One of my more popular achievements on Google+ is the creation of the Suppressed Transmissions Community, which is dedicated to the memory of +Kenneth Hite's old gaming column of the same name. Primarily, this column looked at various aspects of the "Real World" - history, mythology, folklore (old and modern), conspiracy theories and so forth, and then interpreted them creatively for gaming.
The Community, meanwhile, has become a place where various factoids and sources of inspiration are posted on a very regular basis, which is good. However, to my mind there has not been enough creative interpretation of the various stories and links posted, and at which the old column excelled at.
Hence this series of blog posts. I plan to go through the archives of the Community, starting with some of the very oldest posts (which newer members of the Community likely aren't aware of) and discuss possible interpretations for role-playing games in more detail - quite likely focusing on interpretations for my Urbis setting, since that's the main focus of my game writing these days. Furthermore, where applicable I will also write and update entries for the Arcana Wiki, another long-running project of mine which strives to collect all this weirdness in a more organized fashion.
So let's get started!
Dec 11, 2012 by +Rob Bush: The linked article tells of a "Zone of Silence" in a Mexican desert where radial signals are allegedly blocked or scambled - up to and including satellite signals. This was discovered in 1970, when a faulty Athena Missile from White Sands crashed here and a joint American-Mexican operation retrieved it. Since then there have been numerous reports of strange phenomena and encounters with similarly strange beings, including some that suspiciously sound like the Nordics, while others were covered in "raincoats and ball caps".
For a game set in the modern-ish day, this would be a good location for an alien mothership buried beneath the ground - possibly an old crash site, possibly deliberately buried there - and perhaps the signal interference has made this into a "neutral meeting ground" for aliens of sorts. And if the PCs investigate this area, they also can't rely on their cell phones and all that other modern communication gear so harmful to a proper horror atmosphere - they need to communicate by staying within line of sight and hearing distance. But surely they are professional enough to do this without any problems, and certainly none of them will be split off from the rest of the party by the local phenomena for any reason.
For Urbis, meanwhile, I think I will use this for my Cold Frontier campaign, which has its fair share of desolate places and alien influences - so this can be a "fallout site" from an old, titanic battle between alien forces. The "Zone of Silence" aspect can be extended further - perhaps it blocks all divinations, all telepathy and communication spells, and all sound! This would make the region into the ultimate "neutral ground" for clandestine meetings, but if you want to cast spells you'd better be able to do so without saying something...
Jan 1, 2013 by +Laston Kirkland: Here we learn about Mima Mounds, a type of natural terrain consisting of numerous oval-shaped mounds up to 8 feet high and 30 feet across. Theories for creation range from the activities of pocket gophers gradually building up nests over long time spans, to weird post-glacial meltdown effects, to (of course) UFOs. For the Cold Frontier I think I will go with the gopher theory - fey gophers, that is, as +Laston Kirkland pointed out that these mounds make perfect hiding places for the Little People. These critters speak the local human languages, but aren't very bright and will generally stay away from strangers. Their mounds do count as "fairy mounds" for accessing the plane of Fairie, however.
Feb 4, 2013 by me: I had stumbled across this rather gross article describing how a woman in Sweden had an unfortunate encounter with an elk botfly that had injected 30 immature larvae into her eye, which later had to be surgically removed. The botfly, it seems, had mistaken her eyes for the nostrils of a moose, which is where its larvae usually mature until they are ejected in a shower of mucus and elk blood. Now, how about flies which specialize in laying their larvae into the eyes of mammals? After all, these are so soft and squishy and nutritious...
Arcana Wiki entries (as always, feel free to edit and expand on them):
Continued in Part 02.