Fantasy Inspiration

In the scene above can you see a face in the rockface? It probably isn’t there at all but it when I first saw the imagine it sort of jumped out at me.

The point is of this is threefold…

The first was the forum post by Jengada on rendering campaign worlds. The second was talking to a GM that is playing his game in Middle Earth and the third is all about adventure design.

Rendering Worlds

With the best software in the world I could not render a campaign world because I am a talentless lump when it comes to arty things. The closest I could get would be to try and explain what I could imagine to a designer and then let them try and create my vision. That is simply never going to happen.

Middle Earth

Middle Earth is always a rich vein for role playing. Right now you can buy into the Adventures In Middle Earth franchise. There is an entire Mirkwood Campaign for just $19.99. Converting from D&D 5e to any flavour of rolemaster is not difficult. There is the The One Ring™ Roleplaying Game which will set you back $30 for the core rules. I don’t know that system at all but it is based upon d12s and d6s. Rolemaster is so flexible that I cannot imagine that it would be difficult to convert the game materials over. Then of course there are the old school MERP supplements. These are potentially too valuable to play with. You could sell a single good condition supplement and buy an entire set of one of the other ME based games with the proceeds. We also have the problem the converting from old school Rolemaster to RMu is just as difficult as it is to go from a completely new game.

Right now there is the brand new Middle Earth Amazon Prime series getting people excited. There are also all the Peter Jackson movies. There are also some books apparently.

One slight problem with all these TV and movie renderings is that the visualisation of the director can over write what was actually in the books. Once you have seen Peter Jackson’s Gandalf then there is a good chance that that is how you will imagine him from that point on. If not you then certainly some of your players.

I think it would be hard to change the physical appearance of any place or people that have appeared on the TV and in the movies as your players will have a vision of what they think things should look like. Take the argument that orcs physically look exactly like elves, humans and hobbits. The corruption is that of the soul not the body. There is this quote on Quora: “When orcs first appeared (as stated in the Simarilion) they were mistaken for Quendi who had ‘gone wild.’ In LOTR when Eomer and his eored pass Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli he initially mistakes them for orcs from very close range. Later Frodo and Sam passed themselves off as orcs in Mordor. The orc leader is close enough to whip them. Despite wearing orc armor, helms and cloaks any radical difference in physical features should still have been apparent. Apparently JRRT intended that they shared physical characteristics with men, hobbits and elves .

So although ME is probably the ultimate setting for any fantasy game where you want to visualise the setting it is not without its problems.

Adventure Design

When I saw the image above I thought I could see a bit of a nose and mouth on one of the great rocks front and centre. Given the wild mountains, the snow and the water, possibly a lake as it looks too calm to be the sea, I think I could write a location based upon this image by Susan Cipriano from Pixabay Try this, go to and search for forest or mountains or lake. You will get so many options that could so easily be fantasy locations. You could tweak the setting to fit the images rather than trying to get the images to fit the setting.

It is not just landscapes either…

I could definitely write an fantasy location for that one!

Finally, I think Egdcltd and I both have a desire to create our own settings. The big stumbling block is the sheer cost of getting the art. I would suggest that if one were to start with the art and let that inspire the setting then more people could create great looking settings.

Setting ‘Challenge’?

Or about this? I could scour the image website and build a collection of brilliant and inspiring images for a fantasy setting. I then put it out there as a sort of challenge so anyone could download the package and write a setting based around the images. We all have inspiration but this would take away one barrier that stops people building their own fantasy settings.

9 Replies to “Fantasy Inspiration”

  1. Given that more than a few people convert MERP modules to The One Ring, I can’t imagine it’s too difficult to convert the other way.

    Yes, art is a problem with settings. Even a map can be a costly problem. For something like Zweihander I’d probably go for 30 Years War era Europe. Which solves the map problem and some of the artwork.

    1. I converted a TOR adventure to MERP really it was just stat blocking excercise. That was a doddle compared to a D&D plot idea to MERP where everything has to be adjusted to harmonise with the setting.

  2. I agree art is a huge stumbling block. I’ve got a setting I’ve been using since about 1993 or so, but would never really take it public because I have the art skills of a brick. Even my maps are more intended for home use…

    Modern and historical (non fantasy) stuff is to my mind easier because you can get away with more “functional” maps.

    1. Even Sci Fi is easier than fantasy in the map department. I used real luxury yacht deck plans as spaceships just by turning them upside down (the order of the decks, not the plans).

      1. That is nice. If I tinkered around with it I might be able to come up with something that’s close to what I already have mapped. My skills don’t extend much past the original World of Greyhawk maps.

        1. You know, that design style is still popular with some.

          If you are looking to pay someone for maps, probably the best place to hang out is the Cartographer’s Guild. Doesn’t necessarily mean they are cheap, but if you do ever want to publish a setting, I think a map is perhaps the most important element. Skirmisher Publishing, for instance, don’t use anything but public domain or tweaked photos in their supplements.

  3. “You could sell a single good condition supplement and buy an entire set of one of the other ME based games with the proceeds.”

    Yes, but I *wouldn’t.* 🙂

    I do have several of the RM/MERP Middle-Earth adventure modules that are still shrink-wrapped or near-mint — bought a hobby store’s entire shelf as a package deal back in the early ’00s because I had $ and they needed space — but that’s mostly because opportunities to play in Middle-Earth have been few and far between.

    They’re not too valuable to play, but far, far too precious to sell (my…preciousss).

    That map generator is awesome. Definitely going to use it.

    1. It really is isn’t it. It just blows away one of the biggest barriers to entry for many would be setting creators.

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