Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Insidiae is a book I may have talked about on my previous blog, but I'm going to give it some more thorough love here. Written by Dan Cross and published by Troll Lord Games, it is "The Brainstormers Guide to Adventure Writing". And that it is. Basically, it's a big book of random charts, hooks, and ideas to help get any GM started with developing ideas for a campaign or adventure. You start by selecting (or rolling randomly) a Milieu Event, then Story Roles (NPC's) and Characteristics, Goals & Motivations, Plot, Story Function/Elements and Objective. Once you have all your elements chosen, you start piecing all the details together. 

I tried this yesterday and had the makings of a fairly epic-sized campaign done by the time I had gotten past choosing the Milieu Event. I can imagine that once you finish actually developing the major players in your game, you'd have a very well fleshed-out story, wanting only for players to jump in.  So here's how my own example worked out:

Instead of choosing, I decided to randomly roll, just to see how the charts work out. For my first roll (Milieu Events) I got "War". On the "War" sub-table I rolled "Sub-continental". On the Motivations Table I rolled "Occupation" and I decided to roll on the Unusual Assailants sub-table, on which I rolled "Ancient Evil". So I took those things and parsed them as such: we have one country invading another country for the purpose of taking over said country. I think the reason they've invaded is to gain a vital resource that is lacking in their own country.  Meanwhile, and elsewhere, an Ancient Evil is arising and gaining in power. I'm thinking something along the lines of The Others in George R. R. Martin's The Song of Fire and Ice series (which I happen to currently be reading, so that's why my head is there). 

Moving on, I rolled to determine my first Story Role. I rolled a "Wild Card". I had no idea where that fit in, so I went to the entry for "Wild Card" and read in the Hook section where they list several choices: Anonymous Plea, Dream Message, Enigmatic Stranger, Mistaken Identity, Sudden Attack. I latched onto Enigmatic Stranger, and I think I like the idea of tying this Stranger to the "Ancient Evil". This Stranger either knows how to defeat the Evil, or is the cause of the evil (but not controlling them; he or she unwittingly unleashed the Evil onto the world). Delving deeper into this NPC, I rolled for (how about ) her motivations. Actually, I was going to just pick "Love" but I ended up rolling "Curiosity" which is just as good. Actually, I like "Love" better - it leads to the PC's having a more sympathetic reaction, which is what I would go for with this scenario. She's done something very wrong, but her intentions were pure and now she wanders the land running/hiding from her mistake. But she holds the key to stopping and destroying the Evil, but she's too ashamed to admit her mistake. Damn this book is good.  

In the back are some Appendices including Ready-made Plots, NPC Character features, and a Sample Adventure. After doing only this much, I'm very much excited about using this book much more often. The plot I've rolled up would fit perfect in my Aeonia setting, so I'm thinking about tying it into that setting in some way. I may even use it for my new gaming group to give them something to sink their teeth into. 

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