My Grim North game was run via Google Hangouts and had its own G+ community by which it was managed. This was good for organising the actual sessions as well as posting up the after action reports; who gained what XP and what the share of the loot was etc.
|Yeah, I can meme shit|
Also at one point, probably after reading someone else’s blog on the subject (it might have been the Hill Cantons, I don’t really remember,) I started to post a weekly pre game selection of rumours. I have mentioned previously that the game nearly always started in the House of Mercenaries, Sellspears and Blades for Hire with the various paid work available posted to the board marked “Jobs.” In addition to this was the PCs always had the option of doing whatever the fuck they wanted, after all there are no railroads here.
|Do not play here: Stay off the railroad kids|
That’s great and everything but information is crucial here. Rumours are a double defo, carved in stone, baby’s eyes, must have for sandbox gaming. Without that information the player characters either have to interrogate the GM or just go along with the adventure du jour, which is fine every once in a while. However, self motivated PCs are gold for a gamesmaster, therefore throwing out as many hooks and tit bits of setting info as possible for them to bite on is elementary to enabling them to be so.
Crucially it adds depth to the environment. If ten foot poles are suddenly banned in the city then that has implications for the average group of dungeon crawling fools. And in Nox Aeterna, poles over six feet in length are indeed banned, player speculation indicated it was Big Carpentry throwing their political weight around.
By posting these rumours to the G+ community a couple of days before the game a few things were achieved that worked in my favour as GM. Discussion via the Internet prior to the week’s session; as a result sometimes the players chatted online about the game before we played, this saved valuable “air time” given we were generally operating over mixed time zones and had roughly three hours to play. It allowed me to drip feed some random bits of setting info in; this was a game with a semi rotating cast of players so not everyone was in every game. By having everyone get the rumours if they read the rumour post it kept them connected to the setting and for those who were interested it was an additional source of setting info.
I think this is my favourite: It provides the player characters with a sense that the game world has depth. When the game is on then the player characters are the stars. We were playing Swords & Wizardry White Box so they’re not the X-men but the game is about them. There’s no fucking Elminster of the Grim North. This said, the world still turns. So if the PCs don’t bite on a hook then perhaps they hear about how that turns out on the rumour mill. Or it’s inconsequential fluff that I just came up with on the spot and can’t think of any way to usefully incorporate it at the table so I’m just sticking it out there and maybe you read it, maybe you don’t, maybe it adds to your immersion or maybe it doesn’t. Because let’s face it, not everyone is going to read that stuff or even care, and that’s fine too. Just showing up in the hangout on time, fully clothed, with your dice and character sheet handy is good enough for me.