Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Resource Spotlight: Project Guntenburg, Faded Pages, and Appendix N

Time to boost the signal! This September I am planning on doing a roundup of some favourite resources for Table Top Role Playing Games. Most of which are free and online.

I have been playing Dungeons and Dragons in some form or another since 1986, and I have been Dungeon Mastering pretty steadily from the start. However long I have been doing it, I am always finding ways to improve my game. Nothing has done more for my game in 2019 & 2020 than going back to D&D's source material: Appendix N.

What is Appendix N?

Appendix N was a section at the end of the Dungeon Master's Guide for AD&D 1e listing the books and authors that served as the inspiration for Dungeons and Dragons. I have added a photostat of Appendix N to the right. Click to enlarge.

If you look hard enough through these books, you can see the inspiration for most of the Spells, signature villains, weird Supernatural events, and the seeds of most of the early edventures for Dungeons & Dragons. They include a range of works that at the time were considered "Weird Fiction," although today we break them down into a genres like sword and sorcery, fantasy, lovecraftian horror, and urban fantasy. None of those labels were used in a meaningful way when the books were written or when Dungeons & Dragons was created.

Reading Appendix N is more than just an archaeological expedition. It gives you insight into why the game was designed the way it was, how the creators of the game imagine the adventures in D&D would go, and how to bring together the disparate elements of science fiction, fantasy, and horror that are strewn across the early Dungeons & Dragons manuals. Reading Appendix N can give you incredible insight into what makes a good D&D story.

The books are incredibly fun, to boot. I had not read Abraham Merritt until Christmas 2019, and I am really glad that I did. He has become one of my favourite writers.

Actually getting your hands on Appendix N material, and finding people to appreciate it with certainly would have been a daunting task 15 years ago. Believe me, I am a vet of the Used Bookstore Wars! Today, thanks to the resources available on the internet, you can enjoy a good portion of Appendix N in HTML, text, or even audio book.

Reading Resources

Here are a few of my favourite online book resources:

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg is dedicated to transcribing books in the public domain and making them publicly available. The odds are good that if it was written in 1945 or earlier, you Will be able to find it in Project Gutenberg.

Regional variations, like Gutenberg Australia and Gutenberg Canada both mirror content  from Gutenberg.org, and their own regionally-specific material. Sometimes they have differing content because of difference in IP durations, etc. across countries.

Many Gutenberg titles are set up with modern typography and titles at Standard Ebooks.


Roy Glashan's Library is a curated collection of transcribed public domain books. It has a focus on weird and pop literature, and contains many Appendix N writers. Books are available in epub format here.


Feedbooks keeps a large selection of downloadable public domain books.

Faded Page

Faded Page is another volunteer-driven public domain ebook repository run out of Canada.


LibriVox is an organization dedicated to creating audiobooks of public domain titles. Anyone in the audiobook production industry has likely heard of them, and they are a great place, if you want to volunteer, to learn the basics of audio mastering and to get help setting up and configuring your recording equipment. Many Appendix N titles are available here in MP3 format.


Trading and sharing Appendix N material has become something of a passion in the  OSR community in general, and the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG community in particilar. Goodman Games often has used copies of appendix in books available at their boots during conventions.

The NYC Appendix N Book Club runs a podcast discussing Appendix N resources. They keep a fantastic curated list of places where the books are available. Hosted by Judge Jeff of Spellburn fame.

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