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Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters
 
$34.95 $16.95
Average Rating:4.6 / 5
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Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters
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Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by David R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/19/2014 10:28:48
I found some samples of Eureka and Masks on Engine's website and was very impressed with the information, samples, and ideas provided, so I decided to buy the full ebook for both.

This book is very well written and provides lots of easily expandable/tweakable plots that work with any system.

I've already used a couple of the plot ideas in my game night and even with only a couple days prep time, the players the original storylines and twists that they dealt with.

I'm looking forward to delving deeper and finding more that I can use to add to my game.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Brian F. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/04/2014 16:07:50
Have you ever found a sandwich that’s so big, juicy, messy, and full of sandwichy goodness that you can’t figure out where to start eating it? That’s kind of what happened when I grabbed a copy of Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots To Inspire Game Masters by the authors of GnomeStew.com. This book should be like crack to not only roleplayers in general and gamemasters (GMs) in specific, but should also provide infinite ideas for novelists and short story writers seeking inspiration for their own works.

For those of you who aren’t gamers or roleplayers, there’s a huge and growing population of people who play tabletop roleplaying games (RPGs) who also write articles throughout the blogosphere. Gnome Stew (GnomeStew.com) is one of the more focused, schizophrenic (i.e. multiple-writer), and excellent gaming resources on the web today. I typically peruse the Gnome Stew RSS feed at least once a week to get an idea for what’s going on in gaming and stealget ideas for my own gaming blog (the Moebius Adventures blog).

The amazing folks at Gnome Stew evidently had their “eureka” moment in June 2009 and it took twelve months from that point to create this huge storehouse of ideas and inspiration for the community. As Martin Ralya, the owner of Gnome Stew, points out in his introduction – “To call Eureka a labor of love would be an understatement.” And the love shows.

Before launching into the plot descriptions themselves, the authors chose to provide a chapter about how to use the book. That takes up less than 20 pages of the 300+ the book fills. But without that information, it would be much more difficult to hunt for ideas on a particular topic. They have provided four different ways to find the perfect plot – by theme, primary genre, sub-genres, and tags.

The themes they use are the 36 Dramatic Situations written by Georges Polti in 1917. The book poses that there are only 36 basic plots used in all the dramatic works ever created or that ever will be created. It’s quite an idea and it’s still in use today by drama students, authors, playwrights, and many more. You can read the book in the public domain here. In terms of RPG plots, this helps by boiling down the initial idea succinctly and then building on it in the text of the plot description.

Genres are broken into four general categories. In this case, a genre is just a set of criteria for a setting that also lends itself to describing the overall tone or assumptions for stories fitting those criteria. In this case, they use three main categories – Fantasy, Sci-fi, and Horror – and add a catch-all “Other” category for any plots that don’t fit in the first three.

And when you get to tags, that’s where the real fun comes in. It’s obvious the editors and authors thought long and hard about how to make this book useful for readers. Like genres, tags in this case are just additional descriptive words to categorize a particular plot. These tags describe things like the type of Challenge involved in the plot, what Creatures and Enemies will be encountered, what kinds of Non-player Characters (NPCs) and Relationships are central to the plot, the Play Style, and the Setting. Beyond that, there’s also a broader “Features” general category for elements that don’t fit anywhere else.

Each of these descriptive methods is used to create a detailed index (four indexes are included – by theme, primary genre, sub-genres, and tag) so that you can simply peruse any of the indices for a particular idea or term. That certainly helps when you’re faced with the sheer volume of work presented in this book. Your other approach is simply to start at the beginning and read until inspiration strikes or you find what you are looking for. My problem with that is that I have hardly dented the Fantasy plots, which come first, so who knows if I’ll ever make it all the way to the Horror section!

There’s no way to do justice to the myriad plots described in the book, so I’ll just talk about one to provide an example of what you can look forward to.

“Vengeance Taken for Kindred upon Kindred” has a long title, but immediately I knew it was describing what I call the “Hatfields vs. the McCoys” problem. It’s a family feud at its heart. And in the fantasy version described in Eureka, it’s a tribe of orcs that’s split down the middle after a chieftan dies and his twin sons want to take the tribe in different directions. Stuck in the middle is a local town. With a war coming between these two factions, the player characters (PCs) must figure out how to save the town.

