An idea suddenly came to me this morning - a simplistic idea, easy to implement, and awesome in its usefulness (or so I believe).
Specifically, I was imagining my sleazy sci-fi RPG Alpha Blue and how it's a mash-up of so many TV shows and movies. It can be difficult to keep a wide variety of influences in your head while running a game. Eventually, it becomes just one more thing to juggle. However, instead of trying to keep another ball in the air, why not write it down?
Here's what I came up with - list all the influential titles (books, movies, series, comics, music) you want to include in your campaign setting. You could organize them by medium, chronology, most influential to least, etc. Once you have all your categories, write down between one and three details for each influence you want to include in your campaign setting.
Coming up with a single detail for each influence should be a no-brainer. Obviously, if your campaign is being influenced by... say, Ice Pirates, you can at least write down "hijacking starships hauling ice across the galaxy." As your setting starts taking shape, incrementally add details as they come to you.
This influence/details list can be used over and over again, and slight alterations are a breeze. Simply erase or cross out what you no longer want to use and if you want to make an addition, add it to the list.
Let's look at an example. I'm going to list seven influences with at least one detail per influence.
Star Trek: Photon torpedoes and starship on a diplomatic mission to discover new alien civilizations and negotiate peaceful co-habitation in the universe.
Blake's 7: The Federation and Orac.
Star Wars: Mos Eisley Cantina, the rebellion, and dark zedi (force users).
Dune: The desert planet Arrakis, the spice melange, the Bene Gesserit (school of psi-witches), and Guild Navigators.
Total Recall: Three-boobed hooker and domes shielding radiation on Mars colony.
Blade Runner: Replicant who doesn't know she's a replicant and giant electronic billboards advertising coke, geisha women, and purple prizm.
Logan's Run: Humans have to compete in "carousel" game when they turn 30, runners, and sandmen.
And then next week I could add... Space 1999: the handheld weapon they use on that show.
With this visual reference at hand, I can quickly glance at it during sessions - see what setting notes I've already hit and others I missed.
Seeing everything laid out in front of me, my subconscious will hopefully make connections that my conscious mind fails to come up with (are there hookers with three boobs intentionally distracting runners or trying to aid them? That's my kind of sanctuary!)
With a game like Alpha Blue, that relies on combining established sci-fi franchises because its own vague, nebulous setting is similarly cobbled together, this list is going to help immensely!
I'll include this information and a lot more in my upcoming Alpha Blue scenario, "High Stakes Q'uay-Q'uar" available via the Trinity of Awesome Returns Kickstarter happening right smegging now!
Thanks for reading, and if this idea helps you out, I'd love to hear about it. So, stay in touch!