Triple Crit is doing a blog carnival, Writing the Game, this month about writing in/and RPGs.
I don’t consider myself a particularly great writer. I’ve written a lot of stuff, and even write professionally, but sometimes it’s a struggle. Still, it’s a struggle I’m committed to.
In the times I’ve DMed, I’ve always had reams of paper, scribbled maps, stacks of stat sheets, pages of short speeches, responses and other canned dialogue, even things that looked like a cross between “Choose your own adventure” and a one act play. Cirsova (and every post marked “Encyclopedia Entry”) was partially born from such a stack of notes.
One thing I’ve always liked has been tangibles in gaming. They can add a lot to the feel you’re trying to establish. Something simple that the player can hold onto and maybe stuff in their character folder (or wad up in their pocket).
Your party’s characters don’t live in a vacuum (unless you’re running a space campaign). They might have friends, loved ones, acquantances, important contacts, bosses, etc., all of whom might want to try to get in touch with them from time to time. How touching, it would be, to receive a letter from a friend, family member or lover, wanting to hear from them. Or maybe it could be warning of trouble and pleaing for help. Maybe a benefactor has sent a parcel with a note. This gives you a great opportunity to add flavor to your world and give the players a bit more of an emotional stake in the game. Write the letter & give it sealed to the player who receives it. They can keep it to themself or share it with the party. It will make your players feel special that they got letters. Just be sure not to play favorites & spread the love.
2. Missives & Pamphlets
Maybe a local fellow has gotten ahold of a printing press and fancies himself Thomas Paine, writing political diatribes, and the lord wants you to see if rebellion is on the horizon. Or maybe your players are riding throughout the land, distributing the missives to rally the peasants to revolt against a cruel lord? In either case, how neat would it be for players to have the chance to take a peek?
3. Wanted posters.
Make up & print out wanted posters using original or stock art.
This can be a tougher one. Books are a part of any game world, and none has incorporated them better than the Elder Scrolls. You don’t need to write huge novels or anything, but if there are books that contain important information that is relevant to the story and the game world, it wouldn’t to write up a few paragraphs of actual text as well as a brief summary of what information is actually gleaned from it (unless it’s self evident).