Monday, December 8, 2014

My Various Appendices N

Some G+ discussion last week reminded me that my D&D inspirations haven't remained constant over the time I've played. Not only have I discovered new media and new influences, but playing the game itself shaped what I found most inspirational. To but them all in a single list would suggest an equivalence across time that never really existed. Here's my stab at personal gaming archeology:

The Platinum Age
It's hard to remember my earliest inspirations completely, but I suspect they relied heavily on the small amount of fantasy I had been exposed to. Interestingly, D&D related material figured in from the beginning: my first AD&D character (the first version of D&D I ever played) was an elven fighter/magic-user who wielded the Sword of the Magus--like Landron, the hero of the D&D Endless Quest book, Mountain of Mirrors in 1982. In his adventures, he gained a pegasus mount and medusa's head, suggesting Clash of the Titans figured strongly in my cousin the DM's mind and probably my own. Beyond that, I suspect Bullfinch's Mythology, Sidney Lanier's The Boy's King Arthur (more for illustrations by N.C. Wyeth), and Steinbeck's The Acts of King Arthur loomed large. Even more important was probably Tolkein's work, The Chronicles of Prydain,  Hawk the Slayer, and the TV fantasy Wizards & Warriors.

The Golden Age
By 5th grade, I had moved into DMing Basic D&D. By this point, Sword & Sorcery played a bigger role, mostly as filtered through comics like Warlord and Savage Sword of Conan, and barbarians films like Conan the Barbarian. The pulp stories that inspired those sorts of comics followed. The first setting I created in junior high was written up in a style similar to the Greyhawk boxset but clearly following the Hyborian Age model as particularly outlined in The Official Handbook of the Conan Universe. Country names borrowed from Howard appear (Argos, Shem, The Black Coast), mixed with a dinosaur and volcano-filled savage land similar to the one inhabited by Ka-Zar. The center of play was a sprawling, decadent city--essentially Lankhmar by another name.

The Silver Age
High school saw a break in playing D&D. My group moved on to other games: various superhero games, Shadowrun, a little bit of Rifts. Our D&D campaign shifted to GURPS where the inspirations were much as they were before, though real history began to influence me more, as did the gritty look of the Warhammer Fantasy rpg. Then, their was a break for college, where I played not a single fantasy rpg.

Joining an old high school friend's gaming group in 1995 after college, I was under the sway of the resurgence of epic fantasy--a subgenre I had mostly avoided before, besides Tolkein. Tad Williams Memory, Sorrow & Thorn was all over the world my friend and I co-created, though there was also a bit of Jordan's Wheel of Time, and more than a little of the Known World Gazetteers.

By the time that campaign indeed, it was 1996 and my gaming took another long break for medical school and a couple of years of residency, allowing me to skip third edition in all its iterations. While my return to gaming predates this blog by a few years, the archive here is as good a chronicle as any of where my head has been since.


Tallgeese said...

That's a very interesting chronology, and I like the break with a transpersonal, transhistorical Appendix N.

So it looks like TH White and Moorcock weren't huge influences on you, eh?

The Official Handbook of the Conan Universe is a product I should have owned. I can even see how it's format might be an influence on Strange Stars!

Trey said...

Moorcock was an influence, I'm sure, though not a big one in the sense that I can't point to anything directly attributable to his work. I believe I swiped some things for individual adventures.

I have never read TH White, actually.

Aos said...

I find Moorcock's fantasy limp and uninspired, personally. Interesting list. My inspirations have shifted over time as well, moving away from JRRT/imitators to more S&S/S&P. My archaeology background is probably the most pervasive influence, however.

Trey said...

I have more nonfiction inspiration than the above list suggests, too. I left it off because of trying to follow the AppendiX N model, but also because their are fewer specific works and more general topic areas there.

Aos said...

I totally understand, non fiction is definitely harder to point to in this regard.