I have started reading David Eddings again (and I just learned from a French reference at the bottom that his wife and co-author died shortly after Robert Jordan… this is sad) and it brought back a meta-literature discussion I have had in the last few years.
I have read a lot of novels, a few hundred if not about a thousand in the last 24 years. A lot of Fantasy (Favorite ones: The first 3 Wheel of Time books by Robert Jordan, Closely followed by Edding’s the Belgariad and everything by Pratchet), a lot of Sci-Fi (Best ones: The Night’s Dawn Triology by Hamilton and Hyperion by Simmons) and also a lot of Horror Techno-thrillers, Spy-thrillers… including a few on Oprah’s list.
I have read enough books by the same author to see that they all leave a signature that is common throughout their work (If this is evident to you, please note that I have never taken a post high-school literature class, either French or English, I’m all science and geeky electives):
- Eddings’ narrative is very dialog-driven and features and at least one character, if not all, features an unmistakable sarcastic streak.
- Peter F. Hamilton crams a metric ton of technical details about his worlds’ technologies in what has been known as the Data Dump.
- Mary Higgins Clark always describes what a person wears first and foremost.
- Lawrence Sanders always describes what a person drinks
- Dean Koontz has progressively become more and more focused on Paranoia and Conspiracies
- Stephen King lets you know in advance when a character will die
- Clive Cussler always has a funky often fictional vehicle appearing in his novels and makes a cameo in his own books.
RPG writers also features this, although I have much less experience about those.
- Monte Cook often bases his material on some sort of Lovecraftian Elder Evil. He also shows a lot of love for arcane spellcasters and he designs encounters that can be very tough for non-optimized parties.
- Mike Mearls favors mechanics over flavour and prefers martial classes with access to magic-like abilities.
- My Nemesis, Wolfgang Baur admits to be a fluff-over-crunch type of guy and creates memorable story-lines and NPCs .
Now here’s what I was thinking about. I’m pretty sure that DMs who’ve done this long enough also have a distinctive fingerprint that shows in whatever game they play. But the thing is, listing your own style is not as easy, so I asked Yan about mine.
Here’s what he said: A distinct epic flavour: Characters are often on first name basis with the campaigns’ gods (true).
I also almost invariably align campaign themes along the classic moral-divide (Good vs Evil/Law vs Chaos). I like recurring villains and I love encounters with lots of features and exploitation of the environment by both players and DM-controlled creatures (Combat on narrow overlapping over passes with levitating Fiends abound… woot!).
What about your DM fingerprints? What are the common elements to all your games?