Wednesday Writing Hook
Sure Hump-Day can suck, but we’ve decided to turn it into a *Hooray-Day* by releasing a new writing hook every week! Each edition will feature an image of an artefact, a complementary writing hook, and a little about its historical provenance, with a further reading option. We’d love to hear about the stories and adventures you wrote with them – be sure to detail them in the comments below! You can subscribe for more writing hooks, or find them on Facebook or Twitter.

The Writing Hook

Your trusted, studious companion – or perhaps a trusted, studious NPC or side character – accidentally drops his bag and his books tumble out. As this one hits the ground, the clasp breaks open and you catch sight of the above. The small, embellished drawers are labelled with intricate writing, and you recognise some of the words – names of lethal poisons. On the inside cover, an illustration of a skeleton bears the legend “Statutum est hominibus semel mori” – “It is a fact that man must die one day.” What secret past, or ulterior motives, have you unearthed in this once-trusted character? This writing hook could be a game changer for a character, taking a story in an unpredictable direction, or it could be that he or she was framed by the real culprit!

writing hook - The Poisoned Book

writing hook – The Poisoned Book

Writing Hook detail of the Poisoned BookThe Historical Facts

This artefact started life as a real book, which was probably made around the 1600s. Subsequently, the pages were carefully carved out and replaced with the setting you see above – eleven drawers, finely decorated, in wood and silver, and a green glass bottle held in place with a leather thong. Each drawer is meticulously labelled with the names of plant species – most of which are toxic, hallucinogenic, or both. This could have been a poisoner’s book, although since some of the species have alternative, therapeutic or recreational use, it may have belonged to an unconventional medical figure, such as a wise woman or similar.

Read more about this artefact here

How would you use this writing hook for your writing or role-playing campaigns? How would you make this writing hook better? Let us know in the comments below! 

Looking for more inspiration? Why not try last week’s writing hook, Writing Hook #1: The Mysterious Box.

About Janet Forbes

Janet Forbes is a London-based professional musician, a classical soprano and recorder player performing everything from medieval polyphony to contemporary opera. You can find out about her “real job” at on her website. Janet is also a keen historian, archaeologist, writer, role playing games player, and the Mother-of-Kittens.

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