Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Mystery Story Blender

Image: Warner Bros.

This is post number 27 in the series “30 Days of Tales from the Loop,” a celebration of the game set in an 80s that never was.

If you ever find yourself needing an idea for a Mystery to run at a moment’s notice, I recommend stealing ideas from the movies! Even if you only consider 80s movies, there are a ton to grab inspiration from. You might do this if you don’t have an adventure ready at all, or if you’re running a Mystery Landscape and want to throw in a few new elements.

Here’s a fun way you might do it: mix up two movies, taking the “mystery” element from one (the weird part) and the “everyday” element from another (the mundane part to ground the narrative in reality).

You can try this for yourself by using the tables below. Just pick one item from each list, or if you’re feeling lucky, roll 2d6 on each table and see what you come up with.

(Also, can you guess which 80s movies these entries came from?)

Mysterious... (choose or roll 2d6)

 2. A new cybernetic peace officer goes online in the area
 3. The Kids stay at a haunted hotel
 4. Aliens are living among us and can only be seen with special sunglasses
 5. The Kids go to a summer camp that turns out to have a history of murder
 6. A member of otherworldly royalty steals someone’s younger sibling
 7. Creatures of urban legend invade the town (perhaps some friendly and some not)
 8. A classmate (or one of the Kids) reveals that they can turn into a friendly werewolf
 9. One or more of the Kids is turned into an adult
10. A lab accident creates an insect/human hybrid
11. Demons appear, searching for whoever took a strange artifact
12. A cult of children take power and decree that everyone over 18 must die

...and Everyday... (choose or roll 2d6)

 2. …while an eccentric Australian relative is trying to acclimate to Sweden [America].
 3. …while a rough-around-the-edges uncle is taking care of a Kid’s family for the week.
 4. …while the Kids are all on a vacation across the country.
 5. …before or after the Kids are stuck in detention.
 6. …and local adults pass a prohibition on dancing.
 7. …after one of the Kids has their bike stolen.
 8. …while a rich, obnoxious relative has returned to enroll in school again.
 9. …while a Kid’s divorcing parents engage in increasingly nasty tactics trying to get the other to abandon the house.
10. …while some of the Kids are due to compete at a national video game championship.
11. …while a group of young dancers find their community center in danger of being torn down.
12. …and a Kid’s relative inherits a TV station and needs help coming up with show ideas.

(I’ll list the movies that inspired these lists later, after readers have had time to guess.)