Thursday, June 2, 2011


Cross-Pollination - Influence or inspiration between or among diverse elements.

This happens a lot between my writer side and my gamer side.  Like many gamers (particularly RPG players), I imagine my characters' adventures as stories, and indeed have chronicled such adventures (whether actual play or just made up) in fiction of one form or another.

However, this happens more often in the backgrounds of said characters, rather than with actual game-play.  Either my latest D&D character is inspired by a fictitious character I made up, or my latest fictional character is inspired by an RPG character, the two seem to go hand in hand for me.

WARNING:  What follows could be construed as me doing that thing that dorky gamers do when they talk about their favorite characters.

For instance, when I was in early high school, a friend and I decided to start a D&D game using the Expert Set (remember that blue box?).  These rules had details for making half-elf characters.  Brilliant!  So, inspired by Longshot from the Marvel Comics X-Men titles, I proceeded to roll up Tomos the Half-Elf Fighter (yes, he was my alter-ego).  Had some fun times with him.  Eventually, the game petered out, and I put Tomos away.

Later, I started gaming with some new friends after my old friend had graduated and moved on.  They had higher-level characters.  So, rather than roll up a new character, and artificially advance him, I converted Tomos from D&D to AD&D.  And thus was born a bad-ass.  Tomos had the maximum strength allowable to a Half-Elf (18/90), 18 Dex, 17 Cha, and he ended up having a 19 Comeliness (from Unearthed Arcana).  At the time I was reading a lot of the Conan paperbacks, and I was highly influenced by them.  So, I decided that Tomos was a cross between Conan and D'Artagnan.  Physically powerful, but roguishly handsome and charming.

Tomos soon became the subject of MANY planned works of fiction.  From short stories to novels, to fan-fiction involving established Forgotten Realms characters.  Nothing was ever written beyond copious notes, the beginnings of a few novels, and one complete short story (which, unfortunately, got lost in the computer shuffle years ago).

Tomos has since been converted to each new incarnation of D&D (with the exception of 4E, because that game just sucks), but has seen very little play since high school.  I've also made him in a few D&D-based computer games, like NWN.  Yep, Tomos Elvenblood is probably my all-time favorite D&D character, and a source of seemingly endless inspiration.

Even today, I find myself using details I developed for one character to flesh out others.  From game to fiction and back the other way.  Shades of Tomos crop up every now and again, but other characters have also been highly influential.

Like Vin Diesel said, "D&D is a training ground for the imagination."  I wholeheartedly agree, Vin.


Charles Gramlich said...

Makes me wish I'd grown up in a place where I could have played Dungeons and Dragons.

Tom Doolan said...

It's never too late... :)