Thursday, 10 July 2014

Inspiration is everywhere: Day 3

I moved to another bookcase to look for further inspiration. These are the upstairs bookcases, which are just general nonfiction: 

They are a little disorganised at present, as you can see. Anyway, I came away with this: 

I am pleased that there is a Murder Club, but I don't think I want to be a member. 

What this contains is mostly contemporary newspaper accounts and so on, most of them horribly sensational. I flipped it open to the Cambridgeshire section and immediately saw this 1876 murder ballad (click to embiggen):

Now, most fantasy settings probably don't have the printing press, but if you're playing anything like WHFRP, you are missing a trick if your countryside isn't infested by hacks selling ballad sheets and crudely-printed chapbooks full of alarmist stuff about the Devil being abroad. These are exactly the kind of strolling dirtbag that should be part of any good grubby fantasy setting. They could tell stories of horrible murders, weird monsters, lost treasures and the sorts of things that get fantasy characters motivated. They might even choose to include your characters in their grubby hackwork. 

(Shoutout to Sven the Dwarf.)

Itinerant Ballad-Seller Ballad Table (D12)
  1. More or less accurate account of fools seeking treasure in regional landmark being dismembered by horrible monsters. D6: 1-3 monster scariness overestimated, 4-5 underestimated, 6 grossly underestimated. 
  2. Seemingly innocuous ballad which contains veiled references incomprehensible to outsiders but savagely insulting to inhabitants of next town over. 
  3. Garbled retelling of something the PCs did which paints them as foes of villainy. May upset local villains. Bonus points if the PCs fucked it up in the first place (this is the "Town Called Jayne" variant). 
  4. Garbled retelling of something the PCs did which paints them as bloody-handed reavers and advises locals to lock up their daughters, sons, livestock etc. 
  5. Seemingly intricate collection of references is actually gibberish. 
  6. Rousing good murder ballad beloved of local drunks. 
  7. Ballad recounts legend of gruesome murder; ghost of hapless victim is attracted to sound of song retelling piteous end. 
  8. Plagiarised copy of work by PCs or acquaintance. 
  9. Ballad accusing actually innocent person of cruel murder; may contain clues to real identity of killer. 
  10. Seditious ballad accusing local magnate of crimes. Possible trouble for those found carrying it. 
  11. Pious ballad praising martyrs faithful to local god. 
  12. Half-remembered retelling of ancient crime contains partial clues to location of treasure, invites hostility of thugs involved in local treasure-hunting industry if pursued. 
Tomorrow, I may watch some cartoons. 

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