Monday, February 15, 2010

The creative spark of fantasy

I have been quite floored recently. First it was my new job, then it was me feeling sick and trying to recuperate from that. Having so much new to cram into my poor brain hasn't left much space for gaming thoughts. Interesting enough I do have quite some time while commuting to read game books. Since I re-read DragonQuest that generated some thoughts worth blogging about. But even with that it feels like I'm too drained to create much these days. Oddly enough I don't feel I've burnt out on blogging, like some of my colleagues in the blogosphere. Frankly, the more I write the more I feel like writing.

But, just bemoaning the fact isn't that much to post about, is it? Well, inspiration and its sources have been mentioned by a few bloggers, like Jim Raggi and Rob Kuntz. I decided to focus somewhat on what makes me tick. Maybe it will serve as some light entertainment.

I remember I once read a piece on mood and atmosphere in an old rpg magazine called Rubicon. That article have been very influential for the way I approach fantasy as a mood. Basically, when I have an idea for a fantasy adventure, I usually think about how to make it be different from real life. One lesson from the article I mentioned was to have a concentrated punch of "fantasy" in your adventure. It's hard to sustain a feeling of otherness for too long, and a short sharp shock might work better. Anyone remember that dreadful Planescape cant? Yeah, talk about getting saturated and sick of it in two minutes.

So, how do you get that spark? For me fantasy is often something grander than the daily grind. I know Rob posted some art that he find inspiring and while I liked some of those pieces I have found that for me the visual stimuli isn't that strong. There is one way I get those flashes of inspiration, though. Take a look at this picture:

(I can't embed it, and that way I might make the artist and his broker happy)

I find that picture very effective for making me think of the fantastic. Take a look at those gigantic statues. Who put them there? Have they been there for millennia, maybe? What are they on guard for? Will they animate and defend those shores against the hulking monstrosities when the end is nigh? Imagine playing a game in a fairly standard setting which to you feels maybe a tad like home, and then see That. You are not in Kansas anymore.

Usually I have no idea what a thing like that means, but any mundane session with something so out of the ordinary like that will be remembered. I would love to be able to design adventures with that kind of punch.


  1. That is a very imagination-kindling image, isn't it? :D

  2. It makes me become very talkative and waxing lyrical. :)


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