For this post I decided to put together a little list of random modern items a group might come across in a medieval fantasy dungeon and have no idea what to do when they encounter it!
I’m a big fan of utilitarian items being provided to players so they can come up with their own creative uses of said items to solve puzzles I put before them. I’m also a big fan of the “present puzzles, not solutions” philosophy of game mastering – often when I present an obstacle I don’t know how it’ll be solved, just what happens after they do solve it.
It’s a little silly overall, obviously, but if you try to introduce something like a ream of printer paper or an exercise bike, the key, in my eyes, is to not say what they thing is but rather describe what the thing is like through the senses. Does it have a smell? Does the metal feel harder and smoother than any blacksmith would likely be able to put together? How do you describe plastic to a pre-Renaissance cast of characters?
Let them come up with the name of the thing, and don’t have a source in mind for where it came from. It really amps up the weirdness of a setting (if that’s what you’re going for!).
On top of it all, because I’m a fan of the Black Hack, if you need to quantify any of these items, add a Usage Die to it. The ream of printer paper? That’s got 1d6 UD, for example. Players will run wild with using these items – and let them! That’s half the fun of GM’ing (the other half of course is killing characters mercilessly).