Content of the article: "Looking for something interesting to be hidden away in a bunch of abandoned books in the library of an abandoned manor somewhere way remote"
So I'm running a one-on-one mid-century-set D20 modern campaign, and the next location is an old town in West Virginia where there used to be a mining town, but now all that's left is a family guarding the entrance to the mine and something evil lurking within. I'm pretty green as a DM, and with one player, I'm trying to avoid too much combat because monsters could easily steamroll a single player, so while there is some, I'm trying to limit it.
However, I'm planning on having plenty of time in this town for story reasons, so I want to give each family member an optional sidequest that will have some sort of long-term benefit. I've figured most of them out, but one is still eluding me: a younger brother, who found a bunch of books in the library that no one else was interested in, wants to experiment with the magic gibberish he found inside. In this setting, magic is either alchemical, granted through a deity or accessed via ritual, and I know the magic in these books isn't going to go as planned. However, I'm having trouble figuring out what it could actually do. I've toyed with having it replace their primary language with a different one, and they have to recreate the ritual to undo it, only without being able to clearly communicate, but that didn't seem like it'd be fun to play out. I've toyed with it inviting some spirits into their bodies, but…what then? Whose spirits? What do they want? How does it affect anything? Most importantly, how do you resolve it if it happens in such a remote place without just giving the knowledge required to exorcise these spirits to a member of the family and rendering it a non-issue? Plus, it just didn't seem very interesting to me. I've thought about it sending them into a shared hallucination of some sort, but I don't know what that would even begin to look like. I love the idea of this kid who's barely 19 messing around in these books and causing a little bit of chaos, but I'm just drawing a blank for what kind of chaos that is. Anyone know of anything a turn-of-the-century mine boss who's only recently aware of magic and dabbling stupidly might have lying around in a Victorian manor before disaster struck?
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