Role Playing Tips - By Johnn Four
MULTI-MEDIA IN ROLEPLAYING: 3 EXPERIMENTS THAT WENT VERY WELL
Tape recording sessions is not recommended: the recorder
often dampens play with its presence, changing tapes is
annoying and the playback is b-o-r-i-n-g.
However, I've found it extremely helpful to sit around
before or after a game session and record the group's
thoughts. I've only done this a few times and we focused on
re-telling the campaign's story to that point so that I
could update my campaign journal afterwards. The players
remembered a lot of stuff which I'd completely forgot and
the journal was much more detailed.
I feel we've only touched the tip of the iceberg with this
tool. Wouldn't it be useful to discuss character histories
and motivations, co-develop world elements and chat about
character-driven story ideas as a group and have it all
recorded for the GM's future reference?
Tape Recorder Tips:
* Use the smallest recorder possible so that it has minimal
visual and game table footprints.
* Use 90 minute tapes. 90 minutes let you store a lot of
notes without having to build up a large tape collection. I
find that 120 minute tapes tend to stretch, aren't as hardy
and have a tough time with stop/start playback.
* Don't put the tape recorder right beside you because your
voice will dominate on the recording. Don't put it in the
middle of the table to remind everyone they're being
recorded either. Find a place nearby, like a shelf or window
ledge and put some stuff around it to mask its presence.
Recently, we connected a large TV to a computer and saddled
it right up to the game table. The game master then
displayed maps, scanned graphics and pictures throughout
play. It was excellent!
The graphics added great flavour and helped us visualize
places and monsters much better. And the maps were a stroke
of genius. The GM had scanned the maps and used his graphics
program (Adobe Photoshop) to paint over the secret and
concealed doors. He also added a layer of blank floor tile
on top to cover the map scan, and then he used the eraser
tool to reveal the map as we explored. Boy, did we ever save
a lot of time mapping. And we planned better and made faster
exploration decisions because the maps were there, 31" tall,
for all to see at any time.
* Turn off your screen saver!
* Do everything you can to get maximum speed from your
computer during the session.
* We had great success with the GM adding notes on to the
scanned maps between sessions to help us remember and
identify things during play.
* Instead of using fingers to points things out on the TV
during play, create a large graphic pointer (like a bright
red circle, rectangle or blob), and drag that around screen
so everyone can see.
* Use a laser pointer, if you've got one. It can be tossed
to players when they try to explain things such as "Rothgar
hides here waiting while Crag and Durgan stand here and here
and then they open the door."
COMPUTER & HEADSET
During the same multi-session campaign where we used the
TV/computer hookup, the GM also wore a headset plugged in to
the computer and spoke through that when playing certain
NPCs and monsters. It was great. He had set up several sound
card filters to create different "voices" and used them to
great effect. It also helped that we were wandering through
a dungeon adventure filled to the brim with demons--demon
voices are very easy to create.
It took a couple of encounters to get used to it, but the
computerized voices help me remember that campaign on an
entirely different level. We're definitely going to do that
Computer & Headset Tips:
* Make sure you use a headset that can be easily disengaged
during play so that you don't accidentally use the computer
voices at the wrong time--like chatting GM to player.
* Experiment with the volume. You can only raise your own
voice so much without shouting. But with stereo speakers and
a sound card amplifier, truly frightening sounds levels can
be achieved--great for scaring the players!
* Create and test your "voices" before play then save your
settings to re-use any time.
* Limit this technique to just a few important monsters and
NPCs. The actual range of voices you can digitally achieve
is still fairly limited and your NPCs and monsters would
start to sound the same if you used the headset all the
* Use a hands-free headset, not a microphone. A microphone
stifles GM spontaneity and the players tend to focus on the
microphone, not what the GM voice is saying.
Have more fun at every game!