The plot goes on to describe the problems at hand, including the fact that they can’t face down all the orcs by themselves and what happens when the town mayor tries to make a pact with one camp for protection from the other… There’s just enough information to provide a framework for an enterprising GM to roll an adventure around it.

And at the end of the plot description, there’s a section describing what other genres it can easily be adapted to, including Action Horror, Cyberpunk, Grim and Gritty Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic, Sci-fi, Traditional Fantasy, and Western. The section also describes all the various tags associated with the plot idea – alliance, deadline, innocent, isolated area, mass combat, sandbox, tactical planning, and villain.

As a GM, I think I could take this idea and spin it at least three ways right off the bat, which is awesome. It’s this kind of inspiration with crunchy details that really sets my brain on fire.

So if you’re a GM, a player, a writer of any sort, or just like noodling about story ideas, Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots To Inspire Game Masters by the authors of GnomeStew.com should provide you literally hours and hours of gaming fun. One review I saw mentioned that with 501 plots at your disposal, that’s more than a year’s worth of adventuring time for even the most aggressive gaming group!

(This review first appeared here: http://blogcritics.org/rpg-book-review-eureka-501-adventure/-
)

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Christopher H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/11/2012 11:35:19
This is truly a fantastic product. The writers and editors put in a lot of work to “get it right,” and it certainly pays off. As the subtitle states, Eureka gives you 501 “adventure plots.” Each plot starter contains enough information for you to expand the plot into a single adventuring session or perhaps a longer arc. The plot starters are sorted into three broad genres—sci-fi, fantasy, and horror—but are also tagged with more specific descriptors that cover both settings and plot features. Suppose, for example, that you’re running a superhero game and you want a lighthearted scenario. With Eureka, you can flip over to “Index 1: Plots by Genre,” and look for plots that are listed under both “Supers” and “Comedy” (#27 is the first one that fits both genre designators). Or maybe you want to take the superheroes into outer space; cross-references “Supers” in Index 1 with “interplanetary” in Index 2 to find a useful plot. Production values are very high. The PDF is thoroughly bookmarked, and the table of contents is hyperlinked. The download includes both “full” and “plain” (lacking background/border graphics) versions of the PDF. Eureka truly deserves the highest possible praise for an “adventure seeds” product.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/22/2012 11:42:47
WHAT WORKS: Utility is the watchword here. I didn't even scratch the surface of the plot seeds available in this book, and that's not getting into the twists, genre shifts and so on that you can apply to every plot seed in the book. The genre index breaks it down by sub-genre as well, so it's not just three big lists of horror, fantasy and sci-fi, but Grim and Gritty Fantasy, Gothic Horror, Supers, Western, etc. The hyper-linking throughout the PDF makes it incredibly user friendly above and beyond the searchability and book marking.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: While digital books are gaining more and more ground, Eureka does seem priced above the sweet spot that I have unscientifically found the average PDF purchaser to have...especially for an art-lite, black and white book. However, with the "free PDF" deal, the biggest strike against this book is practically a non-issue. Sure, you will find a few plots that don't do anything for you, but there are plenty, plenty more plots for you to play with.

CONCLUSION: And in this case, art-lite is a huge boon to the book as it is CRAMMED FULL of material, and it is completely system-free, so it's not just a great addition for one of your RPGs, but for EVERY RPG. Unless you just never, ever get stuck for ideas, then this is practically a must-buy for any GM.

For my full review, please visit: http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/01/tommys-take-o-
n-eureka-501-adventure.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Paolo P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/07/2012 06:36:04
Forenote: I'll copy and paste these very same words for both Masks and Eureka+Masks bundle. Actually there is no reason (apart from starvation) to NOT buy the bundle.
----------------------------

I don't think it is worth the pain of writing a full-blown review for Eureka. Trolling the net you will stumble upon tons of enthusiastic opinions about this product. Here is mine!
I'll cut is short. If you fall in one of following descriptions:
- game master (or GM wannabe)
- designer/author
- writer
- illustrator/visual artist (yep, I'm serious)
then, simply put, buy this book. Maybe you still don't know but you need it. Dot.

If you don't, keep away! Reading such material could spoil years of gameplay, even if your master doesn't use it. Believe me!
This is one of that books that should be kept right behind GM screen (or in a writer secret drawer) to express its full potential.

