Inspirations (Isle of Mist Campaign)

I've never particularly thought of the stuff I build for my campaigns as original because I'm well aware of how much inspiration and even direct influence I get from others' works. I wanted to write this page in case anyone playing the campaign (or, I guess, anyone who stumbles across this later and is SUPER fucking bored) wants to see the rough mental process I follow when I'm building up stories for RPG sessions and campaigns. I'll also freely admit how far up my own ass I might be ("I see the stomach!) when I think about some of this stuff, but this is my best shot at trying to explain how my brain connected these things I read, viewed, or heard to the D&D campaign I was sort of always keeping in the back of my head.


  1. Wicked Fantasy by John Wick certainly inspired the start of the campaign because, though I loved the concept of it, I was massively disappointed in its execution. There were chapters that were excellent (the dwarves, for example), but overall I felt like a lot of the concepts were phoned in and the overall vague semi-world/semi-campaign were completely unnecessary and detracted from the overall work. After reading it, I immediately started thinking of my own twists I might be able to put onto the standard D&D races to make my own campaign. I wouldn't necessarily say I did a better job overall, but it was certainly interesting to try, and I will fully admit that I basically lifted a few ideas from Wicked Fantasy whole cloth (including most of the dwarves/dharven).
  2. The Pern novels by Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffrey inspired the craft systems on the Isle, specifically the mastercraftsmen and how craftmasters and apprenticeships worked.
  3. The Dragaera novels by Steven Brust inspired the theme of the battle between the gods and the Usurper. I began to unconsciously build a storyline largely mimicking that of the gods vs. the Jenoine, and once I realized this, I began to consciously build out the story more along those lines, though with different specifics. Additionally, the Nerull-related places of power and the Halls of Judgment are sort of a mixture of the Egyptian pantheon and the Paths of the Dead from the Dragaeran novels. In general, I'd call the Isle pantheon a mixture of the Greek/Roman, Egyptian, and Dragaeran gods, leaning heavily toward Dragaeran.
  4. The Magic & Malice series of books (Mairelon the Magician and The Magician's Ward) somewhat inform the representational magic (rituals). In particular, the possibility of magical power being sucked away from a wizard due to a much more powerful spell effect comes from The Magician's Ward.
  5. The magic system of the Iron Druid series of books definitely influenced the underlying magical theories of this campaign world, particularly how certain races speak and think about magical operations. Dharven in particular think heavily about bindings and elementals. Also, the "animal forms" of the Great Lake humans' theology draw from the descriptions of druidic shapeshifting in the Iron Druid books. I lifted the puzzle-portal idea for The Weaver's demense directly from the idea of The Old Ways in the Iron Druid books.
  6. The Codex Alera by Jim Butcher definitely inspired the appearance of the zwallen (based on the Canim) as well as the military structure of the orcs (based on those books and the Roman legions on which the Codex bases its human armies).
  7. The Terry Pratchett Discworld books probably inspire entire cultures, but in particular, the Low King of the Dharven is heavily, heavily inspired by the Low King of the Dwarves (particularly from Thud!).
  8. The Empty Chair series of Star Trek: The Original Series novels by Diane Duane probably inspired some aspects of the aelphin society, particularly their concepts of honor.
  9. Girl Genius served as a partial inspiration for the technology of the Mieran human society, later refined by reading Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate and Finishing School books. I already had the idea for the magical instabilities in the mid-atmosphere, but considering the aetherosphere in the Parasol Protectorate books, I think that concept deserves some reference to her as well even though I sort of independently came up with a similar idea.
  10. The island with all the feathered serpents is a complete lift of the Island of Demonreach from the Dresden Files books, particularly Cold Days, Ghost Story, and Skin Game.
  11. The Weaver's character concept is lifted directly from the Spider-Verse Marvel comics, specifically the character of Karn of the Inheritors who rebels and becomes the Great Weaver. The physical design of the character comes from here, but the personality is completely different.
  12. The Weaver's personality is heavily, heavily, heavily influenced by the magician characters from The Aeronaut's Windlass, particularly the younger Etherealist named Folly. The idea of him being unable to communicate directly with anyone but his "children" was lifted 100% from that book.

Movies and Television

  1. The menehune "bartenders" were almost certainly unconsciously inspired by Pilot's design from Farscape. I winged that description in the moment and realized like 15 minutes later, "Hey, I just told them the bartenders were robot Pilots."
  2. Similarly, the server-bots were a little bit Xorn from D&D, a little bit R2-D2 from the sail barge in The Return of the Jedi.
  3. I had the broad idea of the single-pass time loop before I saw this Minute Physics video, but it definitely helped me solidify the "physics" of the time loop. (The campaign was really a double-pass time loop, but that's because I wanted there to be a Fail, a Reset, and a Success "timeline."


Songs I Used

  1. "Dangerous" by Big Data - theme song for the Forest Ghosts in general and the character of Fionan-Shi in particular. Interpretation
  2. "The Walker" by Fitz and the Tantrums - was a session theme song for a session that literally just consisted of "angry walking." Interpretation
  3. "Pompeii" by Bastille - if Emem ever wakes. Interpretation
  4. "Scar That Never Heals" by Jeremy Fisher - possible theme song for the dharven avatar of Olidammara, Rido. Interpretation
  5. "The Take Over, The Break's Over" by Fall Out Boy was used for a session theme song. Interpretation
  6. "Hammer to Fall" by Queen was used for a session theme song. Interpretation
  7. "Breathing Underwater" by Metric was used for a session theme song. This was just a very on-the-nose theme, since the session involved an underwater salvage/combat operation.
  8. "Shark Attack" by Grouplove was used for a session theme song. Inspiration
  9. "Island in the Sun" by Weezer was used for a fairly sarcastic session theme song, considering the island in question was the opposite of "sunny" and the PCs definitely did not vacation there.
  10. "Bury It" and "Clearest Blue" by Chvrches inspired nothing specific but were generally inspirational in the timeframe of Swamp Things.

Song Possibilities

These songs might have tickled something in my brain, but I didn't have an explicit link into the game for them.

  • "Sun Shy" - Dresses
  • "Cardiac Arrest" - Bad Suns
  • "Elevate" - St Lucia
  • "45" - Gaslight Anthem
  • "Kill Your Heroes" - AWOLNation
  • "Night By Night" - Chromeo
  • "Born to Lead" - Hoobastank
  • "Unbelievers" - Vampire Weekend
  • "San Francisco" - The Mowgli's - "I've been in love with love and the idea of something binding us together"
  • "Flaws" - Bastille
  • "Wake Me Up" - Aloe Blacc
  • "Rescue" - The Summer Set
  • "Immortals" - Fall Out Boy
  • The Hamilton Original Cast Recording
  • The Griswolds
  • Walk the Moon
  • Sheppard

Quotes to Remember

  • "Well, we got its attention. What the hell was step 2?" - Tony Stark, The Avengers
  • "I knew it. I'm dead." "No, but you gave it your best shot." - Hiccup, How to Train Your Dragon
  • "Target that explosion and fire!" - Sulu, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country - referenced in Sundtar Cats
  • "The next time the situation calls for showing off your upper body and boozy flirting, you're my man." - Michael Weston to Sam Axe, Burn Notice S1E3

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