Seeking Inspiration

Finding inspiration in “The Silk Road” and “DCC RPG Annual”

Since I have worked from home. My days are filled with Zoom meetings, writing documentation, and writing code.

Each day of work, I write down in a spiral notebook my todo items. On that same page, I then record the work I’m doing. It’s a ritual I established to help provide structure to my work day.

Throughout the day, I play frisbee with my two border collies: Corrie and Owlbear Camus. This is a photo from two years ago with Owlbear chasing a frisbee.

Owlbear Camus, a tri-color merle border collie, in mid-sprint chasing a thrown frisbee.

In the evenings, I often cook dinner then do the dishes. Nothing fancy, just cooking from what we have. Yet I find myself hungry for creative inspiration.

Inspiration in Non-Fiction

Since writing about , I started reading Peter Frankopan’s “The Silk Roads: A New History of the World.”

In the coming weeks, I plan to start a Stars without Number: Revised Edition 📖 campaign with my son and his suite-mates. I figure that “The Silk Roads”, a world history revolving around trade and commerce, would provide excellent fodder for a sci-fi game.

Early in the preface of “The Silk Roads”, the following passage drew me in:

I had become uneasy about the relentlessly narrow geographic focus of my classes at school, which concentrated solely on western Europe and the United States and left most of the rest of the world untouched.

, The Silk Roads p xiii

I figure, if I want a vibrant sector, I better have more fodder from which to draw. I’m about 20% of the way through my copy, and am really enjoying the narrative.

For example, I had never connected that Persia co-existed with Rome. They even collaborated in repelling the Huns in the Caucasus.

Inspiration in Gaming Material

I also started cracking open my Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC 📖) books. The writing, rules, and art always set my mind churning. It rattles around in my brain the same way that Role Playing Games (RPGs 📖) rattled around my teenage brain. I’ll need to reflect a bit on this.

I checked to see if DCC RPG Annual, once “spoken about for half a decade in hoary whispers”, had been released. It had.

So, purchased a print and digital copy. I always welcome more art by Doug Kovacs and Stefan Poag.

This morning, I started my read through and found a gold-mine. Below is the highest casting result for the Slaying Strike patron spell.

The caster charges a melee weapon with the slaying strike. This weapon may be wielded by a character other than the caster. The weapon’s next strike to the quarry slays the target. If the weapon fails to strike the target in the next 100 years or before the quarry is slain, the spell discharges, slaying the caster and any character possessing the enchanted weapon.

Folded within that result I see a seed of a time-sensitive story-arc.

Imagine A wizard, corrupted with extended life, grows desperate as it has been 99 years since casting Slaying Strike and yet the quarry still lives. The wizard beguiles a few adventuring souls, binding one of them to the charged melee weapon. Find and slay the quarry, and the wizard promises riches.

What complications arise? Who is the intended target? Is time travel in play? Those questions, and more, pop to mind.


The breadth of The Silk Roads sparks my curiosity to learn even more about Persia and Assyria. To continue exploring the rich and vast history of our world. I recommend reading Random Worldbuilding – Historical Tidbits over at The Alexandrian. History really has more to offer than any constructed worlds we might make.

Yet, to bring something to a role-playing game, I need small charged moments and scenes. Something which the players can push against, and from which stories emerge. For example a cursed sword.

What are you finding for inspiration in these Pandemic days and nights? Let .