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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Events from Life: Your local newspaper

Need some rumors and color for you campaign's village or town? The answer may be as close as your local newspaper (or their web site if you don't subscribe). The idea is pretty simple really. Scan the local headlines and community events calendar for ideas, twist to fit your campaign setting, and write yourself a short note. If your local paper does provide the inspiration you desire, check out the web and look for a locale that's a better match.
One of the nice features of this technique is it provides a never-ending source of rumors and local color, and things tend to hold together pretty well over time. Here's a list of thirteen events I adopted from my local newspaper over the last couple weeks:
  1. A runaway wagon crashes into the market, one of the vendors is trampled to death by the horses.
  2. A man is found drowned in his neighbor's pond. The constable suspects foul play, but has no suspects.
  3. A herd of cattle stampedes through a local hamlet. No one is injured but the owner is forced to pay property damages.
  4. Heavy rains flood the local river, forcing dozens to abandon their riverfront homes. The displaced are housed at a local church. The baron condemns many of the properties and forces the refugees to move.
  5. A suspicious barn fire inspires a barn raising. The constable suspects arson (and subsequently arrests a drifter).
  6. A bridge or ford is being rebuilt or improved.
  7. The annual spring boat race down the river draws a larger than usual crowd of spectators.
  8. The baron is nearly crippled by a hard fall from his horse while out hunting. Discord ensues while he recovers from his wounds.
  9. The Autumn apple harvest brings the usual gang of migrant laborers to the area. Locals are on the watch for suspicious activities.
  10. A local farmer is convicted of stealing and killing his neighbor's geese.
  11. A woman is stabbed to death by her drunken accuser while arguing her case before a magistrate.
  12. A new road is being built or an old one improved.
  13. A balcony collapses at local inn / tavern, with multiple injuries. The structure is condemned by the magistrate as a hazard.
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