When traveling, normal people play I Spy or the license plate game. We play “How Good is the GM who designed this town?” This game is a godsend in small towns where not much else is happening. Here’s how to play (in case you’re doing some traveling of your own):

First, try to identify the NPC plot hook in the town you’re visiting. Is he a man with wild hair and a leopard print jacket at the local ice cream store? Is she a woman talking insistently to the flowers in someone else’s yard? Or is it a dapper youth who is suspiciously overdressed for his trip to the grocery store?

Now that you’ve found the plot hook, stop and identify his or her magic item. The leopard print man has a +1 butterfly knife sticking out of his pocket. The woman talking to the flowers has an extraordinarily beautiful basket. The dapper youth…well, that’s had to tell. Might be his shopping cart, but that might be too obvious. Maybe it’s his hat?

After you’ve identified the plot hook, scour the town as you visit for the major villain NPC. You’re looking for a local celebrity with an outrageous name. Smithy “the Rock” Wallaby? That’s the one! Given what he does, what is his crime likely to be? If you have extra time to kill, look for his hideout–some kind of weird, run-down house on the edge of town. Or maybe someplace that’s way too nice for the area.

Once you’ve done all that work, you’re in a good position to rate the town’s GM. Would you take that plot hook? Does the villain seem interesting or too cliche? Does the magic item seem exciting?

The townlet we are visiting has a four-star GM. The plot hook works at the local dry goods store and greets all of his customers with a chipper, “Do you like cheese?” He then proceeds to take cheese out of his pocket and offer it to his customers. I assume the cheese is the magic item, although I’m not about to taste cheese that’s been in someone’s pocket to find out if it has magical properties. (Hopefully if we finish the module, the GM will just tell us what it is, and we can choose to take it as our party loot, a la Pathfinder.)

I’m pretty sure the bad NPC’s name is plastered all over the signs in yards around here: Devere Rumble, who is apparently running for local sheriff. (Please note: I don’t actually think this guy’s a crook, just in case you’ve come over from a Google search for his name. I know nothing about him or his qualifications for sheriff. I’ve just seen the signs.) Seriously, though, think of the names of the module you could base on this guy: Rumble’s Last Stand. Time for a Rumble. Take a Gamble on Rumble. Don’t Rumble with Me. The GM gets a star just for that name.

Finally, the locale. I’m pretty sure that some sort of league of evil operates out of this picturesque yet run-down building at the top of a dam. (Imagine the dexterity checks the PCs will have to make to fight across a dam to get into that building! Plus, the water can always rise during the final fight, right, allowing for some sort of interesting challenge, right? At the very least, we’ll have some awesome swim checks in armor!)

Really, the only reason this town doesn’t have a five-star GM is that the town is a bit too absurd to be Warhammer, but it doesn’t have enough possibilities for treasure to be a part of any other system. What am I supposed to loot here? Cheese?

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