Dust Pan Game Resource Pages

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Genre Touchstones indicate launching off points, not unoriginal ideas


The other day I read this:
Over at Dyver's campaign's blog.
I read a lot of the articles on Dyver's, the sheer volume of posts that Charles puts out is pretty amazing, I highly suggest his blog it's well written and entertaining. But that plug is besides the point.

The article is about being original, and generally boils down to no one writes adventures or games or anything really in a vacuum. It's almost impossible to be wholly original. Everyone is influenced in some way by their precursors. I totally agree.

I am going to add my own input as a dovetail to what he already wrote so well.

I think being less than original is a benefit to the players and the game as a whole.
In our hobby there are touch stones. Examples could include Tolkein, Lieber, Lovecraft, and a many other authors. More recently the works of the hobby progenitors, such as Dragonlance, Blackmoor, Forgotten Realms and the like can be sighted as influences a generation of gamers grew up with.
(Lest I forget Sky realms of Jorune, how cool was that?)

When I describe an Orc in my game, I am sure each player at the table has a different view of orc in their minds eye. One might be thinking of a a green skin pig faced warrior like say Games workshop's interpretation, or a savage twisted warrior which has been represented in recent films. In the end they all trace back some how to the subhuman brute represented in The Lord of The Rings trilogy. 

I don't go through the trouble of re inventing the wheel with orcs in the name of being original.
Same can be said for Zombies, dragons and any number of fantasy game tropes.

Where I am going with my point is this. Using terms and imagery from sources common in your chosen genre, helps keep every one on the same page, and provide some context for what ever insanity the GM injects next. With out that context things can get pretty sketchy if not handled with a light touch.

Originality comes form how those touchstone images and concepts are used.
Take Mike Evans “Hubris” campaign setting:
I have linked to his work  on this blog before, why? I link to it because I think what he is up to is really cool. He is taking (from my observations, If I am wrong I apologize) symbolism, imagery and concepts form all over mythology and gaming and knitting them together into a very original and cool setting. Only an ass hole would look at what he is doing and say , “Gorgons huh? You took that from clash of the titans right?" His shit is different and original even if the concept of  a “Gorogon” is not.

When as GM's we introduce an idea into our game it doesn't matter if The Simpsons did it on episode 354 “Thank God, It's Doomsday” as long as once we put that idea on the table we do something original with it. We use the touchstone imagery much as Mike Evans has, as a springboard to the awesome.

Hope you enjoyed the blog, 
Thank you for reading,
Comments as always are welcome.



PS: (For the record the original map of my long standing fantasy campaign Aleria was a direct rip off of middle earth but WTF I first drew it in Jr. High school. Also J.R.R. with all due respect never had a flying ship with it's whole gnome crew hung dead and rotting by necks off the deck rail by a Mindflayer mage, and at one point, in my game that was a thing.)