Twitter's Adventure Seeds: History in Pictures

As I was saying last week, some Twitter accounts are of particular value to GameMasters because they can inspire some pretty cool adventure ideas for their favorite role-playing games. And for me, that means time travel games like the Doctor Who RPG and GURPS Time Travel (though I also expect good things from TimeWatch, a Kickstarter I've backed). Time travel at least partially feeds on history, and so I recommend following History in Picture (@HistoryinPics) which posts evocative and often little-known and unusual images from human history. The more straightforward stuff fits strictly scientific takes on the genre, while the unusual can yield science-fiction adventure seeds for more loosey-goosey stuff like Whovian gaming. Let's look at a few to see what they inspire.
The demolition of power plant in Scotland yielded this eye-popping smoke figure that should immediately get a Dr. Who GM thinking of alien entities gestating inside the plant and "hatching" into an intangible pollution monster, a metaphor for the industrialized world's ills. My players would probably defeat it with a giant fan and a strongly-worded speech about the environment.
A game of human chess, Leningrad, circa 1924. I love to put games inside my games, and chess is an old favorite. The human element means there might be real jeopardy for the poor souls trapped in the game by the villain, and the stakes are high for heroes opposite him... or on the board!
Dresden, Germany, hollowed out at the end of WWII. Is this a postapocalyptic nightmare in the future? The PCs may think so and get the real-world shock of their lives when they discover the truth. Pictures like this - and this is one of many  - are perfect to set a mood and give the players a sense of place. They only think they know what New York looked like in the 1930s, or Edinburgh in the '60s, but looking at pictures reveals different skylines and streets filled with funky trams. They're an important tool, especially when dealing with near history.
A picture of Antarctica, from space, courtesy of NASA of course. The odd perspective on our planet makes it look like an alien world. But I'd prefer to use this pic as part of a science fiction plot where an alien invasion force by creatures who love the cold (I'm not naming names, but Ice Warriors maybe) fire a heat-draining weapon at Earth and create that patch of ice in the middle of the Pacific or, jeepers, an inhabited continent! Can your heroes reverse this instant Ice Age before it's too late for humanity?
Tawhiao, second Maori King, between 1868 and 1898, would make for an unusual celebrity historical. We tend to go with figures from Western history, and ignore the rest of the world's, but there's real value in finding Asian, Oceanic, African and South American historical characters and putting them in your games. It's educational and more inclusive, for one thing, but the GM can also trade on the inherent "alienness" of unfamiliar cultures (Doctor Who's The Aztecs did this for television). Not that Tawhiao didn't live in a "modern Western" context, since he had to contend with New Zealand's Victorian colonists. Check him out on Wikipedia to see several historical turning points time travelers might get involved in, whether with or against him.

Any other time travel (or historical) gaming fans in the house?



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