Think about James Bond for a moment. He’s defined in part by recurring elements — character traits and actions, of course, but also something more interesting for our purposes as GMs: fast, sexy cars.

Bond always drives a sports car (tricked out with rocket launchers and so forth, of course). Think “James Bond,” and “Drives a really hot car” will be near the top of the list of things that come to mind for most people.

In an RPG, Bond’s player might simply have spent the points to always have a sports car available — that’s nothing new. But if Bond’s player didn’t spend those points, there’s no reason that Bond’s player and the GM can’t work together to introduce that recurring element into the game.

This isn’t about giving PCs stuff they didn’t pay for; it’s more meta than that. It’s about the fact that working in this recurring element brings fun stuff to the game:

  • If there’s a fast car, there’ll probably be a car chase…
  • The whole group will come to identify fast cars with Bond.
  • Another layer is added to Bond’s character.
  • All of this becomes part of the shared mytholgy of your campaign.

This isn’t limited to cars or super-spies, of course: You can use recurring elements like this in any genre. Sometimes a player will do something nifty the same way twice, and that will suggest one of these elements on the fly. Other times you can work together to introduce stuff like this — or bring something in on your own, and if your players enjoy it, keep bringing it back.