It is a common trope in gaming to find, rescue and recover arcane artifacts and rare manuscripts from lost tombs, hidden caches and private collections. Such artifacts often contain great knowledge, unknowable power or represent significant wealth, making the reward of possessing them worth the, usually, high risk of actually getting them.
The fact that the items are usually represented by a single or small group of physical items makes scenario and adventure design easier as well.
We love recovering McGuffins. They’re ace.
Objects are so much better than nebulous concepts like ‘a throne’ or ‘lasting peace’ or ‘true love’. You can’t really possess these things, and they rarely give you super ultimate power. Not even thrones, which are usually uncomfortable – probably due to the large number of assassins daggers that keep inserting themselves into your back.
The challenge, then, is to come up with new and exciting objects to quest for and possess.
To this end, I give you…
When Einstein died in 1955, his brain was secretly removed by his pathologist, Thomas Stoltz Harvey, within 7 hours of his death. Harvey weighed, photographed and then dissected Einstein’s brain.
The brain weighed 1.23kg. Significantly less than the average brain weight of 1.4kg.
We do not know how many photographs of the brain Harvey took, just that he took multiple shots from different angles. Previously unknown pictures of the brain occasionally surface. After photographing the brain, Harvey cut it into roughly 240 1cm cubes, encased them in Collodion (a plastic like substance) and then sent a selection to other leading pathologists worldwide.
Harvey also removed Einstein’s eyes and gifted them to Einstein’s Ophthalmologist, Henry Abrams.
That Harvey did this did not become public knowledge until 1978, when a journalist discovered that Harvey had two mason jars with bits of Einstein’s brain pickled in alcohol, stored in an old cider box.
A Brain of Several Parts
Since then, some facts and conjecture regarding the physical structure of Einstein’s brain have come to light, as well as a conspiracy theory that Einstein’s adopted granddaughter was, in fact, his biological daughter from an illicit dalliance, and had been adopted by his own son to cover the scandal.
At the moment, an undocumented number of preserved cubes of Einstein’s brain are kept within laboratories and universities across the world. Some may be lost for good, others may rest unknown in private collections, attics, safes and cider boxes.
Anyone who manages to collect all 240 pieces of Einstein’s brain will have:
- A really gross jigsaw puzzle;
- A priceless curiosity worth millions to the right person;
- A biological super computer (some assembly required) that can unlock the secrets of space and time; and/or
- A means to resurrect Einstein’s consciousness, either as a brain in a jar or by encasing the brain in a fresh meat suit or robotic shell (no doubt with pincers for hands and shoulder-mounted kill lasers).
Your players may want to recover the brain themselves (and I wouldn’t blame them, because shoulder-mounted kill lasers!), or prevent a third party from recovering and exploiting the brain’s properties.
They may even want to recover the brain and eyes, and finally lay all of Einstein’s mortal remains to rest, so that his ghost can move on. Although Einstein’s ghost is probably a cool dude. He’s probably got some really outrageous stories about Marilyn Monroe.
Image Credit: Cariboooou