A bit more psyche stuff, but easily applicable to other games. Specifically, a way to tie high psyche characters into the mysteries of the universe without making them X-Men.
So, suppose that you, as a GM, sit down and write 10 secrets of the setting. And not wussy, academic secrets, but real, actionable secrets. So, not “The statues of Aegis Tor are sleeping giants” but “The Statues of Aegis Tor are sleeping giants and you know the names to call to waken them and what it means.”
Now, deal out a certain number of these to the first player. Let them make a note of it (you also note it), take the cards back, shuffle them, and deal some to the next player, repeating until you’ve gone through everyone.
You can stop now, and if you do so, then proceed under the following assumption: Only the secrets known by a player are true. If you build your secrets interestingly enough, this can be enough to get you multiple different settings (effectively) out of the same base material.
Alternately, if you want to be consistent n your secrets, you now do the following. Rewrite your 10 secrets in mamby pamby style – purely informational with little to act on. Then write 10 false secrets in equally mamby pamby style. Mix the two lists together and hand it to your players as the rumor list for a setting. They will recognize some as true from the secrets they know and they will know some are true from the cards they did not see, and what would have otherwise just been a bulleted list of forgettable stuff has transformed into textured information.
Now, while I frame this idea for more cosmic games, like Amber, LoGaS or Planescape, there is no reason it can’t scale down very easily to whatever game you want to play. With a little tweaking, it could work very well for a treasure hunt campaign (Pirates of Darkwater, etc.) depending upon how you frame the secrets.
And as a bonus, you could go really nuts and combine the two techniques – create a deck of 20 true secrets, but only use half of them every time you play. I admit, that has a certain appeal because that makes the con kit for this profoundly reusable, which is always a plus.
In fact, as I think about the con kit, I might actually reverse the order – give the one page of rumors out in advance (since it can be sent via email before a game, if the situation calls for it) and the cards can be done at the table. Paired with, say, a one sheet summary of the setting, and I think you have enough to rope in players without inundating them.
- If you’re using psyche, hand more card to higher psyche characters. if not, just hand out an arbitrary amount. ↩
- I’m pretty sure Mortal Coil would be a useful reference for how to build powerful secrets. ↩
- Do this knowing that you are effectively handing out a list of plot hooks, so really think about the false ones and why they’re false. They should not just be dead ends – that’s super dull. Rather, the reasons they are false should be potential springboards to play. ↩