Monday, September 27, 2021

30 cheap tricks

 Here ya go Phlox

  1. If you give your players a vehicle, which is always always always a good idea, let them name it, and have them each go around and name one of its idiosyncrasies: maybe the barnacles on the bottom of the boat are shaped like skulls, or the caravan has square wheels that inexplicably work as normal. Investment in the vehicle immediately skyrockets, and they will 100% come up with cooler things than you.

  2. I stole this one from Phlox. Strong, gay, woman- pick 2 and your players will love them.

  3. I made this one up. Pathetic, non-human, funny voice- pick 2 and your players will love them.

  4. There is never enough queerness in your setting.

  5. If you don’t have anything planned for a travel montage, go around the table and have each PC name an obstacle they face on the road (driving rain, wandering skeleton, running out of rations), then have them choose another PC to propose a solution and roll to see how well it works, then narrate what ultimately happens. Keep going until everybody has presented a problem and a solution, or until you think they’ve feasibly gotten to their destination.

  6. Drugs > potions.

  7. Get really good at mashing syllables together in your head. If you can make names for NPCs or locations on the drop of a hat without aid of generator or list, you’ll have a much easier go of things. Kerukhazat. Melichor. Vessindin-Chesleaz. I have no idea who or what those are, but they emerged from the brain soup and they’re here to stay.

  8. Go on wikipedia spirals as frequently as you can muster.

  9. Players are delighted by vague, harmless anachronisms. The Rusted Goat is the only place in the world where you can get waffles. Orcs invented funk music. “My Affections are Naught but for Lucy” is a hit Elvish comedy play-cycle.

  10. Sound effects/accents virtually never hurt and often help. I’ve had an encounter with a mechanical spider go from doldrum to hair-raising just because my players didn’t like the metallic clicking and shuffling I did every time the spider shivered in its malaise.

  11. Avoid “just a (temple/tavern/office/corridor)” as often as possible. This is a sin I fall to often, but just one remarkable detail is all you need to crystallize a memory.

  12. There should be crates, barrels, or otherwise mundane receptacles strewn about wherever possible- encourages elevation play and looting. Same for plant/fungal growths to be harvested.

  13. Explosives or flammable things are always a good thing to find in a crate or barrel in a pinch.

  14. At the start of combat, roll a d4. In that many rounds, something (usually something bad) will happen. Really puts the pressure on.

  15. If someone is taking their turn slowly and you want to keep momentum going, count down from 10. They’ll have something by the count of 7 nine times out of ten.

  16. A small immersion detail you can add is to replace “heaven”, “hell”, and “god” with the setting appropriate replacements in NPC speech patterns. “Damn it all to Inferno!” “Saints help us all...” “Oh my Trennibar, you can’t possibly be suggesting we get voluntarily eaten by the rhinoceros?”

  17. Astrological events are a great way to build time limits into your game, teach players about the world’s cultures, and cheaply create suspense and mystique. Best part is, there’s a bajillion of ‘em, so there’s no limit to the amount you can throw at the players. Same goes for holidays.

  18. You can have multiple of the same biome, but generally, if you have multiple similar biomes of the same character, it starts to get boring. Sure, they may both be marshes, but one is cozy and the other is rotting.

  19. Easy way to make monsters unnerving is to put human teeth and/or eyes where they’re not supposed to be.

  20. Have a good grasp of how magic works diegetically; it’ll save your bacon often.

  21. Cannot undersell the importance of a good trinket/minor magical item table, especially if you have trouble improvising fun little items. Side note, my players were thrilled when they found a treasure haul containing a glass eye, bent needle, torn linen sheet, and an outdated anatomical textbook- weirdness over value.

  22. I haven’t done enough with graffiti and murals. I’ll have to start.

  23. Talking animals/objects are universally hits.

  24. To the end of encouraging players to manipulate things, there should be a good chance that the dividends of their experimentations reap positive results, especially near the beginning of the campaign- condition them with the carrot so the stick isn’t as harsh.

  25. Generally, having the players go around the table and saying something pertaining to the matter at hand is never a bad idea- why their character is in this jail cell to start the campaign, what they’ve heard about Sir Darkwyn, a piece of loot in the treasure hoard.

  26. The character’s physiological reactions to stressful events are a valuable point of description. Burning lungs, heartbeat pounding in the ears, muscles sore and torn, face going beet-red.

  27. Play with the juxtaposition of mundane names against fantastical ones. Bernard the Dwarf, Jim the Goblin.

  28. Draw pictograms of a dungeon room’s contents onto the main map so you can try to run it without having to check a key. Even if it’s too complex to recall from doodles alone, it’ll sure help you either way.

  29. Start the session’s narration with a reliable little ritual. “In the wine-dark waters of the Norrungardt ocean, an epic tale unfolds. When last we left our heroes...”

  30. When in doubt, roll some dice- the least it can do is stall a few seconds so your intuition can catch up to you, the most it can do is define your game plan going forward.

Hope it helped. I tried to avoid stuff that was intuitive. Thanks for reading, and happy gaming.

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