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  • In the introductory adventure included in the Basic D&D Dungeon Master's Rulebook, the PCs can encounter a magical bed that puts anyone who lies on it to sleep. However, if someone puts a pea under the sleeping person they'll wake up, a reference to the Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tale The Princess and the Pea.
  • 1st Edition Advanced D&D:
    • The default orcish pantheon includes deities whose holy symbols were a fiery eye and a white hand.
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    • The displacer beast, a cat-like creature with tentacles coming out of its shoulders, is loosely based on a similar creature called the coeurl from The Voyage of the Space Beagle. The xill, a race of four-armed marauders that lay their eggs in still-living victims, are similarly inspired by the ixtl from the same novel.
    • The derro, a race of degenerate human/dwarf hybrids, are inspired by the Deros, a race of Ultraterrestrials from the writings of Richard Sharpe Shaver.
    • Trolls, with their Healing Factor, are taken from Three Hearts and Three Lions by Poul Anderson.
    • The homunculus, both in appearance and method of construction, comes from The Golden Voyage of Sinbad.
    • The roper's look and immunity to electricity are from The Green Slime.
    • While the creature has deeper origins in Indian myth and religion, the game's particular depiction of rakshasas comes from Kolchak: The Night Stalker, where one was a Monster of the Week.
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    • Many classes can be traced to popular fantasy characters—the ranger is based on Aragorn, the thief is the Gray Mouser, the barbarian is Conan, the paladin is Holger Carlsen, and so on.
    • The whole "fire and forget" method of spellcasting is taken from the works of Jack Vance. Other Vancian lifts include the githyanki race (In Name Only), ioun stones, the robe of eyes, the prismatic spray spell, and the imprisonment spell (based on the Spell of Forlorn Encystment).
    • The game's original Order Versus Chaos paradigm borrows heavily from the works of Poul Anderson's Three Hearts and Three Lions (the same source as trolls) and Michael Moorcock's The Elric Saga stories.
    • Though Gary Gygax denied heavy influence from The Lord of the Rings, the original ''D&D' game borrows a lot of elements all the same: hobbits (later re-named "halflings"), wights, orcs and goblins, mithril (later re-named "mithral"), balrogs (re-named "Type VI demons," then later re-named "balors"), ents (re-named "treants"), and so on.
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    • The iconic mind flayer is inspired by the cover of Brian Lumley's novel, The Burrowers Beneath.
    • The first World of Greyhawk boxed set features rules for weather conditions. One of them states that there's a small chance that PCs sucked up into a tornado will be shunted to one of several demi-planes within the Ethereal Plane.
    • The Sea Zombie in Greyhawk Adventures is based on the zombies/ghosts in John Carpenter's film The Fog. They travel inland under the cover of fog, and the picture has a Sea Zombie breaking through a door with a boathook, a technique used by the ghost/zombies in the movie.
    • In the Player's Handbook, the description of the magic mouth spell mentions "groat clusters" (a reference to a Mess on a Plate in a Firesign Theatre skit).
    • One of the characters in a sample encounter in the Dungeon Master's Guide is named Gutboy Barrelhouse; this comes from the R. A. Lafferty story "Nine Hundred Grandmothers".
    • The various giant animals included in the game since its inception just happen to be exactly the right size to match whatever Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever films or books were best-known at the time, from giant ants straight out of Them! to giant rats fresh from James Herbert's debut novel.
  • 1st Edition and Classic D&D adventures:
    • DA1 Adventures in Blackmoor: Moorcok (Michael Moorcock) and two horses: Círdan (Círdan the Shipwright) and Bill (the pony), both from The Lord of the Rings
    • EX1 Dungeonland, which is based on Alice in Wonderland, has the character Charldos (CHARles Lutwidge DOdgSon, Lewis Carroll's real name).
    • GAZ3 The Principalities of Glantri: "Freeze! Glantri Vice!" (Miami Vice), diamond loyalty forehead implant (Dune's Suk Doctor diamond forehead tattoo).
    • H2 Mines of Bloodstone: Ruggedo the Gnome King (from the Oz series).
