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Hipster PDA + (Numenera or The Strange) == Awesome Sauce

Index cards HipsterOne of my favorite organizing tools it the Hipster PDA, also known as a stack of index cards with a paper clip. Index cards are the perfect tool for keeping things going while GMing Numenera or The Strange. The idea is while you are playing, you are shuffling a stack of index cards, and you pull one and add something from the card into the current scene.

Step 1: Make a card for every PC. Write down the Descriptor, Type, and Focus. Add the suggested GM Intrusion for the focus. Add any powers and artifacts the player likes to use all the time. For example, "Sneaking, Bounding Boots." Add anything from the characters background that is fun to bring into play, like "remembers a past life experience from when she was Lady Ash's lover and they explored space together."

Step 2: Make cards that say Smell/Taste, Hear, Feel. I don't bother with See, because I'm telling them what they see all the time, but you might want to throw that in too. I put smell and taste on the same card, as taste is great, but it doesn't always come into play.

Step 3: Make a Reoccurring Dealies card. Put down NPCs, creatures, and events that your players have latched onto. These are things you've used in the past that intrigued the players. If it helps, add a note of how the concept got into your campaign For example "purring invisible lion (GMI for Opal: Commands Mental Powers)", and "Lebby the Pan-Dimensional girl (NPC from The Sun Below: City on the Edge)."

Step 4: Shuffle the Deck

Step 5: Play

Now, while you are playing, keep pulling a card and finding something on it to add to the current scene.

If you pull a character card and they haven't had a GM Intrusion this session, give them one. Otherwise, look at what's on the card. If you pull the character with Bounding Boots, you could say "They way forward is blocked, but up on a ledge you can see a ladder that's been pulled up. The ceramosteel wall looks almost impossible to climb. Anyone have a way up?"

If up pull the Smell/Taste card, you might say "There's an oily, minerally smell wafting from the pit."

When you use something from the Reoccurring Dealies card, see if your players still care about it. If they don't cross it off. If they like the purring invisible lion, keep using it.

Keep a note of fun things that come up in the current game that your players might like to see again, and add them to the reoccurring list.

I stole this idea from Ash Law's talk on 13th Age Adventure Design and modified it for Cypher System games, but you can use this in most any RPG. Ash's talk on index cards starts at 27:25.

See Also: Spotlight Cards.

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