Household Objects (or MacGyvering Non-D&D Ideas into my Games)

So, the other day my younger daughter’s boyfriend’s car broke down.  During the diagnosis and repair process, it was discovered that the belt for the “Harmonic Balancer” had to be replaced.  Now, I have no idea what a “Harmonic Balancer” is or what it does and I don’t care to Google it to find out.  Yet, I cannot help, but to want a “Harmonic Balancer” into my games.  This is not the first time that I have been inspired to create something for Rilmorn from a non-fantasy/non-D&D object or idea.

Before I get into some of my odd inspirations, let me talk about Listerine.  This one is a cheat; it had a D&D idea in it.  In 1992, Listerine put out some great ads; including one with a bottle of Listerine wielding a sword inscribed with “Plaque Slayer” on one side of the blade and “Germ Killer” on the other side.  This, perhaps not surprisingly, led me into creating a like-named sword that was dedicated to slaying oozes and slimes.  It seemed a bit silly, at the time, but it came in quite handy when my PCs encountered Juiblex and its minions.

Men at Work, an Australian band, had a hit called “Down Under,” which was all about people from Australia, but I saw it different and created the Morloi.  The song has a chorus that changes slightly each time it sung.  I took inspiration from two of those choruses:

And she said, “Do you come from a land down under? Where women glow and men plunder? Can’t you hear, can’t you hear the thunder? You better run, you better take cover

And he said, “I come from a land down under Where beer does flow and men chunder Can’t you hear, can’t you hear the thunder? You better run, you better take cover”

From this, I envisioned a race of humans that dwelt underground.  The men for heavy drinking raiders and the women were farmers that had visible auras about them.  I learned from Casey Kasem that “chundering” was an Australian term for “chugging beer,” thus my heavy drinking plunderers.  The idea that women were glowing farmers came from me misunderstanding one of the later choruses and believing that the line sang was “I come from a Land Down Under; where women plow and men plunder.”  How was I to know that they didn’t rhyme the words “plough” and “glow?”  I created their name by combining the two races of humanity the future presented in H. G. Wells The Time Machine, the Morlocks and the Eloi.  The last time I used the Morloi, they were traveling through time to escape a disaster that was destroying their homeland.

I don’t remember if I was using a Bulletin Board System (BBS) or was on Internet Relay Chat (IRC), but one day this GM posted asking about local businesses which had names that would make great D&D names or ideas.  He had such a name, but his Players all knew about the local business and it break the suspension of disbelief if he used it.  The name was “Lunghammer.”  I took that name a created a dragon slaying orc out of it.  “Lung” is the transliteration of the Chinese word for “dragon.”  “Lunghammer” is something that hits dragons.  He became an orc, because Lunghammer sounds like something that orc would do…”I hammer your lungs!”

So, what will the “Harmonic Balancer” be?  Is it a magical ritual that keeps intrusions from the Elemental Planes contained?  Could it be a bardic singing sword?  Does it have anything to with controlling the elementals that are being summoned within the Bazarene Circuit?  Could it be a device needed to keep the engines of Bazarene from exploding?  What would you do with such a named device?

Until we meet again, Game On!