GMs the world over have felt the need for more and varied content to inject into their worlds. After all, even in the most linear of campaigns, PCs will delight in moving off the rails to inspect the living world around them. Take it from me: there is no amount of preparation a GM can do to account for every possible contingency the players can throw at them. That is why sourcebooks are so handy; they remove the burden of constant improvisation. Though this can be fun, it is eventually exhausting. What happens if your players keep poking around towns that are supposed to be simple stops on the journey of your intricately crafted plot? Eventually, all of us could use a little outside help. Here follows 3 enjoyable aspects of the small but eminently useful A Baker’s Dozen of Rumours (and the Truth Behind Them), written by Neal Litherland for Azukail Games.
1) Ease Of Introduction
The entries in the list of rumours are focused towards a fantasy game of no particular description. There are Cardinals, ships, and half-orcs, to be sure, but each of these are interchangeable with other similar nouns. Trade out the Cardinal for a local temple priest, or the half-orcs for human barbarians. In this fashion, these rumours fit perfectly well in any fantasy game with naught but a minor alteration here and there. Need a little chatter for a port town’s common square? Try Black Sails and Bloody Currents, a rumour about a group of privateers that suggests they may also be the pirates they are hired to combat. Looking for something a bit more mystical? The Wizard Alshamus, a tale of a black tower and the wizard who resides there. He’s friendly to all appearances, but is there something sinister sequestered in his spire? These rumours can function even as lead ins to campaign beats you’ve already planned, as many possibilities are covered with these 13 entries.
2) Style And Substance
The rumours and truths in each of the 13 tales are not only accessible, but also flavorful. The stories presented here most often skillfully avoid tropes while still featuring familiar archetypes. Sure, there’s a tale about a witch in the woods, but the witch is a man and is ultimately not responsible for the calamity at hand. The other twelve stories are equally well written. The premises are each interesting and the follow through on the truths do not disappoint. What’s more, the structure of the stories as rumour followed by truth is a clever way to allow the GM to quickly read the shorter rumour section during play, if need be. The truth sections can be absorbed during downtime or between sessions.
3) Mutable Truths
The resolutions of each rumour are presented as possible scenarios, not required outcomes. This makes them endlessly tweakable for those of us who like to infuse our own creativity into sourcebooks. One notion I had was to create other possible outcomes to the rumours and let the party follow whichever path they prefer, or use the other as a source of red herrings. The versatility of the rumour/truth presentation allows for adaptability and variance so the GM can keep things interesting and thematic.
This sourcebook is a great table mate. What’s more, I would like to see more of these bite-sized story seeds in this format produced for other settings. The only mild criticism I would level is more of a hope, and that would be that future entries include an illustration of each tale if possible. As it stands, there are only four in the publication, and as I like the minimalist style presented, I would like to see more. However, at the price of 2 dollars american, this sixteen page treasure trove of ideas is well worth it.
You can check it out or pick it up at RPGNow, and find more of Neal Litherland’s works at his website.
David Horwitz is a gamer and freelance writer/editor with an obsession for exploring new forms of leisure. If you’re looking for an inquisitive mind and a deft hand, or just want to chat about gaming, contact him at www.davidhorwitzwrites.com/contact.
Picture Reference: http://www.rpgnow.com/product/246287/A-Bakers-Dozen-of-Rumours-And-The-Truth-Behind-Them?src=hottest_filtered
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.