Campaigns, sandboxed or not, might use some rumours to better motivate lazy players.
An approach is to have a neat campaign specific table compiled. Very neat and integrated, but it takes preparation, and it’s just limited to the table entries.
Another approach is to have a neat generic table compiled, and weave the result from the table in your campaign. Somewhat dirty and random, but good for improv and sandboxes. Some players might feel tricked as this approach might appear not honest to them (“maaan you and your stupid old school tables just f**ked me for no reason whatsoever”). You know what? Tell them to GTFO.
After reading Vornheim (a mighty fine product, let me tell you, as it defines a campaign through its behaviour and not through mere prose, which deeply satisfies my software engineer aesthetics I keep well hidden under my black beard, soul and clothes) I decided to use Zak’s “roll dice on page” to achieve a more direct solution to the problem. Pick a random page of the campaign setting, roll a d4 on it and, tah dah, what’s under the d4 is the rumour/secret.
Rumour Generation System
A: Pick a page at random from your campaign setting or notes.
B: Roll a d4, make it land on the page, read the sentence under the d4, refer to the following table:
- spill the beans and create a true rumour based on the sentence.
- refer the opposite of the sentence. It might not be a lie di per se but simply something erroneous or misreported.
- take the sentence and spin it so far and fast and hard that it might seem a false rumour but there is some underlying truth behind it. Think chinese whispers.
- create a rumour (30% true, 30% false, 40% mixed) based on the sentence, then pick another random page in the book (or some other book) and repeat the whole procedure, mixing the results.C: try to weave some kind of reasonable tale around the topic, in case it feels artificial.