Last post (link here) was all about determining how to figure out sporting and spectator past times. This one is more about why it matters and how you turn those ideas into missions and cool things for your adventures.
In a game like Legend Quest, the characters have skills outside of combat. Whatever the youth sport of the region is, you should expect that many of the characters will have those skills. For example, if horse racing, rodeo or polo are the main sports, most of the young boys (and some girls) will have horse riding skills before they enter their late teens. I mentioned that Brinston was more of a track and field region, including javelin throwing. Well, expect running, jumping and javelin experience. Wrestling and boxing are clear carry throughs. So knowing what the local sports are should give you a start on character building. The same can be said of rowing, camping, archery, or other hobbies.
But how does this help you as a GM? Think about other things. Trying to assassinate someone? Knowing what spectator sports he loves can place him in a public, but very loud, place. Hoping to find mercenary or guard work? Where do the merchants gather? If they are all going to be at the race track every Saturday afternoon, you can meet them there and strike up conversations. (I despise the “OK, you’re all in a bar and this guy comes up to you.”) Instead of trying to come up with other examples, let’s just say: If you know what their hobbies are, you will better know their movements and motives.
But don’t just think of this as a pastime. Horse racing and gladiatorial matches can be big money, both the purses and definitely the betting. What are people willing to do to get that money? Whatever it is, I’ll bet they are willing to hire adventuring types on both sides to earn it - assassins, poisoners, bodyguards, sentries, etc. This doesn’t even start to consider what could happen once you add magic into the mix. Could a mage of some kind use a spell to unbalance a major sporting event? Interfere with a horse, fatigue a gladiator, trip a runner, any number of things could be done to change the outcome. This creates an abundance of mission opportunities, and none of them have anything to do with a dungeon.
But let’s look at the other side of things. Since we’re making the Super Bowl comparison, what’s the trophy? Do they get rings? Is the trophy like a Super Bowl trophy where there is a new one every year or like the Stanley Cup where the trophy goes to the winners and last year’s winners wind up with nothing? I think the America’s Cup is like that too. Well, what happens if someone steals that one of a kind trophy? The event runners will do anything they can to recover the trophy, even hire adventurers. If that trophy is made of gold or silver, it would make sense that the bandits would have stolen it and it needs to be returned - returned in time for the event. Nothing better than a mission with a time limit. If it’s a ring and everyone gets one, where is the guy who earned it sixteen years ago? Is he captain of the guards? Is he the chief enforcer for a merchant cartel or for a crime gang? Someone like that would have the juice to pay a group of adventurers to return his prize ring. And who would have stolen it? Well, the people on the opposite side of the law - the guards, the organized criminals, or the rival cartel.
Just to wind this up - hobbies are a big part of decorating your house. If you have one of those trophies, it will have a major display. In any case, champion polo players probably have horse motifs in their home - horse paintings, sculptures, horse suede furniture, could be anything. Don’t forget that just their normal equipment will be there too. A champion polo player is going to have fifteen different saddles, most of which will be works of art themselves. If the guy is a sprinter, the shoes may have cost him a ton of coin, but probably not something that can be fenced by adventurers. Then again, think about that for most of these treasures. Fencing a Super Bowl ring is not the easiest thing in the world to do. It can be done, but it has to be handled delicately. And once word gets out that someone is fencing such a ring you have another opportunity for the adventurers to get involved in recovering it.
Really hope this gave you some ideas on why role-playing ideas and culture have an impact on games. These may seem a little forced, but once you start to develop things this deeply, the ideas (for culture, for missions, for treasure) will really start to flow.