What spurs your Imagination


3.5/d20/OGL

Dark Archive

Hey guys I just wanted to start a thread on what inspires your imagination.
For example I just moved to Newfoundland. And the trip made come up with some really cool ideas. For the first time in my life I was on a ferry on open water I saw whales the movement of the ocean and we ran into a huge fogbank. I listened to the foghorn could literally only see a few feet off the bow and just this idea of what could be lurking out in the water gave me great D&D encounter ideas. I also managed to visit Cape Spear the most easterly point in North america, I hiked up the cliff and looked over the atlantic and felt like I was on the edge of the world.
Post how you guys get ideas for games it'll be really cool to hear.


I liked your post! New places are great to get the imagination going. In fact, anything non-fantasy-related is a great source of inspiration... like Michael Moorcock's advise to aspiring fantasy writers: "Read everything you can, everything you can get your hands on, but not fantasy. If you read that and then try to write it, you invariably end up with a substandard, derivative end product." I may have misquoted him somewhat, but that was the gist of it.


I also tend to get a lot of inspiration while on vacation to various places, and from reading historical, anthropological, and other nonfiction books. One unusual source of inspiration for adventures I use is a tarot deck. I do a single spread to give me ideas for the main plot, then I do secondary readings for the main characters in my plot. Some of my best adventures were written this way, I find the randomness of the cards makes me break out of my usual ruts and think in unusual ways.


For plot lines and character motivations I find alot of inspiration from the news and politics. Seeing a personality on TV or a show that may not be fantasy related sometimes sparks me as well. I think to myself "wow, that would work great in a campaign".

Visuals also to an extent, though they are more for my personal imagination of how a place or setting looks in my minds eye. I recently visted some Mayan ruins in Guatemala and got a real feeling and sense of the "ruined civilization" setting that often crops up in D&D.

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

I enjoy using politics and intrigue in my games, so I can usually glean inspiration from watching/reading the news.


Well, I read a lot and get some ideas from the books I read but most of what I get from books is a feel of a world and a tone of description (one of my favorites is H.P. Lovecraft).
New places always help me envision locations in a campaign, as does insomnia.

Sovereign Court

Have fun on 'the rock', I've visited Newfoundland a few times, and the raw rugged landscape always made me feel closer to nature then anywhere else I've visited.

Where do I get my inspiration? Everywhere. From life itself. I read a lot, watch a bit of TV, serf the web, see the occasional movie, and when I have lots of time to myself (like when I ride the bus) I think about PCs and NPCs and what motivates them. I love visiting historical sites and museums. If there's a documentary on TV or the web about history I always watch it. I honestly think I take and absorb from everything. I'm sure, for example, that the merchant NPC that tries to sell an old horse to the PCs is a composite of every car dealer I've come across. Good stories are stories that everyone can relate too.

Dark Archive

I've been finding more and more that it's true the more I see and do the better dm I become. For example I moved from Fredericton NB and in the southern part of New Brunswick is an uderground lake. I actually managed to go to it in early early spring before it was open to the public, (the rope was still icy and now I understand the necessity for climb and use rope checks. And seeing the black still water and that my flashlight couldn't see the other side and how distorted sound is down there it really helps me to develop underdark stuff.

Dark Archive

Hey paizo guys what inspires you guys I would love to hear what inspires James Jacobs, Nicholas Logue, Richard Pett, Steve Greer, ...... (O god I don't know if I can name them all without offending anyone)..... Wolfgang Baur, erik Mona, and everyone else I forgot sorry.


My favorite buzz is to spend an evening brainstorming ideas with my friends- especially those who don't game but like genre stuff.


Arctaris wrote:

as does insomnia.

Seriously, I drive for a bakery in the early morning and on the days I should be the most tired I seem to come up with the best stuff. The drive's the same few hours every day, so I'm not getting super-inspired by anything there (although it's a nice drive and I often see cool sunrises towards the end). Seems like lack of sleep plus just time to think about stuff without distractions does me the best.


A brief note, as I must away....

Things that inspire me (maybe more detail later):

1) Museums. Especially museums featuring ancient art, and historical design (tools, furniture, etc...). It helps to see how there's a thread of ideas that runs through history, and aside from being inspirational, if you can learn to incorporate art-as-transmission-of-history-and-information into your games, you'll find your world feels more "real."

2) History books, through all periods, but especially ancient times. I'm inspired by stories of real people overcoming insurmountable odds ( though usually, they didn't). Great ideas for encounters.

