Two weeks ago, I was telling all ya’ll (you vast and uncountable multitudes) about this game I did. Well my player for it swung by and gave me a fave, so I was thinking about it some more. Last time I wrote about the unplanned nature of the game. This time I’m writing about the setting.
The setting for this game (which shall here-by be referred to as ‘The Christina-Rose Game’) was a here-and-now game with all sorts of random stuff added from the vast kitchen sink that is Urban Fantasy. The player woke up in a meat freezer and discovered they (Christina) were a vampire, and ran into a retired special operations commando (Rose) who had worked for the government hunting a cabal of vampires in Israel, as well as a magician of great power (who was also a vampire, and actually wasn’t a magician until that was retcon’ed into cannon to make things make a little more sense. Go read the previous post about it if you can’t imagine why I would have to do that.).
For practical purposes though, the only major difference between the setting world and the real one (until the Spec. Ops. Bombed the cop station) was the player’s super powers, and those were pretty classic. Other then that the setting was just the world we live in (as interpreted through me, obviously).
I don’t normally gm here-and-now settings. Partly because it just doesn’t happen, and partly because I tend to think of them as dull. (Of course, I now stand corrected on that score.) And I noticed some interesting things:
1. A lot of the details I was making up were coming out of my past experiences. Obviously, everything I gm is related to my experience in some ways, but it’s not normally taken straight out of my life. The player woke up in the Safeway bakery I used to work at (yes, in a meat freezer, please, I did explain about plot holes, right) and had a long conversation with OtherJenny, who I used to work with. It was interesting, because it was almost the easiest time I’ve ever had playing characters or describing setting. Part of that was shared familiarity (see below), but part of that was just my closeness to the experiences. It was like telling how my day at work went.
2. I hardly explained anything. I didn’t need to describe what a Safeway looked like, my player regularly shops in one. I didn’t need to explain about coffee shops, parks, streets, expressways, what to expect from the legal system… I had never realized that most of my time gming is spent explaining tons of little tiny details that my player absolutely needs to know. In the Christina-Rose game, we just jumped straight into the game because we both knew pretty much what to expect from the world.
3. I think one of the effects of having such a familiar setting (the real world) was that the impact of the strange things in the setting (vampires, hypnosis, commandos) was stronger, and the familiar threats (walking alone at night, serial killers, knives) were much more compelling. It also gave my player a lot more freedom to make decisions that made sense! (Since they knew all the stuff, instead of me failing to tell them something vital.)
I would like to try gming another here-and-now setting. It was a lot of fun, and I would like to see if the things I noticed remain constant throughout more here-and-now games. I can foresee one major disadvantage, however. The players know just as much, if not radically more, about the setting then I do. I mean, it’s the real world. They can just Google stuff. Using a setting I know so intimately gives me a solid base for making stuff up, but it also means that I would be dealing with an infinite number of ‘already knowns’ that I don’t actually know. Which could rapidly render my tricky situations totally boring and easy with no warning. Which definitely ups the difficulty level.