Keeping An Ear Out For Hooks

Back when I was a young lad (I can say that now that I am forty)…  Actually this applies to all the time!  I want to talk about how I get inspiration for my games and the hooks that I use to come up with adventures.  There are so many places that I find information that I use in my games.  They sit in my mind and become a jumble and eventually make it out onto a page or off the cuff in a game to be given life while I am gaming.  All you have to do is keep your senses open for inspiration and you will be surprised in how many places that it can be found!

Anyone can find hooks in source books and rule books.  Heck, it is even easy enough to read your favourite fantasy and sci-fi books or pick up some William Gibson if you are into the whole cyberpunk scene.  But it takes great skill to pick up any old book and find something there that you can turn into something for your game.  It is probably no surprise to most of you that I read a lot.  I can move from fantasy, to sci-fi to cutting edge fiction, to a second hand book that just looks kind of interesting.  I read because I enjoy it but I also keep my mind open.  I want to find the uniqueness in each of the stories that I read.  There is stuff in non-fiction books too!  Get some of the older non-fiction books at a bargain rate from the second hand store and just go for it.  Find something new.  Even cook books offer you exotic dishes that your NPC’s could be eating at a meeting!

Have a look through the British Library Public Images for inspiration!

But books are the easiest place to visit.  What about other things?  Music is my next love to find material.  I love a load of different styles of music.  As long as it has substance and was not produced in a test tube by a bunch of writers, editors and sound engineers then I want to hear it.  Especially if it is sung by the same people that wrote the music.  British bands, Grunge, Rock, Metal, Heavy Metal, Punk, Eighties Pub Rock and singer songwriters with folk overtones.  I love it.  The more drugs involved in the making of it seems to bring out some beautifully textured music and lyrics!  The lyrics, even if you mishear them and get it completely wrong can give birth to fantastic invention.  Open yourself to all of these inspirations and you will find things that you will easily be able to convert.

Last year I ran a Classic Traveller game on a fortnightly basis.  It was good fun and I am about to let you, and the players in on a little secret about where the inspiration came from for those games.  I have not revealed this ever before!  Each of the games I ran (and I ran them with little to no planning) were each inspired by either an Iron Maiden song (or songs) or something from the Nirvana catalogue.  In the past couple of days I have been revisiting some of my favourite teenage albums like Dire Straits Brothers in Arms, T’Pau Bridge of Spies, Paul Simon Graceland and I am literally awash in fantastic hooks for games and NPC’s.  I even have the perfect name for my next Shadowrun fixer straight out of one of the songs.  It is perfect, and no, I am not revealing it yet.

So where else?  Life the Universe and Everything!  I know I capitalised it but it is not a reference to the book but to exactly what I wrote.  Inspiration is all around you.  You just have to look for it.  It might be in the latest video game.  It might be in the original Fallout game oh so many years ago.  Try everything.  Go for a walk.  Read some poetry, watch a sports match.  Take a look at some of the history of inspirational people.  Heard of Joan of Arc and don’t really know her story?  Google it!  Go sit in a park and people watch!  Go for a run in the park and climb a tree.  Hang upside down from a swing and see what the new perspective looks like.

Want to get inspiration.  Do NOT sit and look at a blank computer screen.  Sure, read my blog but then get out amongst it.  Try different things, grow and learn from everything around you!  Keep gaming and keep on rolling!

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