien horror stuff :scream:


I’ve been on a recent kick of reading early 20th-century “weird” fiction as inspiration for my fantasy gaming. I finally got around to reading The Dying Earth by Jack Vance, The King of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany, and The King in Yellow by Robert Chambers. I’m currently in the middle of A Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay.

Some of these are very, very weird and also inspiring for game ideas!


I once run a Dark Matter game (old Alternity system) where a bunch of ritualistic killers were murdering people with rituals inspired by Iron Maiden’s Powerslave . It went quite well, with the killers getting more bold and leaving more elaborate and revealing clues as it went on.

So, inspiration can hit you from almost anywhere.


I love this and some of the other Lord Dunsany stuff like the Book of Wonder.

I recently read The Worm Ouroboros by ER Eddison. It took me a while to get my head around the names and the opening framing story but I enjoyed it and it’s interesting to look at pre-Tolkien fantasy stuff.


@shanel Since you asked…(tldr its a ramble)

The plot of “Every Heart a Doorway” revolves around a boarding school for children who have traveled through doorways to other worlds. And the associated problems they bring back. It reminded me of the fantasy of my youth. Narnia, Earthsea, The Black Cauldron. This led me to google games that might be of the same theme as Earthsea, and come upon Beyond the Wall. Beyond the Wall is a variant OSR game system with many throwbacks to the Red Box of my youth. I started reading it, got some friends to make some characters and once I get back from a work trip, we’ll be off adventuring.
The book has in some small part rekindled my love of non-grimdark fantasy and shown me some of the good things that the OSR is doing. I had initially ignored the OSR because I wasn’t interested in going backwards. But I see now that my view of those systems and folks was wrong. There is cool stuff going on there, and people that love the same things as I do are taking part. I’ve a whole host of podcasts to listen to now from folks playing in that space.


@forlorn1I’d assume one of those podcasts is Fear of a Black Dragon?

I myself have only recently discovered the Earthsea books. Somehow I just never ran into them while I was a kid. I have yet to dig into Beyond The Wall but my good friend @RichardRuane is a big fan and runs it a lot.

I will also note that The King Of Elfland’s Daughter is a huge influence on the Dolmenwood setting put out by Necrotic Gnome in their zine Wormskin. Questing Beast did a number of videos on the zines in the past.


Honestly, so much stuff from my childhood inspires my approach to monsters in games, lol. I was that kid who grew up reading Jeffrey and the Third Grade Ghost, Fifth Grade Monsters, Samantha Slade: Monster Sitter and the like, watching The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t every year. I do have games where you have just outright Bad Monsters, like the boogeymen in one of my Lasers & Feelings hacks I’m poking at (Stuffing & Stitches, where you play as stuffed animals and other toys fighting monsters to protect their children, inspired by several other games I’ve seen out there with that concept but simplified way down), but for the most part, monsters are at least as likely to be characters’ friends, or the non-villain-protagonist characters themselves, as not.

Way more specific, though, is how much Ruthanna Emrys’s work has inspired me, and to a lesser degree Anne M. Pillsworth’s YA novels as well:

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I can’t even explain how much these takes on Lovecraftian fiction have done for me. I was already inclined towards “soft Lovecraft” (or maybe Cosmic Fantasy rather than Cosmic Horror?), since a lot of Lovecraft’s ideas that he plays for horror are actually pretty uplifting/reassuring for me personally, and a lot of his fiction never managed to convince me of the evil and danger of a lot of the eldritch beings in them, but these ladies just solidified the feel and direction I want my own works to go in.

Three of my four major projects right now are based on my own Cosmic Fantasy sensibilities to various degrees, and those would be a lot more nebulous without Emrys and Pillsworth’s assorted works. (Not all of which I’ve even named: “Geldman’s Pharmacy” by Pillsworth and especially “Those Who Watch” by Emrys are two short stories that almost perfectly nail what I want!)


@shanel Yes I do love Fear of a Black Dragon, although I do wish they bring back the cheesey “other name for the podcast” bit from season 1. I really liked that.

I’ve also become a fan of a bunch of Anchor podcasts


I love Earthsea, and in fact anything by Ursulla K. LeGuin is a major inspiration to me. Her book of short stories Birthday of the World actually challenged my ideas about gender and sexuality and made me a more open minded person. :slight_smile:


Yes! I miss that too!! @jasoncordova and @Coalhada bring back the cheese please!!


The puns were getting too obscure!

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This sounds cool. I’m definitely interested in reading stuff that challenges or subverts the gross trash racism etc that is very much part of Lovecraft’s work.

Yes! Absolutely love the Earthsea books and the fact that it is explicitly not a white eurocentric fantasy world is very refreshing. Also agree on LeGuin’s short stories and science fiction stuff being very cool!


Yes! Big fan Dolmenwood/Wormskin. I just pre-ordered the Winter’s Daughter book yesterday.

Then I can especially recommend Ruthanna Emrys’s stuff! “Those Who Watch” is about a mentally ill, Neopagan librarian who finds herself marked by one of the books in the library she’s just started working at, and possibly by the entire library itself, and has to come to terms with that and figure out what she wants to do about it; it’s actually free to read online here at Tor.

And her novels, Winter Tide and Deep Roots, are incredibly cool. They’re the first two books in what IIRC will be a trilogy, about one of the last survivors of the raid on Innsmouth, Aphra Marsh, and her family and friends, and it has a gay romance between two of the major side characters and a few characters of color! I also really loved how the book dealt with Deep One culture and some of the Elder Gods and other Mythos creatures. The series has a prequel, too, “The Litany of Earth,” which is also available on Tor. I think the first five chapters of Winter Tide are up there too somewhere.