Nothing is original.
How many times have you heard that phrase before? This is always the conclusion when other people criticize your ideas. Dig deep enough and your fonts of inspiration will be laid bare. Unoriginal.
“It’s just like Dragon Age!”
“Haven’t I read something similar to this in the Stormlight Archive?”
“I loved that idea in Avatar!”
“Wait, so your city is kinda like Piltover from Arcane?”
I used to take offense when hearing these comparisons to my worldbuilding. As if my work was diminished with my sources exposed. My ego loved to believe no one else could have done what I did, and in these moments, it got kicked in its metaphorical nuts. Anyone could have stolen that idea, but here’s the thing – everyone has.
How many works of fiction were inspired by Lord of the Rings? How many sci-fi stories draw from Dune? Even these great works were inspired by something that came before them. J. R. R. Tolkien described his book as "a fundamentally religious and Catholic work, unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision."
Are we going to deny ourselves the tools that were embraced in the great epics of our time?
The Time-Traveling Platypus Gladiator
I’m pretty sure this idea has never been done before (at least not when this blog was published). If you were to go and be the first to make it you’d be original, right?
Well, that depends. Did you read any books that featured time travel? Have you watched movies about gladiators? Chances are you will take inspiration from them without even noticing.
But the time-traveling platypus gladiator is still exciting, even if it takes all the tropes from Spartacus and the Terminator. Not my style, admittedly, but it’s definitely someone’s. The time-traveling platypus gladiator feels novel in concept, even if it ends up using ideas we’ve seen hundreds of times before.
Can it be truly original, though? Not unless it’s written by aliens.
Steal like an artist.
Study, credit, remix, mash-up, and transform.
Take the ideas you love and combine them into something new. Use them because you love them. Allow others to fall in love with them through your depiction and reiteration. We have been doing this since the dawn of storytelling. Why stop now?
Take pride in your sources of inspiration. Cherish them. Be a fan.
Ask yourself the following questions: “What about [SOURCE] is so inspiring to me? How can I bring that to my next game?”
Answer these questions and see where they take you. This is real art.
Inspiration is everywhere
And there’s strength in recognizing yours. You can be inspired by books and TV shows. You can find intrigue in local news or in the pages of history. Even your neighborhood cafe can provide fresh characters for your next D&D session.
When it comes to inspiration, there are no rules for where you can find yours.
We invite you to join the Church of Unoriginal Ideas. Study the holy texts that resonate with your soul, and channel them to cast your own magic.
Feeling inspired? Join our community and tell us about the fiction that moves you.
See you beyond the screen,