By Frank Gori
Hamlet is an amazing piece of literature but hard to write two game centered articles about. I also gave a couple ideas away. Do I make an undead Ophellia that lures unsuspecting men into a watery grave? It’s been done. Oh I could make Yorick’s skull into a weird undead talking skull like Bob from the Dresden Files but then everyone would be like, that’s not Yorick that’s Bob. I could play with making a more powerful poison or make an archetype around Hamlet pretending to be insane, but all that is filler.
While there’s little in way of supernatural elements to tap, Hamlet has allot to teach a GM about consequences and timing. Shakesphere is a master at setting the scene and escalation. Every action has a reaction which in turns sets further actions into motion until the bloody crescendo at the end.
The thing to take from Hamlet is a cheat sheet of plot hooks and twists that haven’t become tropes in fantasy fiction, here’s a list of 5 great story hooks you can borrow, after all Shakespeare borrowed from Marlow form time to time!
-The inconvenient possibly evil relative- One of the PCs gets a wedding invitation from a parent, or uncle, or cousin. All seems well except for little red flags that seem to crop up time and again. Is this person a villain? Should you intervene against your family with not enough proof? Is this person really genuine and your time adventuring has made you hyper-vigilant?
-Waiting in the wings- Your PC has saved a beautiful impressionable young woman. She finds the PC attractive and offers herself. IF the PC takes her up on that is the PC ready to marry her? Will the PC simply use and discard her? What if she doesn’t accept being cast aside? OR becomes pregnant? Then there’s her blowhard father.
-The Long Con- Defeating a foe beyond your PCs requires a deception. The deception is supposed to be short term but circumstances change making it a matter of weeks or months (this can be a montage style scene) a will save is needed because the lines of who the PCs are have been blurred.
-The Traitors henchmen- Give your PCs henchmen early, let them become increasingly useful but remember that eventually you have a card to play. Nothing is ever free and at some point when it is convenient change sides with them.
-Accidental Bystander- Using illusion or paranoia put your PCs in the position to accidentally kill an innocent. Do they spend the gold to raise the dead man? A relative wishes revenge, do they flee or fight?