3) Geography. Actual places. Going there and looking upon them with your eyes. Seeing what mountains, oceans, hills, volcanos, canyons, whatever, look like first hand can inspire you. Especially if you can tie this in with the first two things, and see how geography shaped and influenced art and history.

4) Religious studies. Up front -- not a believer. However, I'm better read, theologically speaking, than most. Though I don't believe, the story of God (and the other gods) is endlessly fascinating, and can be incorporated in a million different ways into your game.

5) People. People's stories. Nobody is the Bad Guy in their own head. Ever. Evil, evil people sometimes love their wife and children very much. People are endlessly complicated and screwed up. Especially the ones with power. Everybody's story is interesting in some way. Everybody you know, or who ever lived, has some interesting, bizarre, effed-up and utterly unbelievable part of themselves. These things can all be very inspiring for your game.

That's where I draw my inspiration.


Riskbreaker wrote:
Arctaris wrote:

as does insomnia.

Seriously, I drive for a bakery in the early morning and on the days I should be the most tired I seem to come up with the best stuff. The drive's the same few hours every day, so I'm not getting super-inspired by anything there (although it's a nice drive and I often see cool sunrises towards the end). Seems like lack of sleep plus just time to think about stuff without distractions does me the best.

Anecdotally, Thomas Edison used to fall asleep in his chair with a large metal ball in his hand.

He always felt his best ideas came to him as he fell asleep, and he would do this, so that the sound of the ball hitting the floor after he let it go would wake him up while he was still able to remember the ideas that came to him while he was half-dreaming.

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

I'd be a liar if I didn't mention lucid dreaming as a major inspiration for my ideas. Good call.

Sovereign Court

Biographies. Histories. Historical fiction. Alchohol. Music. Jogging and music. Visiting parts of the city I always pass by but never through.


Reading, new places, lucid dreaming, conversation.

I've had a little trouble with the lucid dreaming since becoming a parent, though. Actually, I've had a little trouble with all of the above, now that I think about it.


Sean, Minister of KtSP wrote:


Anecdotally, Thomas Edison used to fall asleep in his chair with a large metal ball in his hand.

He always felt his best ideas came to him as he fell asleep, and he would do this, so that the sound of the ball hitting the floor after he let it go would wake him up while he was still able to remember the ideas that came to him while he was half-dreaming.

That is incredible.


I have found History Channel and History International Channel, spurs my imagination. There are tons of plots and schemes that can be found in the programs on these channels. They have programs that explore the Mayan underworld, medevial castles, criminal enterprises in modern Russia, military campaigns in ancient China, pre historic Polyenesian exploration, dragons, griffons, heaven, hell, christianity, roman pagnism, islam and the big bang.

Man, History and History International Channels ar full of programing to inspire any GM of any game.

CHECK IT OUT!


I was reminded this morning of another time in which good ideas pop into my head: showers.

Dark Archive

Let me see so far we have
-Vacations
-Long drives
-History books (and or the history channel)
-Showers
-The dreaming state just before sleep
-Long walks
-Books in general
Thats lots cool stuff, anymore ideas


Lucid dreaming is not the "dreaming state just before sleep".

It means a full REM state dream in which you are conscious, aware of the fact that you are in a dream. It is quite a remarkable thing and there are ways to achieve it if you guys are interested.

Look it up on the net. If you have the mind for it (you start with a little self discipline and ritual), it is better than gaming.


not sure; guess life; I have been to a whole bunch of countries; lived around the world; have a classical education; prolly read 3 or 4 books a week most times; been playing for nearly 30 years; I never run out of ideas for me or for anyone who asks me for an adventure; can sit and write a short dungeon; long adventure; or entire campaign with numerous plots and sub plots at will and believe I have demonstrated such in many posts over the last couple years.


Kruelaid wrote:

Lucid dreaming is not the "dreaming state just before sleep".

It means a full REM state dream in which you are conscious, aware of the fact that you are in a dream. It is quite a remarkable thing and there are ways to achieve it if you guys are interested.

Look it up on the net. If you have the mind for it (you start with a little self discipline and ritual), it is better than gaming.

I usually only achieve this in the middle of nightmares when my mind goes "wait... this is BS I'm dreaming aren't I" from that point it's easy to rearange the dream.

Back on topic:

I find my inspiration when I'm sleep deprived as well, I've written some of my best reports ever at 3:00am and I seem to write faster as well. I think that it comes from the fact that the more tired I get, the harder I find to think/concentrate on more than one thing at a time. This means that my mind really does become one-track as I become tired and allows me to ignore distractions.

