Friday, February 20, 2015

Don’t Throw That Paper Away!

Don’t Throw That Paper Away!

By: Jesse C Cohoon

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “What in the world do I need
these old papers for? They’re garbage!” But hear me out. They can provide a bit of interest to your game if you let them.

Use advertisements

  • To price things out. But instead of using today’s prices, make up prices that would match the era that your game is in. This can even work for futuristic campaigns where certain items are harder to come by and are more expensive.
  • As a visual guide. Sometimes instead of describing something in detail, you just clip a picture and hand it to your players saying “this is what was stolen.” The same idea applies to wish books and sales catalogs as well.
  • As a clue. This is especially handy during a murder mystery investigation. Perhaps the person who was killed was struggling with his killer. As they struggle a part of the advertisement got torn and, unbeknownst to the killer, it’s on their person somewhere – maybe in a coat pocket or in their shoe… or maybe the corner was left behind and it’s up to the players to match it.
  • As Transportation. In C.S Lewis’ book “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” a painting sucked three characters into the land of Narnia. A similar thing can be done with those “you can win an all-expense paid vacation” flyers that are sometimes handed out at business events. In The Strange roleplaying game, I think this would be a neat way of transporting the characters around, particularly if they didn’t have control over where they were going or when it activated.  
  • As a Food Guide. This is a nifty idea for more modern settings. Many fast food restaurants hand out flyers which have their menus. Use them when the characters go into restaurants to order food.  

Use Course Manuals

Course manuals are another way to give interest to your gaming world. Most of the time such manuals would be for a university, but in the video game, “The Last of Us,” there are also manuals for weapons, first aid, and survival, which increase a player’s skills. In a fantasy world there might be course manuals on how to do magic, lift things with your mind, or improve use of armor.

Use Magazines & Newspapers    
Newspapers and magazines can provide interest to your game on a particular subject, from a particular point of view. If the game is in a current setting they could be laying around in libraries, offices, on bookshelves, and on newspaper stands. If you feel ambitious you can even make up headlines for the players to see.

In a fantasy setting you can bump the technology up a bit by introducing the
movable type printing press, and daily papers could be printed, spreading the player’s fame far and wide if they do notable deeds.

In a modern setting you might have newspapers blowing around. In setting hopping game like The Strange, a newspaper can even tell you a bit more about the date and particular setting you happen to find yourself.  

In a post-apocalyptic setting, you might have old newspapers laying around dated to the day of the apocalypse, which can give clues as to what happened and why, providing clues to time travelers to see if it can be stopped.

Business Flyers & cards
Business flyers and cards say a lot about the people handing them out. Do they look shoddy, as if they’ve not been cared for? Or are they made out of shiny, thick card stock paper? How are the materials handed out? As if the information is important, as a ceremony like the Japanese do, or is it simply laying on a table waiting to be picked up by anyone who passes by. 

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