The group sat dressed in their nice comfy clothes in the dark basement. Lucy looked up from her character sheet at the Game Master. “Ok, I’m going to sink my teeth into it and begin to feast!” The Game Master, Deborah, nodded. “Make a Savour roll.” Lucy smiled, this was one of her best pools. “Three over the target!” Murmurs and nods of support were voiced. “Three sustenance for my character. This burger is amazing!” she cried as her fangs gleamed in the light. The other vampires wished they sometimes had Lucy’s luck at enjoying their meals in the game.
Ok, maybe this is a bit of a strange idea I’ve presenting here. I mean, normal life is normal, why would any of us want to pretend to live it, except to get to the points where the exciting and amazing things we could be doing in our roleplaying? That’s one viewpoint.
The other is that maybe there is a number of things we can enjoy that are very normal. Let me give an example from a game I ran. Quite simply, I was lauded for a meal I ran. Not what happened at the meal, but simply the presentation. All real foods that exist, but most of the players had never tried them. You could see some of them close their eyes and inhale through their noses as if they could smell the aroma of the different dishes mingling. I mean, just because it’s “normal” doesn’t mean it is normal for everyone or even if it is, that it isn’t something they wish they couldn’t experience more often.
So let’s look first at some reasons for bringing such things to the table:
- Remembering the sensations and feelings of something lost or rarely experienced anymore, as in my vampires roleplaying scenario above.
- Getting to experience things you haven’t had a chance to that you wish you could, or are curious about.
- Seeing places/things/etc… you might not have even known were in existence till they were brought up. There’s a magic to discovering something actually exists that I’ve seen light up players’ faces over and over again (and I know has done the same for me).
Let’s deal with points 1 and 2 first. I’m putting these together for multiple reasons, but the overwhelming one is that roleplaying as a hobby is a group effort. Everyone brings something to the table. We all have our own way of perceiving life. Sometimes when you get a bunch of different, but somewhat overlapping ideas about the same thing, you get a clearer (if not more true-to-life) image. Maybe someone remembers more of what things smelled like, another what they tasted like… this goes for things you haven’t experienced personally either. Even bringing one more person to add their perspective just gives a greater sense, though it may be false, of truthfulness to the topic at hand. This isn’t true always, there is obviously the situation of too many cooks adding spices to the pot, and that person who has such a wildly different view that it is difficult for others to understand their viewpoint.
On 3, this is one of the greatest joys I’ve ever had running games, no matter what it was. It applies equally to total fantasy and realistic settings also. Sometimes you have an experience that most people, or maybe the people just where you are, haven’t had the chance to try. Giving them the chance to experience through your senses what it would be like can be an amazingly rewarding experience for both the one describing the situation as well as those imagining it. On the describer’s end, they have to delve into what they loved and hated about it. Try and regain every nuance that might add to the listener’s enjoyment. On the listener’s end, they get to see something new and perhaps amazing, have to listen and pick up the careful changes of tone even for meaning.
I don’t think I’m really advocating anything radical here, just bringing some of the magic that you’ve actually experienced in real life to the gaming table to share with your friends. We all have experiences that are outside what those we play with might consider normal, and that is a positive thing! This sort of technique has value, and it never hurts to have another tool in the box when adding to our shared gaming worlds.