Saturday, June 28, 2008

Lamentations of the Media Influences

OK, I'll bite. James of LotFP fame round these parts of the blogosphere has issued a challenge for us Blognards to relate the media influences that have helped shape our campaigns.

This is a particularly difficult challenge for me to participate in. I like to think that most of my dreams, visions and style are actually my own. No, I have to admit that I'm not that particularly original, though, when it comes right down to it. That said, I should still be able to look back and find my personal seeds of inspiration.

First let me say that the inspirations from one campaign to the next have certainly changed. I'm assuming that when James says campaign, he means campaign world, the actual 'make believe' settings that the campaigns themselves take place.

To quote:

So... I challenge the role-playing blogosphere (and I know you are reading... :P) to name the primary influences in your personal game, so we get a flavor not of what set of rules you decide to use, but what kind of game people can expect to play with you! Minimum five. No maximum. Plus include what people might assume influences you that you actually reject. Bonus points for detail and explanation!

Luckily for me there is no upper maximum, because much like my pet projects here at Ye Auld Grog 'n Blog, I'm ALL over the place.

Solstice Influences:

Robert E. Howard: More so now than ever, Howard is influencing my D&D stuff. Although Of Fortunes & Fools has been impacted primarily by the Lovecraftian, weird Howard yarns, and Bran Mak Morn’s dark feel, I am working on another campaign world/setting that is a Bronze Age Post Cataclysm blend that will be all Howard and this next guy:

HP Lovecraft: My favorite author. I go way out of my way to make sure that there is always something weird, alien, foreboding and mysterious just lurking beyond waking perception. Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath heavily influenced my last major D&D campaign, Antholerin, which involved extensive dream adventures. Sham, the sentient golem, and his dungeon called Sham’s Furnace, played a major part in that campaign. Yep, the name later evolved into my internet moniker.

Michael Moorcock: Elric, Corum, Cornelius, the Dancers at the End of Time all influenced my early 80’s campaigns. Moorcock knew how to spin some post-pulp yarns, and as a teenager, I loved them all. Some of Moorcock’s stuff was highly experimental and over the top, and I think this attitude bled over into my own creative undertakings. It’s still there to this day.

Frank Frazetta: If you want to see what Solsctice 'looks' like, this is it. Grim, gritty, bloody, merciless, unforgiving. Photoshop a Gnome in here and there and that's Solstice. Gnomes with attitude...accompanied by busty slave girls in chains. My Gnomes are badass. With pointy red caps.

Edgar Allan Poe: Also figured heavily into my Antholerin campaign, to the point that one particular Sphinx in the game would quote, verbatim, some of Poe’s works, using them in riddles. The feel and mood that Poe could set was amazing, and his writing will always be named as a major influence upon my D&D creations.

L. Sprague DeCamp: I love love love me some old L. Sprague DeCamp fantasy, in particular his Harold Shea (collaborated with Fletcher Pratt) and Jorian novels. I think at one time DeCamp was a major impact on my campaigns, he's still there, just not as vocal. DeCamp is often more known for his Conan hacks than the aforementioned stories, some of which are fine pieces of fantasy as well, but I think he let his style become restricted in Hyboria with Conan. DeCamp was certainly one of Howard’s biggest fans.

Ray Harryhausen: Jason and the Argonauts, the three Sinbad movies, and Clash of the Titans. What youngster could watch these epics of stop motion awesomeness and not be inspired? Harryhausen’s Skeletons are the gold standard, and what I have always imagined Skeletons acted like in my own campaigns.

Stan Lee: I grew up with Marvel Comics. I do believe I buy into the old Stan Lee method of the downtrodden becoming the heroes. Life was never all wine and roses in the Marvel Universe, and all of the heroes are fallible. No mention of Marvel would be complete, for me, without the names Steve Ditko and Frank Miller. Those mental images still often spark the imagination.

Dave Hargrave: The lesson I learned from playing so much with the Arduin stuff back in the early 80’s was that Greyhawk was not the end-all-be-all of D&D. The possibilities were limitless, and the more inventive, the better. Balance be damned. Well, I tend to bring a lot more balance these days, but I love some over the top ideas when they fit into the campaign and aren’t forced.

Not So Much:

While I am a fan of the following authors, they influence my games either less and less these days, or not at all:

JRR Tolkien, Stephen R. Donaldson, Terry Brooks, RA Salvatore, CS Lewis, Lewis Carroll.

I like their stuff, and there’s more than enough there to make some fabulous D&D campaign settings from, but not in Solstice.

Might some of their influence creep in, unbeknownst to me? Certainly. Because the longer I sit here and think about it, the more and more I realize that after 41 years of reading books and watching movies, I cannot even begin to truly narrow down my inspirations. There are simply too many to name.

But the above list is a fair attempt to do so.

~Sham, Quixotic Referee

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