Monday, September 16, 2013

Telling Stories Around The Game World

I've found myself thinking a lot about my Shadowrun game of late and how I could improve it. I'm pretty happy with the jobs I'm offering my players. I'm pretty happy with my runners themselves. Heck, I'm even pretty happy with the level of challenge and lethality that is in the game. No, what I want to improve is the immersion in the world. Shadowrun, the Sixth World, is a very deep and intricate world. It is a very well defined and deeply imagined combination of Cyberpunk with High Urban Fantasy. There is a lot out there for it, and the more I see from the world the more intrigued I become with it. This is where I want to improve, and I think I have a way of doing it.

The Matrix, Datanets, and The News
The solution I've come up with is to essentially use the news. I want to take some time, really dig into the world and what I have going on in it, and then set up some news stories. Ideally how this would work is either through email, or a hand out at a game session, I could drop some news stories on the player. Just little things that they are picking up from the net and stories as they go around. Some of these stories could be big deals: Renraku and Ares begin bidding war over UCAS military contract, for example. Others could be closer to home - local church hosting some form of rally, prominent deaths in the area, that sort of thing. Of course, along with depth to the world there are some other things I hope to get out of this...

Reaction To Player Actions
Some runs the players go on are going to get media attention. That attention could be used to give reaction to actions the players have taken. For example, a raid on a corp facility might get them called villains - but could have comments from readers saying it was done very smoothly. Other jobs could get good or ill press. They could find out who from Knight Errant is looking into the crimes they've committed. Basically, it could be a fun way of showing the deeper ramifications of certain jobs they've taken and how the city and world is reacting to that.

Telling Stories Around The Players
The other part that excites me is using this to tell other stories. Events that maybe the PCs aren't, or can't, be a part of, or events that the PCs may get involved with eventually, but stories. Corp fights, other runs, other deeds and events. Using different exposures and different angles to show what else is going on in the world but in tales around them.

Lots Of Work
The down side to this though is it is going to take a lot of work. It is going to need the development of several NPCs - likely several dozen actually, as well as a lot of big scale and detail oriented thinking about the world then put it through a lens that could present it to the players. I think it will be worth it if I can do it right, but I don't know if I have enough time to put that level of focus in right now. Though, I suppose I could do it on a smaller scale with individual stories. Hmm...that may just work.


  1. I know a GM who writes such news for his SR players, neatly edited together in an electronic newspaper. If you're interested, I can ask him if he'd send you (or send me to send you) a couple of those?

    We started doing it at Obsidian Portal for our own SR campaign, but it's in need of an update.

  2. I've had this exact same feeling for the Dark Heresy campaign I run. You play the game for the dark gritty complex setting so I've often wondered how to better communicate that to the players - how to increase their immersion.

    Newsfeed wouldn't work in the Emperor's Imperium of a million planets...but perhaps routinely exposing them to more rumors during their investigations that pertain to matters not relating to their current focus could serve a similar purpose. Also, maybe information from their superiors during debriefs.