Influences & Inspiration

The influences that feed into Wyrlde are many and vast. The Mythopoetic Creatrix of the setting is a Sociologist and Psychologist, and she has a broad range of interests and ideas.  She draws often from pop culture and Meme Culture for some things, but also from History, from the same sources as the original D&D game, from the Sourcebooks, past adventures in previous incarnations of Wyrlde, and the usual traditional sources.

Four years and forty gives one a lot of time to absorb and experience different things, different worlds; to learn about things that you might never have thought could be learned, to expand your awareness.

There are several basic types of inspirations that fed into this. In keeping with the tradition started in the first AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide, I figure I will give you the list of things that inspired me in the making of this.

As a glance through this work will tell you, I have drawn heavily from Anime imagery, with some few manga and my love of “anti-shonen” anime works, and not merely in the sense of the Fantasy ones. This is the other kind, the kind that tells a story that isn’t meant to last indefinitely and have you punch the world.

First and foremost, I asked Players what they wanted to see. It is a diverse group, and I solicited suggestions. I had some basic ideas, some vague roughs, and the process of writing changed things significantly over the years, but that feedback, that “I want this” is important. I knew the outline of history and that I wanted to use the Lost Cities. After that, well, it was game.

Sociology & Psychology

I know, starting with science is just ugh. But I am a sociologist and psychologist, so I am going to rely on that knowledge. It helps to remember that my interest in those fields stems in part from playing D&D itself.

The most critical things I pulled from here are ideas and deeper understanding about how social constructs work and operate, about the Structure and Agency relationship, about learning and education, memory and thought. Myths and stories, and the fundamental nature of worship and how it works, and the relationships of people to magic.

Plus, well, yeah, adventures. The major campaign points are all built around underlying stuff I derive from here. Not that you can tell because they aren’t presented as bluntly as, say, the Degrees of Mastery are. That is the nature of these things, though – they look at what lies beneath. Gaming is about what lies on the surface.

Another influence that only is visible in the Campaign is that of the Heroic Journey. Not merely Campbell’s well known one, but some specific to women. They were mixed up with a rather annoying to do review of cultural ethnography from around the world to identify the ideal traits of women as heroes or Ideals, creating one for men from similar sources, and then sitting down and crafting an additional cycle and set of Ideals for Trans and Gender Diverse people.

Taking from those sources and the traditional structure of fairy tales, I laid out the entire campaign in the form of episodes and acts and arcs in five complete cycles to match the Degrees of Mastery, with an overarching and larger story uniting each bit. I used each of the different models in the process. Fairy tales get it started, then I move through the different Heroic Journeys. It was nice because in the process I created the Heroic Journey Cycle for Trans folk.

And all of those, in turn, are how I arrived at the NPCs who play a major role in things during the stories, using the archetypes that best fit the particular story in play – and all the stories come from an existing popular work with the exception of two: The Dungeon Crawl and The Floating Island. Those are purely drawn from D&D itself. Long time players might recognize the Ghost Tower of Inverness, but the dungeon is a tribute to my earliest sessions.

What follows are comments, thoughts, and the direct nods to the places I drew inspiration from. Inspiration need not be a direct copy. Sometimes it is just an idea.


Books are a major part of the inspiration for an immense amount of the world, of the way that magic works, of the adventures and some of the NPCs. But mostly they all filtered into my brain, running together, empowering my underlying ideas, shifting them, forming them.

One thing a lot of folks will be puzzled by is my wanting to move away from Tolkien based stuff. This is not because I dislike any of it. Long before I played D&D I was enraptured and in love with the hobbit, and at one point I had memorized the entire LotR cycle and the Silmarillion.

The only way to truly have moved entirely beyond him would have been to get rid of Elfs and Dwarfs altogether, but so immense is his impact and power that when I write Elfs and Dwarfs, people and systems pause and blink, even though those were the ways to write those terms before him and even he admitted it was a grammatical error.

By that same token, though, I had to step aside from most of one of my other big influences: Edgar Rice Burroughs. Kobolds are drawn heavily from him, and there is one aspect to Goblins that I will not even pretend is not from there, combined with Alien and Aliens.

The complete list of books is probably in the range of 500 or so. That is unwieldy, but a list of authors is not. So here is a list of the most impactful authors. I am certain to have forgotten a few, and here I focused on fiction. I use a lot of non-fiction works as well.

You may notice something very specific about this list, and even more so if you compare it to the original. If you didn’t, that’s ok. Not only did I not use the “normal” influences and inspirations, but I also used ones from people of color, from women, from LGBTQ folks, and that isn’t even counting the ancient folklore and mythology that wasn’t western that I used.

Be aware that I mostly took out ideas, concepts, mechanics, and trains of thought that led me elsewhere. There are only a few direct takes:

The Gunslinger class and elements around Dorado: The Gunslinger series from Stephen King and Gunnie Rose from Charlaine Harris.

Magical girl shows, especially PMMM and Yuki Yuna. They are a class in the Rulebooks. I like the deconstructions, which have a darker tone and fit better with the underlying goals.

