Mister Sandman Sequence
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Basic Information

This trope refers to a scene in a period film or TV show (especially Time Travel stories) that hits the viewer with as many period signifiers as possible. The scene exists to quickly establish the "feel" of the time period and will almost always feature a period song (typically one that is popular in the present) playing on the film's soundtrack. More-or-less it's Popular History condensed into a sequence usually less than two minutes long.



Game and Story Use

  • This standard scene of Film and Television is an option that RPGs don't really have. Hitting the players with a huge dump of cultural references to the era the game is set in will likely feel a little forced, and won't do you any good two hours later when their focus has slipped a lot. But there are some subtler ways to use this effect:
    • Use a soundtrack. You could play background music that hails from the era the game is set in, or has the feel of music from that era.
    • A reference in every scene. Rather than doing the big front-loaded "Mister Sandman Sequence", the GM could just make a big list of fashions, news events, and slang from the era. Every scene you make a point of inserting one random (or appropriate) item from the list. Instead of establishing the era once and then forgetting about it, you dole out the setting in a trickling flow of little minor details that keep the group constantly aware of when and where they are.
    • Homework or "Show and Tell". Ask your players to each bring a single fact about the setting to each session. With all the online resources out there, most players should be able to turn up something interesting in 10 to 30 minutes between sessions.
    • Of course, for a one shot, or a humorous game, or a globe-hopping era-jumping time-travel campaign, the big dump just might work. It might even be necessary.
  • A way of doing this is with cutscenes. The players are at the castle (to pay the adventuring tax), and an event transpires replete with NPCs using period/regional language and references: "Milord, the fell army of Duke Xavier once again threaten our southern borders", vs "A thousand pardons, your excellency! The evil effrit of the southern sands have attacked Kaskar oasis!".
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