What’s the Crock Pot? Just a simmering bowl of lentils and herbs, with a dash of DMing observations. Don’t be afraid to dip in your ladle and stir, or throw in something from your own spice rack.
Providing news about the community your player characters use as a home base is an excellent way to make the setting come alive for your player characters.
The previous post discussed sources of information other than the often overused bartender.
One thing to remember, when dispensing information, always convey it appropriate to the source’s point of view.
In the case of war, for instance:
> Church-goers might be concerned about relief efforts for widows and orphans of those killed in combat.
>The gentlemen in the coffeehouse might be concerned with the rise and fall of individual political fortunes at the war progresses.
> Soldiers are trained not to discuss the movements of troops, but they might recollect battlefield heroics they’ve witnessed or display some trophy or spoils that would indicate where they’ve been.
> Official pronouncements might include lists of the dead, or trumpet particular victories in the field or the success of certain battle captains. But it also might include propaganda, such as implying success when, in fact, the war is going badly.
> The ladies at the laundry might have glimpsed a particularly dashing commander, or shared their grief for those soldiers who don’t return.
> The poor and the day laborers may well be the first to know when war brings disease or misfortune.
> Merchants know there’s profit to be made in war, if you’re in the right place at the right time. But it also can be disastrous for business. Depending on who you ask might reveal the information you need.
> And the bartender? He’ll tell you whether the war is successful based on whether recruiting efforts for additional troops is on the upswing, or not, if press gangs are in operation, and what black market goods are in circulation.
By not giving the whole picture during a single visit to one source, but rather by doling it out in a sequence of roleplaying encounters, DMs have a better chance of conveying the diversity of a community, as well as how dynamic it can be.
Great post! Reminds me of when our regular GM played in a game set up by another experienced GM, and while us younger players went to the bar, the GM bought sacks of food and a jug of wine and went to the barracks. The thought never occurred to us that there would be bored and hungry guards!
>Pages and Squires often run messages from the court and might know quite a bit more than you’d expect. When they shout that Sir Denys will alight in an hour, you’ve learned quite a bit.
> The blacksmith can tell you whether he can get to your work right away, or if he’s backed up for weeks.
> Local farmers might have tales from the surrounding countryside; if bandits, beasts, or unpaid mercenaries roam the area, they’re the first to know.
Not to jump ahead (and if I am, I apologize), but I find one of the best ways for a GM to show a world in motion is to introduce one of these news-bearing NPCs, and to show a change in status for them in a later meeting.
NPC pronouncements still can reek of the GM trying to get a point across, and still feeds the PC’s unconsious feeling that they are they are at the center of the universe for that setting.
But when an NPC has a status change ad there is a good reason for it, it gives a feeling that things are happenning all the time, with or without the PCs.
Expanding on that, based on the list above, telling the PC’s that the Blackmsith’s shop is crammed with workers and piles of items, and that there are three people waiting ot speak with him conveys the same thing as Scott mentioned above, but in a way that takes the PC’s away from the feeling that they are playing the ‘Elder Scrolls’ or some other computer game.
I had a Vampyre create a minion once out of a prominent NPC Deductor in the city watch, and the PC’s just could never even think of him as a suspect, since ‘they knew who he was’.