A Hoax is an elaborate fiction passed off as truth in order to fool people. It is more involved than a simple lie, and usually involves manufactured physical evidence and, as Pooh-Bah says, "corroborrative detail to lend verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative."
Some hoaxes are designed to separate a fool from his money, as the Cardiff Giant. Others are intended for entertainment, such as the case of the The Interfering Brassieres. Some are just plain pranks, such as the UFO Crop Circles. And some, like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion are downright evil.
A successful hoax appeals to what the audience wants to believe, and nobody likes to admit they were fooled; so often a hoax lives on, long after it has been exploded.
Some Notable Hoaxes
- Area 51 Uncensored - Was It The UFOs Or The USSR?
- Barsa Kelmes Island
- Cardiff Giant
- Dreadnought Hoax
- Giant Penguin of Clearwater Beach
- Hadron Collider II Planned For Circle Line
- Jackson dies, almost takes Internet with him
- Kingdom of Prester John
- Man Arrested At LHC Claims He's From The Future
- Mary Toft And The Bunny Babies
- Paracas Skulls
- Phantom Time Hypothesis
- Pope Joan
- Potemkin Village
- Project Vigilant
- San Serriffe
- Taliban Leader In Secret Talks Was Imposter
- The Interfering Brassieres
- Vortigern And Rowena
Game and Story Use
- Your Characters could be involved with trying to discover the veracity of a hoax.
- For characters engaged in maintaining "the Masquerade", passing genuine fortean events off as hoaxes and waiting for bland rationalisation to kick in may be the default option.
- To the cynical, this may be the main function of various "urban myth busting" websites.
- In your game world, maybe the Cardiff Giant really is a petrified man.