Friday, May 11, 2018

Discussion: Where Do You Take The Most Stuff From?

Good writers borrow, great ones steal. That is how the quote goes at the very least, and it has wisdom to it. I find the same is true for GMs as well, and everyone has their own sources of inspiration. So what is yours?

I'm not ashamed to say that over the past few years I have stolen a good amount of things from League of Legends. League has been a big part of my life - my free time anyhow - for the past several years, so obviously the exposure is there. Beyond that though, League has 115+ characters that have each been designed in such a way they could be a main hero or villain in a number of stories. The world itself is also interesting, and being more and more developed with every year.

Now, remember the quote. Good writers borrow. Great writers steal. The key here is to be stealing content, which means making it your own. You can't just lift a character you like and insert them into your game - well, you can but unless they're from that world it could feel awkward. However, you can take the character and make them your own. Take what you love about the character, change some of the details around that. Make the character your own, slap it into your game, and it will look like it belongs there.

Obviously if you take from something your players are familiar with they may recognize the source. But that's fine too. If you've done the work to make the character your own it can still surprise your players, and that's always fun.

So where do you take from? And how well has it worked?


  1. This probably isn't a surprise to you, but I steal pretty liberally from Halo. In my Star Wars game, I reworked a Legends precursor race with a Forerunner twist, and made the villain into a person obsessed with reclaiming their legacy. My players love it, and it helps that they've largely never played Halo before (and aren't as obsessed as I am, at any rate).

    That can be another benefit of "stealing" things: when you put them into your game, but buffed and repainted to fit your table, they can feel more solid and complete than, say, something you pull in from an adventure module. Maybe it's because you love it or have reverence for the material, or maybe it's because it has its own pedigree that you're subconsciously retaining and presenting to your players.

    I also steal a lot of character types and personalities for NPCs, but I don't think I have one particular source.

  2. I try to take ideas from my players, primarily.

    For my own part, I like to take ideas from movies and TV shows and books. I like it when problems have layers, such that one villain was only reacting to the shifting power structure caused by an even bigger villain. In my current game, the PC's town on the surface is encountering more and more creatures from underground, all of whom are being forced up due to greater problems from below. Honestly, the game probably won't last long enough for that to be developed, but it gives me a guiding principle: dangers are moving up to meet the PCs cna they can face them as they come or head down to meet them.