Today’s lesson is short and sweet and terrifically impactful. It is pulling a particular weapon from your arsenal to transform a mundane setting into one far more interesting, to challenge even the most jaded gamer in your group. This weapon is the humble adjective. As our language evolves from how we interact and what we interact with, the adjective often falls to the wayside. Some say adjectives make statements weaker. If you try to make ever throw a haymaker, you’re going to run out of endurance and your audience is going to grow bored. Why? Because every punch is a haymaker. The same can go for the environment in your game.
Take, for example, a typical dungeon crawl. Your party enters yet another 10′ x 10′ room with a pair of orcs ready to do battle. What would their reaction be if these orcs were purple or blue or some other color never before seen in your setting. This would give them pause. What if they were fluffy? Or frozen? A simple adjective can change things. What if the room is suddenly fiery as they enter? Things can grow a lot more complicated with a simple word, a lot more mysterious, a lot more interesting.
It is in our nature to want to know the answers to questions that may not even be asked. Diving into a pool is something done by many without hesitation every day. Would these folks hesitate to dive into a bubbling pool? Of course, they would.
Because it’s Friday and I’m feeling generous, I’ll toss in a corollary to the above tip. Let your players help you. Let them provide your answers. Sometimes give into their hunches, their nightmares, their trepidations. When the door opens and they see two orcs, inform them they note something unusual. Let them pick their poison. One of them might say, “Don’t tell me they are on fire…” and you can shout back, ‘Why a matter of fact…”
If the players aren’t used to be prompted, you may have to draw them out. Having them fill in the blanks takes some of the creative weight off of you and gives them more of a sense of ownership and investment in the play session. If you’ve used this technique (wittingly or unwittingly) before, you know. If you haven’t, you’re in for a treat.
Until next time, I bid you, dear reader, adieu.