Pitfalls of using ambience
While this blog clearly encourages the use of ambience in roleplaying games, some groups might find that ambience is not for them. What follows is a list of problems that you might run into when using ambience, as well as a few suggestions for how they might be avoided.
- You always need to have a computer available, as well as speakers and/or a monitor.
- Malfunctions, depleted batteries, and power outages can cause your setup to fail.
- If you use visuals, you need to reserve space for a monitor around the gaming table—possibly an entire side.
- If you use sound, you need to play in a calm area where you can hear the sound without disturbing others.
- Players who cannot accommodate for any of the above points might become less eager to offer their homes as gaming areas.
- Avoid conveying crucial information through your ambience, so that you can play without it if necessary.
- Players might feel that sound or visuals distracts them from the game itself.
- Gamemasters might feel that having to control sound and visuals distracts them too much from other aspects of the game.
- Keep the volume low, so that your sound does not distract during conversations but still conveys a mood when there is less talking.
- Keep the number of scenes low, so that you have fewer decisions to make and fewer things to remember during play.
- If none of your ambience contains spoilers, ask one of your players to control it for you.
- Visuals and sound suitable for your game might be difficult to find, even when you have a lot of time to search for it.
- Learning how to use your software and creating ambience in it might take more time out of your preparation than you are willing to spend.
- Make use of artwork-driven adventure design to make your search for images and sound easier.
- Ask your players to create ambience for you, possibly leaving empty slots where you can insert secret content.
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