Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Avoid Searches

One of the staples of the RPG world is "Searching."  So it's no surprise that a lot of staff teams will try and integrate those searches into their games.

But if done incorrectly, searches can break immersion faster than almost anything else.

You see, we don't usually have the benefit of having a perfect replica of the setting.  We run out of cabins and tents and try to make them seem like castles or caves.  So when you tell players to search, they now look in every nook and corner of that anachronistic shelter.  They're looking in things that may or may not be IG and in the process they may be checking near refrigerators, electrical outlets, and the like.

So if you really want to have a search mechanic, make sure you put boundaries on it and supply everything.  If you want the players to find a needle in a haystack, you've got to bring the needle and the haystack, and make sure the players know where the haystack ends.


  1. I was once on a module that ran for many hours because we had to find a small object in a large space. After a certain point it had gotten so bogged down it ceased being fun and even the NPCs had stopped attacking us.

    As harsh as it may seem, putting a time limit on something like this at least limits the potential for timewasting drudgery and keeps the game moving.

  2. The McGuffin of Avatar-inspired "glowing" flowers (fake flowers with mini glowsticks) at night makes for a much more fun (and much more visual interesting) search. The staff at ToTN have done great things with such.