Vivid Images Make For Better Games — Get Some!

I play tabletop RPG’s. (In fact, this blog was created to help me write one. It’s metastasized since then.) The big difficulty in tabletop gaming is that everything is imagined: you see nothing, and the visceral experience of actually facing a giant, slavering beast twice your height can be reduced to “-1 AC, -1 Attack Bonus, 4HD”.

How thrilling.

Then again, you could show players something like this:

A Fearless Storm Knight Confronts A Rek Jakutta Creation

That clues them into events real quick.

What about a beautiful, but vulnerable elf maiden, looking for protectors?

Try this:

Elf Maiden in Aysle

Nothing says “beautiful” like a true beauty.

What’s my point? That sometimes, photos and images can help players connect to what’s going in in the game world. All you need to do is find them.

There are many great resources online. DeviantArt (despite the name, not a bondage fetish porn site) has thousands of artists, ranging in talent from kindergarten crayon wielder to industry professional to “After you’re dead, they’ll sell this for a million dollars.” An excellent on-site search engine helps you find just what you need.

Google Images can help, and often does. Or, if you find a pic and need it bigger, GI will search its database and tall you if such exists anywhere.

And, just recently, I’ve discovered Twitter, which has a wealth of photos. Accounts like @SpacePornx@SciencePorn@WowViewPics, and many, many others post images all the time, ranging from galaxies to underground temples to lightning storms. Most of these are photos, not drawings, and so look incredibly authentic.

Temple Deep in the Caves, Borneo, Indonesia

I’ve been posting a series of photos for the Torg RPG on Google+, under the title “Storm Front” (#TorgStormFront). But since Google’s started being a bit twitchy about photo management, I moved on down the line to Photobucket. Though currently a bit sparse (to say the least), the “Storm Front” gallery can still give you some ideas about how photos can work to your advantage as a GM.

So join Twitter, and try the accounts linked above. They frequently retweet from others, so you can begin amassing a list of useful suppliers of photographic excellence. One other thing: my Miscellany List can be a great way to bootstrap yourself. It has a number of such accounts, and you can pick and choose which ones you find useful.

Beautiful and interesting photos can illustrate in-game events more eloquently than the best trained GM. (Some of the time.) Give yourself some time to build up a library of images, and when it comes time to feed your players to a giant, vicious, spiderlike thing, you’ll have the exact image you need right at your fingertips. At least they’ll know what it looks like, before it gobbles them down, one by one.

2 thoughts on “Vivid Images Make For Better Games — Get Some!”

  1. Could I possibly use the elf picture for the cover of my book? The book is on WattPad and I don’t know when I’d be publishing any chapters, but I would really love to use that photo as the cover.

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