January 21, 2011

Use the Internet IC

One thing I like to do when running a game set in modern time is to allow the players to use the internet to figure stuff out; notice I said the players. In our real-life modern day lives we tend to use the internet a lot, especially the type of people drawn to role-playing games. For us it is a way of life, the same as driving a car to the grocery store to get our food…or more accurately using the phone to call in a delivery order so someone else has to drive a car to get us our food. In this regard, I allow real life to be reflected in the modern day games I run and instead of asking for a die roll when a knowledge question comes up in game, I simply tell the players to look it up online.

Recently, I ran a game wherein an important clue was hidden by a chemist who enjoyed reading books on ancient alchemy. To get the clue the players needed, they had to answer the question, ‘what is the fourth body of alchemy?’. I could have asked for a skill roll of something like History but instead I asked the players to go onto one of the nearby computers (my wife and I each have one near the gaming table and another person had internet access through his cell phone). A quick search later and they had the answer they wanted.

Another time, the players were tracking a serial killer who kept leaving cryptic notes on his victims that were clues as to who the next victim might be. Doing some real time research on the internet they quickly determined the notes were from some published works by Aleister Crowley. Later they managed to get a security camera picture of the killer and it turned out to be Aleister Crowley, who they recognized from the pictures they had seen while doing the earlier research. I had fictionalized the real person of Aleister Crowley and by allowing him to use “his magical powers” the character was in our modern times. In addition, the security camera photo was one I took from the internet while do researching on the adventure, so it was one I knew they would easily come across themselves.

One thing you may want to try is to create an internet newspaper. Basically create a blog that mimics a news service. Players can go to the site and read about what is ongoing in your modern campaign as well as any other possible adventures that can be had. It is also a way to introduce clues the characters can use. An example of this can be found here (http://layonrealms.blogspot.com/).

Forcing players to do the actual research instead of defaulting to a die roll helps the players get immersed in a game. It brings a tactile sensation to the game. It also increases the sense of accomplishment. Try it sometime; in your next modern day game, put out some information that can be found online and let the players look for it themselves.
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