Certain structures around the Knightly Orders: Glen Cook’s Chronicles of the Black Company.

One of the adventures is lifted as directly as I can from It, by Stephen King.

The Nomad and Monk classes are slightly influenced by the Watchtower Series, by Elizabeth A Lynn. Wuxia films, the game history of druids, and finding a path through tangles of orientalism helped finalize this version of a Monk (with hints from a romance and Shanarra), while the Nomad you can also drop squarely into Star Wars.

The underlying core of the history was derived from David Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Steven Barnes’ Heorot series. This does make Wyrlde both a multiple post-apocalypse and a science fiction story. And one could argue easily that some of this was influenced by the Dream Park series, as well.

Keri ArthurK.N. BanetLeigh Bardugo
Clive BarkerAlina BoydenAlexandra Bracken
Patricia BriggsHolly BlackK.F. Breene
Steven BarnesJack ChalkerC. J. Cherryh
Suzanne CollinsGlen CookStephen Donaldson
Debra DunbarHailey EdwardsKate Elliot
Jennifer EstepDavid GerroldNeil Gaiman
Mary GentleSeanan McGuireMira Grant
Alwyn HamiltonCharlaine HarrisKim Harrison
Martin F HengstTanya HuffFaith Hunter
Kameron HurleyN.K. JemisinAo Jyumoni
Guy Gavriel KayReki KawaharaBR Kingsolver
Jay KristoffMercedes LackeyElizabeth A Lynn
Annette MarieAnne McCaffreyMichelle Manus
Julian MayShannon MayerElizabeth Moon
Larry NivenTamora PierceDavid Pournelle
Rebecca RoanhorseMichelle SchaefferFiona Staples
Brian VaughnMartha WellsRoger Zelazny

Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series also had an impact on that history. Oddly enough, I was more enraptured by the foundational aspects of Pern than I was the Dragons or the Romance. I like the idea of colonizing the stars, of building a civilization, and of watching it grow and struggle.

Besides, what kind of fantasy world would it be if I didn’t keep reducing advancements to rubble?

I mean, really!


Cast A Deadly Spell is a major influence on several parts. Not the least of which is the hodgepodge of influences it relied on. One might even see a bit of the story in one of the adventures.

The James Bond film series had an impact I never want to talk about in public.

Tolkien absolutely had an influence that was direct: I worked hard to move as far away from his source as I could and still be somewhat like D&D. This is harder than it sounds, because his work influenced so much of the fantasy and science fiction published in the 70’s and later that it is hard to escape that sheer overwhelming force.

That influence, though, was from being pushed back against, and I used all the filmed adaptations of his work (including Bakshi’s and the Rankin and Bass stuff) as a place *not to go*. My success is limited, but I did give it a heck of a go.

In keeping with the Anime stuff, Studio Ghibli absolutely had an influence. Theoretically, it should be possible to do any of the Ghibli fantasy films (Kiki’s Delivery Service, Tales from Earthsea, Castle in the Sky, Howl’s Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke, and Nausicaa) in Wyrlde. Mary and the Witches Flower as well, though different source.

Films had a significant impact on the Campaign itself, as I used films that met certain criteria to get a base story structure that could be recognized but since it is in a different context it would be fresh and different from a player’s perspective while still giving them a chance to figure things out ahead of time. The criteria for the films were that they had to have a group of people as the protagonists, they had to meet one of the key story beats in the complete Campaign (1 to 20), and they needed a story that a group of people could complete – not a character study.

The first rule I sorta flexed on a bit – look carefully and you may find a noir aspect derived from a single protagonist storyline. But the Oceans films and Now You See Me films had some useful parts for one long bit.

It is D&D in the 2000’s. If I don’t acknowledge Princess Bride, Labyrinth, and Legend I am doing something wrong.

Disney films had an impact: Tangled, Raya and the Last Dragon, Lilo and Stitch (who is the model for the Grendels), and likely a few others who weren’t consciously tapped.

There are some bad films from the 80’s, as well, but they aren’t available or if they are it is in a form that isn’t usable. The Sword and the Sorcerer became available again between that sentence and this one, but a few others are hard to find. I did not take from Krull. I promise.


There is no larger group of influences on the setting than Anime. Specifically. While I love and use images from game and manga and promotional work, the real influences here are anime shows, and these are not the ones most people think of when I say anime.

These can be broken up into two rough categories: Fantasy and Other. The degree of influence or specific elements is deeply variable, since the way I drew from it was more by the collective feel of the whole thing, and they all merged into the larger mass that was the undefined framework on which I draped the rest. I watch a lot of anime, and not all of it feeds into this.

