Saturday 28 December 2019

Influences and inspirations

As the year draws to a close I wanted to catalogue my current influences and inspirations on my game writing in a post. This is very much a naval-gazing exercise.

Literature and writing

  • Lovecraft
  • M. R. James
  • Arthur Machen
  • Tolkien
  • Dunsany
  • Robert McFarland
  • Robert Chambers
  • Terry Pratchett
  • Leigh Brackett
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • Alan Moore
  • William Blake
  • Sir Thomas Malory
  • Howard Pyle
  • Mary Shelley
  • Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • Alex Raymond

  • Aubrey Beardsley
  • William Blake
  • Alphonse Mucha
  • Medieval illumination
  • 17th/18th century chapbook engravings
  • Arthur Rackham
  • Ivan Bilibin
  • Brian Froud
  • Wendy Froud
  • Harry Clarke

Film and Television
  • The Detectorists
  • Mark Gatiss
  • John Carpenter
  • Merlin (BBC)
  • Blackadder
  • Hilda
  • Universal Monster movies

Games designers
  • Simon Washbourne
  • David Black
  • Nate Treme
  • Ken St Andre
  • Ian Livingstone
  • Steve Jackson
  • Dave Arneson
  • Gary Gygax
  • S. John Ross
  • Gavin Norman

The above is very white male dominated, which is something I'm keen to address in 2020, but I do suppose I do have antiquated tastes.


  1. Does it matter if your taste is 'very white male dominated'? Would anything change if it wasn't?

    1. I think it does, mainly around perspectives. I think the broader your influences' backgrounds and experiences the more interesting perspectives you get.

    2. That assumes that the quality of someone's writing is determined by the melanin content of their skin, or whether they have a vagina or a penis. It isn't. Good art is good art, period, and deciding to value art and/or artists based on skin colour or gender is absolutely racist and/or sexist. That's the problem with identitarianism; it means that people end up being valued for arbitrary physical characteristics in order to publicly communicate adherence to ideological demands, rather than for the quality of their character. "I have a dream...", said Dr King, "We'll subvert it into a nightmare," say the identitarian left.

      Hence we get RPG's set in Arthurian Britain with female knights and African wizards front and centre. Race and gender politics deform our culture and history. And only our culture and history. Imagine if I wrote an RPG about the Dausi myth cycle from what is today Ghana, do you think Osprey would fill it with representations of European people? Would that be approved of as hip and "correct"?

      Would it fuck. The ideology of the modern left is the ideology of self-congratulatory racial self-loathing.

      Quill is one of the best games ever, but you're kind of a prick.

    3. I'm going to go through your comment point-by-point.

      1. The assumption you posit is purely physiological and as such doesn't consider social issues that affect women, people of colour or different members of society. A male and female artist in the 1800s before women's suffrage will carry vastly different perspectives. What do the folk quilts of African American slave Harriet Powers tell us about folk belief among slaves?

      2. Identitarianism, as you put it, is often core to great works of art. Take Frankenstein, for example, which is usually read as a feminist narrative. Victor's concerns about creating a female - a "thinking and reasoning animal" is Shelley exploring men's aversion to female autonomy.
      3. Invoking Dr. King's words in what appears to be is a, frankly, nationalistic, argument (this isn't a comment on your own values, but an observation based on this comment), feels antithetical to the point he was making. I am not a King scholar and I will not continue arguing a point here - there are more qualified people who can do that.

      4. It seems to me that I must have great power to write a book that 'deforms our culture and history'. I fear that I can't alter history with ink. But I will address this as it seems core to your concerns. Romance of the Perilous Land is not set in Britain. It is not in our world but of our world. Therefore, being a product of my imagination, I am free to create female knights. If a little girl were to play my game and realise that she wouldn't be able to be a knight, but her brother could, then I've not created a game that is true to my beliefs.

      5. There were people of colour in Medieval Europe. It might shock you to understand that the Round Table, while being a product of folklore, had POC members. Morien, for example. Many of the Knights were described ambiguously, so Sir Bors could have well been black.
      6. You mention the Dausi epics, which I believe to be a false equivalence. Ghana, like many other African countries, were brutally invaded by white Europeans and Americans. Their people were torn from their families and sold into the slave trade. Having Ghanaians be white European would, as am sure you're aware, be incredibly problematic. This is not about skin colour, but power balance and the deep wounds left by largely white institutions.

      7. Thank you for the compliment about Quill. I don't, however, think the ad him attack was called for.

    4. A further point I'd like to make is this.

      You are accusing me of warping our "culture" (I'm not sure which culture you're actually referring to here). I've literally written a book that celebrates British folklore, which is actually a part of our culture that is somewhat fading away. Using a lens of a roleplaying game, I'm asking people to immerse themselves and interact with British folklore in a new way, hopefully igniting a passion in others and making them proud of British culture.

    5. Well said. I received Romance of the Perilous Land for Christmas. Congratulations and thanks for making such an interesting game.


  2. Towards anybody that would claim that acknowledging anybody that is not white in mainstream culture as "warping" things to reflect a non-reality, I teleport in.

    Oh fuck off already.

    As much as we all love Wagner and Star Wars (the original releases at least), I won't speak of how many original TV/RPG settings were just studies of the Japanese or this or that Chinese country (province) on our bookshelves. Get over it or accept diapers for being retarded.

  3. Excited to check out some of these influnces!

    Sorry you have to deal with some of these comments, wow.