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Friday, May 8, 2015

Positive MacGuffins

How often in modern RPG settings (and in movies and books, for that matter) are the MacGuffins and plot devices weapons of war? And if, by some miracle, they aren't nuclear codes, missile schematics, super-soldier serums, or plain old guns, they're financial algorithms, political blackmail, or computer viruses.

Those can make great plot devices, and but there's no positive follow-up from that. Those nuclear codes and blackmail go back into secrecy, and the guns and algorithms just go to someone else (usually). I call these negative MacGuffins, because their default state is neutral, and they can only become dangerous (negative).

What I want is for the PCs' actions to make a real difference in their world. I want them to recover something that will make the world a better place, and soon. So, I came up with these positive MacGuffins. Their default state is positive, so as soon as they're recovered, they immediately start having a positive impact on the world. A few weeks after the PCs recover these, they'll be hearing about them on the news. And some of these MacGuffins might even be making a difference in the setting by the end of their next adventure.

So, even if these particular plot devices don't strike a chord with you, think about the ways that you can incorporate positive MacGuffins into your own games and let your players make a positive change in the setting.

Positive MacGuffins

1. Voracious grass seed that absorbs a tremendous amount of CO2.
2. Rice packed with a week's worth of vitamins and minerals.
3. Inexpensive soy loaded with compressed proteins that unpack during digestion, providing energy for a couple of days.
4. Water-efficient millet engineered with as much protein and iron as a steak, with a fraction of the calories and cost.
5. A nanoscopic implant that monitors vitals, including white blood cell count and various enzyme levels, and provides immediate feedback in the case of a medical emergency.
6. Fast-growing tree that absorbs potent amounts of heat and produces a thick sap that can be used for biofuel.

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