More Advanced Techniques
These tips are a bit more intensive and may be beyond what your group cares to do, but I’ve seen groups use them in the past to great effect.
Are your characters investigating the shady owner of a company who may or may not be involved with hideous creatures from beyond? Great! Instead of telling them straight out that they find evidence that the owner is actually the leader of a King in Yellow death cult, slip them a piece of paper written by the leader to his minions. Or instead of telling them what needs to be done to complete a hideous ritual, give them a vague grimoire entry with the rules. Feel free to wear the paper in, or be creative and singe keywords. For government conspiracy games like Delta Green, a little bit of redaction on a document can allow the players to let their minds fill in the blanks with all the horrible details.
Food and Drink
Running a session of Dungeons and Dragons? Great! How about you split a bottle of Mead with your of-drinking-age players? Or have the players decide beforehand what kind of food they might want to bring to the session to enhance the experience. It doesn’t need to be a three-course meal, but the appropriate food can set the atmosphere as well as keeping from having to break for pizza or other snacks.
Word of caution, before you start pouring whiskey for your Western game, remember this: Drunk players and a drunk GM=No game. I’ve been in that situation before, and the session always goes off the rails. So! Just like the commercials say, everything in moderation.
This is probably the most in-depth you can get. While I’ve never played in costume, I know some people that occasionally will play either tabletop RPG’s or LARPs (Live Action Role-Playing, picture closer to theater than your stereotypical RPGs) in period clothing. It doesn’t need to be perfect or complete. For instance, while running a 1920’s Cthulhu game, you could ask the group to dress up in 1920’s wear. Three piece suits and flapper outfits abound. Turn the aura of the proceedings into more of a dinner murder mystery than just another game night.
So! Just a handful of tips as to how to make your game a little more atmospheric. Next time we’ll discuss something very important: what kills games and ruins fun. Any tips for atmosphere? Leave ’em below!