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I once read a trick for DM's to give more immersion in the adventure: bath paper in coffee to make it look like ancient paper, and then write on it a message in red-ink calligraphy.

Another one is finding a nice location: friends of mine gathered to play vampires in an octagonal city square nearby, using candles for light (and triggering concerns from the neighbors who thought that a satanic ritual was in progress)...

Do you know other similar interesting tricks to improve the immersion during roleplaying experience ? I guess that games such as vampires or Cthulhu can get the best from it.

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As this will likely spark a long list of answers rather than a right answer, it might be good to make it community-wiki. –  Numenetics Aug 21 '10 at 16:24
    
@Numenetics : done –  Stefano Borini Aug 21 '10 at 17:37

7 Answers 7

I think the best game aids are interactional rather than just demonstrational. If you go through the work to make a parchment-looking piece of paper, why not hide a hidden message in it somehow? Maybe if you fold the paper a certain way the message becomes clear, or maybe the characters later find a blank paper with holes cut in it that pull the message from the false text of the original?

Wow, now I want to do that. Great question, because it really sparked my imagination.

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Here's a newspaper clipping maker that is useful in modern games: http://www.fodey.com/generators/newspaper/snippet.aspalt text

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Yog-sothoth.com has a great collection of templates like this for telegrams, etc: yog-sothoth.com/local_links.php?catid=10 –  Numenetics Aug 21 '10 at 16:23
    
Very cool! :).. –  Stefano Borini Aug 22 '10 at 15:14

Some pretty specific Call of Cthulhu-oriented resources:

I'm not sure why CoC players go for this sort of thing so much. Most of those would be useful for any historical game.

I like to use handwriting fonts for notes in any kind of campaign. There are a ton of handwriting fonts available, so you can use different ones for every note -- this is good for recurring NPCs, they'll learn his/her handwriting. Then search for "paper textures" to get some good old paper-looking backgrounds. These are good, as are many of these. I prefer the textures that look like a sheet of paper. If you have a color inkjet printer, they'll look great printed out, and you'll spend a fortune on ink but try not to think about that.

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CoC players like props because we're all about the atmosphere, baby! :) –  Dave Hallett Nov 17 '10 at 23:38

Props are great in moderation. My friend has these fantastic looking dungeon walls, doors and all the other decorations, but it takes a long to set up. Because these things are costly he doesn't have many so he needs to tear down where we just were to build the next section. The other thing it you can't bump the table or the walls come tumbling down. A dry graph.hex map with dry erase markers are much better. Quick and easy to use. Keeps the game flowing where as when he has to rebuild the walls its like waiting for a commercial to end.

Hand outs are always cool. Using bags of pennies or dimes to toss on the table to represent the reward is always a nice touch. The one thing I like to do a fantasy billboard.

Since I primarily play in medieval fantasy games I imagine there are a ton more props you could use for a modern game type setting without bogging down the game.

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+1 for the hand outs idea. Making rewards seem more tangible seems awesome, even if the players don't actually get to keep them. :D –  Gordon Gustafson Dec 17 '11 at 22:28

I like props from vacations (statues, coins, rocks/floral matter) / renaissance fairs, etc.

I find props work best if the rest of the ambiance (music, surrounding, clothing, player mood) are in sync as well. Or if the players suspect a hidden clue. :)

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Not quite a physical object but for a contemporary campaign, Google maps/earth and street view is a fantastic short-cut to mapping and descriptions.

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+1. I use all three (earth, maps, and street view) regularly for Shadowrun games –  RMorrisey Nov 20 '10 at 17:44

I tried this a lot, but it got me all frustrated really. It takes a lot of time to prepare, but doesn't really provide enough results. Sitting in some climatic place is usually a real pain - there is nothing as good as a nice table, that all can gather around, put their dice and sheets. Making paper look like old is nice, but that also requires you to put effort, that could be spent better.

Really, all the time you spend making really cool stuff that will appear only for a moment during the session is not as good as having a well prepared plot, lot non player characters that players can interact with and lots of challenges for your gamers. Having cool gadgets seem very appealing, but really what matters is a cool story and involment of your players. I remember sessions, where my game master had that, not the ones, where he had tarot cards, some vials and real weapons (ok, I remember that one, because I hardly survived it, it was so boring :-P).

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You have a point... but I think it really depends on the story and the level of playing you want to achieve. –  Stefano Borini Aug 22 '10 at 15:15

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