Short of the amazing props made by people like the HP Lovecraft Historical Society and artist Alex CF, old photographs are among the best tools to add an air of verisimilitude to role-playing games set sometime during the last century or so.
However, not everyone has a family history full of explorers, gunfighters and soldiers and this is where those rare photographic studios that offer 'olde time' pictures come in handy.
With a range of period props and costumes, you can create a slice of history - in sepia - that your family never knew it had... and then use the pictures as the basis for role-playing characters!
|Timmy The Kid|
Whenever I come across one of these studios, I like to take the opportunity to get dressed up and pose for an old time picture. Not only do these make for interesting 'conversation' pieces when displayed around the home (I'm beginning to sound like an advert!), but they are unique role-playing props.
It's not cheap (the last one Rachel and I had done cost £32 at the National History Museum of Wales), but then again you don't find these specialist studios in every High Street or on street corners.
We're not talking about those awful booths where your head gets badly Photoshopped into a fake film poster; this is the full works, as you can see from my examples above, and each one conjures up a string of stories and possible scenarios.
There used to be in the Trocadero Centre in London, which was stocked with Wild West and gangster costumes (Pete has a picture of him and some friends as 1920's Chicago gangsters in his stairwell), but that closed many years ago.
If you happen to stumble upon one of these places, and are looking for that special prop for your role-playing game, an 'old time' picture is a worthy investment of cash (obviously it doubles as an actual souvenir as well!)... and who doesn't like dressing up every now and again?
(this is a repost of an article from 2008)