Posted in EpicTable Blog on February 6, 2008 at 8:05 pm
Legends aren’t just for long-dead heroes and villans. You can make your world more real to the players and take some of the sting out of a character death by incorporating legends about the characters’ deeds into your current campaign.
Remember that your characters likely start out as exceptional individuals in your world. By the time they’ve gained a several levels, chances are that their deeds are attracting some attention.
Much of what an RPG character does is in remote and dangerous locales, out of the view of the common folk. However, there are scenarios in which word can get out about their deeds. Rescued individuals are likely to tell the heroic tale of their saviors. Foiled adversaries tell their own, less complimentary tales.
Creating Legends for Your Roleplaying Game
Some game systems track reputation, and that’s a fine idea, but what I’d like to suggest is simpler than all that. Use the characters’ fame or tales of their deeds as new legends in your campaign to
Make the world more real and dynamic.
When the world is changing in response to characters’ actions, the players are apt to be more engaged.
Reward the players for their roleplaying.
Everyone likes to hear tales of their own characters. If your players are doing a good job, let them benefit from it in the form of their characters’ notoriety.
Recall a favorite battle or foe.
Take a particularly dramatic or fun battle (that had witnesses) and make a legend of it. Have the common folk start telling wild tales about what “really” happened. The players will get a kick out of reliving one of their more memorable moments while seeing it through the eyes of other characters.
Take the sting out of a character death.
Immortalize a beloved, lost character with a legend, maybe a statue or portrait. Rename the mountain pass or bridge that he died defending after him.
A little salt in the wound can be fun.
Sometimes, it’s the bad guys that get songs written about them. In a campaign of mine, the characters had an encounter with a bugbear chieftain (and a natural 20 rolling DM) that left an elf in the party dead. Really, really dead. Days later, they encountered some bugbears talking about their leader, The Elfhammer.