|Only once a year, when the sky fills with blazing stars, may the Mine of Shadows Past be explored.|
I have not read many of the books from Appendix N. Many, in fact, hold little appeal due to both my ignorance and personal taste. As a dungeon master, however, I may find inspiration in whatever I read, and so, create my own appendix n, as it were, as I read literature of my own choosing. Typically I read literature (excluding blogs, modules, newspapers, and magazines) three or four hours a week. Perhaps this year I can organize myself to increase this embarrassingly low number. My father is a librarian and both my parents and grandparents read to me every day from my infancy (or so I’m told) through elementary school (which I can, with pleasure, recall in vivid detail). To this day, one of my life rules I have followed consistently is to take a book with me everywhere I go.
Various pieces of literature have provided both direct and indirect inspiration. A few recent ones include Dan Simmon’s Song of Kali, Harlan Ellison’s anthology Dangerous Visions, and Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. I highly recommend the last. Each, however, have provided inspiration for maps, NPCs, story hooks, items, and spells. Currently, I’m reading Joseph Conrad’s excellent Nostromo and am now brimming with ideas to develop. Namely, a haunted mine.
In Nostromo, Conrad describes a silver mine in which the workers were so oppressed and driven by the owners that many died.
“… it’s [the mine] yield had been paid for in its own weight of human bones. Whole tribes of Indians had perished in the exploitation; and then the mine was abandoned, since with this primitive method it had ceased to make a profitable return, no matter how many corpses were thrown into its maw. Then it became forgotten.”
What an excellent source of dark inspiration for a mine, long forgotten, and now haunted by the hundreds of extinct natives once forced to work its depleted depths!