There are lots of things I don't like about D&D, but its still my favorite game.
I go with generic too often, I should go for specific, stylized, or even silly. Reading more will help with this. My next cleric NPC is going to be like one of the priests in Cornwell's Agincourt book--a rude soldier who praises god while demeaning his enemies, who lazily makes the sign of the cross while drinking ale.
I need ideas I get excited about, so I get excited while running the game, so the game is more fun and energetic.
A panel I saw at Dragon Con got me excited about world building. One thing I took away was that cause and effect is the biggest contributor to making the world seem realistic and alive. One thing from reading some good historical fiction lately is that its all the interactions between people that make the world interesting. Again, I tend to go for a generic feel sometimes, but a viking chief that stands out is more compelling than trying to represent an accurate depiction of a typical viking chief.
That word COMPELLING. Setting should be. NPCs should be. Adventures should be.
Another panel about the Cthulhu Mythos and gaming reminded me to put more weird shit in my games. I flipped through Monte Cook's Chaositech book, the Wyrm stuff from Werewolf: the Apocalypse would work too.
By the way, Lovecraft was a huge racist. Visionary horror/sci-fi author, but a horrible man in that regard.
I saw Monte Cook twice, was able to speak to him briefly too. I was a big Monte Cook fanboy during 3E, I played Arcana Evolved and Call of Cthulhu d20, and I've tried running Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil twice (I think I need to strip it down to play it--I like the Celtic twist I had for it a while back).
I also saw Tracy Hickman, who's most known for Dragonlance but also helped write I6: Castle Ravenloft, my favorite adventure of ever. Also met Kenneth Hite, who wrote the Qelong adventure I'd still like to run (and also helped write Call of Cthulhu d20).
I went to the D&D Trivia event at Dragon Con, and ended up winning. I feel super nerdy for accomplishing this, and then I feel bad for being ashamed of my geekiness.
I went to an Irish pub with my wife during the Con and ended up sitting next to two other guys who had also just come from the world building panel. We talked about D&D games over beers and food, that was a cool experience.
Speaking of my wife, we make a good barbarian couple.