Nothing Wasted 4: Window Dressing

Nothing Wasted explores ideas to help utilize different aspects of gaming to their fullest or promote new ways to use existing tools.

There is a tendency to treat the story around the PCs as the center of the universe, and like most people, what happens in their daily lives is the most important thing to them. However, there are always more things going on in the world than what directly affects an individual. In a game these external events can add depth to a world, helping it to feel like a living breathing place.

When planning a campaign, or even a story it can help to plot several peripheral stories. These events may or may not related to the characters, over even be part of larger events that may come back to impact them. These types of details help set the stage on which the players will be interacting on.

For example a GM is planning to set their up coming campaign around the tent city outside a major city. They begin by setting up some general background events:

There is a movement to beautify the city.
Unemployment is on the rise.

Shelters and soup kitchens are reporting being over capacity.

Agro Corporations are experiencing labor strikes.

These are broad events that may in the grand scheme seem somewhat related but the impact to the characters isn’t instantly clear. However, when the GM tells the characters they shouldn’t be wealthy and live on the outskirts of the city it likely wont be much of a surprise. More so this gives the Players jumping off points for backgrounds.

The GM decides to center the first story around in the campaign around food shortages in the community. Since most people in the tent city barter with one another this means most people are starving. To reinforce this the GM adds the following events to the world.

ASA cattle farmers have gained the rights to clear another two thousand acres of no longer protected rain forest for grazing.

Police are cracking down on the homeless and area transients.

Black Reign has released their new album Long Winter.

While these first two elements may be delivered as news stories during the course of game play. The GM opts to have this last event delivered though a slick ad campaign involving canvasing every square inch of unattended wall with Long Winter posters. While unrelated the name is enough to invoke the right images in the their Players

Depending on how the Players react the GM hay run a story around the Agro Corps keeping labor on strike to drive up food prices and Watchtower manipulation to drive people to the churches for aid. For now though the Players have several snippets of information that both set the tone and help to build the world around them.

not every story needs these types of background details. However, interspersing them though the course of a campaign provides additional details and can be a great tool for flavoring your game world.