One of the most common questions that any writer or story teller will hear over the course of their life is "where do you get your ideas?" It is an interesting question when you think about it. For one thing, it implies that there is a set location in one's life, privy to only the writers/story tellers of the world, that houses the idea for stories. The other thing, at least that I'll mention here, is the expectation that this secret location - if there is one - would be given out freely. In truth, there is no secret. Story Tellers are inspired by the events around them. Things experienced in real life, and in the realms of the media that they consume. The same is true for GMs and for players. After all, it's not a secret that most RPG books I've read tell players to go to TV shows, movies, and books when looking for concepts to play.
Still, this is supposed to be a discussion. So, my discussion question today is what do you use for inspiration for your games? Is there a favorite place that you like to steal ideas from? Perhaps a show or series of books that none of your players have read and thus don't know how things will play out? Movies? Games? Other RPGs? I'm sure most folks list will be varied, but I'm curious what media do you go back to the most when looking for ideas. Or are you even aware that when you consume stories and creative material that you are also working out how to use it yourself?
Personally, I like to go to related but not directly related material for inspiration. There is a lot of stuff in westerns that works well for Samurai tales. Science Fiction and Space Opera can often work very well for inspiring fantasy, and vice versa. The best part about this is is that when you swap the genre (i.e. western to samurai, space opera to fantasy) you have to modify it to fit into the new realm, and that modification often hides the location while making the story different.
In a more direct theft, one of the first investigations I have for my L5R PCs is stolen almost directly from an episode of Xena: Warrior Princess. Obviously the nuances will be different, but that is where the fun comes in. How will Samurai handle this problem? What do you do when the object isn't to be a good person but rather an honorable person? I think it will be fun to find out how the PCs come down on this matter.
How about you? Any fun tales of inspiration or story theft you'd like to share? How did it go?