It’s almost easier to ask which forms of outside media don’t inspire my gaming than those that do. I mean, in this blog, I’ve been encouraging people to steal from obscure 70s horror films, comic books, and some of my other favorites.
I’ve even written about my Punk and Prog inspired D&D campaign, which sadly died an ignominious death.
I think being inspired by outside sources is really a core element of the hobby. Be it the way that Appendix N listed the works that inspired the creation of D&D or licensed games literally wearing their inspiration on their sleeves, I’m hard pressed to find any games out there that don’t draw on a slew of outside sources.
And so should you.
Today, though, I’d like to talk about actually lifting ‘story’ the books, films, TV shows and comics you love. In a nutshell it’s to steal ‘plots’ and not ‘Plot.’
For instance, I heartily endorse lifting Wormtongue’s plot from Lord of the Rings.
It boils down to having a shifty minister poisoning the body and mind of a king who might otherwise be a potential ally of the PCs. From there it should play out however the PCs mangle it. Perhaps they will discover the Minister’s treachery and split him in two. Maybe they will leave the kingdom under the Minister’s subtle control.
For that matter, they may cut a deal with the Minister (and there by found the Wormtongue Dynasty) or seize the throne for themselves.
The important thing is not to force them to follow even roughly in the footsteps of the Plot you gleaned from the Lord of the Rings.
Taking the schemes, traps, and character plots you find strewn in popular culture and using them as hooks in a game is good. Forcing your PCs on a death march up Mount Doom when they’ve come up with their own solution to the ‘ring’ issue is bad.
But hey, your mileage may vary.