Sunday, October 21, 2012

Atmospheres in Gameplay...or Taking it Up a Notch.

Roll2Play is finally starting to blog again!

Thanks to Geoff Barton, we will have lots to offer from game reviews, gamer advice, making your gaming sessions awesome and so much more! Here is the very first article for Geoff to blog for Roll2Play. Please share with your friends, make comments and look for future articles soon!


Atmospheres in Gameplay...or Taking it Up a Notch.

Gaming, in all genres, across all mediums, has remained a fairly straight-forward process; players and participants gather themselves around a common table to participate in a game of their own collective choice. Whether board game, pen and paper roleplaying game, even the occasional miniature driven dungeon crawl, they play the game either collectively or adversarial and reach their inevitable, if not predictable conclusion. However, this pattern does not have to lend itself to mundane and repetitive gatherings, and mediocre gameplay. By playing upon the senses of those throwing dice, you are able to create a memorable experience and generating great interest in the events you host and officiate.

I. Sight: While board games tend to lend themselves to visual cues and spatial relations, you can take things up a notch by adding a bit of visual aide. For those interested in horror or mystery based games, think about adding candles, or even playing by candlelight. This adds an atmosphere of mystery around the gaming table, and the low light brings everyone closer together, and draws focus upon the playing surface. The addition of manipulatives and props also helps to bring a bit of flavor to the session. Period relevant costume jewelry, glass markers or counters can become jewels, or treasure. You can also encourage each of the participants to bring one prop; in the instance of a game of Clue, a weapon.

II. Sounds: Music can go a long way in generating atmosphere. Epic and grandiose soundtracks from fantasy movies can create a backdrop to your game, and motivate the players. Movie soundtracks work best, and can be picked easily according to genre. Many of the Old World of Darkness Games provided Soundtracks to their horror based games. You can also easily find old radio dramas on CD and digital media that have a plethora of sound effects such as the crunch of gravel under foot, or the screeching of a tire as a car races away from a crime scene. Period music, such as old jazz, or swing music for a Lovecraftian Mystery adds a touch of period specific mystique.

III. Taste: For the most dedicated of gamers and gaming groups. While on extended campaigns with pen and paper RPG's, I would provide snacks for my players. While adventuring on the road, I would offer dried fruits, nuts, bits of bread and cheese, and watered down wine (grape juice) and beer (stale ginger-ale). When characters reached the cities, I would take the time and effort to have ham and potatoes, warm bread, fresh fruits, warm cider and occasionally a potluck stew. This would add a depth to travelling on the road that would keep the players close to home, or at the very least, close to a tavern. And in instances of various cultures, you could change things up with ethnic dishes; Indian, Chinese, Slavic, French, and Spanish dishes.

While these recommendations are simply to aide the gameplay experience, I offer a word of caution: The purpose of gameplay is to enjoy your experience and build a sense of community and fellowship. Don't let your imagination run away from you and cause you to lose focus on your game. Remember to start small, and don't overwhelm your might find them TOO focused on atmosphere and not the game. But be sure to get feedback from your players, even encourage involvement and ideas from them. You may be running the game, but without them at the table, its solitary for all of us!

Make it a gaming day!

Geoff Barton
Miskatonic University

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