Following on from a number of other Bloggers, I've decided to create an Appendix N listing all the gaming and non-gaming influences for my forthcoming campaign. This list is by no-means complete. I'll be working on it over the course of the next few weeks, gradually adding more items until it stand reasonably finished. But for now, here's a sampler:
The Harnmaster Rules and Harn Setting (of course)
Red Box D&D:
My introduction to the hobby.
WFRP 1st edition;
The grim setting, gritty humour, irony and the sheer futility of the characters (my first character was beggar with a walking stick, a bowl, some fleas and nothing else) struggling against something as all encompassing as the settings vision of Chaos has left me with a love of the Old World that none of GW's later meddling could ever completely destroy. I mean, Brettonians on GRAIL QUESTS? Come on.
Another incredibly detailed, well realized setting. I truly think that Harn and Glorantha between them are the main influences on all my gaming campaigns, my fiction writing and my world building. Over the last twenty years, my home-brew setting (200,000 words or so and counting) still aspires to their level of detail.
Artesia RPG and Comics:
A newer setting, Artesia's sexuality, realism, well developed politics and engrossing setting (in turn influenced by such books as Mary Gentle's Ash) are truly inspirational. Alas, the Fusion system leaves a lot to be desired, but there's a lot to be said for rules that list different game effects and protection values for better than two dozen different types of plate armour.
Conan the Barbarian:
The whole film screams “Old School Gaming”. It has everything from a proper party of adventurers, an EHP (Evil High priest), a Wizard, a Quest from a King, A Princess in need of Rescue, a Raise Dead Spell, Player Character Death, Henchmen, Mooks, TWO Evil Temples (including one tower), Giant Snakes and an honest-to-god dungeon. Like it or hate it, you can't deny this film is very Old School.
The Lion in Winter:
Politics and Intrigue involving the family of King Henry II, Eleanor of Acquitaine, and three of their children: Richard the Lionheart, John and Geoffrey of Britanny. Delicious. Demonstrates rather well the danger or “family disputes” over inheritance in a feudal setting. Excellent inspiration for the second half of the campaign (hopefully starting about 7-9th level) when I plan on drawing the characters into politics and the Kaldor Succession Crisis.
Mary Gentle, “Ash”
The story of a female mercenary captain in the late medieval period, Ash melds factual European history with a slight “alternate reality” flavour and a “magic rare” alchemy/ritual based magic system where a company of priests preying for divine intervention really can change the weather. Again, in common with all my influences; gritty, realistic, non-cinematic violence and excellent battle scenes abound.
George R.R. Martin, “A Game of Thrones”
Not as gritty, dark, grim or “realistic” as I first thought (certainly not when compared to the likes of Ash or the Penman books) the world and the politics are still engaging. Some of the characters are a little too stereotypical for my tastes, but when you have a cast as large as George's you can forgive him for relying on tropes a little too often. Still not sure where its going, but the multiple plot lines, intrigues and loose ends very much jibe with my style of writing and Gming.
Erikson, Stephen, “Malazan Books of the Fallen”
A D&D world as it was meant to be, with battles won (or lost) on the strength of magic, mortals with power to rival the gods, evil Empires, brave heroes, prophets, demons, an ancient race of vengeful undead. Divine, animistic and arcane magic. Elves, Orcs, Trolls, Giants and other races all (very convincingly) disguised as something else through the weaving of an authentic seeming culture and language. Dozens of concurrent plot lines, multiple groups of protagonists and antagonists (reminiscent of when a GM runs several different groups of players through the same sandbox campaign at the same time). If anything, the books can be guilty of being too detailed. Subtle hints dropped two or three books before only resolve themselves into answers much later (and often involve two or three different groups of protagonists stumbling o to different facts, allowing you, the reader, to peace together the truth while leaving most of the characters stumbling around in the dark.
Bedlam. Simply wonderful, marvellous, engrossing, engaging bedlam. What George was aiming for (but never quite suceeded in reaching).
Sunne in Splendour (Richard the III) is a little too “late” in the Medieval period for the true “Old School” feel. But “When Christ and his Saints slept” covers the Anarchy Period (the war between Stephen and Empress Matilda), “The Devils Brood” covers the reign of Henry II and the various civil wars his sons and wife fought against him (ties in nicely with the Lion in Winter) and “The Reckoning” covers the reign of Edward I (of Braveheart fame). All very well researched and historically accurate with a gritty, old school feel. Fantasy fucking 'nam? Try seeing how frequently important figures dropped like flies for silly mistakes in real life, then complain to me about Fantasy Nam.
“Lords of the White Castle”. Not as gritty and close to the bone as Penman's work, but just as inspirational. This particular book tells the true story of Fulke Fitzwarin, King Johns childhood companion, who ended up fighting a more-or-less single-handed rebellion against John for the better part of his reign. Good example of how a “robber baron” could exist in an otherwise lawful Kingdom, although Chadwick's Fulke is portrayed more as a “wronged man” than a brigand.
I can think of about forty titles that have influenced the realism and authenticity of my gaming/writing style but right about now I'm too damn tired to write a paragraph on any of them. Additions to this appendix will come later, and be announced on the blog.