    • H3 Bloodstone Wars: Adair and Arthur (Norm and Cliff from Cheers)
    • I3 Pharaoh: "My name is Maniozimus." ("My name is Ozymandias", from the Percy Bysshe Shelley poem "Ozymandias"),
    • I9 Day of Al'Akbar: baking brownies Kieb-Lar and Kieb-Lor (the Keebler elves)
    • I12 Egg of the Phoenix: Mikael Gorchaboff (Mikhail Gorbachev), Fflanidor Fflem (Fflewddur Fflam in the The Chronicles of Prydain) and Mersyn Olan (actor Merlin Olsen)
    • I13 Adventure Pack I, adventure "The Weird Woods of Baron Orchid". A sign says "I'd turn back if I were you", a reference to the sign in the woods near the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.
    • IM3 The Best of Intentions: The Warren (Paranoia's Alpha Complex) and Yertle the turtle king (from Dr. Seuss)
    • L2 The Assassin's Knot: a dwarf named Gilmi (Gimli in The Lord of the Rings)
    • N4 Treasure Hunt: the Island of Tetris (from the Video Game Tetris)
    • WG7 Castle Greyhawk: The Plane of Silly and Unused Monsters (the Island of Misfit Toys from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer), bats being used to send messages (Mad Monster Party), the three cooks Larifyne, Mowlenhowad and Kurlenshembes (The Three Stooges: Larry Fine, Moe Howard, Jerome "Curly" Howard, and Shemp Howard), Poppinfarsh the Dough Golem (Poppin'Fresh, the Pillsbury Doughboy), The Incredible Bulk, The Amazing Driderman, Professor Why?, Captain Kork, Mees Taspark and "Bones", Indiana Gnome, Captain Cheer Eo, Marvin Grape... the entire thing is one long Hurricane of Puns. Even Gary Gygax gets one, or more accurately a rather vicious Take That!, as "EGG", an ovoid man with a pole-arm fixation.
    • Module X1 The Isle of Dread. The natives who live in the village of Mantru have a deity named Olorin, Lord of the Skies. This is a reference to Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings, whose real name was Olórin when he was a Maiar in Valinor. The natives' defenses that keep dinosaurs out of their peninsula are straight out of the original King Kong.
    • Module X2 Castle Amber:
      • The weird and powerful Amber family members who lived inside the title castle were engaged in constant infighting. They and the castle are inspired by the Amberites and Castle Amber in Roger Zelazny's The Chronicles of Amber series. In the module, one character uses magical Tarot cards. In Zelazny's Amber setting, Amberites use the Trump deck for fortune telling as if it were a Tarot deck. The module also introduces Grab Grass, which can grab hold of creatures; in Zelazny's work, the Courts of Chaos have grass that does the same thing. Also, two encounters in the castle were references to Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Fall of the House of Usher" and the Norwegian fairy tale "The Three Billy Goats Gruff".
      • The characters and situations that appear in the Averoigne segment of the module are based on the Averoigne stories of Clark Ashton Smith.
    • Imagine magazine #8 adventure "Guardian of the Key of Time": The Player Characters may find an intelligent magical shortsword named Mervyn who has the power to cause insanity. He is always depressed and constantly complaining about his lot in life, just like his inspiration, Marvin the Paranoid Android in Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy stories.
  • Module S2 White Plume Mountain introduced Blackrazor, a sentient black sword that consumes souls.
  • 2nd Edition has a few as well:
    • The Island Giant from the Al-Qadim Land of Fate boxed set has one eye, a horn on its head, furry legs, and hooves instead of feet. Its picture looks exactly like the cyclops in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, and it was clearly inspired by that creature.
    • A Dozen and One Adventures:
      • The beautiful pahari (mermaid) Salana has red hair and is forbidden to have any contact with surface dwellers because she is too young. She rebels against this order and tries to learn about their ways, including investigating shipwrecks. She doesn't bother to wear clothes when in human form as she is oblivious to the demands of modesty. Disne's The Little Mermaid, anyone?
    • "Eleven Baneful Gates": In the city of Al-Anwahr there's an inscription on the remains of a statue reading, "I am Azaltin! See my works, ye mighty, and despair!". It's from the Percy Bysshe Shelley poem "Ozymandias".
