Thursday, May 23, 2013

Quick Fire*: Tailoring Your Descriptions to the Characters

To my mind, character immersion is the very quintessence of Roleplaying Games. Making decisions from the perspective of your character and feeling what your character feels is pure magic. There’s a simple trick GM’s can use to help nurture this immersion: customising descriptions to the characters at hand.

Hey! Look! Examples!
“It’s a crisp and altogether pleasant autumn day as you all steadily trek up the mountains,” I said to the group as a whole. I then turned to the one player not playing a native of the region. He happened to come from a  much warmer climate. “It’s cold. Ridiculously, frigidly cold. Try though you might to bundle up in your cloak, the cursed breeze continues to cut you to the bone.”


Say two characters are hit with the same concussive blast for the same minor damage, one an ex-marine with lots of combat training and experience, the other a professor of Esoteric Studies. To the marine, “It was a hell of a tumble, really rang your bell, but nothing too bad.” To the professor,  “You only know you're alive because your entire body hurts. It’s hard to breathe. You can barely even think.”


Until you as a GM get a good feel for the characters, your opportunities for this are going to be limited. But, when you do use it, you’ll find a huge return in the form of player investment and engagement. You can’t ask for more as a GM.

*I was really unhappy with the last quick-fire article. So Quick Fire no longer means an unpolished, stream-of-consciousness article, but rather a short, to-the-point piece.