I wont lie, I write a lot of seemingly useless stuff, but then I stumbled across the Plot Factory idea from Johnn Fours ezine. i plan on using the model on some of the fluffier pieces I write
The basic premise is simple, create a list of rumors associated with the object/person/location/etc and use them as a dice rolling table. This is part brainstorming, and part groundwork for actual game use. Johnn recommends creating a 20 item list, which fits nicely with the common D20. The length of the list is entirely up to you, and personally I am going to strive to get my lists at 5-10 entries because 20 might seem a bit excessive for a fluff piece about a hunk of junk or novelty submission.
Boons to the GM
The rewards for creating the Plot Factory List are many.
Plot Hooks - the rumor is something that drags the PCs into the story and forward in the narrative, pretty straight forward
Next Move - when the game narrative starts getting convoluted, next moves can keep the PCs and the DM on the desired track, and also can be used for the opposite purpose, playing at red herrings, and distractions to stall PCs who've gone off of the narrative or the DM needs time to reconfigure their plans for the game.
Encounters - set up for an encounter, combat, roleplay, etc
Faction - similar to the Next Move, the Faction rumor alerts the PCs that there are things afoot and in motion in the game world besides themselves
Character Hook - similar to a plot hook, but focused on a specific character to either draw them out or allow them to shine
Setting Details - good way to show off something you liked, found clever, or is otherwise entertaining
Easy - a quick and easy system to keep a game rolling
Types of Rumors
DANGER - the rumor is a threat to the PCs, those they care about, or their interests
REWARD - the rumor is the carrot on a stick, PCs follow the rumor, they find the prize.
MYSTERY - curiosity killed the cat, as well as many a PC
OPPORTUNITY - not to be confused with a reward, Opportunity is the potential to find something new
CHALLENGES - forewarning of potential obstacles to be overcome
Creating a Rumor String
The first step of the Rumor String is the object, the thing the DM is wanting to use, from the first brainstorming list. The second step is what type of rumor it is, and the final step is to link back to something else in the narrative. On a long enough list, these items will start pulling together into a network of plot ideas.
So for the Cosmic Era, where I am planning on using this, a sample rumor would look like this:
Random Piece of Gear/Vehicle - the type of rumor - linking back
Random Mecha - Mystery - Exotic Locale
The PCs now have a rumor of a previously unknown war machine, lurking in an exotic locale. They have a reason to travel to the exotic locale, to find where the machine is, and why it is hiding, and then what they plan on doing about it.
Reversed, Exotic Locale - mystery - random mecha, the PCs have rumors of strange goings on in the exotic locale, they go there to investigate, and find the previously unknown mecha.
This works across genres and settings, obviously.
Once the rumor string is complete, a few note words can finish it up. If you prefer more collected lists, each string can be written up into a sentence. For submission posts I am going to follow this second path, but for use in game, the rumor string should more than suffice. Plus, it is much quicker for work on the fly, and more flexible depending on the nature and behavior of the game group in question.
Cheers and props to Johnn and his Ezine
(I would provide a link, but I dont think I can link to my personal email box)
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