With Crimson Exodus, this is the best product I've ever bought on this site.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/03/2011 23:03:21
(originally posted at TenkarsTavern.com)

Does anyone else remember the AD&D Encounter Cards? They were my GoTo Resource when I had nothing planned for Sunday's Weekly Game (which happened more often then I would lie to admit). I'd pull a few cards at random, figure out which one (or more) had a seed of something larger in it, and ran with it.

Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters is similar, but for the most part the plots are deeper on role-play the those old encounter cards ever were. The pieces here also tend to have more depth and dangling threads, as these are plots - or plot seeds if you will.

167 plots each for fantasy, sic-fi and horror, but you can tweak nearly all to fit outside their default genre. Which puts this at less then 4 cents a plot.

Did I mention this is a full bookmarked PDF? And that they are further broken down by Dramatic Structure? Nicely done. This, my iPad and Goodreader will have me making notes right on the PDF for the plots I want to use.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Chad S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/05/2011 08:33:08
Other reviewers have gone into detail about what the book covers, so consider this more of a testimonial.

This is a book that any GM should have. Period. It has gotten me past GM's writer's block. It has helped me finish half-formed ideas for story arcs.

The fact that it's available in pdf makes it even better. While the indexes are impressive (to say the least), the ability to search for a keyword like "horror" or "space opera" and flip immediately to those entries is a huge value.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Ronald W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/07/2011 09:07:27
Great product. it really helps get the creative juices flowing when you are having problems coming up with adventure ideas.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by NB N. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/16/2010 21:55:01
This one is going to be pretty short. This book is exactly what it says it is . . . 501 plot hooks. The helpful part of the book is that it is organized and indexed in several ways. Chapters focus on Sci-Fi, Horror, and Fantasy. Within the chapters, the hooks are organized by the general theme you are trying to convey. The book is then indexed so that you can pretty much pull anything out by any combination of the tags in a matrix. There is a broad set of themes, tons of cool hooks, and some introductory advice on building adventures.

This is a good book for GMs wanting to put some fun hooks into their games.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Tim L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/24/2010 07:20:19
Nearly 300 pages of plots (usually two per page). EXTENSIVE hypertext linkage and 3 indexes, each adventure tagged for the genre and tone (cyberpunk pulp action). Although it uses as a focus the classic book "36 Dramatic Situations" it goes beyond that. Far beyond that. Includes GM advice and how to re-skim plots. Compares very favorably to the "Seeds" (supers/western/pulp) and the 100 (planets/adventures/conspiracies) series.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Erathoniel W. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/26/2010 20:44:08
Normally I'm a big believer in do-it-yourself GM'ing, or fully fleshed out scenarios, and find hooks and the like very unsatisfying. So when I decided to review this, it was partly out of morbid curiosity.

I was pleasantly surprised.

Eureka basically lays out a ton of simple scenarios, but it does so in such a well-written and perfectly "fleshed-out-but-not-too-detailed-as-to-stifle-creativity" method that it is a bearable read.

Not only that, but almost all the plots can be run cross-genre, meaning that the fantasy plots (say, killing a bandit leader and causing a power vacuum) can be sometimes moved into a cyberpunk setting (replace bandits with gangs) or whatnot.

If you just can't think of one more adventure, but the next session is rolling around regardless, you can get a lot out of this book for its decent price. You can easily find a plot based on a specific element that you want to incorporate (or avoid ones on those you don't), and inspiration seems to flow freely.

I've spent a lot more money on things to try to get a better adventure than I have on this and come away from it with a lot less, if you want to get some surefire adventures, look no further than Eureka!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters
Publisher: Engine Publishing
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/02/2010 14:44:55
This book comes in both a full-color version and a printer-friendly version with the background and border imaging removed to save you toner/ink. It retails for $16.95 and comes in at 314 pages (that total includes the front and back covers). The book has an exceedingly slick layout that's pleasing to the eye and logically laid out – Darren Hardy, who did the layout for the book, did a great job. The editing on the book is also top-notch with very few grammatical mistakes or other issues.

The art, including the cover and the borders, are quite good – the cover is very nice and much of the interior is also nice (I especially like the borders) although with the variation in styles it's a bit of a mixed bag. While I would have liked to see interior art that tied more directly to the contents, doing so would have likely cut down the number of plots. The front and back cover are full color while the interior is black & white, but that doesn't detract at all from the book's appearance and means that the print version of the book won't be ridiculously expensive to print.

