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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Six-Word Sparks I

If you're anything like me—or if in fact you are me—then you are frequently bombarded with niblets of ideas: a tasty villain outline here (bugbear swashbuckler) or a political morsel there (fantasy mayoral election).

Sure, you could wedge those concepts into an ongoing campaign, or sit down and create an NPC, adventure, or campaign around it. But if you're like me—or, again, if you actually are me—you don't have time for that jibber-jabber.

So, here's what I do, and also what you can do if you're like me—or if you secretly are me.

Whittle that concept down to six words. Use telegraph style if you have to, but keep it at six. Seven words? Too many! Five words? Add more flavor or go all-out and use that preposition you've been keeping your eye on! Take these six-word sparks and collect them somewhere; I keep mine in a Google Sheets file. Add some organization (if desired) and pull it out anytime you're stuck for inspiration, or if you just want to work on something new.

Six words is just enough to spark an idea for anything from a weapon to an adventure to an entire socio-economic power structure. For even more fun, randomly combine them and see what you get. But don't take my word for it, try these samples on for size.

Six-Word Sparks

  1. Swashbuckling bugbear seeks crew, piracy ensues.
  2. Election candidates: holy champion, master assassin.
  3. Halfling vigilante swordsman defends Human city.
  4. Dwarves and elves ally against humans.
  5. Birdmen refugees begin arriving, fleeing catastrophe.
  6. Firewood starts disappearing as winter begins.
  7. Hedge witch announces discovery: eternal life.
  8. Fairy princess captured by pirate queen.
  9. Sun doesn't rise, moon grows larger.
  10. Halfling beer brewers compete against Dwarves.

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