Sometimes research doesn't go the way you expected. I'd been doing some reading up on Mesopotamian mythology, trying to figure out why dragons occur in metaphors and similes so much in the texts. The way those folk refer to dragons, you'd think they could see them every day.
Anyway, in the process, I arrived at the notion that the Mesopotamian world was remarkably similar to the generic fantasy of the Forgotten Realms and Greyhawk. I chased off for a while trying to work out if Tolkien or Vance or another Great Old One had been influenced by research or reading in such things, but apart from the unsurprising detail that Gygax pilfered them for names, I found nothing. I eventually decided that it's because the Mesopotamian and Sumerian stories are so old, and form so many archetypes, that they're very close to being the "basic form" of many legends and fairytales. And fantasy, as a genre, sticks closer to those archetypes than any other, so there's naturally a resemblence.
That's rather more boring than my original theory, which centered on an Immortal Mesopotamian Novelists Cabal - but in the process, I found so many small and interesting details than my brain has had a good go at being on fire for days now. My players can expect to see effects of this little research jag for years to come.
Posted by Drew Shiel at August 16, 2005 1:57 PM