OngoingWorlds blog

News & articles about play-by-post games, for roleplayers & writers

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Beyond the Senses

Spidey sense

Just because we use five senses in our everyday life, and even do describe a scene in our games, this doesn’t mean we should stop with them. “Never ignore your gut feeling” is a saying that refers to your sixth sense.

I’m not talking about the movie, though it would make a great twist in a game for a character to see dead people. No, this is your intuition, your first impression, your personal Spidey-Sense. If you are a parent, it is also know as your super power, since you often know when something is wrong with your child even if you are in different places.

This sense often goes unused in games because it is hard to describe something outside of our concept of reality. However, we should never excuse it. So, how do we include this special sense into a game?

A simple cold chill down the spin works wonders. It is a sign that your character senses something is amiss. It encourages them to take a closer look or listen to what is happening around them. An example is if a antagonist has taken on a disguise of someone the protagonist knows.

A cold chill is a warning that something is off, so the protagonist listens to what their “friend” is saying. As soon as they catch on, the protagonist should ask a question that only the true friend and the protagonist knows, obviously revealing the truth with the wrong answer.

There are several different ways to show a special ability, not just a cold chill. In fantasy games, visions and scrying are good ways to express this ability. Sci-fi games need something more scientific, but still plausible, falling under the realm of psychic powers, like E.S.P. as it pertains to the field of parapsychology. Adventure games call it foresight, like with ninjas and their ability to sense an attack before it lands. Example:Spiderman’s Spidey-Sense.

But a simple gut feeling is often more than enough. What ever choice you go with, have fun. I mean you are describing the indescribable. The only limit is your imagination.

  • Just to be pedantic (and this doesn’t detract from the article in any way) there’s many more than just 5 senses. We have something like 21, including the ability to feel temperature, pressure, and internal senses like hunger and thirst, and balance.