Thursday, May 23, 2013

Inspiration Everywhere: The Perks of a One Track Mind

My brain does this pretty much all the time!

I post pretty regularly about various things that have inspired elements of my D&D game, from songs, to movies, to books. Honestly, I can find inspiration in the weirdest places, in large part because at least part of my brain is always thinking about my game, or at least receptive to how things could fit into it. I cannot count the times when I've been hanging out with the Fiancee, and had a conversation similar to this:

Scene: Grocery store produce section.

Fiancee: Hey babe, what's next on the list?

Me: Huh?

Fiancee: The grocery list. What else do we need?

Me: Oh! Sorry! I was just thinking about how fantasy cultures might arrange their shopping displays and experiences. Would affluent cultures use magic to keep their produce fresh?

Fiancee: ...

Me: Sorry, we need bananas.

Fortunately for me, the last year has presented a counterpart experience that goes the other way. For as my thoughts are to D&D, so are my Fiancee's thoughts to wedding planning.

Edith "Little Edie" Bouvier Beale in front of Grey Gardens
Anyway, I had a particularly bizarre moment of gamespiration this past weekend when the Fiancee and I went on a date to see the musical Grey Gardens. If you are unfamiliar with the story, it is based on the lives of the cousin and aunt of First Lady Jackie Kennedy. Nicknamed Big Edie and Little Edie, the mother and daughter were both wealthy socialites living on an estate in the Hamptons called Grey Gardens. Well, Big Edie's husband, Phelan Beale divorced his wife, leaving her the house, but taking his money with him.

The two Edies, who had a tumultuous interpersonal relationship were stuck living together in this huge house with very little money. In the play, the tension in their relationship often focused on the attention of men. Big Edie sabotaged Little Edie's engagement to Joseph Kennedy (fictional addition for the play) and it was implied that she had similarly sabotaged previous engagements (also possibly fictional).

As the years go by, the house falls into squallor, attracts 50+ feral cats, several raccoons and all of the fleas that go with them. The two women are literally reduced to crazy, catfood-eating cat ladies. They are trapped in the house by their poverty and their own dysfunctional relationship.

Believe it or not, the play is a comedy.

Here's where things get extra exciting/weird. While watching the play, my brain starts interpreting the story as a D&D adventure module! What if the two Edies started out as noblewomen living in a castle on some remote heath? The lord of the castle is super wealthy, but notoriously controlling. He leaves to go on a crusade or something, providing his wife and daughter with a stipend on which to live until he returns... but he never comes back. Maybe he's killed in a battle or disappears under mysterious circumstances.

The two noblewomen live off of the stipend as long as they can, but their stubborn fighting and mismanagement of the estate starts to drive away the vassals. The money runs out, the castle crumbles and the two women are reduced to banshae, heard screaming at each other on the cold winds of the heath. They haunt the castle, and each tries to get any visitors to take her side. Any appearance of favor causes the other to fly into a vengeful rage.

Why would anyone go to the castle? Maybe there is a legend that the miserly lord had a secret vault full of his vast personal wealth. The vault remained locked when he did not return. Perhaps he gave his daughter and wife each only a portion of the clues needed to open the lock, but because of their stubborn bickering, they never cooperated to get into the reserve cash. Adventurers drawn to the castle must piece together the clues from the banshae in order to gain access to the secret vault.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the play on its own right, but having my mind happily burbling away in the background on this alternate extrapolation made everything even better! Any of my fellow GMs have weird sources of inspiration? How about the writers that are reading this?


  1. Oh, there is all kinds of weird inspiration all over the place. Especially my kids.

    However, what I want to know is whether your fiancee games with you or not.

    1. She does! She actually played before we met, though learning the rules bores her. She just wants to play classes that deal tons of damage. Lots of fireball slinging.


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