The indexing in the book deserves special mention because it's simply amazing. The book features multiple indexes: Four in fact. Index 1 indexes the contents by genre (more than 20 are listed) , Index 2 divides the plots by tags (more on them later), Index 3 breaks down the contents by title, and Index 4 breaks the plots down by author. The table of contents is also wonderfully detailed with fully functional hyperlinks to each of the ToC's entries, making having the PDF a huge plus.

Overall this is a very professional looking self-published book, something which GM advice books haven't always managed to pull off.

I am happy to report that the book's actual contents live up to its appearance. This is a great book, which is just as useful for a novice game master as someone who has been running RPG games for decades.

The book's contents opens (after a forward by Monte Cook and an introduction from one of the authors), with a sizable chapter providing game mastering advice which is largely aimed at explaining how to use the book's contents and the organizing philosophy driving the book's contents and organzation. Specifically, the plots all fit in to one of 36 themes (also known as the 36 Dramatic Situations, which are adapted from a book on dramatic plots by Georges Polti ). Furthermore, the plots are divided in to one of three broad genres: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Horror. For those of you keeping score, there are 167 plots per genre (501/3) with each Dramatic Situation typically getting 4-5 adventure plots each.

Aside from genres and Dramatic Situations, Eureka also identifies each plot with a series of tags – these are similar to the way tags are used on the internet, providing a shorthand method of identifying significant elements that are part of that plot – tags include things like locations, goals, plot twists, and playstyle. For example, the “Web of Deceit” plot includes these tags: Betrayal, city, investigate, shady, stealth, tactical planning, trade, twist, and villain. Thus, with a quick glance a GM can see what types of elements are going to be involved with that particular plot and decide if it suits their needs as well as the style of the group. As mentioned earlier, these are all indexed at the end of the book (Index 2) making finding something based on a particular tag a snap.

Chapter 1 also includes tips on turning the adventure plots in to actual adventures and adapting plots, including how to create suitable NPCs, choose a location, and set the adventure in motion. The advice on adapting plots includes details on how to change the plots to suit your needs, including how to reskin or even remake the entire plot. This section is a great addition, especially for the novice GM, because it presents principles and methods which can be used outside the actual book's contents. For example, the principles might be applied to 4th edition D&D monsters to re-skin them to create something that suits your particular needs, or even applied whole scale to a pre-published adventure.

The first chapter finishes up with an explanation of the big three genres Eureka uses, and how the various sub-genres fit in to these (for example, Cyberpunk is a sub-genre of Sci-Fi), as well as a brief explanation of the various tags and themes used in the book.

My one criticism of this chapter is that it at times repeats itself. For example, very similar advice on how to use the tags is presented multiple times. However, this is a minor quibble and probably one which many readers will appreciate since the explanations are used in different contexts.

Chapters 2, 3, and 4 include the real meat of the book: 167 plots in each, with 1 to 2 plots presented per page. Each plot briefly outlines the set-up, situation, and predicted events of the plot, arranged so that a GM can extract enough scenes or encounters to fill an evening worth of gaming. This breaks down to roughly 3-6 scenes/encounters per plot, arranged in the most likely sequence that they will unfold. While it may sound like these are basically telling the GM “railroad the players to get them here”, the information presented is very open ended and offered simply as possible events that might unfold. How closely one adheres to them or forces the structure upon the group is largely left up to the GM, and the previous chapter provides good advice on how to avoid simply running the plot as a pure railroad session.

As written, each of these plots could be use for a very improvisational session (basically using the set-up and running from there) or could be used to create a very organized and tightly orchestrated adventure. Similarly, while the goal is to provide a plot for enough material for a single session, there's the potential to get several sessions worth of material out of a single plot depending on how the group interacts with the situation.

How are the plots? Most of them are quite good. While not every plot inspired me – expecting that would be ridiculous given the book contains 501 of them! - almost all would work as the basis of an adventure and some are really good. For example, I really liked the Dark Changeling plot (p. 65) from the Fantasy chapter and the Faulty Memories plot from the sci-fi section. There are some real gems and in a pinch any one of these would work.

Eureka is a great product and one which I would wholeheartedly recommend to people – there's something in here for everyone, whether you're struggling to create your first adventure, are suffering from a creative block, or just want to break out of a rut. New GMs will find an endless wellspring of ideas, while experienced GMs can use the plots for last minute session prep or as inspiration when creating their latest adventure. As a PDF this is a must-have for taking to a con and I've already added it to my iPad as a permanent addition.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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