    • In the Ravenloft adventure "Neither Man Nor Beast", the ship Sunset Empires and her crew are a loose homage to Star Trek: The Original Series.
    • The Masque of the Red Death campaign setting takes its title from the iconic Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death". In the adventure "Red Tide", the PCs can find a statuette of a creature with wings, an obese body and a score of tentacles hanging from its bulbous head. This is a reference to how Cthulhu was portrayed in the Call of Cthulhu game.
    • In the Kara-Tur boxed set, gliders are introduced with the tale of how, while visiting relatives in the countryside, the Shou Lung Emperor saw a young man fly while suspended under a gigantic kite – a story similar to "The Flying Machine" by Ray Bradbury. However, instead of making the choice his counterpart did in the story, he makes the inventor the head of the brand new "Ministry of Glorious Flight" and has him build more and better man-carrying kites (some without strings). He explains to his concerned ministers that if one lone man could build such a device, any of Shou Lung's neighbors could, and so his people had better build the best fliers they can.
    • The Mystara setting has a Wild West-like area called Cirramon County. The ruler is Sir John of the Wayne. In the Princess Ark vignette about the area in Dragon magazine, when the crew see the local sheriff draw his repeating pistol crossbow, they note he's almost faster than his own shadow.
    • The Princess Ark series featured in Dragon magazine is 'packed with Shout Outs, featuring everything from a quartet of chelonian martial artists to a flying-ship duel straight out of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
    • Dungeon magazine #6, "Tortles of the Purple Sage": One of the NPCs is a man named Robison the Crusader, who wears hand-made leather clothing and carries a leather umbrella. Robison has been befriended by a local native with the Sdrawkcab Name Yadirf, who is barefoot. Robison and his friend are a reference to Robinson Crusoe and his native companion Friday.
    • Dungeon magazine #13:
    • Dungeon magazine #22, "Rank Amateurs":
      • One of the monsters is an undead humanoid named Shaman Tanc ("Sherman tank").
      • Monty Python's Flying Circus:
        At the Sign of the Lost Lunch Inn, one of the songs sung in the taproom is "I'm a Humanoid and I'm Okay (I Raid All Night and I Sleep All Day"). This is a reference to the Lumberjack Song, which has very similar lyrics.
        Player Characters can buy a guide to speaking the Glantri language in which all of the phrases are wrong, being improperly translated as insulting and disgusting. This refers to the "Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook" sketch.
        In Shaman Tanc's room is a notice reading "Confessions at 10:00, absolutions at 1:00, inquisitions when no one expects them." This is a reference to the Spanish Inquisition sketch ("No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!").
        The Player Characters will meet a young man named Will Erd, who has 12 pet giant rats. This is a reference to the title character of the movie Willard, who kept pet rats.
      • Monty Python and the Holy Grail: One of the sections (in which the Player Characters must flee) is titled "Run Away! Run Away!" This refers to the scene in the movie where King Arthur's knights flee a killer rabbit while shouting "Run away! Run away!"
    • Dungeon magazine #26, "Nine-Tenths of the Law": The Player Characters will encounter albino alligators living in a pool full of human waste, like a septic tank. The alligators are unwanted pets who were flushed down a drain. This is a reference to the "alligators living in the sewers" Urban Legend.
    • Dungeon magazine #32
      • Adventure "Pearlman's Curiosity". One of the random encounters the Player Characters can have in the town of Grinley Crossing is with two carpenters named Oliver and Stanley. While pounding nails, they hit each other's thumbs and start bickering with each other. This is inspired by the comedy team of Laurel and Hardy (Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy), who often used routines like this in their movies.
      • Adventure "Is There an Elf in the House?" In the torture room there is a stone table with manacles that can hold a victim securely. Above the table is an iron bar with a large blade at the end of it. The bar is attached to a set of pulleys and gears that can cause it to swing back and forth, lower and lower, until the blade hits the victim. This set-up is from the Edgar Allan Poe short story "The Pit and the Pendulum".
    • Dungeon magazine #33 adventure "That Island Charm" involves the PCs being shipwrecked on an island. It includes two references to the TV show Gilligan's Island and one to the Cthulhu Mythos.
