Inspirational and Educational Listening for TTRPGs
Gary Gygax’s Appendix N appeared in the first edition AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide. It listed the fantasy and sci-fi authors who most influenced him and the development of the game, and the works of these literary giants have exerted a gravitational pull on role playing games in general. This influence was both indirect, due to D&D’s oversized influence on the whole industry, and direct, by other game designers immersing themselves in the source literature. For example, the Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC) RPG was derived from the works of Appendix N.
A smaller, but equally interesting, phenomenon has been the influence of rock music on the development of RPGs. Certain music artists, albums (LPs), and songs provide a deep immersion into themes common in fantasy and sci-fi stories. The music itself can provide a soundtrack perfect for myriad RPG situations, from eerie, underground exploration to bombastic, epic combats.
Both RPGs and rock music support and encourage the obsessive fan, seeking out the most obscure releases, studying the evolution of genres, staring at the awe-inspiring artwork, and devouring the magazines/zines, blogs, and podcasts that cover the hobbies. By personal anecdote, I know many RPG fanatics who are hardcore music fans as well. In addition, both RPG hobbyists and rock fans had to deal with movements by the ignorant to censor their content, such as with the Satanic Panic and the PMRC.
The paragraphs above are a sneak preview excerpt from issue #1 of the Critical Hit Parader zine. In it, I propose the idea of an Appendix LP. A list of inspirational and educational listening that influence and enhance tabletop roleplaying. The zine provides recommendations to check out, but there is no definitive Appendix LP list. Any artist, album, or song that inspires you to create or play RPGs belongs on your own personal Appendix LP.
Following the publication of issue #1 of the Critical Hit Parader zine, I will launch the Appendix LP podcast here on Substack. Subscribing to this newsletter will deliver you the podcast episodes as well.
The podcast will feature game designers talking about the music that has inspired their games and writing, along with deep dives into classic Appendix LP artists. I’d love to hear from any designers who would like to be on the show as well as suggestions for artists you would like to see covered.
There is less than a week left to go on the Kickstarter campaign for the Critical Hit Parader zine. The zine is fully funded, but I would greatly appreciate any social media shares to help the campaign finish strong.
I’ll close this week’s newsletter with a link to a recommended video. Recently, game designers Brendan LaSalle and Michael Curtis had a special music episode of their Keep Crawlin' with Mike and Brendan show. Check it out!