So, in the happy little chain-o'-blogs that I mull through sometimes, I came upon this little challenge: http://lotfp.blogspot.com/2008/06/media-influences.html
Basic premise: What are the 5 biggest media influences on you as a DM/GM/etc.?
So, here we go!
1) H.P. Lovecraft
I was introduced to Lovecraft relatively late in my GMing 'career', but the Cthulhian horror concepts he started tend to permeate whatever game I'm running. In D&D, I end up with Mind Flayers and Elder Brain, summoning "Far Realm" entities alongside their humanoid cultists. Same thing happens in Conan, and even in superhero games like Heroes Unlimited.
2. Ray Harryhausen
I first watched "Jason and the Argonauts" when I was in first grade. Greek myth, filtered through stop-motion effects and bad '60s haircuts, made my childhood what it was. It started in me a love of all things mystic and mythic, which hasn't ceased yet. In terms of GMing, a lot of this shows in my backgrounding. I love having some ancient myths and heroes sitting lost in the background, whose deeds the players can emulate.
If nothing else, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe has something for every GM. Ancient, forbidden magic; ultra-high technology; unique super-powers; a cackling villain with unique (and powerful) henchmen; massive, decaying fortresses...Seriously, what GM couldn't pull from a setting like this?! I was obsessed with He-Man for years, and managed to pick up the DVD releases immediately as they were released. I still go back to these for episodic game ideas...
4. Thomas Malory
As a Medievalist, Malory's 'piece de resistance' stands out any time I think about literary influences. The tragedy of Arthur's death, and the circumstances surrounding the fall of Camelot, are among the most recognizable for good reason. The nature of the Grail Quest, as well, is almost iconic in its representation of a "quest arc". I love pulling from Arthurian lore for adventures, particularly with lesser known knights (Yvain comes immediately to mind).
Growing up on D&D, it was really easy to paint many things in 4-color. Good was good, evil was evil, and that was it. These two campaign settings utterly threw me for a loop on that. Existential philosophy in gaming?! Moral quandaries?! Who knew that D&D could get so complex. Even in a non-planar, non-RL game, I find myself throwing in ideas and moral choices for players that are colored by these two campaign settings.