It’s time for my yearly garage sale article. Once again, it contains a set of items that your characters might find at a garage sale (or as loot or that might be brought to them by someone else who finds it) each with an adventure hook inside. Presented below are three items each with a mundane, magic and high tech version.
A vintage vacuum: This is a solid vintage vacuum in good condition. It’s a bargain and could be used or sold to a collector who knows it’s true value. The vacuum is unexpectedly heavy. Its bag is bulging but padlocked shut. The owner doesn’t have a key. In fact, they’re not really certain where it came from. They may have inherited it from their house’s previous owner.
- Mundane: Inside the bag is a collection of skulls, desiccated flesh still clinging to the bone. Where did they come from? Did the players just discover the key to some grizzly mystery from the past?
- Fantasy: Unless your fantasy is very high fantasy, in which case, see sci-fi below, this is probably a sturdy and unassuming broom. Mostly obscured by the bristles, a ring of runes circles the butt of the handle. Using the broom will release a dust devil to wreak havoc until pacified or recontained. If the magic can be figured out it might be a valuable, if situational tool.
- Techy: Like the fantasy version, the high tech vacuum contains some sort of strange entity that is easily accidentally released. In this case, some sort of energy being or amorphous shape shifter.
An accidental flash drive: In the pocket of a piece of last year’s chic is a small flash drive. (probably men’s clothing, since women’s clothes only have pockets in fantasy campaigns) Oops! What’s on it?
- Mundane: Holy crap! This is some hot in demand intel! Either someone lost this or you just accidentally bought someone else’s dead drop. No matter which it is, people are looking for this…
- Fantasy: A small folio or pamphlet with strange writing in it. If translated, the contents are initially unremarkable, but change subtly with time. Given long enough, changes are considerable not only to the contents, but also the language and the physical book itself. As changes occur more rapidly, the book starts to become self aware. Is this a new ally or a new threat?
- Techy: Like a mix of the above two, this is a data storage device that contains a seed AI that immediately hijacks a reading device it’s plugged into and starts learning. Its processing and storage needs are small at first but grow with time. Like the fantasy version, this can turn out any number of ways.
A modded record player: This record player has seen a little wear but it comes bundled with a sweet set of records, spare needles and speakers. It has a few extra dials and switches of uncertain function that have been inexpertly modded on by a previous owner.
- Mundane: Unfortunately those sweet records the player comes with aren’t very clear. There appears to be voices recorded over top of the original music. Parts of it are clear, others difficult to discern. The message is spread across most of the records in the collection, and large chunks of it seem to be missing. The clearest parts seem to be people arguing about some sort of plans. Getting the full message requires not only filtering out the noise but finding some more of the records, but the payoff at the end might be worth it.
- Fantasy: The device is more likely to be a music box or barrel organ than a record. It has only one song, but its overlaid message changes periodically, either randomly or based on exterior stimulus.
- Techy: An electronic audio device or playback program, this version distorts anything played through it including media and even communications. Like the fantasy versions some messages appear at random and others seem to be linked to external causes.