“You walk into the bar. It smells awful. There is a big orc sitting near the barkeep. He looks at you.”
Have you ever seen this scenario before? More so, has it ever felt as dry and dull as it just did when reading the above sentences? That’s because it lacks flavor.
What do I mean by the lack of flavor? I mean spice things up a bit with your campaign!
Don’t just give a simple description of a situation that is taking place or what your players are seeing in front of them. A roleplaying game is all about theater of the mind.
When you read a book you are able to really get into the story because the author is detailing out the minutia. They are telling you all of the little details that don’t necessarily matter for context, but that help set your mind into feeling the situation.
The initial scenario has a ton more depth to it when a few things are added. More colorful adjectives will make the scene pop and give the players a greater sense of what they are seeing and dealing with.
“As you and the adventuring party saunter into the tavern after days of perilous travel you immediately regret it. The tavern is obviously a bit run down and home to the seedier denizens of the town. You are fairly certain that the odors flowing through the place are urine, sweat, and possibly dead fish. It’s hard to tell which is which.”
“The bar itself is a high short table in the rear manned by a gruff looking individual with one hand. Beside him sits a half drunken orc with a pint of what you can assume to be rotgut in his paws. The orc turns a toothy slobbering grin in your direction and peers at you with grumpy yellowed eyes.”
While the second iteration of the description is a bit more to read and quite the mouthful it also adds an incredible amount of descriptive power to the scene. Now the players have a much greater understanding of the location they have just wandered into.
This description would immediately set them on their guard and set them to be wary in the tavern. The initial description barely told them anything. If you want your characters to fully immerse themselves in your world this level of detail is necessary.
You are describing fantastic worlds, incredible sights, sounds, smells, dastardly villains, and magic spells that would be a sight to behold. These will only be as detailed as you allow them to be.
This also counts for the players. When describing your character give it a little razzle dazzle. It’s not just blue eyes. It’s piercing blue eyes. It’s not just blonde hair. It’s dusty golden hair with a shoulder length braid on each side and tied into a ponytail with a green ribbon.
Every adjective can have power behind it and every description should matter. Don’t break the flow of the game with them, but do utilize them when it will add to the game.
You will find over time your players will be able to stay in character longer and truly get into the mind-set of being a wild and crazy adventuring party. Give it a try and let us know how it goes for you and your players.