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D&D General Inspiration from Atlas Obscura

I love reading the site Atlas Obscura. When I traveled to New Orleans a few years ago, the site helped me find some great tiny museums to check out.

Often when I'm reading Atlas Obscura, I find things that would be amazing to drop into a D&D campaign, either as a setting or just a neat feature that makes the world seem more alive.

I'm going to use this thread to post links to articles I think provide great inspiration. Feel free to drop your own!

Here's one to start:

Singapore's Birdsinging Club


TLDR: the forests of Singapore are full of beautiful singing birds. People gather in parks to train their birds to sing to each other for competitions.

D&D Inspiration: this would be a great thing to drop into a town or city! I love the idea of fantasy birdsong... Maybe there are even magic birds that can heal or cast spells through their music? It would make for a great mini adventure to have to find and capture magical singing birds.
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Resting Place of the Giants


TLDR: A husband and wife, both nearly 8 feet tall, who had traveled the world with P.T. Barnum and become famous, are buried here. When the wife died, the husband felt that such a great woman needed a great memorial, and had a statue built in her honor.

D&D Inspiration: I love the idea of a small town with a tomb to two noble giants who had lived there. Who were these giants? Where are they from? Perhaps on their tomb is a riddle or a map leading back to the ancient, abandoned land of giants they came from, full of empty castles and lost treasures.
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Atlanta Botanical Gardens


TLDR: botanical gardens with whimsical plant sculptures created and maintained by the community.

D&D Inspiration: I had never really thought of it, but a botanical garden would be a great setting for D&D scenes! There are plenty of shadowy spots to hide and listen in on conversations, the sculptures could represent local monsters, NPCs, or history, and in a combat an enemy druid could bring the topiary to life! Also, imagine a small village maintaining a large botanical garden... Why do they do this? Is it to remember fallen heroes? Or because of a fey curse? Maybe they are carefully maintaining these realistic topiary sculptures of their lost friends and families... because they ARE their lost friends and families, turned to plants by a vengeful druid???

The Rhymer's Stone


TLDR: this stone commemorates a spot where a man named Rhymer fell asleep and awoke to find the Queen of Faerie upon a grey horse. He adventured in Fairyland for seven years, but returned home after just three days. Rhymer gained the ability to speak with beasts and prophesy.

D&F Inspiration: well this one is pretty easy! Placing a stone or monument that tells this story would be a great hook for the characters to find this NPC, or perhaps their corpse (for Speak With the Dead). Or maybe the characters would camp out here for the night to see if they receive a special visitor?

Iona's Beach


TLDR: the pink stones of this Lake Superior beach make sounds like tinkling bells when disturbed by the tide.

D&D Inspiration: a singing beach has all sorts of cool implications. What if it is possessed by the ghost of a bard, who answers questions through the sound of the stones in the waves? What if the beach is magically imbued with a secret that the sand sings only at a certain hour of the day? What if the beach only sings part of a song, and the characters have to complete the music or words in order to complete a ritual?

Cemitério de Navios


TLDR: this Angolan beach is littered with old rotting ships, leftovers of a dangerous coast before a safe port was built.

D&D Inspiration: I mean, what a cool place! You could just drop this right into any D&D campaign as an amazing locale to explore. However, this would also be a really cool dungeon: what if all these ships were connected underground? Maybe by giant crab tunnels, a porous stone structure, or portals? It would be neat to go from one old ship to another, exploring their rotting remains and recovering ancient cargo.

Neskowin Ghost Forest


TLDR: On the shores of Oregon, the stumps of an ancient Sitka spruce forest stand amidst the waves and sand.

D&D Inspiration: so apparently before an earthquake made them a permanent feature, the stumps would only appear once every few decades. I love the idea of a ghost forest (literally) that gets uncovered once every few years. What would the characters find here? The ghosts of dryads? An ancient civilization built into the trees? Treasures caught amidst the roots?

Bone Folly in the Garden


TLDR: A folly is a piece of architecture whose only purpose is to beautiful a garden. While cleaning up an estate, a gardener realized this one was made from animal bones and teeth!

D&D Inspiration: Okay, it's likely that the teeth, bones, shells, and stones were all just convenient nearby construction supplies. But in D&D the bones of the dead tend of have significance. What if a town used the bones of ancient soldiers, demons, or giants in their architecture? How would the spirits of these bones impact the lives of the townsfolk? Of what if a powerful noble, wizard, or celestial were killed, and their bones hidden in the construction of a folly? The garden plants would be warped by the imprisoned spirit.

Italy's Musical Woods are Under Threat


TLDR: The Italian Spruce trees known for their resonating wood, used to make masterful violins and piano soundboards, are under threat from Climate Change and parasites.

D&D Inspiration: We rarely ask ourselves where bards get their instruments. There must be master craftspeople who tend to forests of "resonating" trees just like these. Threats to those trees or the master crafters would be great adventure hooks! And though these spruce trees don't make music on their own, why not in a fantasy world? I love the idea of trees that actually resonate with the sounds of the violins, drums, and pianos they will someday become.

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