I often wonder how I can improve my Gamemastering skills. What can I do to better bring my worlds to life for my players? Is there something small, perhaps a little exercise I can do, to sharpen my skills?
Well, I fell into just such an exercise, without even trying.
My Lovely Bride™ and I were driving around recently, and as I’m not allowed to drive quite yet, I was just looking out the window at nothing in particular. It was a nice day, and as it was around Noon, there were many people walking around, I assume heading to or from their lunch breaks.
One man, in particular, caught my attention. He was about 5’11, with a medium build, and I would estimate he was in his early-to-mid 50’s. He had thinning reddish-blond hair, and was wearing a sky-blue shirt, a dark blue tie, dark colored pants, and black shoes.
As this man walked down the sidewalk, I noticed that he had a slight strut in his cadence, as though he was in a good mood, perhaps heading home for a long weekend? Or, maybe rather than heading home, perhaps he was headed to a rendezvous with his mistress?
Before I knew it, I was talking about all manner of details about this man’s life, as I imagined it. He was recently divorced, his son was staying with his ex-wife, so he had a long weekend to enjoy with his former secretary. She was the mistress that caused him to eventually get divorced (the ex found out), and he was forced to get a new secretary and his mistress was reassigned, due to department policy. But this man didn’t really get in trouble, because he took his boss out for a round of golf, and let the boss beat him, while laughing at all of that buffoon’s jokes.
This man plans to replace said boss within a year or two.
He is ruthless in his aspirations, and really won’t let anyone stand in his way. No, he doesn’t plan to marry his girlfriend. She’s a fun girl, but certainly not the Trophy Wife he feels that he deserves. Anyway, no one makes it to the top with a former secretary as his wife, right? But hey, if she hadn’t have screwed up, and accidentally let his ex-wife know about the affair, he would have had more trouble getting rid of said ex-wife, so she at least served some purpose.
Besides sex, that is.
Anyway, as I riffed on and on about this guy, making jokes here or there about him and his plans, my wife was rolling with laughter! We had a really good time, joking about this guy for ten to fifteen minutes, and towards the end, she asked me how I managed to come up with all those details.
Well, I just made it all up. Obviously.
I just came up with it all on the fly, which honestly any good GameMaster should be able to do. But as with any muscle, if you don’t exercise them, they get flabby. So now I’m trying to spot people on the street and come up with a few ideas about them, just based upon a detail or two I spotted. In the case of the man with the blue tie, it was his manner of walking. In the case of someone else, it might be how they are standing. Are they hunched over? Maybe they can’t stand still? Or maybe it is their facial expression, those can give you tons of ideas to riff on.
The point being, if you are a GM, I would suggest this exercise to any of you, so that you can hone your descriptive skills to a keen edge. If you want to have better Non-Player Characters, and a better game overall for your Players, then this is where to start, in my opinion.