Tuesday, April 20, 2010

An Annotated Appendix N for Arn

For those who follow, or have occasionally enjoyed, my posts on my current campaign setting--the continent of Arn--I thought the a lists of its inspirations might prove of interest.  There are a myriad of smaller inspirations (including a lot of nonfiction) which have added details to "fill out" the whole, but these are the biggest influences, and the reasons why:

James Branch Cabell. Jurgen, The Silver Stallion, and Figures of Earth (in order of influence). Cabell's ironic tone and mannered, roguish characters, are a big influence on how I portray NPCs in the campaign, and the elaborate, almost farcical cosmology, has some influence on the world's interactions with the multiverse.

Robert E. Howard. While I love Howard's work, he's not a big influence of the current conception of Arn, but "The Hyborian Age" essay was one of the earliest influences, and I can still see its traces.

Fritz Leiber. The Fafhrd & Gray Mouser stories. Beyond the "implied setting" of D&D, these are probably the biggest inspiration. "Ill Met in Lankhmar", "The Adept's Gambit", and "The Cloud of Hate" are probably the most pertinent.

Clark Ashton Smith. The tales of Hyperborea were a strong general inspiration, and to a slightly lesser extent the Zothique cycle stories, particularly "The Back Abbot of Puthuum." The tales of Averoigne were influential on the development of Llys and the Llysans (particularly "The Holiness of Azédarac", "The Disinterment of Venus", and "Mother of Toads").

Aaron AllstonWrath of the Immortals.  Though I not a fan of much of its execution, the basic portrayal and conception of the Mystaran Immortals influenced the Ascended of the world of Arn a great deal.

Frank MentzerBECMI Dungeons & Dragons.  The "end game" of immortality was the inspiration for ascension, and the seed of much of Arnian religion.

TV & Film:
Deadwood (2004).  The almost faux-Shakespearean but profanity laced dialogue of the folk of Deadwood, is how I imagine the urban-dwellers of Arn talking--but never seen to remember to try to replicate in play. Ah well. The mire streets, and ramshackle brothels and taverns of Deadwood also have a place in the Arnian aesthetic.

Reservoir Dogs (1992) and Pulp Fiction (1994).  Tarantino's loquacious rogues are good models of Arnian adventurers.


Unknown said...

Ah yes, the filthy Shakespeare of Deadwood... I only wish there were more of it. What a great model for the frontier town of a fantasy setting. A fantastic base of operations with dozens of interesting and morally ambiguous characters.

netherwerks said...

Very cool. I've managed to miss Deadwood (don't watch much TV plus no cable). I'll have to check the DVD sets out of the local library and watch this. Dirty Shakespeare. Wow. Sounds like fun! Thanks!

I also like your choice in source material. Howard's essay is one of those things that demonstrates how to really flesh-out a background in a way that enables maximum story-telling once it's in-place. And CAS is one of the best there ever was/is/will be.

Trey said...

@Risus: I agree completely. A lot of use for fantasy gaming can be gleaned from watching Deadwood.

@NetherWerks: You should definitely check it out--though be warned, it ends uncompleted. I agree that the Hyborian age is full of little hooks that a lot of things can be hung on--and you'll get no disagreement with me regarding CAS!

Anonymous said...

Cabell is also a favorite of mine and easily overlooked. I first encountered his work years ago when someone on ENWorld was selling a Cabell book for .25. It came as a hardcover, from 1927, in absolutely perfect condition. I have collected many of his books since then. Very interesting reads.

CAS is still my favorite, but Cabell is awesome.

Trey said...

Wow. I'm jealous of the Cabell find! I've got the Ballantine adult fantasy versions of the one's I've got, though I first read Jurgen in college while I was working part time at the library.

I agree with you vis a vis CAS and Cabell, but I feel Cabell's criminally underappreciated today.