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. We’d love to hear about the stories and adventures you wrote with them! Subscribe for more Writing hook, or find them on Facebook or Twitter.

The writing hook

This fine box may have been recovered from an abandoned temple where it was repurposed as a reliquary, given as a “worthless” treasure in reward for a small quest, or simply found in a room or on a body. It is made of whalebone and finely carved with stylized images and runes from a lost language. Although in good repair, any expert could tell you that the box is very old. When the heroes finally decipher it, the runes and pictures on this box tell a tantalising tale of forbidden magic, great wealth and power beyond imagining –  at least for those brave and skilled enough to seize it. Even more tempting, you recognise a local landmark in the background of one of the panels…


This beautiful casket, now held in the British Museum, London, dates from about 700AD, and probably originated in Northumberland. It is carved with stories, shown both in picture plaques and runes, in a Christian theme. It is made of whale bone, and was originally stained with colours. It was probably intended to contain a religious book, such as the Gospels or the Psalms. The box is roughly contemporaneous – both in time and place – with the first written record of the Beowulf epic poem.

Learn more

You can read more about this artefact here:

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

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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