Malazan Influences on Grim Dawn

Malazan Influence appeared relatively late into development of GD.

GD’s setting is described as a mix of Malazan, Chthulhu mythos and Black Legion. Excluding the former two I’d look for something similar to aetherials in the latter.

Hmm, no, I can’t think of anything resembling the Aetherials in Malazan.

Nor does Malazan have anything like the Witch Gods and the Eldritch realm. Those I think owe something to the Chaos Gods of Warhammer… Nurgle/Dreeg, Khorne/Solael, Tzeentch/Bysmiel, maybe.


The thing is, fantasy breeds more fantasy. All the way back when Lovecraft started his Chthulu mythos, to Tolkien with his Middle Earth universe, to more modern novels like The Raven’s Mark series and the Powder Mage trilogy. They all draw on each other for inspiration and basic ideas. I wouldn’t call it plagiarism or stealing ideas, it’s just the nature of fantasy.


I wouldn’t either. That’s why I took care to avoid any such insinuations. I like examining art as a big connected web of ideas.
Influence, homage…“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”


Exactly my thoughts! :smiley:

True. For example Lord of the Rings is basically Nordic mythology. I guess everything was done at this point, so the best you can do is getting inspiration from various sources and change them a bit to fit your vision.


Interviewer: What do you think about young bands stealing your ideas?
Lemmy Kilmister: Good for them. Maybe one day they’ll make something I wanna steal.


If you took the ideas from one person only it’s plagiarism , if you take from many people it’s called research.


Some similar conceptual stuff that’s similar would be Shadowthrone, wanting to ensure power over the empire as well as realms beyond. Possession in Malazan is possible through soul shifting. Apsalar was possessed by a wax witch AND Cotillion. There are other instances that pop up elsewhere too.

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Also the Jade Giants, colossal green statues stuffed full of angry souls from another realm. One of them possesses a witch who happens to be delving for water nearby.

There is a lot of soul shifting in Malazan, though typically the target is an empty vessel, like a puppet, a stick figurine, an animal, or a human whose soul has already departed. And it’s usually some dire need or extreme circumstance that prompts it.

Nothing quite like the secret organized force with an “invasion of the body snatchers” vibe that the Aetherials have.

Funny thing, when I was working at Iron Lore on the Black Legion concept, a new designer we hired, asked if I’d ever read Glen Cook’s Black Company, which I hadn’t and suggested I check it out, since he said there were a lot of parallels (not least the name) with the backstory I was working on. So I ended up reading through the Black Company series and then sometime after, I found out about Steven Erikson, which is sort of a ripoff of Black Company and did read a bunch of his books, which in some ways are better written than Cook’s… but they’re so long and convoluted I kind of got burnt out at some point. I forget where I stopped.

Really though, I think a lot of similar in fantasy is due to the fact that we’re all ripping off the originals - history / ancient mythology and the reason for that is that it was forged out of the human experience and contains age-old motifs that resonate with us and are broadly relatable. That and they just were there first to lay claim to a lot of the cliché cool ideas we continue to recycle. I majored in ancient history and, like I me, I can tell Erikson really digs ancient history and myth and was heavily influenced by it. Notably the feel of it, where stuff is often a lot more gritty and messy than tolkien style fantasy, what with all the child eating, patricide, eagles feasting on livers and such.

A lot of the stuff in the original comparison came before I read Malazan, so it’s definitely not influenced by it. Other stuff, I honestly couldn’t say, sometimes you don’t directly borrow an idea but maybe you were subconsciously influenced by it? Other stuff mentioned above, Zantai came up with and he didn’t Steven Erikson or Glen Cook.

I don’t really remember where a lot of ideas came from if anywhere, but Ch’thon and all the undesirable early creations cast into the void is a total ripoff of Cronus and the titans of Greek myth, which is probably what inspired Erikson. I’ve actually not read the myth of Kingu somehow, so also a coincidence. I just was trying to come up with my own creation myth and there is more creation backstory that isn’t conveyed in GD (I feel like to create depth, sometimes you need to have supporting story and events that you never explicitly reveal but which provide coherent foundation for the story you do tell). Basically though, the origin of the gods has to do with the joining of matter, energy and spirit, and so to create life and sentience, those elements had to come from somewhere. Part of the fucked up truth of Cairn is the humanity was created from the sacrificing of Ch’thon and so part of his madness lives in all people.

Chaos - I mean, that’s in like every mythos and fantasy world. I think we only really added chaos because we needed another damage type, which originally was only meant for enemies. Not like it was a very original idea.

Mogdrogen - I think I finally got around to watching Princess Mononoke at the end of Iron Lore, because someone had a poster or something of it in their cubical and I thought “a giant wolf god would be cool”. Then came up with the titan backstory and eventually decided it should be able to change into a human form because it would be weird every trying to allow the player to talk to a screen-sized wolf.

Menhir - I kind of feel like I shouldn’t reveal some of this stuff because I’m showing too much of how the sausage is made, so to speak and maybe taking some magic out of it. However, Menhir came about because I was working on soldier and decided some skills should refer to dieties or people to add flavor and a feeling of depth. So I thought - defensive skills could be related to some earth god cuz like mountains are tough lol… So I vaguely remembered there was some word for ancient stone monoliths that was cool and looked it up - bam, Menhir. At that point, there was no backstory, existed purely to provide a cool context for skills. Honestly, a lot of GD lore came about like this - it started kind of shallow, as just some name / vague concept, then later we ended up filling a lot of it in with lore as the need arose. The cleaving mountains with mythical weapons thing was from Zantai - this is actually my first time reading it… sounds a little far fetched for my taste :shushing_face:

Oleron was actually a story I came up with working on the Black Legion concept, so it predates my having read Erikson. I then decided to recycle it for soldier mastery because I like the name / figured the story fit pretty well.

