Darth GM here with Episode 56 of Fragments from the Rim.
This week I’m closing the gaming books to talk about an aspect of gaming that’s more metaphysical than talents and feats; “Game Immersion”.
The ability to portray and be in character can be a task at times. Let’s face it, we’re in a time of bright lights, flashy displays, unlimited information at our fingertips and a pre-disposition to Attention Deficit Disorder. It can be difficult to keep your head in the game. Sometimes you need something more than a mindset to do it. In these situations I’ve found a useful ally, props.
Props can come in many forms, from attire, to weapons to models, and many places in between. For example If your character is a cigar smoking tramp freighter captain, or a hardened mercenary soldier who’s seen it all, there’s a lot of posturing and pointing to be done with a half smoked cigar. Maybe you use an unlit version of the real thing (beware of cancer, kids!), but in most cases it’s a pen that you’re chomping on while your character smokes. There have been many a game where a bag of Bachman’s pretzel rods served the need for a character’s smoking habit. Perfect for when a plan comes together, and they’re tasty too!
Sometimes an article of clothing can help you get into character. Vests, hats, a pair of sunglasses to represent goggles, the simplest of clothing additions can help you feel like your character. You don’t need to have an outfit good enough for the 501st or the Rebel Legion, just something that gets you into your character’s head.
Thank the Maker for Lucasfilm’s Licensing Department, because of them Gamers have a variety of replicas to display on the gaming table and fiddle with in play. Personally, every time I run a game there are 3-4 blaster pistols and stormtrooper rifles either on the table or in players hands to be fidgeted with during the game. While you could drop several hundred for a replica blaster online, a quick trip to Toys R Us or Target can net a very decent supply of relatively cheap Star Wars weapon props. I do recommend taking out the batteries for any blasters that make noises, it gets annoying after several hours.
Toys and models can help too. I had one campaign that centered on a Clone Wars Star Destroyer that the PCs had stolen for the Rebel Alliance. To help with the visual cues, I had several Star Wars Miniatures of that star destroyer around the table, along with models for the X-Wings and Y-Wings the PCs were flying. True to form, the players would pick up the models, manipulate them, fidget with them, and it helped them get into character and focus on the game.
I know gamers who even have a tradition of making a Lego Models of the PC’s and their group’s main transport. I recommend this is you’ve got the time and extra bricks lying around. Besides, I firmly believe you’re never too old for Legos.
Finally, lighsabers. Sure, you can get the Force FX sabers that are out there for $100 each, or search online for one of a couple Custom Saber Shops that sell machined parts and wiring kits to make your own saber. You don’t need to drop a lot of cash to do this, though. Head out to your local hardware store and pick up a 12” Kitchen Sink tube, a 1.5” pipe end cap or two, a flicker switch from Radioshack, and when you change your wiper blades cut the old ones into ten equal lengths. Put them all together with the wiper blade lengths perfectly spaced around one end of the tube, just like Darth Vader’s lightsaber hilt, and you’ve got yourself a cheap, decent lightsaber hilt my friends.
There’s no 3 foot blade to whack the person sitting next to you. I leave it to you to decide if that’s a feature or a drawback.
That’s it for this week, my prop playing pals! If you have any questions, send them along to email@example.com. Until next time, Gamer Nation; 20 side up, 1 side down.
Originally aired on the Order 66 Podcast #110 "The Last Droid Starfighter"