Why was it confiscated? Who was it taken from? And who might it motivate? The Confiscated Motive is one of the metaphysical materials you can collect in the game Control, turned into an “item” to use in your role-playing games. Read more about the idea behind it – and the whole list – here.

How a Motive is Confiscated

The bigger the stage, the bigger the plans. That might as well be a saying somewhere, because the cosmos is vast and people tend to say things all the time. Every such plan comes with a motive. A motivation for those engaged in is to see it through. For a plan multiple people work on, there may as well be a number of different motives that do not necessarily align.

Plans develope. Some might stop dead in their tracks, and the motives sustaining them will dim and burn out over time. Others succeed, fulfilling their underlying motives. Those are then gone, too. But if a plan changes enough that a motive becomes obsolete while the plan is still moving forward, that motive is shed, and released into the cosmos.

How a Confiscated Motive can be Obtained

Free motives are imperceptible and intangible. They yearn to motivate someone or something, since that is their main reason for existing, but most minds are solid enough to prevent it from slipping in. After years of random movement, most released motives end up at the edge of the infinite cosmos. Which might be a conceptual feat in and of itself. But those motives are lost forever.

There is one thing that attracts them, though, if only slightly. Sources of motivation can pull them in, and once they are close, free motives will look for a way to manifest, to join that motivation already present. Common sources are religeous texts, but detailed notes of plans that include the reasoning behind their inception can work, too. Hence, temples and evil lairs are the most common places where released motives can be found.

To manifest, all a Confiscated Motive needs is an empty piece of paper or other writing material. They will manifest as a short text detailing their reasoning, to motivate whoever reads them. More powerful ones can do the same with a single sentence and a sketched image. But once they are on paper, they have been successfully confiscated back into the physical realm. And they can spread from there.

Guild of the Motivators, Hunters of the Confiscated Motive

Since there is a clear way to catch motives that does not require complex arcane mechanisms or huge investments in cristals, a number of people have made it their task to collect and confiscate as many motives as they can.

A good way to capture a confiscated motive

To that end, they have created books filled to the brim with motivational material of any kind. These books can be small, and the writing spelling out the motivations and ideas inside can be tiny. The more good ideas and inspiring quotes crammed into the book, the better.

Then, empty pieces of paper are placed at random between the pages, and the book is secured in some way so these trap pages do not fall out. All that is left to do then for the person holding the book is to travel and see the cosmos. Over time, the empty pages will fill with confiscated motives for them to keep, share, or sell.

This Guild of Motivators is a loose-knit group of like-minded people looking for motivation. They will meet up occasionally to share ideas and tips regarding their trap books. They keep track of what works and what does not, to improve their craft. Anyone can buy a motive from them, but they might refuse to sell for any number of obscure reasons. The Guild appears to have a leader somewhere, but nobody knows who it is, and why they are said to hoard motives in a vault somewhere.

Using a Confiscated Motive

The easiest way to make use of a Confiscated Motive is to read it. That will plant a seed in anyone’s mind, but whether it yields results is a matter of time and luck. Some people are not motivated by the same things as others, so the result is always a gamble. Frankly, a good motivating speech by a bard will probably work better, at least on short notice.

A more interesting (and potent) way to make use of a Confiscated Motive allows it to influence a single mind directly, bypassing what natural defenses it may have. This destroys the paper it resides on, further motivating the concept so that whoever ripped it from the page can aim it at their target. There is no way to avoid the unseen motivation. It is restricted to the original motivation, though, and while that is obvious from what it wrote on the paper, it might not be what you want.

Modifying the Motive

There is a way to change the motive. To piggy-back a new motivating thought on the free-floating concept. But it requires some mental strength, and weakens the concept in such a way that a strong mind can shake it off.

In mechanics terms, this requires the user to pass a skill check based on a mental atribute, and adds a saving throw or other kind of defense mechanic for the target. If that save is failed, the Confiscates Motive will influence the affected person in a much more directed way than the original version would.

Random Motivation

In case you do not feel motivated to come up with a motive of your own, you can find some ideas here. At first, I tried to create multiple random tables that come together for a huge number of different results. But I quickly realized that something as imprecise as a “motivation” cannot be chopped up into neat bits. At least not without accepting a large number of “false” results that do not make sense.

So instead, here is a single list with examples. I encourage you to change them as you see fit. Keep in mind that they do not have to pertain to any current situation in your story. I think they are more fun if they have nothing to do with what is going on. That can lead to interesting results when used as they are. And you can always try to change their meaning, as detailed above.

1Make the world a better place for as many people as possible.
2Keep your homeland from succubing to a silent intruder.
3Encourage your competitors to work with you on an important project.
4Support a worthy cause through unexpected means.
5Foster a healthy distrust between allied entities to encourage growth.
6Force someone to defeat their inner demons and overcome what is holding them back.
7Help someone defeat their demons on the battlefield.
8Invent a new method of completing mundane tasks in an unforeseen way.
9Play around with an arcane concept to produce a surprising result.
10Settle a violent dispute using nothing but mild words.
11Create discomfort by starting and abandoning a movement.
12Build a legacy from vaguely worded predictions left in random books in village libraries.
Never said a motivation had to be good. Or decent.

Confiscated Feedback

I realize this item lacks any concrete rules in terms of numbers, difficulty, and effect. This is something for you to adjudicate at the table, in concert with your players. It depends a lot on the situation, where the motive came from, and the persons involved. I am sure that you can have fun with the concept, though!

Let me know how it played out at your table, and don’t forget to check out the other Control concepts. If you want to discuss any of them, feel free to join my Discord server.

Thanks for stopping by, and remember to Be Inspired!