Fantasy Works

Akame Ga KillAscendance of a BookwormAncient Magus’ Bride
Blade & SoulBOFURIFena: Pirate Princess
GATEGoblin SlayerGranblue Fantasy
GrimgarIs It Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?Izetta: The Last Witch
Log HorizonRising of the Shield HeroThat Time I Got Reincarnated as A Slime
So I’m A Spider, So What?Sword Art OnlineYona of the Dawn
The Executioner and Her Way of LifeAssassin’s Pride 

Other Works

Avatar: KorraAvatar: The Last AirbenderA Certain Scientific Railgun
Puella Magi Madoka MagicaLycoris RecoilKino’s Journey
Magical Girl Raising ProjectYuki Yuna is a HeroBNA
Violet EvergardenLittle Witch Academia7 Seeds
Dr. StoneDrifting Dragons 

I don’t like the standard Shonen shows such as One Piece or Naruto or Dragon Ball or Alchemist. It isn’t that there is anything wrong with them, mind you, they just don’t appeal to me. While they may have influenced some of the ones I use, they didn’t have any direct influence at all. That, more than anything, is why I ultimately stopped saying “anime influenced”; it turns out that when you say that, most people think of those shonen shows, and not the ones I like.

Ah well. I will live.

TV Shows

The list of “regular” shows is about like the list of other things. Except shorter because a lot of the TV shows are anime. I like science fiction and fantasy. One could argue that I was influenced by some procedurals, but where that lies is colored by the fact that I am aware of the nature of policing. These shows had a bit of an influence that was structural and related to the Campaign in most cases, but not in direct storyline.

Lost GirlDoctor WhoEureka
DominionFalling SkiesKilljoys
Orphan Black  


I am not a big video game person. I used to joke that I went from playing Dragon Slayer in the 80’s to playing Destiny in the 2010’s and there was nothing in between. Because the truth is so much stranger than fiction, but that’s what I did. So as a result, only two video games really influenced this, and one did so in much deeper ways than it appears.

The Dreadnaughts absolutely come straight from Horizon Zero Dawn and its sequel. And I straight up took side quests out of both the Horizon games.

Aloy is one of the models for the rangers here. So is a character in the anime “Is It Wrong to Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon?”, and of course they also fill in for Druids.

The door that having robot monsters in a post-apocalyptic world opened, of course, is how I managed to take a request for robot maids and created the Meka. Seriously, that was the entirety of their conception: robot warrior maids. They make good Butlers, too.

Art & Artists

Michael Whelan is no doubt the most influential artist for me, and while I didn’t see it at first, after a while I did realize there were things I absolutely used from there. The incredible and talented artists who have been with D&D since its inception are also to be recognized here.

Google is an amazing tool, and I used a lot of art from different places to better visualize things. If there is an image in this work, online or in the file, it was one of the inspirations. Or many – some of the specific things about the world are directly related to one or more of the thousand or so images I collected for my personal slide shows used for inspiration.

Personal Experience

It should be noted that my background involves religion, and so it involves myths and stories and cycles and all that good stuff – much of it initially sparked by reading The Hobbit.

Playing D&D during the era of the actual attacks on it led me to investigate occult lore and such, and all of that in turn fed into the larger stuff you see here.

The entire Old Ones pantheon should sound familiar, because they are the Indo-European Gods. Some of the myths draw straight from ancient sources, and there is no doubt that I used my knowledge to affect magic and the planes and how all of that interacts – alongside my love of taking apart phrases and idioms.

Beyond the Pale, beyond mortal Ken, the cross the veil, your kith, and kin. These turns of phrase by themselves shaped a lot of things. My love of Kennings from poetry, famous works by famous authors who lived and died before 1910, these things were fair game.

Lastly, sometimes I dropped something in because of a fond memory or a pop culture joke or a reference to a film. Everything else was filtered through my personal life experiences and knowledge as well – the good, the bad, the ugly. My personal task in all of this was to fix it, to make it possible for all of the assorted sources to work together, and to do so within the larger framework of D&D, even if I had to bend the hell out of some of it to make it happen. Because you can do that with D&D. I started with optional rules and moved from there.

“So many people think that if you’re writing fantasy, it means you can just make everything up as you go. Want to add a dragon? Add a dragon! Want some magic? Throw it in. But the thing is, regardless of whether you’re dealing with realism or fantasy, every world has rules. Make sure to establish a natural order.”  – V. E. Schwab

In the end, all of this is something new made from the parts and pieces of other things, all of them, in turn, different from and separate from the stuff that inspired the very game it is built around in the first place.

This setting isn’t as developed or detailed as some that are out there now or that have been in the past – I would never try to go as deeply or as involved as some of the worlds out there have. But if I did this right, it doesn’t need to be.

I set out to finish a world I had started a very long time ago, as a child of 6 and 7 and 8 dreaming up stories of Kure Ikilar and Koren. To give it a final form and fix it finally, instead of letting my inability to track and check consistency and the ever-present arrival of new influences and new ideas come up and change it. In a very personal way, I did it to escape this place. To allow me to create something new, to move on, even as I get to enjoy it.

The storyteller in me wants to tell stories. The scientist wants to explore strange new worlds. And the philosopher just wants to share this with the world in case there is one other person who could find this fun, usable, enjoyable, and worthwhile.

In a real sense, this is the work of a lifetime. Now to let others have their way with it. Thank you!

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