Darting through the dank corridors of the Lost Temple of the Elf Kings, Enyo focused on his goal to ignore the pain. As he rolled past a scything blade trap, he heard what sounded like a chorus of angels from around the corner. Taking a deep breath, he dove through a hall littered with dart traps. A sharp fiery pain in his ankle told him he’d misjudged his leap, but closer examination revealed that the feathers of the dart had simply broken his skin. He’d avoided the dreaded serpent nerve poison.
And before him lay the Treasure.
What did it look like? Who knows. Storytellers have been using elusive treasures with effects ranging from “nothing” to “world peace” for generations, and they provide extremely convenient hooks for GMs looking to engage players in a story.
These devices have taken on the name MacGuffin, for reasons you can learn on Wikipedia. Put simply, a MacGuffin is an excuse to tell a story–it is the light at the end of the tunnel that everyone wants. If you’re short on time and need a MacGuffin for your game, give this generator a spin! I’ve attached a PDF that allows you to generate a MacGuffin in a fun way, but if you’re boring (i.e.: like charts), you can roll below.
Size and Type (roll d12)
2: Precious Resource
3: Carryable relic
4: Carryable container
5: Carryable weapon
6: Carryable body part
7: Unwieldy relic
8: Unwieldy container
9: Unweildy weapon
10: Natural Item
Age/Time Created (roll 2d4)
2: Dawn of creation
3: Age of myths
4: Within 10 generations
5: Within 2 generations
8: Out of time
Function or Disposition (roll 1d8)
1: A thing of pure evil
2: A thing that reveals the true intent of a person
3: A thing that can trap an enemy in a pocket universe
4: A thing that inspires good among all in its presence
5: A thing that is a nearly limitless source of energy
6: A thing that allows its possessor access to supernatural powers
7: A thing that grants one wish
8: A thing that solves the world’s most significant problem
I’ve mentioned before that I’m a fan of Vornheim’s way of doing charts, so I’m giving that a crack. If you want a more visceral means of generating your MacGuffin, use Intwischa’s MacGuffin Generator (PDF link). Print it out and grab 2d4, and you’re good to go!
Got stories of MacGuffins that have shaped your games or campaigns? Are you one of those balls-out Tarrantino disciples who creates MacGuffins that do nothing? Tell us your exploits in the comments!