Seven Authors of lnfluence


I think that we all have different influences to our gaming style, and they come from many different kinds of media. Today I would like to talk about Authors who influenced me, of course, with a book worm like myself, there are too many to mention, so I’ll just talk about my top 7, now keep in mind that these aren’t in any particular order. All of these people are masters at what they do, and I simply can’t pick a favorite or more important influence among them.

Aldous Huxley

Aldous is not a new writer, he wrote the psychological thriller early in the last century called A Brave New World. In this bleak tale of a horrifying future, he takes the wonders of a utopian society to the logical outcome. It is one of the most well-thought out bios of human thought which features mass brainwashing, which is what drew me to it to begin with. Aldous created his own world, complete with culture and a brand new set of bias and bigotry as the taboos in the world darkly mock our own. As it was written in the 20’s, I believe, it is scary how accurate it is and how it figured us to be.

Through Aldous I was introduced to alternative ways of thinking in regards to law, society, and how people captured in bizarre circumstances keep insisting that everything is fine and normal. It taught me how to manage NPCs and keep them interesting by changing how they see the world and how they judge their place in it.

Bram Stoker

While Bram wrote more that just Dracula (Stoker was a dirty-bird), it is this title that is most famous.

Where to begin? Stoker was a genius when it comes to settings, and adding little details which truly bring the book to glorious life; but what inspired me the most, and why you need to actually pick up the book, vs. just watching some movie, is that in the book, you never see Dracula. We have no idea what he is up to, except through the eyes of the characters who must deal with him.

This is important because, unlike movies or most books and even videogames these days, one always sees the Point of view of the bad guy when he is planning something big, but Dracula keeps you in the dark and this shows us how we can do the same thing in our games. Dracula was a master manipulator, pulling strings in the background. His presence is always there, however he very rarely makes a true appearance in the book, and we just witness his handiwork. I strive to do this same thing with my games. Keeping the villain in the shadows, vs. an in your face kind of baddy seems to be preferred and really fit with the style which is required of tabletop gaming.

We can, instead of dealing directly with the cause, simply have to make due to confronting the effects of the bad guys choices, and trying to minimize the damage as much as possible.

H. P. Lovecraft

Like many of us, I think that Lovecraft has made the largest impression upon me. A master story-teller who has influenced almost everyone who has ever picked up a horror story.

Lovecraft has influenced my gaming style in more then just one way, but his greatest influence has always been mystery. How to take a simple object and really flesh it out. He also gives out secrets and tricks to pacing if you can read between the lines. Nobody could keep you on the edge of your seat, nor in the dark for so long, as the master Lovecraft could do.

I can’t single out any of his short stories, all are of equal greatness. He developed his own religion which threatens the lives and sensibilities of those who live in his world. He blended sci-fi with horror in such a way that we forget that his tales are science fiction. He also tricks us into his realm, he had a way of suspending our disbelief by a masterful blend of truth and fiction which is also something that we can learn from him.

His effect on terror was even larger, as the creatures which he brings to life were wonderfully kept in the shadows, we never quite know what they are, and only get brief glimpses of these horrors, many of which have made it into the Monstrous Manual, and one simply needs to enjoy his tales to figure out how to best present them. Presentation is also a major influence point, how to integrate a setting and characters into the players minds with the greatest efficiency and power as possible.

Steven King

A modern writer and no doubt the most popular on this list. While most folks would look at this list and only know a few names, this is the one that everyone will know. Steven King is the modern master of our time, and his tales will stand the test of time for generations of readers to come.

King is another writer where all you have to do is pick a title, any title will do. Everyone has their own favorites (as well as ones that they hated) but the deal with King is that he has taught me to think way outside of the box. He can take an everyday item, and twist it in a way that it becomes dark and foreboding.

Themes are big with him, but he creates his own themes which is really cool. He blends tried and true staples of the genre and mixes them with new ingredients that nobody has ever seen before. We should strive to do this with our own games. Not being afraid to try new things, if they are well-done then you have succeeded.

Anne Rice

Anne Rice is well-known for her Vampire Chronicles, but my personal favorite series by her are the Witches stories involving the spirit Lasher. While she struggles with characters, namely that it seems that all of her male characters have to be gay, her true strength is settings. Her settings are most definitely inspiring, she shows the reader how to increase tension through adding layers of elements together to form a perfect whole.

A DM normally struggles with this area, they use staple settings however they don’t bother blend other elements into them and truly paint an unforgettable portrait in the players minds.

Edger Rice Burroughs

Through this master, I learned how to add an element of fun! It is one thing to add everything together, but if it isn’t fun, then why bother? Burroughs was a master who created unforgettable characters, they didn’t have to be likable, but they did seem real. He knew where the audience wanted to go, and he took them there. In a time where there were many promises made, he actually followed through with the idea and pleased the audience.

Emily Bronte

My favorite title of hers, is Wuthering Heights. In this tale, characters are the centerpiece. She tells the story through gossip, which makes them a lot of fun to read. She also knew scandal (as did Anne Rice), but where she really influenced me is the love and care that she gives to her Villain, Heathcliff. You get to really know him, and understand why he does the things that he does. Heathcliff is broken and hurt, and while we come to follow his logic, we still can’t agree with his methods. An awesome biopsy of an evil mind, and one that we should put into our own games from time to time.

7 comments:

James Maliszewski said...

A quick correction of what I imagine is a typo: it's Bram Stoker, with only one "r." :)

Ripper X said...

Thanks James, the first thing to go is memory . . . or is it money? Heck if I know.

canageek said...

Lin Carter, you forgot Lin Carter. Master of pulp fantasy, his books are an excellent source for DMs.

And Robert E. Howard: He wrote more then just Conan. If you want to see a Paladin who behaves in a playable fansion see Solomon Kane.

Anyway, Good list!

Chris said...

True story: Huxley wrote "BNW" as an extrapolation/satire of the technocratic, 'scientific socialist' and eugenicist ideas that were then fashionable among supposed 'thought leaders' like H.G.Wells and the Fabians.

In the presence of *really* bad ideas sometimes anvils need to be dropped.

Herb said...

Interesting thing about Huxley, in the run up to 1984 a lot of people were trying to ask "are we there" yet one man was writing a book called "Amusing Ourselves to Death" which argued Huxley had a much better clue.

You're right, it's amazing how prescient Huxley, especially if you look at the ideas behind his culture more than the specific instances. The biggest thing he missed is how vulnerable a culture on the way to his dystopia is to entire cultures made up of Johns.

Ripper X said...

Thanks guys, I'm glad that you appreciated it, and of course there are other authors, but these seven are among my very favorite.

Brave New World was one hell of a read, and with reading trends these days I am amazed that so many folks have read it!

Vincent said...

My favorite title of hers, is Wuthering Heights.

Hurray! I often find myself the only one in a room willing to stick up for Wuthering Heights!

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