I recently had a very successful sandbox D&D 4th edition game inspired by Ars Ludi’s West Marches, called Mossmantle, after the town in Eberron’s Eldeen Reaches around which the campaign centred.
One method I used for coming up with adventure ideas was to mine other sources of fiction: be it books, movies, or what-have-you. In particular, I found re-skinned versions of Shakespeare to be particularly helpful. I had an adventure plot where an NPC that the group rescued turned out to be a noblewoman in disguise as her brother (inspired by the Twelfth Night), for which the ruse became quite obvious when her brother came looking for her. The payoff was fantastic, and it brought some very interesting roleplaying opportunities to the forefront that I otherwise wouldn’t have thought of: do they honour the girl’s wishes to eschew nobility and become an adventurer, or do they send her back with her brother to avoid any bad blood from the noble house?
Now I’m on the cusp of starting a new game, and I find myself looking to history and literature to mine for ideas for our next game, and Critical Hits has an article on just such a thing:
Much of gamer culture is shared and it’s not very interesting to rip something off that everyone instantly recognizes and inevitably metagames for. That’s where literature comes in.
I recently read For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway. Quite frankly, I appreciated for its place in fiction, loved certain aspects, but found it too slow for my own personal tastes. This isn’t a book review though, it’s an example of how to mine good idea from practically anything. So, here goes!
Read the rest over at Critical Hits