Infinity Loop: List Products (a Response)
This week saw the release of Moebius Adventures’ fourth product of 2013 and the first of a different style. Little Spaces will offer a simple collection of items to have as inspiration for a game. The first of these is Little Spaces: Ghostly Effects, which offers a collection of 100 different spooky effects to use when describing a haunted room of some sort – whether in a haunted house, a supernatural setting, or telling a story.
But after reading Mike Bourke’s article this week – Listing to one side: The problems of List products – I confirmed one of my suspicions about this sort of product. It usually is of limited use. The ideas in the list are largely only good to use once. And it’s sort of a throwaway approach to idea creation. Though that’s not a bad way to go for the price point ($0.50 initially and $1.00 after a week), I want it to be more useful than that.
So let’s look at some ways we could tear this particular product apart and put it back together for a bit more usability. You can see the first 20 items of the list in an earlier article here. Using that as a starting point, let’s look at how we might be able to use this differently.
I’m a big fan of using sensory details in RPG descriptions. The traditional five senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste) offer plenty of variety when trying to come up with something unique.
So if we use the same sensory description table as described here and rearrange the effects table a bit, we end up with a two-table approach.
SENSE TO USE (D8)
- Roll again
- Roll twice
- Roll three times
DESCRIPTIVE ELEMENT (D8 for now, maybe more later)
We get a bit more flexibility. Roll a d8, get…
- (2) Hearing/(4) Floor – Something audible having to do with the floor. Perhaps a squeaky board or a heavy footstep. Maybe something falling or bouncing…
- (8) Roll 3x – Hearing, Sight, Taste/(2) Furniture – This is a full fledged haunting. Perhaps the victim in this case sees and hears something heavy hit an old dusty couch cushion, raising a cloud of dust they inhale and taste the flavor of ashes…
- (3) Smell/(1) Wall – Something smelly having to do with the wall. Perhaps they smell something that has died and decomposed inside the wall…
Automatically we get a bit more crunch in all of these samples.
We could expand it even further with lists of descriptive words for common horror elements of different senses. For a few senses we could come up with:
SENSE DESCRIPTORS (D8 – could be many, many more)
Then if we combine these tables, we get:
- (4) Touch / (4) Floor / (3) Greasy – As you walk through the room, your foot strays into something viscous and slippery that sticks to the bottom of your shoe…
- (3) Smell / (3) Illusion / (2) Dry – While you rest on the bed, the smell of hot desert sand overwhelms you and you suddenly have a craving for water…
- (7) 2x – Hearing, Taste / (6) Environment / (1) Wet – Though you swear the room was bone dry when you walked in, you hear waves crashing on an invisible shore and taste saltwater on your tongue…
The tables become less specific, but leave their interpretation much more open.
Mike, is this what you were after?