When I was coming up with this game for the boys I was thinking of ways to accomplish a few things. First, how to keep it from being so alien that the boys would not get it. Second, add enough flavor that it would still seem like a new world, with different things going on.
For the first I decided to follow the KISS principle. I decided that the area where the game would initially take place and the base for much of their adventures would look a lot like where we call home. Since we live in the foothills of the Colorado front range I thought it would make things easy to have the game start in a similar location. High, near impassable mountains to the north, veering into foothills where they begin. And on the edge of a desert to the west. With an unpredictable but mostly dry climate. That way when I talk about the terrain it won’t be completely strange. I do have to remember that I am dealing with teenage boys who have not traveled extensively nor are they well read. So setting things in a new world without some reference would have thrown them off.
For the second I am doing something that is very likely unappreciated. For many of the location and people’s names I am using Spanish words. The pink desert become the Arena Rosado. The bloody forest becomes the Bosque Sangriento. I am sure the boys don’t get it, and I often do things like translate for them, but it is fun for me to do that. And I would hope that they will slowly begin to absorb and get what I am doing.
And of course the Elves are not traditional elves, instead the are desert elves, given the name of the Rosada elves. And when they begin to encounter them the lizardmen are instead the Lagarto.
And my plan is to introduce each new adventure with a piece of written history like I have been sharing here. Maybe include some hints, but more importantly use that historians voice I like to lend a little more flavor to the game.
Because flavor is what helps separate a ‘murder hobo versus monster of the week’ game from a more interesting role playing experience. One of my favorite games I ever played in was a short lived Shadowrun game. Where the bad guys that we were trying to tangle with and defeat all had names of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. That flavor just made the game a little more exciting and made it something to look forward to.
It’s like naming the bad guys. Not every bad guy deserves a name. But for instance I know in our Denver game that it is that much more fun to know that we are not just trying to defeat the Wight King this week, we are trying to defeat Jubla Khan!
So that is one of my goals. And a way to level up my own GM level. Adding that flavor is the mark of a higher level GM and game. It is the reason people pay money for modules, somebody has done that work for you.