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TEMPLATE

Role Playing Tips - By Johnn Four

5 EXCITING WAYS TO CREATE TENSION

1. Create Some Competition For The Prize

----------------------------------------

You can create fantastic tension by introducing a party nemesis. A nemesis should be close to the PCs in power and capabilities. And the best nemesis is an entire band of NPCs who are close duplications of the PCs (i.e. an evil twin of each character--or a good twin if the characters are evil). Have the band frequently be one step ahead of the PCs, getting the PCs in trouble through set-ups and false rumours, and outperform the PCs in every possible way.

Nemesis examples:

* A bounty hunter after the PCs to bring them to justice or into the villain's hands

* Did the PCs "accidentally" commit a bad crime in the last town? Form a posse and chase 'em down!

* Another band of adventurers after the same legendary treasure

* A rival band of NPCs hired by the PCs employer either as assurance the quest will be completed by one of the groups, or to "take care of the PCs" so there are no loose ends once the quest is completed

* The PCs are asked to teach some NPCs, but the NPCs turn out to be more capable than the PCs and embarrass them often by doing things better

2. Break the Players Out of Their Comfort Zones

-----------------------------------------------

Players establish their own comfort zones at the game table. You can create tension by changing their routine or habits.

Comfort zone examples:

* Have the players change seating during play and immediately resume the play

* Put them in new seating arrangements (i.e. have them sit in their chairs in single file marching order; if they are flying a ship seat them as if they were in the actual cockpit or "on the bridge")

* Use blindfolds - but avoid touching or other things which may make the players uncomfortable

* Have them play standing up for a while

3. GMs: Get Up & Move Around

----------------------------

Do you normally sit and GM from the head of the table? I find that the play can become more exciting and tense if I stand up and move around.

If you can, walk around the whole table. And stop and GM while standing behind a player once in awhile. That creates tension and paranoia!

You may also find that you use more body language and body movements when you are standing--your arms and hands especially.

4. Say Something is Going to Happen Then Put It Off

---------------------------------------------------

The title says it all. Let the players know that the villain is quickly approaching them, or that they feel the tremors of a giant monster and the tremors are getting worse, or that the bridge they're on is breaking apart...and then make it a false alarm or give the characters a brief respite.

Drawing things out creates a lot of tension.

A great way to perform this technique is to have an NPC do the telling:

* a story

* a warning

* in song or poetry

* through a note or diary entry

* through an overheard conversation

5. Use Omens

------------

An omen is an event or sign that gives a hint about what the future holds. Omens are tricky because if they are too subtle the players won't understand them and the effect is lost.

Another problem is cause and effect. If the players do not associate your omen with potential future happenings, or if they are too skeptical to believe, then the omen will not create tension.

The solution is to introduce an omen, make sure the players recognize it as an omen, and have the omen come true in that same game session. Do this three times and you will make a believer out of the most skeptical player.

Omens that create the most tension are bad omens: nasty things could happen to the characters in the near future. And if your omen also contains a hint about the nature of the upcoming event even more tension can be created.

Have more fun at every game!

Johnn Four

 
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