View Full Version : Ingame References?

2007-02-27, 05:16 PM
Does anyone else use references to movies, books, or other games in your games or characters. For example the group I am DMing right now is under indirect the command of a Captain Nap Bradagan and his goblin lackey Seif (Zaft Branagen and Keif from Futurama) or send your players up against Master Chief like someone else on the forums did. If my players ever visit some certain oriental islands they would find that they had developed some creative "grand golem armors" (mecha) to help drive the Tarrasque back into the sea during it's regular incursions. Along with references to almost every anima I have ever watched in the background.

2007-02-27, 05:20 PM
I think that I would never, or at least rarely, use such things in-game. It tends to destroy immersion when the group starts talking about how "Oh no, is gozirra!".

That said, if it helps, I'll make out of character references to things when necessary to help describe people, places, and things. That still damages immersion, somewhat, but there are times when I think a minor sacrifice is worthwhile in the name of letting my players know what's going on.

2007-02-27, 05:22 PM
I do it often in a more light-hearted campaign.

2007-02-27, 05:25 PM
I usually don't use media references in my games, but theres a reference to one of my games in media :P.

2007-02-27, 05:28 PM
I'm in a campaign right now that references other campaigns. Also, I'm in another that's heavily anime-influenced.

2007-02-27, 05:30 PM
I used to do things like that. I had at least two campaigns that featured a pair of NPCs named Biggs and Wedge, for instance.

I don't much do it anymore, though. When I do, it's usually so subtle as to be questionable and so rarely to my players even pick up on it.

Shhalahr Windrider
2007-02-27, 05:33 PM
On occasion, I've referenced mushrooms in one of my campaigns.

It all started because I had an NPC named "Captain Morel". :smallamused:

2007-02-27, 05:35 PM
Mr Rogers is the main villian in an adventure I'm running now. I don't know what the PC will do when he finds out what Mr Rogers' weakness is, but I'm guessing either laugh or cry.

2007-02-27, 05:37 PM
Taking off his jacket?

2007-02-27, 05:38 PM
Taking off his jacket?

It's far, far worse than that.

Shhalahr Windrider
2007-02-27, 05:40 PM
Go for the loafers!

If not the loafers, then the tennis shoes!

Oh, I know! The trolley!

2007-02-28, 07:30 PM
Yes, in all senses. My games have a tendency to quietly scoop up book and anime references, sometimes just for the sake of my finding out which ones I share with my friends, but they're usually pretty subtle. I've direct-borrowed one name, used two defining quotes, grabbed a couple conceptual in-jokes (including the Friendly Neighborhood Guiding NPC who, despite deciding that she needs to accompany most of her explanations with illustrations, can't draw to save her life).... and it was partly my fault that in a couple of other games the likeliest collateral damage in the average city was a random cabbage cart. And because of a conversation I had with a few of my friends last night, one of my current projects is statting out the God of Crooked Real Estate Dealers.

My games themselves tend to be pretty cross-referential as well. In one set, it's to be expected since they operate off the same timeline--but even when it's not, there's still a certain amount of running jokes. Typically involving botches. Or "I wish I were playing so-and-so right now...". Or, in my case, discovering that for some reason it doesn't matter what game I'm playing in or even what system, whether she's an NPC or a PC, the demon hunter is still going to have impossibly bad luck.

2007-02-28, 07:43 PM
I try to avoid them, generally because they lead to out-of-character thinking and can distract the party sometimes. However, in a campaign I am about to run, some of the NPC's have names from Oedipus Rex and Antigone. I doubt anyone will catch on.

2007-02-28, 07:53 PM
Ever see The Gamers?
Yeah, can't go a tenth of a game without "You seem trustworthy..." popping up.

Edit: Oh, and there was this once...

Magsmaster: *The ground floor of the inn is made up of a bar and dining room. The bar itself is mostly taken up by, of all things, two human men, a dwarf in battle gear, an elf, and four sobbing halflings.*
Jennea: *blinkblink*
Halfling: We should have done something to help... what are we going to do without our wizard?
Dwarf: It was a noble sacrifice he made. None of us could have stood up to that demon. I'll drink many an ale to his memory.
Human1: I'm going to emo ALL NIGHT LONG.
Human2: You do that anyway.
Human1: ... >_>
Jennea: ..........
Magsmaster: *The second human propositions the elf, an argument breaks out, and the party heads for their rooms.*
Jennea: (Mags you magnificent bastard.)