Autumn Boar - we needed a few more constellation and I don’t remember who came up with them but I think we just tossed a bunch of different animals out there and Zantai wrote up the backstories.

It’s funny because there’s a number of deities in the constellations that exist purely to provide constellations to put points into - but some of them we’re now taking to expanding on for lore / backstory in the RTS.

John Bourbon - I honestly have no idea here… I think I was just trying to come up with a name that sounded cool and grizzled?

Aetherials are basically pissed off angels. Hey, not that I say it like that, maybe it was influenced by Supernatural? I have no idea at this point.

You missed probably the biggest influence though - Demolitionists. They aren’t called that in the books and I forget the details now, its been so long but I remember they had soldiers who were basically explosives experts. This goes back to Glen Cook though and Erikson borrowed from him.

Ultimately, virtually nothing emerges from the void as a totally original idea and, consuming so much sci-fi and fantasy content, it’s hard to even know sometimes where ideas may have come from sometimes. When I try to think up important char names, I look them up on the internet to make sure I’m not accidentally subconsciously stealing some name I heard somewhere else. A lot of people also tend to have convergent ideas, just based on the influences of the time - I mean, look how often I somehow happen to embark upon a project in a previously under-served genre and bam, suddenly everyone and their mom has had the same idea and is announcing new games in that genre… :man_shrugging:


I’ll just go on the record and state that I love Glen Cook’s Black Company stories.

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aetherials are pissed off angels like in supernaturals. so… aetherials are fallen angels that also roleplay as aliens and dr. frankenstein.

thats an interesting explanation about ch’thon’s madness residing in all humans of cairn. no wonder the celestials feared and controlled the humans closely.

i find it inevitable that in this modern age of instant information deliveries, lots of ideas and inventions will be so similar even though its entirely coincidental through subsconsious means. because thats just the way the world works. originality and creativity will eventually hit true dead ends at some point, that future generation will just accept it and enjoy what they have because there’s SOOOO MANY legacies of creativity left behind by our predecessors, we all won’t have the chance to experience all of them.

i like the world design of grim dawn due to its grittiness and occult elements mixed with industrial/victorian/tribal tech and ancient mythology. the story can be summed up as a tale about cowboys-inquisitors-witches fighting against mad scientists aliens, undead, spirits, el banditos, other witches, demons and angry ancient gods with ominous black hole approaching from space.

yeah, grim dawn is unique in its own way.

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Wow I thought I was pretty into the lore but totally missed this. Is this ‘madness’ what corrupts Aetherials like those which possessed Warden Krieg and Theodin Marcell? That’s pretty neat to think about. Likewise I assume there are some people better capable of resisting it, which are probably inclusive of (most) of the NPCs we run into (except Direni?) in towns.

Should totally lean into this more in GD2!

Totally concur. I employ this too. I believe very strongly in providing opportunities to an audience to fill in the gaps themselves, regardless of whether they actually “get it right” - just giving them the potential to better immerse themselves is valuable enough!

The sappers! SMH. Of course, with all their explosive munitions.

I actually find that totally plausible. Erikson himself has a degree in archaeology, no doubt he’s drawing on centuries of motifs and images. And he has much respect for Glen Cook, clearly that’s a series I need to read at some point.

So rather than saying X influenced Y, maybe this is an example of parallel myth-making in action. They’re both expressions of some deeper current of ideas that have accumulated over time.

The biggest coincidence IMO would have to be John Bourbon and Whiskeyjack. I thought for sure this one was a deliberate easter egg.

All-in-all, thanks for the insight into the genesis of these concepts. This game’s imagination keeps me coming back year after year and I ponder over the lore anew with each playthrough.


The ultimate question is, how was Scorv made? :scorv:


Papa Scorv and Mama Scorv meet each other :scorv:


its very possible that ch’thon’s madness influenced the aetherials indirectly through their host bodies. the wicked hosts are closely more attuned to ch’thon’s suffering, which makes ch’thon able to control them more easily.

makes me wonder whether empyrion should be blamed for shattering and banishing ch’thon to the void.but maybe he and his celestials did it so that they can create and control the mortals while at the same time humiliating ch’thon (who is dying but still alive) even further. celestials are weird. why not just chuck ch’thon into yugol’s mouth and migrate to another galaxy?

i find the connection to the supernatural tv series intriguing. gonna watch that show to see if their pissed of angels closely resembles the aetherials.

You need to go through a handful of seasons until they appear. I think they indeed are kind of similar to aetherials.

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A bit off-topic, but I haven’t seen anybody ever mentioning the resemblance between aether crystals and tiberium from Command & Conquer:

  • the appearance
  • character melting when stepping on it
  • corrupting the ground
  • spreading uncontrollably
  • can be utilised if harvested properly.

Where did these crystals come from in development? They’re one of my favourite parts of scenery. Oh, and the sounds they make too!