1. The world is ancient.
There are ancient ruins, and machines, that show there were many civilizations before the one living on Dere now. This ties in neatly with the first few modules (dungeon crawls, mostly) before the publisher decided they were verboten!, and streamlined the whole setting… just to turn it into pure boredom.
2. There are portals to other worlds.
3. There is at least one more country or continent on the map.
4. Magic is corrupting.
Dangerous, soul-sucking magic is the norm in Dunkelwurm.
5. There are many different cultures on the world.
A wild combination of disparate cultures and scientific developments – flying apparatuses in one country, and sticks and stones in the one right next to it.
6. More sword&sorcery, less Three Musketeers.
Dunkelwurm uses FKR rules.
Sources of Inspiration
1. The art Of Talbot, Yüce, Biswanger and Holitzka
Dunkelwurm would be not the same without the stunning old school black and white art of British artist Bryan Talbot. For examples of his work, click here or here. Another perennial favorite of mine is Munich artist Claus Biswanger, who painted quite a few covers for the first modules. Klaus Holitzka, another German artists, is what I’m looking for. And last, but not least: Turkish artist Uğurcan Yüce. Yüce’s unique style (mustaches for the win!) speaks to me.
2. The music
Every kind of stoner rock, definitely. And, handily enough, the Sword&Backpack mixtapes.
3. The movies and the books
Conan. Barbarian Brothers. Headlopper. Heavy Metal, and Heavy Metal 2000. Rankin/Bass The Hobbit. Bakshi’s crazy-ass movies. Pretty much the entire Appendix N, but Fritz Leiber, Jack Vance, L. Sprague De Camp, Robert E. Howard, Michael Moorcock and Roger Zelazny being on top of the list. And, not to forget, the first Das Schwarze Auge novel, Andreas Brandhorsts “Das Eherne Schwert” (The Bronze Sword; 1985).