Thursday, September 18, 2014

Game Props Part 4: Fantasy Billboards

I've posted about my fantasy billboards I've used in the past.  Here's a post from 2009 and revisited the subject again in 2013.  Well I am doing it again.  This was probably one of my better ideas (although there wasn't a huge selection to chose from) to develop a community billboard the players could use.

We played at my house at the time and I had a section of the wall covered in notices, ads, announcements and sometimes threats.  The players would come in before the game and read through the billboard.  It gave them a focal point right away.  It engaged them into game without even starting.  It was a lot of fun and players really enjoyed it. 

I've google ganked from my own blog to show you some examples of what I used in the past.

First off we have an ad for siege weapons (misspelled, I wish I could say I meant to do that, but...) there were several merchants who would advertise their ware or skills here.

If you look down three pictures (the one with 3 small ads in it) you'll read a lady is asking for people to help find her husband.  None of the players bit on the adventure hook.  A few weeks later this note appeared.  It was interesting to see their reaction.  Just because they did not interact with the event did not mean things stood static. 

A weird ditty that might get the adventurers interested, but there is no information on where or who put this up.  However, if the players did show interested they would have had to camp the billboard to see who wrote it.

A simple announcement.  It blended in with the other announcements.  But it was an important plot point during that game session.

A mercenary band looking for work, then the initial note of Linda who wanted someone to help find her husband, but no one came and lastly, a note from a fanatic.  Fanatics posted often. Just like on Google+.

Janon was my rogue reporter.  He posted one-page commentaries of what was going on in City-State.  There would be a new Janon piece every week.  It was a ton of fun creating a fantasy TMZ.

Simple list of wanted people.  Once in a while I might mention a name that they would see on the billboard and they would all scramble to see if it was up there.  Sometimes they forgot that more than one person can have the same name.  It happens.  

There is some work upfront developing a billboard, but after the initial set up you can add a few pieces here and there to keep it fresh.  Just run with any idea you have.  Be weird as you want.  You can lace them with plot hooks, clues and develop storylines.  The effort I put into mine paid off huge and I know a few of the players still yap about it and it's been over 10 years.


  1. I remember reading your earlier post about this. I totally intend to shamelessly steal this idea for my next campaign (wouldn't work so well in desolate Ephemera, but next time around I'll definitely run something in a fully inhabited milieu).

  2. This is an awesome idea. I especially like the "follow-up F.U." note from the grieving, scheming widow. What an awesome in-game touch.

  3. Brilliant idea, especially for an urban sandbox. Lots of little scenario hooks waiting for the players to take the bait. Plenty of scope for interwoven plot lines. Thanks for sharing

  4. Great stuff! I'm totally going to use this. I agree with Boric that the follow up FU note was awesome touch, so cool. Thanks for sharing!

  5. A few years ago I started a new CoC campaign, and in the weeks leading up to it I issued "newspapers" with headlines of real stories from the 1920s which contained plot hooks for the forthcoming campaign. I also included a classified section. When the time came I let the players decide which plot hook they wanted to investigate, and developed the game from there.