Skip to main content

Things GM's Do Right: Newspapers

Okay, I'm totally poking at the "Things GM's Do Wrong" meme by instead talking about things that many GM's do (including myself on occasion) that work well and make sense.  Let's start with an easy one: newspapers.



Or television reports, or blog posts, or Newsnet feeds, or whatever your genre wants to call them.  Having a media outlet in your game is a great way to accomplish several things at once.

  1. It creates a fun "recap"of previous adventures.  My experience is that players are often fuzzy on what happened even in their own campaign.  An accounting of last session's activities helps get players, especially those who were absent last time, onto the same page without taking up game time.
  2. It provides an outsider's perspective.  Since a newspaper isn't a strict campaign chronicle, the players get a glimpse of how their activities are viewed by the outside world.  Villains & Vigilantes had a great mechanism for tracking a superhero PC's popularity with public--a major trope in comic books, and a helpful way for players to anticipate how eager the police might be to help them, for example.
  3. It can introduce storylines.  There's an exhibit of a rare diamond at the museum.  The leader of a foreign nation is coming to visit.  The new particle accelerator is coming online tomorrow.  All of these obvious "MacGuffins" can be introduced to the players without seeming heavy-handed.
  4. It is a way to work NPC's into the campaign.  J. Jonah Jameson, Perry White, Lois Lane, and Eddie Brock were all side-characters to the two biggest reporter/superheroes out there.  Like so much about Marvel and DC, the distinctions between the interactions of the side-characters and the main character reflected the ethos of the comic book publishers.  Clark Kent is a star reporter while Peter Parker peddles photographs for rent money.  Maybe the "newspaper" is a blog written by an opponent of masked vigilantes, or to flip the hackneyed plot device, a superhero groupie who enthusiasm will eventually end up placing them in harm (and if the PC's rebuff the blogger, an eventual villain ala The Incredibles).  In a superhero campaign, it can also be the background for a hero's secret identity: reporter, technician, corporate honcho, etc.
So if you're planning on running a superhero campaign (or any other kind of campaign for that matter), a media outlet can serve a lot of functions at once with little work.  You can create a fake blog using existing free blog outlets (like the one this blog is using) or simple word processing software to make up a newspaper.  You can go as complex as doing columns and photos, or just have the headlines typed up.

Easy and simple, and a good way to do something right.

Comments

  1. Damnit, somebody else just wrote the exact same article:
    http://hillcantons.blogspot.com/2014/10/news-as-campaign-glue.html

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

A First Look at Prowlers and Paragons

For a long time I've been in the market for a new supers RPG.  Since running Marvel Heroic Roleplaying a few years ago, I've been looking at other games, including some that had been passed by the general public, e.g. DC Heroes Third Edition or Silver Age Sentinels.  This was based on the notion that supers RPG's are so niche and so under-performing as a general part of the RPG world that just because the game wasn't making a splash didn't mean it wasn't good.

Plus, I have my own tastes about what I like in a supers RPG, which I've touched on from time to time here, but to summarize I like a game that feels like a comic book, doesn't get bogged down in too much detail, but allows for PC growth and development in a tangible game-system way.  I also don't want to spend hours on character creation using a spreadsheet.  For that matter, it would be an added bonus if it could also accommodate a large number of players and didn't have glaring options…

Hexcrawling a City, an early look

One thing I've been slowly working on for the last year is another fantasy sandbox campaign.  My prior one was generally map-based, although a city featured prominently in it.  As time went by, it lost a lot of its "sandbox" quality and became more directed on my part.  In the process, I think it lost something.

So, after being away from fantasy for a solid year, it's time to get back to it.  I spent some of that last year thinking about cities.   Some fantasy RPG treat cities on a very detailed level, with maps of streets, etc.  But while that's fun "map porn" for GM's, how often would the players actually be seeing or using a map like that?  And how long would it take for them to just accrue that knowledge by exploring the city.  I've lived in my current city seven years, with a car, and I don't know how all the cities line up.  What I know are areas, neighborhoods, etc. some intimately, others not so much.  And if I was going to a new cit…

Large modular dungeon tiles

I made five 4" by 4" dungeon tiles, which is 80 square inches, almost twice my usual batch of tiles.  When added to what I've done already, this is how big a single room I can make:


14 by 14 squares, with four squares to spare.  That's a pretty big room (70 feet to a side).  If I wanted to mix it up, I could build something like this:


I'm probably going to take a little break from this project.  It has turned out well, but until I'm closer to doing a fantasy game I'm going to focus on the games I'm actually doing.
Speaking of which, it's game night tonight...