2007-02-28, 07:55 PM
I try to avoid them, generally because they lead to out-of-character thinking and can distract the party sometimes. However, in a campaign I am about to run, some of the NPC's have names from Oedipus Rex and Antigone. I doubt anyone will catch on.

That's...unfortunate :smallfrown:

I'm surprised at some of the responses. How do you maintain RL civility in a strictly-run campaign? When someone's not behaving (acting IC), what is a good tactic to chastise them without being overbearing? My own experiences have been thus far laid-back, and much joking goes around the table, even amidst the thickest plots.

Neon Knight
2007-02-28, 08:21 PM
In a jungle themed campaign I had an NPC named Harrison Jones who wielded a whip.

For those who don't get it:
Harrison Ford=Indiana Jones

2007-02-28, 08:39 PM
im working on a world (city) inspired by Stephen Kings dark tower series.

its no secret in the books, as soon as they talk about the tower they tell you so im not gonna spoiler tag this, but i am giving some book info out here.

basic concept: the tower is the linch pin that holds all of the realities together, and there are six beams that run the length of the world, meeting at the center. also at the center is the tower, surrounded by (in my game) the city the games taking place in. the beams hold the tower together, and if looked at on a map with the tower in the middle and the beams going out it looks like a clock with all the opposite numbers connected.

so they get to save the day (hopefully) and i get to carry on my dark tower fix after i finish the last book. (more that 1/2 done with that as is.)

and one player always names his character after jedi or sith characters.

so to answer the question i beleive was asked, yes, i do allow and use RL things in my games.

Jack Mann
2007-02-28, 10:10 PM
Mr Rogers is the main villian in an adventure I'm running now. I don't know what the PC will do when he finds out what Mr Rogers' weakness is, but I'm guessing either laugh or cry.
Stomach cancer?

2007-02-28, 10:13 PM
Power Rangers.

2007-03-01, 07:54 AM
Right now, in a campaign I'm running, we have a Draenei cleric. So, of course, I'm filling it in with as many WoW references as I can find.

Hell, the BBEG (as far as the party knows) is a lich named Dahzut'Lek.

2007-03-01, 08:14 AM
I throw references in here and there; hopefully not too blatantly, but I enjoy it.

For example, in the somewhat piratical/nautical campaign I'm running:
-The players narrowly avoided (well, avoided by a wide margin) taking service on a ship called the Herald, out of the city of Amon Fytz.
-A recurring NPC (rival, "government") captain is Jacqueline Olbry, or Lucky Jackie to those who know her. Her first mate is a druid named Stefano, and their ship is called the Surprise.
-The eeeeeeevil necromantic medium-sized, soul-powered automatons that the party has encountered several times look remarkably like other automatons, from a certain tv series, whose eyes glow red, whose claw-like fingers swivel out into weapons, and who tend to clank about.
-A number of NPCs have had names which were anagrams of some other name. Not many, but every once in a while.
-The great Imperial city, which has a roughly Byzantine Empire flavor, has an elite, mercenary guard corps, called the Ragnavari Guards. (anagram of Varangian, Constantinople's elite Viking/Russian/Anglo-Saxon mercenaries)

2007-03-01, 08:19 AM
Does anyone else use references to movies, books, or other games in your games or characters.

It depends entirely on the style of play. If you want a light-hearted beer-and-pretzels game, then referential humour is a great tool. I one ran an eighteen-month long sci-fi home-brewed campaign in which every single scenario was taken from a classic war movie or book (Skis Against the Atom, Dambusters, A Bridge Too Far), and it was great. About 1/4 of the way into each scenario, one of the players would get what I was doing that session and laugh/groan/whatever at the corniness of it. But, usefully, it gave the players a "heads up" as to what I was trying to do with the game that night.

The pitfall is, of course, overusing the technique, and in a game with a more serious setting, it breaks the mood and gets old really, really quickly.

2007-03-01, 08:48 AM
If my PCs were to ever read the Simarillion, they'd recognize a whole bunch of names and themes.

