I've been playing with some of the In a Wicked Age Oracles over at Abulafia and having a lot of fun. For the uninitiated, In a Wicked Age is a story game which provides Random Sentence Generators, or Oracles, as part of it's setup. The sentences are generally quite evocative, giving a full dose of mood along with quite a few potential adventure hooks.
So here's my idea for creating mood in your RPG setting:
- Make a table of Oracles that apply to your game setting from here
- When the PCs arrive in a new town/landmark/hex etc. choose an Oracle at random
- Use the first sentence or two generated by the Oracle to create your mood element
Example for Polish Resistance
For an example, I chose the following Oracles for my Polish Resistance game, which I see as having a sort of Post-Apocolyptic/Noir/Occult mood:
- Casblanca Oracle
- Pulp Oracle- Weird Science
- Noir Oracle- Down These Mean Streets
- Pulp Oracle- I Love a Mystery
- Modern Occult
- Demon City Blues
- Cascadian Folklore
- Pulp Oracle- Rip-Roaring Twenties
Now let's roll up a few examples:
Scenario 1: Party enters a small village
- Roll: 5/A violent demon passes from host to host by touch.
- GM Says: You see a few villagers peering into the front door of a small farmhouse. A young man turns around, his face pale, and vomits on the ground.
Scenario 2: Party is walking along a long forest road
- Roll: 1/A Limousine, delivering a beautifully-dressed couple to a fashionable address.
- GM Says: A fancy horse-drawn carriage passes by. Through the window you glimpse a beautifully-dressed couple.
Scenario 3: Party enters a Large Town
- Roll: 2/A gyro-jet pistol, found at the scene of a crime.
- GM Says: You overhear two Polish Policemen talking "...and then we found this!" he says, brandishing a strange chrome pistol.
Scenario 4: Party checks into an Inn
- Roll: 7: Once a Great Lake, full of voices, now a hot Desert, where the spirits meet
- GM Says: From the window in your small third-story room you can see the outskirts on the East side of town, where the forest stops abruptly and the ground slopes down into a deep bowl. Not a single tree can be seen growing in that abrupt valley.
*Note that the first and third roll also present a potential adventure hook, without shoving it down the players' throats i.e. NPC X says "I'll give you 100GP if you solve the murder".