Way back in June, 2008 +James Raggi came up with a brilliant challenge for every blogger involved in this hobby: ". . . name the primary influences in your personal game, so we get a flavor not of what set of rules you decide to use, but what kind of game people can expect to play with you! Minimum five. No maximum. Plus include what people might assume influences you that you actually reject . . ." (Media Influences).
While I'm very late to the party, I'm joining in nonetheless. Feel free to come along with me if the mood strikes you.
My Gaming Influences
M. John Harrison: In many ways Harrison has a huge influence on how I run Dungeons and Dragons. I strive to create a world that seems to be standing on the ruins of past civilizations; that is haunted by the ghosts of its failures; and hunted by the demons of its present. I've been striving to bring my game up since I first read the Viriconium cycle years ago and I imagine I'll be doing so for the rest of my life.
Thank god for M. John Harrison!
Hunter S. Thompson: Every time that I find myself thinking that it's okay to stand back and live in the world as it's been established I can hear Hunter laughing in my head. When things are getting static I find myself pushing against the boundaries of what's acceptable and reasonable all because Hunter told me, "It's all fucked, son." I've been bouncing about since I first read Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 when I was 14 years old.
Robert E. Howard: Lots of people love Howard for Conan but I fell in love with him when I started reading all of the other short stories. Conan absolutely brought me in, but El Borak, Solomon Kane, and his short stories kept me coming back. When it comes to the violence I bring in my games no other source has a larger influence with me.
William King: Before I read William King I was convinced that there would never be a "game" book that I could read and be influenced by, then I discovered Gotrek and Felix. Since that time I have devoured everything King has written and brought a grittiness into my games that was lacking beforehand.
Ursula K. Le Guin: While King and Howard taught me to bring violence into my world in a meaningful way Le Guin taught me to keep hope in even the darkest of circumstances. Her Earthsea cycle changed the entire way I thought about fiction, wizards, and the fantasy world I was presenting. I still go dark, but there's always hope that you'll overcome even the worst enemy.
Robert A. Heinlein, Philip K. Dick, and Henry Miller: While Le Guin taught me to keep hope in my worlds Heinlein, Dick, and Miller taught me to be fearless. Miller taught me that making mistakes was okay, and that I should go with it. Heinlein taught me to push myself farther than I thought possible and to try new things. Dick taught me to push my players father then they realized they were going - and be willing to flip the script when they got too comfortable.
Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson, and M.A.R. Barker: I've spent years reading the words of Gygax and Arneson learning from them how to play the game better. At times I even fooled myself into believing that playing it closer to how they ran would make my game "truer" to the one they envisioned. Then M.A.R. Barker freed me from that when I read, "Here's my world, now it's yours."
So those are mine, how about you?