10 great ideas to steal from The Boy and the Heron

This post will include spoilers from Studio Ghibli's latest movie, The Boy and the Heron. I just saw it, and the hypnotizing underworld dreamscape that takes over the last two thirds of the movie is a wonderful source of inspiration for RPG's. Here are some interesting ideas you could use to inspire your campaign at home.

  1. The dungeon is a timeless place.

    The dungeon stands outside space and time. Once you enter it, no matter when you went inside, you can meet anyone else who has ever entered. You may meet people who explored the dungeon a hundred years ago. Even people who are now long dead. 
    You remember a story where your late mother went missing for a year when she was a child - it turns out, she fell into the dungeon. You can find her here again, as a young woman. 

    Once you return to the real world, you lose all your memories and return to your life. (It's probably a good idea to make the PC's special in some way that makes them exempt from this rule). The dungeon has stood for timeless aeons, so you can find different people from all throughout history within. 


Research has shown that false memories can be implanted with surprising ease. The "Lost in the Mall" experiment involves implanting the subject with the false memory of being lost in the mall as a child. Subjects not only took on the false memory, but spontaneously created their own new details to support the implant. When told that one of their memories was false, they were unable to identify which was implanted, and which was real.

The Lost In The Mall Machine has refined this process with terrifying efficiency. New models are now capable of implanting false memories into the mind of anyone within a city block. This technique has opened up new vistas of propoganda and product placement.

Remember the night you proposed to your fiance? How you both shared a delicious can of Coke together? Remember, after your son was born, how you ordered takeout through Uber Eats? The Machine is programmed to tie its false memories into moments of great emotional significance. When used effectively, this technique means the subject begins to take on the lie as a core component of their personal identity. Their personality slowly grows around the false memory, like flesh growing and closing over a splinter. If someone tells them the memory is false, they react with anger, disbelief, defensiveness. They will defend their own brainwashing at all costs.