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).
Well, here are my main influences. Because, I'm a follower. And as much as I like the idea of the daily blog thing that I did back in September...well, this seemed more doable for a raccoon like me.
1. Robert E. Howard - I discovered Bob through the 1982 Conan film. I was 13, and my mom let me watch it because she knew I was into D&D, and she thought it was similar enough. Well, she was right in some respects. But, what it really did was open my eyes to reading for pleasure that I hadn't really explored. As I've said before (on my other blog, I think), I never got into reading genre fiction as a younger child. Howard was the first author that I chose to read, and I was hooked from the beginning. I love all of his characters, but Conan has a special place in my heart. It's no accident that a large majority of my RPG characters are muscle-bound warriors with a rough sense of chivalry.
2. Tom Moldvay - As I have stated before, I started D&D with the Moldvay book. Many of the passages describing how the game worked were committed to memory for a long time. I have only recently returned to those roots, and it astounds me how much influence those early games had on my over all gaming experiences since then.
3. J.R.R. Tolkien, by way of Rankin/Bass - The animated film of The Hobbit was my very first introduction to the world of high fantasy. When I first started playing D&D years later, that film was my only viable inspiration. I didn't even read the book until I was in my 20's. As much as I like the LotR movies and books, The Hobbit is still my favorite of his works. And Bard the Guardsman formed the archetype for many of my initial fighter-type characters.
4. John Buscema - I am a huge comics fan, and always have been. And even before I began reading Conan stories in the Ace paperbacks, I was reading Marvel's Savage Sword of Conan. And among those artists, John Buscema was my favorite. His portrayal of Conan is how I see the character in my head, no matter what I am reading. His dynamic story-telling in pictures infused in me a love of action and motion that has translated into my movie tastes, my RPG choices, and my own story-telling, whether it be as a GM or as a writer.
5. Don Pendleton and his successors - I discovered Mack Bolan in 1984, and have been a fan ever since. Although I have gone months at a time without reading a Bolanverse novel, I always manage to come back to them. The way action is presented in those books is the ideal. Never relenting, always in the thick of it. When the story starts to get too cerebral, someone starts shooting. That's how I run my games, regardless of genre. There is no rest in my games. And if I am playing in a game with too much RP, my character is the one who will instigate some kind of action.
6. David Morrell - When I want action with more cerebral story, I hit up Morrell. I have corresponded with him personally on occasion, and he is very personable. But, what really sets him apart is his accuracy and research. Whenever I am creating a story or game, I always want to have his level of authenticity. As well as his level of characterization and suspense. Over all, among the modern writers still writing, David Morrell is my absolute favorite.
7. Frank Frazetta - I probably don't even need to say anything more. His artwork has inspired me for years. Even the stories he helped develop based on his art still influence me (Fire & Ice and the Death Dealer novels, for instance). Whenever I run a fantasy game, I always want it to look like a Frazetta painting.