Fantasy 101: Inspiration from Established Series

I’ve noticed as I play some of my video games, that they have either sprawling cities or other areas that would work for some of my novel ideas as inspiration. This is especially useful for writers of fantasy (my specialty) and science fiction. Here are a few of my favorite games and what locations I’d like to emulate in my novels. Note that I do not much like science fiction, so if you have recommendations for myself and other readers, feel free to leave a comment below! Movies and television shows are also great sources for location inspiration. Note: These are the games I have, though I’m sure there are plenty of games that would fall into one of these three categories. As I do not play science fiction games, I’ll edit this post and add in that category after I do a bit of research on that topic.

Apocalyptic:

These are normally zombie stories, or a survival story after a nuclear war. The Resident Evil series and The Walking Dead series come to mind. Seeing the destruction of the locations could help you get into the frame of mind needed to send your characters out into your own chosen location. The storylines could also help you think of ideas for hiding places for your characters within your story to help them try and survive whatever you decide to put them through.

Fantasy:

Diablo series: this dark world is full of zombies and other undead, which is great for my current work, which features a necromancer as the main character. The scenery within the game is the perfect inspiration for the character’s inherited kingdom which hasn’t been in use for thousands of years. This is where some locations of the Fable, Dragon Age, and Witcher series come into play as inspiration. All three have locations of buildings/ruins overgrown with weeds and vines. I believe some of the locations are crumbling, with moss growing everywhere inside these locations, which is the perfect visual for a place abondoned for many centuries.

The Final Fantasy series and Kingdoms of Alumar: Reckoning (as well as previously mentioned titles) all have sprawling cities. I love the idea of cities where the buildings act as a wall to keep things out, with an entrance and exit gate mixed in the different areas. These also have cities/towns/villages dedicated to different species of life, which have their own established rules, architecture and history. These elements will most likely influence any characters in your story that come from these places.

My biggest inspiration for my current work is the PC game, Majesty, which is a strategy game where you build buildings to recruit adventurers from the menaces of each quest. I have taken some of the ideas, such as the Temple of Krypta (the Necromancer-recruiting temple) and gave it a new name as well as evolved the idea to where there is a hierarchy within the temple. Each level of the hierarchy can do their own thing. The High Priest and High Priestess has the most power within the temple, can do everything the other levels within the temple can do, and perform all the hardest rituals, which those below their knowledge level cannot do. Their devotion of the death goddess is played upon as is the fact that other magic users are affected negatively to the death magic emanating from the temple. See? You can take a simple idea from a video game (movie or TV series) and expand on it, making it into something new.

Realistic:

By realistic, I mean the cities and towns that could possibly be found within our own world. These games could be the starting point of creating your own fictional city or town in terms of architecture, layout and technological advances. The Grand Theft Auto, Infamous, and Watchdogs series comes to mind as does X-Men: Destiny where they are set in real-life places, but changed just enough to make them their own. Infamous is set in its own fictional city, though it feels like it could be a real location in our world.

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Fantasy 101: Balance (Magic and Abilities)

In this post, we are going to talk about balance when it comes to the magic and abilities of your fantasy characters.

There are a surprising number of fantasy characters that can accomplish literally anything that their creator has thought up of for their journey. The character is up against an evil entity and this entity had managed to lay waste to all other characters in the book, while the main character doesn’t get a scratch? A character that single-handedly lays waste to a whole army made up of hundreds of thousands of soldiers without lifting a finger? These examples might be overly exaggerated, but I think you get the point.

These stories often leaves the reader dissatisfied because everything is handed to the hero. What is the point in reading a story like that, where the hero doesn’t grow as a person? This is where balance comes in. For every amazing ability that a hero is given by their creator, the ability should have some sort of disadvantage that makes the hero think twice about using the awesome ability.

Here is an example: Imagine that you have written a book where the hero is able to manipulate water to attacks their opponents. Pretty cool ability, right? The obvious way to use the ability would be to have the hero able to create the water attacks from the moisture in the air, or from a water source such as a lake. There isn’t much that would need to be balanced, and people might be expecting it. Readers would not expect a hero whom uses their own body’s water for their attacks. What if every time the hero uses one of their water-based attacks, the hero becomes more dehydrated? They could begin to show signs of dehydration, which could be lead to death if not kept in check.

Another example: Your hero could have the ability to manipulate electricity and lightning. Many heroes could use this element without bringing harm to themselves. What if the hero ended up with their heart stopped every time they use their electricity ability? What if the more they use this ability, the longer their heart stopped, which could cause bodily injury such as internal and external burns, even death? The hero would be less likely to use this ability, except in dire situations.

As you can see, having a balance with the character’s abilities could bring another element to your stories to increase your options through each chapter. That is all for the moment. We hope that this lesson has been good for you! Have fun crafting your stories!