That sounds great @MxKit! Will check these out
I’d like to see more music on Appendix N. I love novels and other media and I have a long list of inspirations there but music seems to be missing at the moment from the thread!
I have a playlist for every game I design, every game I run, games I play in and even particular episodes of games.
At the moment I just designed an entire game in a couple of hours just on the basis of this song:
Playlists are a really great way for me to really feel my way into a game/genre, to conjour up a sense of the world that I can draw on when I describe things and to keep me inspired.
Oh heck yes!
My gaming related listening currently consists largely of various tapes from Heimat der Katastrophe label. Several of them feature little OSR type micro adventure modules. A bit obvious perhaps but some pretty enjoyable dungeon synth stuff!
Holy cow – the art and design on those is so cool, even the ones that don’t have dungeons!
Two series that I keep returning to and wish I could find gamers who really wanted to dig into them:
- The Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold. Bujold writes difficult/unlikely/emotionally and socially broken protagonists that I wish were easier to create in action-oriented games without point-buy driven merits and flaws. The novels are space opera, driven by the need to solve difficult, explosive situations without resorting to violent measures, and I’d love to see that sort of thinking in more trad-style games.
- The Riverside series by Ellen Kushner. Debauchery and duels in a fictional setting resembling regency England (or a more decadent version of the Commonwealth?). Violence is dangerous (though frequently not deadly it does end careers and start lifelong political grudges), and while magic is almost unheard of in the setting, it is strange and extremely powerful when it does rear its head.
There’s also a lot of post-Lovecraftian work I’m getting a lot of inspiration from lately for cosmic fantasy (that’s not just cosmic horror): Kij Baker’s “The Dreamquest of Vellit Boe,” Victor LaValle’s “The Ballad of Black Tom,” and Waldrop and Utley’s “Black as the Pit from Pole to Pole.”
Cosmic fantasy high-five! I’d love to know what you’re working on that falls into that category, there’s nowhere near enough of it imo.
You might want to check out Girl Underground - the kickstarter finished recently, and it is exactly about this “person going somewhere else” trope.
On that note, I’ll name the Neverending Story by Michael Ende.
There is just so much there about what stories are and why they matter and where the central conflict is (and that is what the movie gets totally wrong) - I think it will influence all stories I tell, ever.
I think I’ll add The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter - I’m just re-reading it and it is so rich and layered. It is pretty heteronormative (although when it was written it was groundbreaking) so needs a health warning on that front. But the framing and the language are awesome for Bluebeard’s Bride horror and similar games.
I’d love to see more of it myself. There’s a strong sense of it in Hill Cantons setting from Hydra, especially in the sense of a group of everyday people living and adventuring in a world where minor deities are always stomping around, sometimes with some vague, half-formed benevolent intentions (Medved in Slumbering Ursine Dunes), but I think it’s in a lot of strong OSR material, where people have to negotiate their lives with the whims of much larger, more powerful beings. There’s also the more Planescape/Spelljammer aesthetic in which the PCs are the weird assemblage of a vast cosmos that’s found itself forced together.
I remember my parents going to see the Company of Wolves when it came out and I think I tried to convince them to take me to the cinema with them because kids could definitely watch a film about Red Riding Hood but they assured me that it was for grown-ups and when I read the Bloody Chamber a few years later I think that they were probably right!
Reading Angela Carter introduced me to Marina Warner’s books, which made a big impression on me. Lots of explorations of gender, magic and grotesque figures in mythology, folklore and fairy tales.
I love the aesthetic of Drugs and Wires - it is very me when it comes to cyberpunk flavor. If you like some retropunk, or want to see a non Americentric cyberpunk - you can do much worse than this (and it is free to read online!):
What are some visual inspirations for your games?
Much of the early rpg stuff I encountered featured artwork by John Blanche, Gary Chalk and Ian Miller (below). I guess it’s all very much of its time but I still love stuff from this era, before fantasy art became trapped in amber.
In terms of recent work, one of my favourites is Evlyn Moreau, whose work is beautifully weird and whimsical.
That almost grown-up, self indulgent, yearning vibe of Cigarettes After Sex for Monsterhearts…
“C’mon and haunt me. I know you want me.”
Ah… I still get bleed from my Hollow from last year from these.
Yeah, commissioning art for your OCs is certainly a companion adventure all on its own…
“I will gladly break my heart for you”
I’ve been carefully curating two Spotify playlists for an upcoming Spirit of '77 game I’m planning. (One of pop-music, and one of 1970s movie/TV score instrumental background/cue music.)
And I’ve been kicking around writing an adventure where everything is based on song titles/lyrics from a particular band or genre… The one I’ve been contemplating the most is “Tales From the Mars Hotel”: a '70s retro-scifi game based on Grateful Dead songs. At some point, the action would move to a space station called “Terrapin Station”…
The Swordbreaker podcast is worth a listen just for the theme song.
Such a great book! It along with In the Dust of This Planet helped me get into the horror genre in general, but particularly in rpgs.
A not inconsiderable chunk of the cosmology behind my WIP setting came from hearing Powerslave just as I was about to fall asleep – the creepy moan at the start jolted me awake in terror, and my brain synthesized the lyrics into how some of the major hidden movers and shakers wound up conducting their reign of terror.
Anyway I wrote up a big ol’ Appendix N listing for Legacy of the Bieth here.
Weirdstone of Brisingamen—inverse portal fantasy bled from genuine Cheshire folklore.
The dogleg section especially is incredible for dungeoncrawls and makes House of Leaves look positively agoraphobic!
I love Alan Garner’s books!
As a kid, Weirdstone and the Moon of Gomrath were some of my favourites. As a young adult I really enjoyed the Owl Service. Red Shift sort of confused me but again it made a strong impression. I got Boneland when it came out and it’s a great adult sequel to Weirdstone and Gomrath.
The powerful psychogeometry at work in his tales of Alderley Edge made my surrounding countryside seem far more magical than Narnia or Middle Earth to me.
I used to think the IP I most want the licence to is Dredd. I now want to make a Garner RPG