The wrestling game that I'm running is still in full swing and tomorrow, it will be out third PPV event, the American Open. About a week ago, I started writing up a series called the Dirtsheets. For those not into wrestling, the dirtsheets represent insider information and rumors about the wrestling industry. Sometimes they are true, while other times they are red herrings and misdirection. After writing this one up (located here), I was inspired to talk about rumors in all kinds of games and take a break from my sci fi chatting for a bit.
Look At All These Rumors Surrounding Me Every Day
Rumors are a fantastic resource that I feel doesn't get used enough in modern day gaming, Rumors are a great way to really get your players invested in the world that you are running. It helps your world feel less like a novel and more like a living, breathing world that the players can explore. Rumors make great adventure hooks for players in a sandbox style game, or clues and hints for a more narrative node based game. And even red herrings can and should lead to something cool and interesting. Rumors about a ghost on a mansion may in fact just be Old Man Jenkins chasing people away so he can find a secret stash of doubloons!
Rumors fit in all styles of adventuring. Use it for exploration so the party can go out and hunt for a new landmark, new people, and new adventures. For treasure hunting, rumors are clues to get to the next part of the search. The same is said with investigation styled adventures. Rumors also make great foreshadowing for future event. For my Dirtsheets, that's what I tend to use them for.
One of the best part about rumors is that it can help to gauge your party's interest. It's like a small, crowdsourced way to see what the party loves and goes for, and you can throw more of those types of adventures at them. Even a red herring that the players end up taking a liking to can be changed into something amazing and memorable.
Ultimately, my favorite reason to use rumors is that it shows your excitement and dedication to the game you are running. And that is infectious. Players see their GM putting in the work and they get excited to play in your game more and more. And seeing players excited to game with you is pretty awesome (and a great ego booster ;) ).
So use rumors today to take your game to the next level. Whether it's town people, a criminal contact, or dirtsheets about your favorite wrestling company, get on it and have some fun. At the very least, you'll have a cool list of adventure hooks for another game.