The highlands of Scotland which I vacationed to recently also gave me a huge depth amount of resource material for my campaigns; They are amoung the harshest, most stark landscapes Iv've ever seen.


I think the best source is travel, and I enjoy travel.
Nature - both being in the outdoors and reading about different environments and the creatures in them.
Museums - especially Art Museums (the Metropolitan in NY is my favorite - especially the arms and armor collection, you can't see that collection and not be inspired for your game).
Folklore - History - Books mostly but also the History Channel, Discovery, Travel Channel, National Geographic.
Travel Essays - adventures of real people, but written more like adventures rather than biographies.
Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Martial Arts books and movies - and the Cartoon Network.
Comics, particularly graphic novels.
The miltary - the tactics, training techniques, missions, and weapons, all translate well (IMO) and inspire my games.


Many same things other people have mentioned...going through books about history, religion, culture, society etc helps to understand different cultures and how they work, and maybe come up with interesting and suitably alien cultures of your own...anyway good jump to understand that "there are people who don't think like I do" which is solid basis for playing and running RPGs.

And as Sean said, nobody (except occasional wacko) thinks she or he is evil, everyone has at least some explanation to why they are doing something...


3-5 Percocet, a six pack of red bull and a deaf old man scrapping a rusty metal rake on a chalk board...

Fanasty artwork its speaks thousands upon thousands of words.

check out Red Hell!
[[http://www.chrisachilleos.co.uk/main/gallerie/fantasy/fantasy.html]]

Liberty's Edge

Most of my inspiration for settings I get from books, televison and film. The current homebrew campaign setting I'm using is an amalgamation of the Dune novels (religion/some culture/nefarious multigenerational plots), the mini-series Rome (politics, tech level, culture), Greek and Roman myth (monsters, legends, gods, culutre) and the movie 300 (although I contend that Frank Miller totally ripped off the mood and feel of my world for his movie ;) ). I also borrowed ideas from the Discovery Channel when they ran that series on life on other worlds.

I like to cherry pick ideas that I like from other campaign settings as well. I loved a lot of the material presented in Eberron, but hated the campaign setting itself. I ended up lifting the artificer, the neat new races, and the feats/spells.

Adventures are pretty much right out of Dungeon (AoW), with alterations to suit the themes of my campaign setting. Thanks again, Paizo Golem! You make one of the toughest parts of being a DM easy!

Sovereign Court Contributor

I get a lot of inspiration from these boards. I've had two articles published by Paizo, and both of them were inspired by discussions I had online, one here, and the other on the WotC boards.

In general though, I have a technigue I often use to force inspiration. Basically I try and combine two seemingly unrelated or even contradictory things, and reconcile them.

The boards help with that, because there are so many random conversations, I can get my mind going on multiple subjects, and then pull them together. Plus there's always posts about "do you prefer X or Y?" I look and those and say "How can I have both?"

Travel is another good one, becasue it puts you in a cmparative mind-frame. You see what is diffferent and what is the same. New things are always inspirational on their own, but my best ideas always come from comparing and reconciling two things. So a new place gives me something new to mix with what I've already seen/experienced.

Newfoundland is the only province I haven't seen, although i also haven't seen Iqaluit, Yukon or NWT.

Craig Shackleton,
The Rambling Scribe

Liberty's Edge

Travel reminds me...I flew out to Albuquerque, NM a couple years ago. Never seen a desert with my eyes...it was unreal. It was like another world I was flying over. Mars,...or Athas.


Movies; Even after watching a good Star Wars or a Lord of the Rings for the hundredth time I still get new ideas. There's something in those action/adventure films that sparks that ligh bulb inside my head.

Music; Put together me, a blank sheet of paper, a pencil, an eraser, and a new age or movie soundtrack CD and you've got an automatic story generator.

Bike rides; I went bike-riding in countryside trails about a couple of hundred miles north of Montreal. The forest-filled hills and mountains got my imagination going in full speed. Sort of reminded me of The Last of the Mohicans.

The Subway; I find that I get some of my best ideas going to and comming home from work in the subway. I guess just sitting there with nothing to do for about an hour (till you get to where you're going) gives you no other choice but to think up stuff.

Drawing; Sometimes I come up with the weirdest stuff when I draw. I've based entire campaigns on drawings that just came out of nowhere.

Of course, there's books, TV, dreams, action figures, posters... Even the most insignificant conversation with a co-worker can spark an idea for an adventure or an NPC. I guess that brain of mine just never stops...

Ultradan

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