|If your character is here, your mind should be too.|
(Link to Original Piece)
|When your player's characters look|
like this, your players should feel
Description is the easiest and most basic form of immersion because it's going to happen some way or another. If you tell your players "The man you are speaking to is middle-aged, just under 6 feet tall, completely bald and below sparkling dark eyes and a large nose is a thick handlebar moustache and a crooked grin. Broad shoulders and a barrel chest fill his fine silk clothing, which is a deep green simple and elegant in design. He greets you warmly, introducing himself as Edgar Belmont, the man soon to become Baron of the city of Saxon and it's surrounding lands." you give them a pretty clear picture of what their looking at.
The alternative is to say, "A middle aged man approaches you, you note he is bald and has a large handlebar mustache. "I am Edgar Belmont" he says, the name familiar to you as you know he is soon to be baron of Saxon, a community known for it's export of fine silk. "Allow me to welcome you to Saxon and thank you for attending my coronation. I understand you're from York?"
Where the second gives less detail of the man, it does hint at enough to let the players for their own picture in their heads, they know he's probably wealthy given his position and are able to come up with their own "look" with limited features and indication of lifestyle, the important part of this description though is the way he speaks. Folks have a bias when hear about someone, which is different from when they see them, which is different from when they speak to them. The moment you open your mouth in chracter to your players, they will make their measure of the "person speaking" and decide whether they are a threat or an asset. Aside from interaction, very little description is needed for your players to fill in the blanks, and so immerse themselves.
Though this is the easiest way to immerse your players, long bouts of description turn into lecture (and soon to interuption). Describe away, but be prepared for your players to interupt and interact. Don't get angry when they interupt you to say "I'll take a closer look at that!" either ask them to let you finish or indulge them. If their interuption relavent to what you're describing you have them hooked! If not, ask them to save it for later.
|If your house looks like this, a little |
atmosphere shouldn't be hard to create.
A word about lighting, dice and sheets are hard to read in dim light, make sure your playing space is well lit for players. Losing pencils, dice, and not reading abilites on a sheet is a problem. Your ambience should not get in the way of your game.
|The Sultan, Lords and Ladies is it pricey, but if you're serious|
about tabletop gaming, there is no finer table, until you go
with a touch screen.
|Outside and in costume, sure.|
But crowded around a table in a kitchen,
foam swords quickly become
why we can't have nice things.
Again, KEEP IT SIMPLE. Having extravagent game sets or costumes can be very awesome, but remember that your players are here to play a game. If set peices and costumes gets in the way of playing, either throw the idea out...or instead of running the game have a costume party!
At it's simplest incarnation, media enters your game as the player character's pictures, but using visuals and sounds can add more ambience to an adventure. Visual queues such as pictures of exotic locations might do well to put your characters in the mind set of the area their exploring. Having a slide show running on a near by Television might be a nice touch.
|Amazing Lanscapse like this one can not only give you|
Players a great image of the lands they roam, but can also
give you inspiration on what sorts of lands to
base your game around (Link to Original Piece)
Music proves for great inspiration outside the game though, I usually put together an unofficial soundtrack when I'm piecing games together, just something to inspire me while I'm creating encounters and story work. And for players, there's no reason why a character shouldn't have their own theme song!
Again, media like images and sound can be a one of your greatest tools for immersion, but just as easily become your greatest distraction. External media is also just another thing to keep track of outside the normal details you have to remember for your game (especially if you're the host!)
Ultimatly, immersion comes down to your players. You can enforce rules and add tools to help get folks into character, but if they feel like chatting about work and topics other then goblin slaying to blow off steam, there's not alot you can do to stop them. Again, the best thing to do is to let them get it out of their system, don't fight them to lead them back to the game. After a few minutes, everyone will remember what they're there for and want to get rolling. Frequent breaks and giving your players time to chat before getting started also helps to alleviate non-game related banter. Listeners recognize a great tale when they are free to, not when it's forced upon them, then it becomes a lecture.
Share your stories, but remember that when others are sharing to listen and let yourself be swept up in it, you might just learn something.