Campaign INSPO Part 1 – What it is.

I took last week off, but now I’m back and ready for MORE! This week I’m going to write a short two-part series on campaign/game inspiration and why you should consider establishing this for your own games.

One of my favorite things, in fact one of the things I’m most likely do upon immediately opening a brand new RPG book is to hunt down their Inspirations section and see what media and other games influenced the making this new game in my hands.

Appendix N from AD&D is the Ur-version of this concept, but for me I really started loving this small section of RPG books because of the New World of Darkness series of books where they explained what exactly they meant by “you’re a VAMPIRE!” or “you’re a WEREWOLF!” or “you’re a SIN-EATER!” (that last one really benefited from an Inspirations section, let me tell you).

Like I would imagine most RPG bloggers and probably most DMs/GMs/MCs whatever out there, I’ve worked on many games of my own, and I’ve found that establishing my own Inspirations section is a healthy place to start from. It helps me keep in mind what flavor and type of story my rules should reflect.

For example, I’ve been simmering on an idea for an OSR adaptation called Street Punks & Crowbars for a while. Rather than try to explain what I want exactly out of the setting/rules, let me share my list of Inspo for the game:

2000 AD (Comics), Akira, The Warriors (1979), Escape from New York/LA, Dredd (2012), The Robocop Films, Roadhouse, The Running Man, Predator 2, Soylent Green, Streets of Rage (Sega Genesis), Streets of Fire (1984), Attack the Gas Station (1999), Rumble Fish (1983), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (The original comics and movie), Big Trouble in Little China, Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), and many more.

From looking at that list, I’m hoping you’d get a very strong vibe of what I’m going for with Street Punks & Crowbars.

Of course there’s other ways to establish the feel for everyone in the game, and that’s through directly sharing media that boils everything down to exactly what you want out of a game.

The video that inspired (har har) this post was the following excellent opening cinematic from the original Resident Evil video game (NSFW cause blood and stuff):

Oh God, I want to run that game right now. The music, the graphics, the makeup/costumes/HAIR! It’s just screaming to me to run it.

Another popular video on the OSR subreddit to show off what old school D&D could/maybe SHOULD be is this amazing short animated film (again, lots of violence and crazy shit, so probably NSFW):

Again, I NEED to run something someday that lives up to that video. The music doesn’t hurt anything here. The art style is almost uncomfortable to watch – its simplicity matching its brutality. There’s desperation and literally faceless, unbeatable enemies. Then the mushrooms. Oh the mushrooms. I mean magical flowers. Of course.

So now we’ve established what campaign INSPO can be, next time we’ll take a look at why it’s so important!

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