Sunday, December 23, 2007

For whom the bell tones

This is the first in a series of "letters home" from the front lines of DM-ing. Something like quick dirty tricks that enhance your game, or a toolbox to mine for ideas.

The other day I was reading Yax of Dungeon Mastering fame, solid read by the way, and I read his article about 30 minute prep sessions. It has a nice bit about not writing out descriptions but picking a mood, and focus on it.

Mood is a very funny thing to play with, in my writings I tend to gravitate to a darker mood. I see moods divided into two categories, positive and negative. In a Role playing game setting I think that the darker mood is what is required to start gnawing at players. Yax had the fantastic idea of writing out a mood for a game session and doing something you normally don't do, he uses constant rain for example, and keep it in mind during the game session. This is fantastic and quick, but what if you want the mood to stick with the players?

In addition to picking out a mood for a given session I have started to jot down a list of complementing words, nothing to fancy, but at least 5 words that in and of themselves are harmless. They don't need to be flashy or expensive, just outside of your normal vocabulary. I like to slip them in as though I have been using them all along with no added emphasis, the players might not pick up on it consciously but it will plant the seeds of uncanny.

Using this technique I have had players call me two days after a session with the implanted mood hanging over them. Give it a whirl you might like it!

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