I’ve sat through more hours of architectural history classes than seems reasonable for a human being, everything from the crude Dolmen tombs of early Europe to weeks of studying the various gothic cathedrals that all look pretty much the same. I never got the chance to take an asian architecture course, but one of the most memorable asian structures that I learned about was the Ise Grand Shrine.
I believe that most DMs have only run a single campaign world, whether it was one big campaign that has been continued through various ages, or they’ve only managed to run one satisfactory campaign. The tendency for a DM seems to be to conserve the number of campaigns they run by reusing worlds or tying them together so that in the end the number of campaign worlds they run is as close to one as possible. I think our tendency as DMs is to keep things relatively stable within our game worlds unless they are split by something like a change in campaign.
If someone asked me for a single bit of advice to improve their roleplaying games, whether as a DM or a player, I would tell them to spend as much time as they can reading the great fantasy and sci-fi books that are out there. For the first several years that I was playing RPGs I was not an avid reader and had not even heard of many of the classics, including ones that everyone should have heard of like The Lord of the Rings. At the time I thought many of my friends were insanely creative or stricken by some miraculous form of otherworldly inspiration, but as I’ve read more and more of the books out there I began to realize that most good ideas in our RPGs have been inspired by or even directly ripped from other sources. For example, in one of the first D&D games that I ever DM’d a player showed up with a character named “Muadib” and I remember thinking that it was a very unique and interesting sounding name. A year or two later I started reading Dune and groaned when I realized he’d simply lifted the name straight out of that book.
Every RPGer struggles to make their game special. No one wants to run a forgettable, generic game. In my opinion, music can very easily fuel ideas for unique campaign settings, adventure, or character concepts.
Published adventures are an area that has always, always bugged me. That’s one big reason that I never really got into running them, and even today, I’m much more likely to hack them apart and steal what I want then run them out of the book. Part of that is I’ve felt like they don’t do their job quite well enough: communicate everything you need to know to run the adventure with minimal prep time and minimal disruptions while running it.