I’m going on an adventure… and I’m bringing some ambiance!
That’s ambiance, not Ambien which is what my spell check keeps trying to correct it to. Go home spellcheck, you’re drunk.
I am a huge fan of the environment of an activity actually FITTING the activity, which is why I almost never play Tetris while snorkeling, and I have never attempted to learn Swedish at a rock concert, but I do find that a comfy couch and fuzzy blanket work for both.
Now, you can do as much or as little as you’d like to set the mood for a night of gaming, but for me, I think it can only be made better by putting in some effort, and the easiest way to do that is to think of these 5 things.
Ok, so I’m going to use an example that you can get your hands on for free so you can see what I mean. In Catching the Christmas Spirit by Kevin Rohan, (you can get that in Savage Insider here) it gives us the opportunity to create a mood very easily.
Location- this can be really simple. Most times, changing location isn’t an option or just isn’t practical. If you can though, it can make for a REALLY fun time. What could be more fun than to be completely immersed in the sights, sounds and moment of an area that mirror what you are playing? Now obviously for our example, if you have access to an old, creaky Victorian home, yell dibs and go set up there!
If you’re playing something that takes place at a camp, like Camp Wicakini, and you have the option to play WHILE camping it’s really going to add a lot, the stars overhead, the light and smell of campfire, the sounds of the woods and snacking on s’mores are all going to add to the mood and feel as you play!
If you are running a setting that takes place in a mall, why not consider playing at a table in the food court? Sometimes just moving outside, or to a park (weather permitting) can really open up a world of excitement that you might not have thought of before.
When talking about locations though, several things are important to keep in mind. Be respectful of other’s property and space, make sure you have permission and that you aren’t being disruptive to others if you are in a public place. We want more people to understand the fun of gaming, not see it as a nuisance right?
Lighting- In Catching the Christmas spirit, we’re looking at a setting from the past. What type of lighting was even available in 1885? Certainly not overhead fluorescent bulbs, so keep that in mind. Some candles set around the room will cast great shadows, and a little creep factor and keep everyone in that time period.
Campfires make great lighting if you’re playing outside and even just 1 flashlight can really set you up for an amazing immersive experience.
Sound- Kevin actually addressed this a bit in the adventure I’m using for my example. The Victrola had just been invented, so you wouldn’t hear Bon Jovi in the background, that wouldn’t make sense. In this case a little research brings up some music that could be looped in the background, or if not, some evening sounds could be played in the background, as if the windows were open at the plantation. Sounds of the southern coastline won’t even register, but will create a feel in the room that will make for a very memorable night of gaming.
Food- Nearly everyone loves food, and I actually am going to address a whole post to fun food for gaming very soon, but I wanted to touch on this. If you’ve always wanted the opportunity to try a food that is from a different time or place this might be your opportunity to do so! If you only serve snacks, then consider 1 or 2 foods that would fit your theme, in this instance something Cajun spiced perhaps and some spiced apple cider, or if you and your group normally do dinner, maybe some jambalya or roasted pig. Your options are really pretty open.
If you are going for a camping setting… S’mores of couse. Why not S’mores?
Scent- Scent is a hard one. Candles can help as can cooking food. Open windows carry scents that may or may not contribute or detract. It’s pretty hard to find a Yankee Candle that is “Louisiana bayou” but what would help? I encourage you to think outside the box on this.
All in all, setting your scene is an extra piece that isn’t really NECESSARY but can be a lot of fun. We all know that everyone is really going to be happy with some space to play, a group of friends and a great adventure, but sometimes, especially for 1 offs and nights when you want a little extra, if you can capture something to incorporate more of your senses, it will be one that’s remembered.
What have you done to make a game night something really special?