August 15, 2003

Wish 60: Frames of Reference

Ginger (via Claire's thread on Shadows of Amber)asks this week:
How do you use different frames of reference or mindsets in your games? In what ways do your characters or NPCs in games you GM think differently from the people around you? What sorts of things make them different (societal, mental, physical, etc.)? Do you feel that you�re successful in incorporating and showing the differences?

Basically, as some of the posters to the WISH have pointed out, this boils down to preventing your games from being "20th century people in costume". How do you work a game universe that *feels* like it is set in the time-period (or technological level) that it is ostensibly set in?

It's not easy sometimes, and I think, personally, that I've done it best when I've actually had characters from more modern milieus show up in, say, Amber. The culture clash and the difference in outlook is much easier to present when I have a contrast with which to work. Dagny Thorsonne, for example, was a great example of a PC who was surprised by the medieval outlook of the citizenry of Amber.

The acceptance of the royals as betters is the classic example. I did little things, like how the patronage of a restaurant by members of the Royal Family was enough for the proprietor of a restaurant. The acquiescence of servants to the needs and requests of Family. Clarissa, daughter of Mirelle, had a much more confrontational set of events, in the same vein. A third example is Krysta, who was shocked that after being away from Amber for so long and finally returned, was officially made a princess by Random. She never really thought of herself in those terms since, as established in her backstories, she was never treated as such in her maturing years.

But things like the superiority of nobility, the Divine right of the King (ie, from the Unicorn), the relatively muted place of women and so forth are the ways that I try and show that Amber is not "surfer kids in costume."

Posted by Jvstin at August 15, 2003 4:20 PM