      • One sentence in the adventure includes the phrase "...making the others comfortable in their tropic island nest". The ending theme song of the show includes the phrase "to make the others comfortable in the tropic island nest."
      • One of the NPCs on the island is Captain Hale, who is described as being a large friendly man who is a bit of a fool. He deeply mourns his deceased first officer, who he calls "my little buddy". In the show, the Skipper (who has Captain Hale's characteristics) is played by the actor Allan Hale. The Skipper often called Gilligan (his first mate) "little buddy".
      • The adventure includes a marid (monster) named Al-Azif. According to H. P. Lovecraft, Al-Azif is the original Arabic name of the Necronomicon.
    • Dungeon magazine #38, "Horror's Harvest":
      • The PCs can find three books, titled Lady and the Vamp (Lady and the Tramp), 101 Damnations (101 Dalmatians) and Creeping Beauty (Sleeping Beauty).
      • There is a painting in Rook Hill Manor called Bat's Entertainment (the 1970's That's Entertainment films).
    • Dungeon magazine #42 adventure "The Price of Revenge". The Player Characters will encounter a raven who says "Nevermore". This is a reference to the Edgar Allan Poe poem "The Raven", which also has a raven which says "Nevermore" multiple times.
    • Dungeon magazine #43 adventure "King Oleg's Dilemma". The evil Non-Player Character Bjorn Harnotha is said to have the motive " All for one, and more for me." This is a reference to the 1993 film The Three Musketeers (1993), in which the evil Cardinal Richelieu says the line.
    • Dungeon magazine #46, adventure "Dovedale". Some goblin graffiti the PC's can find says "Elfs taste grate/les filing", a reference to the 1980's Miller Lite beer commercials based on "Tastes great/Less filling".
    • Dungeon magazine #47, adventure "Quelkin's Quandry". One of the books in Quelkin's library is Macbreath, "the story of an ambitious red dragon who longs to be king". This is a reference to William Shakespeare's play Macbeth, which has a similar plot.
    • The set bonus for wielding a hammer of thunderbolts while wearing gauntlets of ogre power and a girdle of giant strength is a reference to the panoply of the Norse Mythology deity Thor.
  • 3rd Edition
    • The Pirate Prestige Class is called the "Dread Pirate."
    • Possibly overlapping with Continuity Nod, the ''Player's Handbook II'' and ''Dungeon Master's Guide II'' covers feature artwork that could be called revamps of their AD&D counterparts.
    • On a similar note, the demonstration scenario used to present how the game is played sends the iconic 3e characters through the exact same adventure as was used by the 1st edition DMG for the same purpose. The numbers obtained by each character's and monster's die rolls are the same, although the PCs' 3e stats and abilities are slightly superior and allow a better end result.
    • The Dragon magazine article "The Royal Heralds", describing a spy organisation that could fit into any campaign, gives the commander of the group the name Sir Kell Fleming. "Kell" as in Sir Vernon Kell, the first head of MI-5, and Fleming as in Ian Fleming.
    • The brass golem in Monster Manual 2 is a bull-headed giant made from brass (duh) that is very clearly based on the Minaton from Ray Harryhausen's Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger .
  • 3.5 supplements:
  • Prestige Classes from 3.5:
    • Dread Pirate
    • Drunken Master
    • Ghost Face Killer
    • Shadowmind
    • Vigilante
    • War Hulk
    • The Folchurian Lyrist from Complete Adventurer is essentially an updated version of the first edition bard.
    • The Cavalier and Thief-Acrobat are based on the AD&D v1.5 classes of the same name.
    • The 3.5 Source Book Tome of Magic introduces the Binder class. The class gets its powers by binding various vestiges with seals. While the source of inspiration is obvious many of the vestiges are taken directly from the Ars Goetia, including their appearance, names and seals.
  • 4th Edition:
  • The Forgotten Realms setting has its share. Including this:
    Word of God: Interestingly, Nimbrese have no word for "Wood" or "Forest," because, despite some open meadows and cleared farmlands, they regard all of Nimbral as a place of trees.
    So, in essence, "The Word for World Is Forest" (or vice versa), right?
  • 5th Edition:
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