Finding Inspiration in Local Sites

Today, the grandparents had our little one, so the wife and I went to the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the Lilly House. The Lilly House is also known as the Oldfields estate, and is the legacy of the Lilly family, heirs of Civil War general Eli Lilly and the Lilly pharmaceutical giant based here in central Indiana.

Besides the very nice galleries, which was rife with treasures and artifacts that I could use in a game as plot hooks, the Lilly House (which is on the same grounds) would make an excellent location to include.  Best of all, it comes complete with an already made floor plan and its own history.

I can see this historical home transforming into the estate of alchemists with a storied past of oils, potions, and powders that have had some seriously bad side effects.  But with their connections and deep coffers, the local guilds and government look the other way.  Or if you are a World of Darkness fan, this could be a new arm of Pentex.

(C) Crown Hill Cemetery
(C) Crown Hill Cemetery

This is all pretty much inspired by true events if you happen to research Lilly Corporation’s history of suppressing unfavorable test results, secretly settling out of court, and manipulating the system.  If you can’t tell, I am a little fed up with the current drug and medical systems that have entrenched themselves in today’s society, but that would be a discussion for another type of blog.  But it makes for good conflict in a table top RPG.

We had also planned on visiting Crown Hill Cemetery, which is actually located on the same street as the IMA, but unfortunately, we ran out of daylight.  I am not against exploring a graveyard after hours, but wife would not be game.

Crown Hill Cemetery is the 3rd largest cemetery (over 500 acres) in the United States and is now the permanent home of several famous personalities from the annals of history, including John Dillinger as well as a president and several vice presidents.

Crown Hill also has a darker history.  There are almost 700 unmarked graves for children that “died while in the care of the city’s three public orphanages — the Indianapolis Children’s Asylum, the Board of Children’s Guardians Home and the Asylum for Friendless Colored Children — between 1892 and 1980.  Slightly more than half of the 699 buried on the hill were boys, two-thirds of the children were white and their ages ranged from only a few months to 15 years old.” (Nuvo Magazine)

This is just a sampling of the opportunities to be scavenged from local resources.  Next time you are in need of an interesting location with some history, look no further than your own “back yard.”

Listening to: (hed) P.E. – Broke – Waiting to Die

5 thoughts on “Finding Inspiration in Local Sites

  1. The idea of undead kids would seriously mess with me as a player, so probably it would mess with other players as well. I love it 🙂

    You’re very right about the places to get inspiration from reality. There’s really a lot of options for events and people that can be converted to fantasy-type characters. I may have to steal the Lilly House idea for my next campaign 😉

  2. @Questing GM & Tom: The Sci-Fi channel actually ran a program once that had ghost hunters (not the THE Ghost Hunters from the syndicated show) investigating Crown Hill: “Children of the Grave.” So if you want some creepy undead children stories, I recommend it. Of course, they embellished the story of Crown Hill a little, but that was to be expected.

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