Day 6: #RPGaDay 2018 – “Real Feel”

Week 2: ‘How’ Questions      Prompt: How can players make a world seem real?

It’s Monday. For anyone who has a job or goes to school, Monday has a particular feel, a certain tone. It is distinct from morning, or the time we have to get up for work, or drop what we are doing for interest to do something for duty. Love it or hate it, we know what Monday means culturally, within our organizations, and personally.

It is Monday, and it is the first Monday in this run of #RPGaDay. Although we are in the second week of #RPGaDay 2018, this is the first prompt on a Monday. This time, Wednesday did all the heavy lifting to get the event going. A lot of the early work in what we call world building for a roleplaying game normally, or at least typically, falls to the player who takes on the role of the Game Master. There are exceptions to this in various scales, but at least at present, the world and how it first appears to the players is description that often comes from the GM.

The GM is a great person, but despite that, it turns out that they cannot do everything. I have heard a rumor that GMs are still people and possibly fall prey to human failings just like everyone else. One such failing is that they are but a single person and can do but one thing at a time. Imagine that~

Our question for today revolves around one of the things that all the other people who play the game with the GM can do, and perhaps do with more speed, greater effect, and less effort. What we are talking about is making the world that the game takes place in, feel or seem more lived in and real.

Our House, in the Middle of Our Street

Predictably, there are many things that players can do to bring the world to life around their characters and make imagining it feel comfortable, deep, and believable. In any normal post in any normal month, I might try to categorize a lot of them, but I am embracing brevity firmly for this month of posts and videos, so I will share one that I enjoy a lot and leave the rest to the world at large who will kindly use the hashtag #RPGaDay2018 so that I can find them. What is that one thing? A sense of ownership.

For a more in-depth look at this topic, check out the older post Buddha was not a roleplayer.

One thing a sense of reality needs is a point of reference, and I find it is hard to have one if there is no foundation for where we are or how we get around. As players, we can portray attachment to just about anything, but sometimes in play, there is a shift from portrayal to the actual, and that is when gaming gets much more real and as a result, more rewarding. Whether a base (rebel or otherwise), a house, a car, a horse, a starship, a gun like Pete’s, or whatever other thing has significance to the character, once that thing matters to the player, it takes on a life of its own that can sometimes even eclipse that of some long-term characters.

Imagine not just saying your group rides around in a beat up YT-1300, but really knowing, down to the stains, the booby-traps, the cargo dump release switches, and the small in the aft cargo bay what the thing is like – for all of the senses. Imagine filling it with memories, specific ones. Imagine looking back over the private conversations, the whole-group plans in the lounge, the notches on the padding in the ventral gunnery turret… and having a real sense of where, when, and in what mood all of those things happened – because, in a mostly real sense, they did.

Being specific helps, and being collaborative about it helps make it stick. Starting with a clear description, a drawing, or a map of some sort might help, but deeper than that is the sense of the spirit of the thing, and what it means or represents for each character.

Once play starts, or once the thing enters play, use it, talk about it, reference it, discuss it, improve it, include it, if you are pushed to risk it, risk it and let it save you. Maybe then, with a few customizations, and a poster hung or two, if you are pushed to save it at risk to your own life – you won’t hesitate.

It isn’t a thing you own, it is part of how you see yourself. It is heirloom. It is honor. It is the difference between life and….something worse.

It might be home.

Whatever it is, love it, and it and the game will love you back – and love is the key to getting all of our imaginative faculties working on surrounding us with the realia that lurks in the corners of our minds when the lights are out~


The #RPGaDay prompt for August 7th concerns another favorite topic of mine. We have entered into the week governed by HOW, and our second questions is, How can GMs make the stakes seem important?


This is the second week of the fifth iteration of the monthly roleplaying gaming celebration launched by Autocratik for all forms of social media. Share your responses however you prefer to share. If you want to get involved, grab and share the infographic with the prompts and jump right in!

RPG-a-Day 2018 High Contrast@willbrooks1989

2 Responses to “Day 6: #RPGaDay 2018 – “Real Feel””
  1. Right on ~ I wrote my blog before I opened this one to keep from being “poisoned” by outside influences. I can’t believe that I missed sentimentality when it comes to objects! It’s a good one, and on an extremely visceral level. Sometimes the little things matter most.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] require a gamble or sacrifice dreamed up on the players’ side of the screen. Attachment, (see yesterday) is more than just a connection to the things we like, it is also a connection to not liking […]

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