So hey, last time I was here I was talking about mechanisms to gather ideas for RPGs. Over the last month or so (I am not good at this blogging thing, am I?) I had opportunity to play more with the concept. One of my Christmas presents was a three-pack of Rory’s Story Cubes, and so of course I started dicking around with them while still up at the house.
I’m in the kitchen, sitting on the bench, and my brother’s nearby picking at the leftovers. I should emphasize here that my brother knows a thing or six about storytelling and running games himself; he’s not the kind of once-a-week gamer-for-life that we’re used to in our hobby, but he tackles gaming and storytelling like he does everything else, with the idea that it’s worth doing well if you’re going to spend time on it. I’ve got some dice (yeah, yeah, “story cubes,” they are dice dammit), so I pick four at random and roll.
Crow (or raven). Helmet. Fish. Giant.
The first thing my brother seizes on is the crow. Crows, ravens, attracted to a kill. They’re your first sign that something’s amiss. Then we start looking at the idea of the giants… fishing? No, wait. Playing. Playing ball with a severed head — there’s the helmet die accounted for. This sounds good already, always good to show some monsters doing something other than actively hunting or killing or eating or sleeping. New idea… the head opens its eyes and says “Help me” to the players. Now we’re cooking. So the initial decision with the players is do they engage? Do they try to help the head? Where’s the body? In a river, maybe, and then you have to retrieve a giant’s body from the river…
Somewhere around here is when the accumulated storypower of countless generations gets involved. The head of a giant is a Mimir-like figure, isn’t it? So the head may be mystical (in addition to still being alive). Severed heads on stakes were often set out to watch over things… so maybe our head was cursed to be a sentry. I’ve already seeded the idea of mist giants, a proud and mysterious group that appears only on foggy nights. A mist giant… and a prophet, a Mimir. Being punished for delivering a prophecy seems right; aggrieved kings who hear that their line won’t last forever can get finicky. So here we are, a giant who was cursed for prophecy and truth-speaking, a severed head guardian stolen from its post, and a couple of lowbrow giants, more Blunderbore than Utgard-Loki, stirring things up.
I gave this a try last week. It went quite well, if I dare say so myself. The players were engaged, the evening played out neatly, the gift of divination gave the PCs a nice bit of exposition, and I even got to mess around with giantish mythology for a bit. I’m calling that a major success.
So will it work with fiction? That’s an interesting question. I think I’ll give it a shot.