Good day, everyone! Today, I am going to share with you five author recommendations based on a love of Dungeons & Dragons. From long before its release to its later growth stages, these writers have helped tabletop gaming become what it is today. Let’s dive right in!
1. Robert E. Howard (1906-1936)
First off, I want to bring up the man often credited as the father of sword and sorcery fantasy writing, Robert E. Howard. The creator of such characters as Conan the Barbarian and Solomon Kane, Howard was a considerable success in the pulp fiction field in the 1920s and 30s. A friend by correspondence of such notable writers as H.P. Lovecraft, Howard’s work spanned from the mythic and Weird (the term applied to all science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories in his era) to more true-to-life westerns and boxing stories. Tragically, Howard committed suicide at 30 years old after years of caring for a terminally ill mother, a failed relationship, and a shifting field in the markets for fiction tightened his finances. He would never see how much influence he would have over later writers, including several of those in this list.
2. Jack Vance (1916-2013)
Prolific writer of fantasy, science fiction, and mystery novels (under various pen names), the world-travelling Jack Vance is perhaps best known for his Dying Earth stories. The Dying Earth is a series of tales set in the far future of our world, one in which the sun is huge and red and many people expect the world to end at any moment. No distinction is made between magic and advanced technologies in these tales, but most of Vance’s focus lies on powerful mages and cunning rogues. Gary Gygax, the original creator of Dungeons & Dragons, personally referenced Vance’s stories as the basis for D&D’s magic system, one in which wizards must memorize a limited number of spells they wish to cast and then forget them with the casting, necessitating rememorization for them to be used again. Sound familiar?
3. Ed Greenwood (b. 1959)
Ed Greenwood, Canadian-born librarian and gamemaster, is the creator of the Forgotten Realms, considered by many to be the most well-developed and successful world setting in all of Dungeons & Dragons. A fairly prolific fantasy writer in his own right, Greenwood’s creations include the Forgotten Realms’s own resident Gandalf analog, Elminster, and the great city of Waterdeep. Perhaps most noteworthy about his creation of the Realms is Greenwood’s idea that Toril, the actual planet upon which these stories were set, is a parallel earth out of an endless multiverse, and that such worlds could be seen as the inspirations for many myths and legends in our own mundane world.
4. Margaret Weis (b. 1948) and Tracy Hickman (b. 1955)
Though using two writers for the list may be seen as cheating, this pair is truly inseparable when it comes to their shared influence on the world of Dungeons & Dragons and its various media. Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman are the writers and gamemasters who fleshed out the Dragonlance setting after its creation by Hickman and his wife, Laura. Co-authors of all of the early Dragonlance novels, beginning with Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Weis and Hickman managed a sizeable party of characters throughout their tales, including perhaps their most popular creation, the wizard Raistlin Magere. Anecdotes abound of various gaming sessions as well where they and their coworkers from TSR (D&D’s parent company) would play as the main characters from the Dragonlance novels to aid in more fully developing them.
5. R.A. Salvatore (b. 1959)
Anyone who knows me should have seen this one coming. R.A. Salvatore is the writer who created the Drow ranger Drizzt Do’Urden for the Forgotten Realms setting in 1988, and aided an entire generation in developing a love of fantasy novels and tabletop gaming by extension. Though there have been a few hiccups along the way, Salvatore’s Drizzt novels have been running strong with a dedicated fan following for 30 years; the latest novel, Timeless, comes out this month. Beyond Drizzt, Salvatore has written dozens of other books and even created his own fantasy setting, the world of Corona. The most recent tale set in that world, Child of a Mad God, came out last year. Salvatore, like all the other writers in this list, is worth following.
What do you all think of my selections? Who would you add to this list? Let me know your answers to these questions and others in the comments below! Thank you all for stopping by and reading.
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