Main topic – Inspiration where to get it and where to steal it from.
Stat blocks –
The Broken Arrow-
This bowyer/fletcher shop is a one stop shop for all your archery needs. The open flow of the shop feels almost like a quiet forest glen. The barrels of Arrows and bolts plus all the bits for bows and fletching around show you that this place is a shop that knows how to make all types of bows. Hanging from the framing around the counter are the bodies of crossbows and regular bows. The area behind the counter can be opened up to show the archery range behind the shop. The man if he can be called such looks as old and gnarled as some of the wood pieces in here. He goes by Sandral he is a half-elf with larger than normal ears. He might be mistaken for an elf but no elf has ever looked this old. His hands look crooked like they had been broken several times, but they move with a dexterity and strength that their appearance belie. He has a quiet and gentle nature that helps to but people at ease.
The Interesting McGuffin
Ok there’s the standard idea for starting a quest. An old man says that the wicked necromancer is kidnapping the locals to use in his experiments. Your contact in cyberpunk tells you that Gideon, who runs the local pawn shop, sells info on his clients to the corps. Local preacher says that there’s a powerful manitou that lurks in the abandoned mine shaft. These ways of giving quests are straightforward. There’s a problem and your players can go to resolve it, usually with a final result in mind. But how about a quest with no “final result.” Just a vague question that sits in the back of players minds.
Enter the “Interesting Mcguffin.” This kind of item can usually be introduced underhanded, almost as an afterthought. For instance, your posse from Deadlands just killed a Harrowed gunslinger. You’re rifling through his pockets to see if you can get any identification of who he was or how he became harrowed. In the breast pocket of his shirt you find a bullet, jet black. There’s no makers mark on it. And your huckster gets a bad feeling when he’s holding it. So what is the bullet, why was it made, what was its purpose, and how did this Harrowed get a hold of it? That’s your Interesting Mcguffin.
You need to make the Mcguffin puzzling enough so that between the “linear missions” your players want to spend time unravel the mysteries of the Mcguffin. It can be anything depending on your setting. A broken piece of an ancient tablet with weird writing on it. An encrypted piece of data that sticks behind in your datalock. A flower that never wilts but changes colour for some reason. You as the GM know all about it and what it does, but your players don’t.
There’s an upside and a downside to these kind of items. Downside is that some players just chuck it in with the rest of the loot and forget about it. Or they may, inadvertently, find a way to get all mysteries resolved with no issues. Don’t worry if that happens. Just run with it and don’t try to force things with your players. The trick as a GM is not to be “invested.” Just make sure that you remember what your players did with it, even if they forgot. Like when your players are stopped by security and ordered to turn our their pockets. Now they have to think on their feet and explain the “interesting Mcguffin” to their captors.
The up side? It gets your characters thinking. Not just Out of character, but in character as well. Your science type may want to analyze it. The greedy thief may want to try and pawn it (with sometimes funny results). The Lawman may want to get it back to its owner. Your mystic may want to unravel its deep secrets.
Nice thing about this kind of item is that it can eventually turn into a quest in and of itself. They may abandon their current quest to figure it out.
Just be prepared to think on your feet. The Mcguffin’s inherent flexibility can have the characters approach it out of left field sometimes.
The Omni-Potent Fallacy
When unrelenting evil comes pouring over the land, the light of the angel made flesh can push them back. The party is saved as the Johnson and his goons come storming in, taking out the go-gangers. The General listens and the nuclear option is diverted, so better special forces may move in on the alien invaders. Great power sometimes finds itself an ally instead of an enemy to protagonists, but such power sometimes offers a heaven bound level of vision and small details can be lost. Overconfidence and sure, the Omni-Potent Fallacy uses their abilities like clubs to solve problems, and in many ways creates waves that break open more rifts.
This NPC is a wild card. Pointed the right way and they assume they can solve the world’s problems in an instant, but without regard to cost and loss. Their assumption on being right can put them at odds to players who haven’t earned their trust, and keeping them calm, happy, and loyal is a juggling act. Such power isn’t something a player wants to content with, whether it comes from a great Wizard, a dragon, a CEO, powerful AI, or even a god. Once they’ve assumed the players are enemies, it’ll be hard to convince them otherwise without equal force.
The Omni-Potent Fallacy exists in most genres, often in the role as a figurative or literal Deus Ex Machina. Gods and Demons in Fantasy realms attempting to understand mortal risks and solving issues with lightning. CEOs and Spy Masters trying to keep their finger on the pulse of an ever deepening world. Military leaders sure of their place on a battlefield. The NPC need not have physical unlimited powers but merely the ability to command such power even through chains of minions.
The worst position a player can find themselves is on the other side of the Omni-Potent Fallacy finding out their wrong after they’ve acted. After they’ve killed loved ones, destroyed cities, ended the lives of innocents and guilty alike. These acts can send the figure spiraling in several hostile directions. They may become self-reflective and depressed, turning inward and losing their great power. They may lash out and blame others for being fooled. Or Worse, they can assume the loss and misdirected actions as proof of their conviction and dive deeper into dangerous beliefs. At this point, the players can try to guide them back to the true path and solve the problems their misdirection has caused, or seek to destroy the omni-potent figure and dismantle them before they can do further harm.
noun or·dure \ˈȯr-jər\
Definition of ordure
- 1: excrement
- 2: something that is morally degrading
Examples of ordure in a sentence
- <polite people do not discuss ordure in public>
Origin and Etymology of ordure
Middle English, from Anglo-French, from ord dirty, foul, from Latin horridus horrid
First Known Use: 14th century
Closing remarks/Shout outs
Derek The Eastern Border
Joules Little Brother
Music is courtesy of Magnatune
Artist is Numa from the album Numa