Monday, January 28, 2013

Easter Eggs (the literary kind)

I’m a fan of Stephen King - Not a huge fan, but a fan. As such, I do not always get his little nods to his other works in each of his stories. That’s OK, it doesn’t ruin it for me. But for the huge fans, they love every little mention that crosses from one story to another. I think Easter eggs are fun. They’re little puns that some people will get and others won’t. But I think it is incredibly important that they are “little”. What’s “little”: Having a scribe in the back room of a lawyer’s office who’s name is Bartleby. If the players know the famous Melville story, it’s funny. If they don’t, no one cares. Having a newspaper reporter that is NOT key to the story line who’s name just happens to be Clark Kent is cute. If he actually is Superman, you probably just ruined the campaign. The issue here is that very few players are such great role-players that they can forget their own opinions and have their characters treat things on a fair basis. Example: I hate Green Lantern. I’ve always hated Green Lantern. I think the whole concept of that super-hero is silly and foolish. If one of my characters were in a campaign, superhero or not, and met up with a character named Hal Jordan, I would hate him. Doesn’t matter what this game character was supposed to do for or to my PC, I’d hate him. You run the same risk using known literary or film characters in your game. We went over this in Character Foundry - You can never be sure how a player is going to relate to a character if they see through your thinly veiled reference. There, we were talking about the use of real people as personalities in the game, but it works on both sides. A couple of more examples that work, because they are small: Mithrandir’s Staff in a museum (don’t give it any powers, other than possibly light emitting), a small hill outside of town known as Jacquesenjyll Hill, the blacksmith for the mine who’s name is John Henry, or a book about ghosts written by S. King. They’re kind of like puns, sometimes funny and sometimes not, depends on the eye of the beholder. If there is one moral we really want you to take away from this, it is: Don’t allow known people or characters from outside the game become important inside the game. That’s a rookie mistake, and it will cost you down the road.

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