Things That Go Bump in the Night


“Reality is broken.” – Jane McGonigal

I started wondering about adding my own random event tables to my SF games, and then thought: Why not use weird things that have actually happened to me?

Here are some of those events; what has happened to you that you could use?

In the Wilderness

You point out an interesting military vehicle to your native guide, who swears with increasing fear that it is no such thing and is in fact a simple civilian transport.

In the City

You are woken in the early hours of the morning by screams and crying outside your house. Investigating, you find a distraught young woman, either drunk or drugged, threatening to kill herself unless her boyfriend comes out; she has mistaken this house for his. When you try to engage her in conversation, she runs off into the night. Shortly, police arrive and question you politely about what you have seen. Nobody can find the woman, and eventually the police leave.

You arrive at your new apartment earlier than the landlord was expecting. Late that night, police with dogs barge in to capture the presumed “burglars”, but due to a second miscommunication they raid the apartment next door instead.

You are minding your own business when a member of the local military taps you on the shoulder. This is disconcerting until you realise he just wants you to light his cigarette.

At the Starport (Airport)

You arrive at the starport to discover that it is a local holiday. You are debarked and locked into a warehouse, after which the staff go home, leaving you and the other passengers there with your luggage. After some hours, a security guard on patrol hears the banging on the doors and lets you out.

At the starport, you and your companions are told that your flight has been delayed and are ushered into an uncomfortable waiting area. An announcement is made on the public address system, explaining that the flight has been delayed as it has to wait for some inconsiderate offworlders (you). After some hours, you are escorted to the ship; the other passengers are not pleased.

Your flight has been delayed for some hours by a baggage handlers’ strike. At length, the crew emerge and start loading the baggage themselves, whereupon the baggage handlers start a fight with them. Local police arrive, and make a half-hearted attempt to break it up, but are clearly sympathetic to the baggage handlers. Meanwhile, inside, a passenger demands to know what is going on, and you are the only person present who can speak her language. Explaining events to her somehow makes it your fault, and you find yourself in a heated argument.


In fiction or RPGs, within a few days of any of these happening to you, you’d be chasing villains past a tropical island in a speedboat, with a gorgeous, heavily-armed woman smouldering by your side; in real life, you’re back in the office responding to irate emails and wondering “What was that all about?”

Reality is broken.

Continue reading...