Alright, I’ll admit it – most people find history a very boring topic. But, I disagree because those of us in the ttrpg community can find a wealth and abundance of stories and inspiration to be mined and adapted for our games.
Let’s start with an example: When I describe a story where a king is killed, and various nobles go to war to vie for power over a vast kingdom, with loads of fighting and political intrigue, you’ll probably guess I’m talking about Game of Thrones. And you would be correct, but I’m also talking about the War of the Roses, which author George R.R. Martin admitted to drawing on for inspiration for the series. Another pop culture example would be the nomenclature and uniforms of the Empire in Star Wars. George Lucas specifically called the bad guys “Stormtroopers” because of links to other organizations in history.
Now, what good does ripping ideas from a book about boring old people have to do with your ttrpg or DnD game? Well to start, it can give DMs a vast plethora of stories that are ready made at your fingertips. Need a story about a pirate king – Blackbeard. If you need inspiration for a story, History is full of amazing adventures that are pre-written and have a road map for DM’s who can use real life accounts in their TTRPG game and the players would be none the wiser Additionally, there will typically be a long list of well written NPC’s that are just an internet search away.
Stepping outside of our lovely ttrpg circle for a moment, history also can teach us valuable lessons. There are individual tales of pride, hubris, and other flaws that we can compare our lives to and learn from that will prevent us from coming full circle and give us a chance to move forward in our own lives. There are also tales about people dressing up as giant animals and running around shouting nonsense, but no matter what histories you focus on, all of these tales can be valuable for us both as people and as storytellers.