Friday, July 15, 2011

Nautical Fantasy Inspirations

The maritime musings over at the Hill Cantons got me to thinking about inspirations for nautical fantasy games.  What follows is pretty much off the top of my head and it sticks to nautical or sea- themed fantasy (so no Horatio Hornblower or Treasure Island here), but I figure its a backbone to start with.

Classical Literature:
The Odyssey
One Thousand and One Nights. Particularly the Sinbad stories, of course.

Modern Literature:
Alan Cole and Chris Bunch. The Anteros series.
Leigh Brackett. The Sword of Rhiannon, “The Enchantress of Venus,” and “The Moon that Vanished.” These last two are on (or under) the strange gaseous seas of Venus, but I think that only adds to their exotic inspiration value.
Robert E. Howard. Conan stories: “Pool of the Black One,” “Queen of the Black Coast,” and “The Black Stranger.”
William Hope Hodgson. The Boats of the "Glen Carrig" and other nautical horror stories. "The Derelict" and "The Voice in the Night" are probably my favorites.
Ursula K. LeGuin. A Wizard of Earthsea.
Fritz Leiber. From the tales of Fafhrd and Gray Mouser: “Their Mistress, the Sea,” “When the Sea-King’s Away,” “Trapped in the Sea of Stars,” and “The Frost Mostreme.”
C.S. Lewis. The Voyage of the Dawn-Treader.
Abraham Merritt. The Ship of Ishtar.
China Mieville. The Scar.
Tim Powers. On Stranger Tides.
Cherie Priest. Fathom.
Karl Edward Wagner. “In the Wake of Night.” Okay, only a fragment of this exists, but the idea of the story is great.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954). The original novel might be inspirational, too, but its this films visuals that really capture the imagination.
Jason and the Argonauts (1963).
King Kong (the 1933 and 2005).
The Lost Continent (1968).
Pirates of the Caribbean series.
The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1974), Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977).

Pirates of Dark Water (1991).
One Piece. Which is also a manga.


Anonymous said...

Interesting post!

Padre said...

Sea adventures are some of the most enjoyable sessions to run. Having you own ship is at times better than even having your own fortress. Thanks for the post!

Timothy Paul Schaefer said...

I have a couple Al-Qadim island hopping adventures I have yet to run.
I like the idea of an Arabian Nights background.
The sinbad movies with the harryhausen are classics!

The Angry Lurker said...

I had seen most of the movies anyway but the most of the books were a revelation.

Sean Robson said...

Great list; I have a real nautical fetish and have a compulsion for collecting pirate-themed miniatures.

In addition to the books you've listed I also strongly recommend these two recent books:

Red Seas Under Red Skies, the second book in Scott Lynch's outstanding Locke Lamora series, in which protagonists Locke and Jean take to the seas as pirates.

The Red Wolf Conspiracy, by Robert Redick, is set on the enormous six-hundred-year-old Imperial Merchant Ship, Chathrand and the story, to quote the caption is about: Six hundred sailors. Fifty passengers. Eleven blood vendettas. Ten centuries of black magic. One enchanted ship. Three months to seal the peace or lose it forever to a madman's conspiracy.

Trey said...

Thanks guys

@Sean - I completely forget about Red Seas Under Red Skies! The Red Wolf Conspiracy I have never heard of, but it sounds intriquing.

Jeremy Duncan said...

I don't know if it counts, but there's a good deal of nautical action in Talbot Mundy's Tros of Samothrace. Now that I think about it, I need to sit down and finish the thing.

Trey said...

Not quite fantasy, but a good suggestion for nautical adventure and inspiration! One of REH's biggest influences.

NakiaPope said...

Sean beat me to ,Red Seas Under Red Skies. Lynch's Lies of Locke Lamora could also be used -- cool port city, merchant guilds, retired pirates, etc

Needles said...

The Ghost Pirates William Hope Hodgeson - This is one of his greats!

Justin S. Davis said...

One of my secret wishes as a GM is to one day run an Arabian Nights-style campaign, with plenty of nautical action and Harryhausen-esque beasties.

Trey said...

@Needles - That is a good one.

@Justin - I've had the same thought before, but never seen to pull it off. After the publication of the "Maritime Adventures" issue of Dragon, I did run quite a few ocean-going games, being primarily influenced by Howard. Leiber, and Harryhausen as I was at that point.

Porky said...

I'd add Conrad too. The locations are exotic still to the audience of the time, and as historical now removed, and I always feel there's a lot hidden beneath the surface. The presentational devices really play on the subjectivity of experience, pushing the multiverse idea.

Dariel said...

My Sea Rovers of Syrene setting was built for picaresque voyaging adventures, with an Arabian Nights-themed milieu. Feel free to use whatever you find in here for your game. :) I eventually plan to release Syrene as a pdf.

Trey said...

@Dariel - Good stuff. Thanks for the link.