Friday, January 21, 2011

[GM Tools] Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters

I mentioned briefly in my last post I consulted the awesome book, Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters. It's written by the fine folks at Gnome Stew--the best GM-centric blog on the Interwebs. I've been using this book for awhile now, and it's time to give it a real shout out.

Essentially Eureka gives away its purpose in its title, but only word of mouth will sing to its utility. There have been a ton of products on this subject over the years, and they've always fallen short for me. Not so with Eureka. I bought the Print+PDF bundle because it's always nice to have a paper book, but I knew I'd want it handy on my iPad.

In Eureka, there are 167 adventure plots, each in the broad categories of Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror. They're further broken down into themes. Then there is a list of genres the plot should be easily adapted to. Finally, each plot is tagged with keywords designed to give you some ideas as to what features a story may have, like dungeon crawls, intrigue, etc.

The book actually opens with detailed instructions on how to read and adapt the plots. The advice is great and is easily adaptable to just about any module or pre-written scenario. I've already used it outside the book, in fact. Even if your game's genre is not one of the listed "big three," this book is still very useful.

The book rounds out with four indexes, one each for genre, tag, title, and author. At first I thought the author index was a vanity thing, but then I realized I started to get a feel for each of the authors and began seeking authors out by their style. The book is super-easy to navigate, even if you have very specific needs when searching for a plot--the PDF more so, given its ample bookmarks.

Every GM who has an off-the-cuff style should have this book. Even if you're one of those heavy-prepping types, these plots are more than seeds, and many of them could actually serve as overarching campaign plots. I've personally used it in both modes, "quick, I need a plot" and "looking for inspiration."

As you can guess, this one's highly recommended.


  1. Ron, this review makes me smile and blush -- thank you! I'm so glad that you're getting great use out of the book, and I especially like that what you originally took for vanity (the author index) you've also found useful -- how you're using it is exactly how we hoped GMs would use it.

    I'm off to link to your review on the Engine Publishing website. Thanks again!

  2. I think the utility of the author index first hit me personally when I realized that most of my sci-fi plots were about rogue AIs and nanobots, and most of Scott's were about strange alien vistas and cultures and there would be readers who liked our particular "niche" and wanted more.