Saturday, October 8, 2011

Inspirations from the Sea

I took an extended vacation with the family for the past week and I noticed it did wonders for my creative process.  Going cold turkey from the internet and assorted electronics certainly gave me time to focus and brainstorm.  In that period I was surprised by the amount of content and ideas that rolled out, filling an entire legal pad in less than a week no less.  I think putting pen to paper rather than trying to put another entry in an already crowded text document certainly helped, especially with one central theme per page.  I hammered out some class mechanics and changes, adventure ideas, setting locales, an entire quick start adventure, advice on tone and imagery and a number of odds and ends.  It ended up being my most productive week, with regards to fresh ideas, all week.

That being said I wanted to acknowledge how your present location can influence and often inspire you.  I first noticed this when walking back down the hill on the battlefield after the fireworks were over and thinking how the pitiful lighting, large amount of shapes moving about, indistiguishable shapes and unrecognizable noises would be like in a time period where the night really was the end all be all boogeyman (mostly because of all things that really did go bump in the night, lions and mummys and werebats oh my!)

Here are a few entries that warranted entries on my note pad inspired totally by the sea, the weather, and the location.

The rising sun does more to enliven you than the newfound warmth in your body.  It is the sense of security that only the day brings, that the horrors of the night have been put to rest and the remaining can keep on going.

Beach - Simple Pleasures
There's something magical about the walking the seemingly endless sands and eternal waves that brings perspective to what diminutive creatures we in the scope of these timeless forces of nature.

Cities by the Sea
Running with the idea that overtime waves shift the location of sand and the reason the current beach is still here is because the city actively trawls through the ocean replacing sand lost (like from the recent hurricane).  It gave me the idea that perhaps in olden times people would build beach side cities and as the sand would slowly traverse and buildup on new locations on the coast the people would simply pack up and build a new city leaving behind a string of abandoned buildings on barren cliffs all along the coastline giving an eerie post-apocalyptic vibe.

Reminding the PC's how they lack modern conveniences and staples
As you emerge from the woods you are delighted to see farmland ahead of you and what's more it appears to be harvest time.  You're looking forward to the fresh cream, cheeses, vegetable (which have been absent from your plain rations for the some time) and best of all the allure of fresh bacon!  Now hopefully they'll accept you as farmhands for such a rare and nourishing meal.

Cold Winds
Nothing puts you in a sour mood quite like dismal cold weather and strong winds that curiously always seem to be blowing in whatever direction you are facing.

Lost City Dogs
Watching a bunch of dogs frolicking on the beach while their owners met and chatted I started thinking about dogs in your typical D&D world.  Then I thought, what if a town had been brazen enough to try building near a living wood (one that expanded near continuously and was hostile to foreign objects, read: people).  Let's say this town had a number of dogs, and let's say the inevitable happens and the town is swallowed up.  The dogs of course would survive.  The PC's could encounter them on their travels, remarking at how unusual it is for a wild dog pack to be so genetically diverse (and non-hostile).  They could befriend them at the cost of their food supplies and have a dog pack escort them through a dangerous area.

Prickly Salesman
I'm beginning to understand why my player's characters so frequently respond with overwhelming violence for everyday trivialities.  Should we rewind the clock a few hundred years with a much less severe justice system I could easily see myself decking a few condescending salesman & beach buffoons.

Misc. Imagery
Saltwater and strong breezes leaves your hair stiff and breezy.  Remember that when describing coastal natives.
The combination of sand and water shred your callouses when running on the beach.  If you do it for a while expect some super callouses!
The water can be surprisingly warm, even in October but quickly chills the further you get from the shallows.
Seagulls - Everywhere.  Sandpipers are adorable.
Don't forget to play up the smells of fresh seafood to the aficionado and revolted alike.
The hustle and bustle of port cities quickly disappears in the face of cold weather.
In some regions (Cape Cod for instance) the tide can recede for miles.
Not all beaches are foot friendly!

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