Fortunately, none of them have the patience, and intestinal fortitude to try.

2007-03-01, 09:59 AM
I have used them but my players never pick up on them. They pick up on unintended stuff all the time but but never the stuff I spent time putting in. =0)

2007-03-01, 10:23 AM
I use references, but they're subtle. Usually they just exist as a way to entertain me and keep me going as a GM. I don't like putting too much referential humor in the game because it breaks suspended disbelief.

That said, I did borrow the ending of South Park's xmas episode from season 8 (woodland critter christmas) for last night's game. I was ending the campaign, and the epilogue ended with, "and you all lived happily ever after. Except for Walker who died of AIDS two weeks later."

2007-03-01, 10:54 AM
its ok if you are not feeling serious, one of the recurring characters in my campaign is Papa LOOOVE based off A Pimp Named Slickback from the boondocks. i use him if i feel my missions aren't ridiculous enough. (he even has a magical pimpin' stick lol)

2007-03-01, 11:32 AM
Just last game I had the unfortunate brainfart of calling a village Brokenbracken.

Which, of course, the resident movie buff associated with "Brokenback Mountain" (in retrospect, with a name like that, I was asking for it).

Now I'm sorely tempted to throw two gay ranger NPC's into the next game, even though I know it's a bad idea.

2007-03-01, 12:06 PM
I had a Cyborg Ninja as a recurring harrasment in a d20 Modern Game once. They eventually killed her and nicked her stuff.

Most of the PCs in that campaign are ripped off movies anyway. The Gunslinger thinks he's from Equilibrium, the Dreadnought thinks he's Vulcan Raven, the Sniper thinks she's from Enemy at the Gates and the Archaic Weapon Master thinks he's from Highlander.

If I could get my players to me more original I would. Until then they're fighting off a Zombie-Vampire Apocalypse and Helecopter dropped Katana-wielding Cyborgs.

2007-03-01, 12:38 PM
Un originality is unavoidable. quite simply most if not all of the good ideas have been done already. the goal is just to shrug it off and keep playing, and not care if your character is an almost direct imitation of <insert pop culture reference name here>

2007-03-01, 12:39 PM
Once my friend DMed a whole Werewolf: The apocalypse adventure based on the movie Desperado.
Plus, my group tends to name their characters after characters in media or videogames, like the fighter named Satanghost Tartare. (I dare ya to pick up both references)
I don't care much for "imersion" stuff, unless we are playing a game with lots of suspense.

2007-03-01, 01:15 PM
Does anyone else use references to movies, books, or other games in your games or characters.

The one game I run has a fluff point that a weakening fabric of reality is causing large amounts of random magic spillover in certain areas (especially underground), "mutating" people in vestigial ways - that is, the more exposure the characters get in certain areas, the more they pick up odd vestigial physical traits. One's turning into a human-turtle, one's turning into a human-raven, one's turning into a human-demon, etc. No benefits from any of these (vestigial purely - no attacking someone with demon horns).

At some point random Final Fantasy references were driving me nuts, and I decided "OK! Next person who makes a Final Fantasy reference gets a Cow Point. The more Cow Points you get, the weirder your character looks." This didn't have nearly the effect I thought it would, mind you. My players have also frequently pointed out references that I've made which could be considered from FF games. Pointing out how many Cow Points the DM has is considered grounds for getting pwned. :smallbiggrin:

So, yeah, there are frequently references in my games, although often it's not intentional.

2007-03-01, 02:28 PM
I had the same problem with **** Star Wars quotes in my Werewolf campaign. I had to set a quota: one Star Wars quote from the players per session. And no more than three Monty Python quotes. It worked, eventually.

2007-03-01, 03:01 PM
I just noticed a reference in the Spell Compendium: The Mark of the Outcast is a small skull. The Phantom, anyone?

2007-03-02, 09:44 AM
I have a /lot/ of references in my world and campaign, but not the funny type, more the obscure reference-type that my players will never, ever get, but I find fun to put in. Almost all the names of places come from strange foreign languages, meaning something that actually makes sense, but only if you know a lot more about the world than the PC's are ever going to discover. And some references only make sense in relation to others and to things I personally associate in my head.