Inq. of the Week: Fantasy Influences

Boris Vallejo ArtLast week, we wanted to know which side of the screen you preferred to be on. 54% are multiclassed player/GMs and enjoy both. Players-only was next with 25%, and 19% were power-hungry I mean GM only. Only 1 of you responded that you don’t play, which I suppose means we know our audience!

Spinning out from the discussion about what D&D is, I pondered about the disconnect that some players have to various concepts. For example, I’ve read long threads about how 4e’s change in the definition of hit points breaks their willing suspension of disbelief due to its abstraction. At the same time, I’ve never had a problem with the abstraction because I generally am in that video game frame of reference in D&D. (Now, in a more simulation-style game like GURPS or Call of Cthulhu, it’s a different story.) The same goes for the long discussions about economic scale. As someone who has studied social sciences pretty heavily, I’ve never though the D&D worlds had any chance of being realistic, and so I’ve always done what’s best for the game and story.

In a different direction, Bartoneus and I are both prepping our 4e games and discussing often about it. It seems some of his players are interested in playing characters based on Van Helsing (from the movie) and from Final Fantasy X.

Perfectly fine concepts to be sure. It leads me to wonder, however…

[poll id=”79″]

Feel free to elaborate on what impact you think those influences had on what you enjoy in your fantasy gaming experiences, or anything else you want to tell us about the world of Fantasy!

About Dave

Dave "The Game" Chalker is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Critical Hits. Since 2005, he has been bringing readers game news and advice, as well as editing nearly everything published here. He is the designer of the Origins Award-winning Get Bit!, a freelance designer and developer, son of a science fiction author, and a Master of Arts. He lives in MD with e, their three dogs, and two cats.


  1. I only voted for those things that I had experienced by the end of high school, to really hit home the “formative” aspect.

    Also, I think the list is missing something like “Disney Movies” or just plain “Fairy Tales”. Looking at this poll, the earliest exposure I would have had was around middle school with FF6, and certainly I had a love of Fantasy concepts before then. Sleeping Beauty, King Arthur lore, dare I even say Monty Python and the Holy Grail???

  2. Fairy Tales is a good one, it’s been added.

    I considered Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but at the same time, I’m not sure it’s influenced fantasy so much as it has influenced gamers and what they quote all the time 🙂

  3. Only choices I didn’t pick are Discworld and Dragonlance / D&D novels, because those are the worlds I’m not so familiar with.

    I like your personal bias of splitting the Final Fantasy series between 6 and 7, though I suppose the platform jump to Playstation and graphics jump to 3d it makes sense.

  4. I’d call that more of a personal bias, it really seems to be the standard deliniation between “old school” and “new school” rpgs; especially since 7 brought in so many new people to the franchise.

  5. happyturtle says:

    Other: History. There are loads of historical characters and events that would fit right into a fantasy world.

    Science “fantasy” fiction: A lot of science fiction, whether film or books, is just fantasy in space, with applied phlebotinium instead of magic spells. Any of Doctor Who’s aliens could easily be a D&D monster.

  6. Good points. I guess I was more thinking of what things in the fantasy genre influence how you think about the fantasy genre, but those are both good examples of influences that leak into D&D and such.

  7. Anime and Sci-fi have had the greatest influence on me, though I’m not without nearly everything else on this list (especially Tolkein and Classic Myth)…the last 3.5 character I’ll be playing for awhile is a barbarian with a personality like Jayne Cobb (Firefly) and Kamina (Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann) combined…

    My influences have made D&D a hell of a lot more fun to play, and on rare occasion to run as well…

  8. TheMainEvent says:

    Sci-fi is huge for me, especially Dune and Star Wars, both in my role playing and my writing.

  9. I’m really not influenced by fantasy at all, unless you count Star Wars as fantasy. Even though I primarily play D&D. My two biggest influences are super hero stories (film, comics, tv) and videogames.

  10. I think it’s funny that you used a Frezetta painting for this post, as his stuff usually makes me laugh with the ridiculously cliche nature of it. It’s so skillfully done, and I love it, but still makes me laugh.

  11. I think it’s Vallejo, actually. At least that’s what I searched for.

  12. Original Sultan says:

    Other: fantasy board games / table-top games, including Hero Quest, Warhammer, and (duh) D&D. I didn’t think these things fit into any of the other categories, but each had a very strong influence on how I define and think about fantasy. I know that many of these things were based on Tolkien’s works (and others’), but many of the categories up there were based on something else, so that seems irrelevant to me.

    I only voted for other, Tolkien, Dragonlance / D&D inspired fiction, and NES/SNES era RPGs, as those were the PRIMARY fantasy influences for me. I was influenced by several others (Modern RPGs comes to mind), but I tried to limit my votes to the primary influences.

  13. I hadn’t considered board games (oddly enough), but yeah, good point. Talisman certainly has had some influence over my stuff.

    And for my next adventure, knights with lances on horseback charge into a dungeon to fight named characters!

  14. Dave: You’re right, I’ve gone and confused my Frazetta with my Vallejo (hate it when that happens). Most of Frazetta’s work is more reasonable and cool, while Vallejo frequently painted the ridiculous things I was talking about. Thanks!

  15. And, after looking through pages of his work for something to go with this post, he also frequently paints boobies.

  16. TheMainEvent says:

    Is this site rated PG-13 or PG?

  17. I think we can just slam most of the ratings together for RPG-13…it really varies from post to post…

    Darn lack of html knowledge…

  18. What is boobies?


  1. […] the pun hurts.  Last week Dave asked everyone what their primary influences are in the Fantasy genre, and I’d so it’s no surprise at all that Tolkien Middle Earth and Lewis’ Narnia […]