So, once again inspired by a couple of different posts on Dungeons and Possums (yes, I’m just stealing liberally at this point – but congrats on the new hosting switch!), I’m going to lay out a couple of things I like that inspire me in my games.
First of all: History
I hated history when I was in school, and I had no intention of studying it further.
I blame that on the curriculum focusing on the World Wars for about two of the three years of secondary school I had to take it as a mandatory subject. (I dropped it for Geography, which is still useful but both would have been better).
I just got to a point where I didn’t care about history any more, or how it was taught.
Turns out, that meant I missed out on doing Russian history a few years later, which I would have enjoyed I think – of course they revolted! They were a feudal state in a modern era!
Anyway, I always enjoyed the other stuff we learned years before – kings and queens, Vikings, Romans, Native Americans, Saxons, Witch Trials, Ancient Egyptians.
You know, inspirational material that clashes against the culture I live in and makes me wonder how people lived back then, rather than just asking someone or watching a film from the time.
Now I buy non-fiction books that will actually teach me some of this stuff that I feel was missing in school.
I have books on the Silk Road, the Romanovs and a history of China sat waiting to go, but they’re all over an inch thick and with a toddler it will be a while before I get to them – but I’ll get there and add the stuff to my games where it makes sense.
OK, so it’s sort of a subset of History, but I got back into learning languages a few years ago. I picked up Esperanto as a way to get back into things, thinking that a constructed language would help.
The fact it’s based on Latin, German, Slavic and Yiddish, with a Yiddish grammar structure that makes it similar-ish to English grammar helped a lot!
I tried to do some French and some German, just to brush up from school. Turns out I’ve forgotten most of everything. So I picked up some Irish because it sometimes helps to have a cupla focal when you live here.
It’s so hard guys! BUT realising that it has a shared root to Latin has helped me with some pronunciation and the grammar, weirdly.
I started Swedish and realised that having a few words of German and Irish was great for picking it up – plus all the stuff in English that came through the Vikings.
In game terms, it pushed me into thinking more about cultural languages than racial languages, because yes Yiddish exists but it borrows so heavily from everything it came into contact with.
It means that I think of Common not as English but as a trade tongue that borrows from everything but with a root in a constructed language. The humans can have their own language too (somewhere between Elvish and Orcish I guess? It should be hard to understand or pronounce by someone at least).
Finally (for this post): Wikipedia rabbit holes
OK, that’s a bit weird, and I guess it can tie in the the stuff above.
I just like learning new things, even if they’re weird.
Opening my Wikipedia app, there are multiple tabs open (about 40…) that I keep there for various reasons after stumbling on them.
List of Kennings – because who doesn’t want to think of ancient poetry filled with stuff like ‘sleep of the sword’ instead of ‘death’ and ‘sea steed’ instead of ‘ship’.
List of Fictional Rapid Transit Stations – I honestly don’t know where this came from, but it’s a fun article to read, and great for names for modern adventures or cyberpunk ideas.
The Battle for Castle Itter – At the end of World War Two, things get a little… interesting? The castle was used as a prison for French VIPs (such as Charles de Gaulle’s sister and a couple of former prime ministers), but it’s the battle that’s the interesting part – the only known time during the war that American troops and German troops fought on the same side (admittedly against other Germans, but still).
Holmgang – basically a trial by combat, but used for a bunch of different reasons – honour, vengeance, legal disagreement, ownership of property (that one seems the weirdest to me?).
Gyeran-jjim – a Korean dish of steamed eggs. I think this is a holdover after reading up on a bunch of different Korean foods.
Basically, an eclectic mix but good for inspiration.