This month’s RPG Carnival, which Campaign Mastery is delighted to host, poses the question:
What non-game media have most inspired your games and how?
The answer for me is Saturday morning cartoons, which I grew up on and still watch today.
Anything is possible in a cartoon. It’s pure imagination at work in every genre.
- Plots tend to be simple and suitable to gaming. Easy to study, easy to emulate.
- Characters tend to be iconic, two dimensional, fun, simple and easy to model. They are also memorable. I’d gladly take a memorable NPC over a muddy and complex one in my games anytime.
- Environments are easy to visualize, recall and describe.
I think cartoons are awesome GM inspiration.
Here are some of my favourite cartoons growing up that I still watch today either on DVD or YouTube:
- Scooby Doo. The first series is my favourite, but I’ll watch any of the dozen other variations. Great villains and foes. Always interesting NPCs. A variety of settings and memorable locations, such as an aircraft graveyard, theme park, ski resort, Scottish castle, and dozens more.
- The Smurfs. In a world where everybody is blue and three apples high, how do you stand out? A fantastic (dare I say smurfy?) example of how to make NPCs distinct.
- Super Friends. Great villains and super action! (Pun mightily intended.) I especially liked the epic scope of some of the episodes. Save the planet, rescue the galaxy, repair the dimension.
- Thundarr the Barbarian. Post-apocalyptic fantasy. This was just a fun show. I remember looking at all the old artifacts of our age in the introduction and episodes and thinking, perhaps for the first time, how nothing is permanent, not even the mighty New York.
- Spider Man. Awesome bad guys, small scope plots in general, a seedy city. The funky animation was a bonus, as was the theme song. The variety of creatures, villains and hazards is always inspiring.
- Looney Tunes. Is there any plot variation left untouched with this epic run of slapstick cartoons? Even opera was covered. Opera. I think I liked the political aspect of many of the cartoons best. Seeing leaders parodied gave me a bit of insight into that realm. I remember asking nearly everyone where my hossenfeffer was. Still do.
So, old school 80s cartoons have inspired much of my gaming (and my personality, if you ask my wife). How about you? What non-game media inspires your games?
If you are an RPG blogger participating in the carnival, add your links below as well.