In a way, the internet is an awesome resource for DMs looking for inspiration and ideas. However, it's also awful because if you're like me, you see all the awesome campaigns out there and what other DMs are doing and feel totally overwhelmed! I mean, look at the stuff Gabe @ Penny Arcade is doing, and that's as a (relatively) rookie DM! Then there's people with light-pen projector tables, all sorts of awesome Dwarven Forge terrain dungeons, and of course the completely mind-blowing SurfaceScapes project.
Sure, it's self-inflicted pressure, since no one else in my group even hears of these awesome things unless I tell them. But still! I want to keep pushing the bar and surprising my players in as many ways as possible.
Some of the fancier table tricks are, unfortunately, out of the question for me and my limited finances. But as someone with a laptop, extra monitor, and devoted "gaming table" speakers, one thing I can do is use electronic props to their fullest.
I mentioned previously how essential music was in the finale to our last chapter, and I intend to continue this trend when the party ventures to a haunted village later on in the campaign. They don't know anything about the village other than its tragic, distant history, so it should be interesting when they eventually find the hooks connecting it to the central plotline.
The song is from a World of Warcraft dungeon called Karazhan, a haunted, magical tower which contained all sorts of awesome noble ghosts and weirdness, like an undead butler still serving at a banquet of cultured, elegant ghosts, a giant chess board where you had to participate as chess pieces, and an opera event where - in front of a ghostly audience - you re-enacted well-known folklore stories such as Romeo & Juliet or Red Riding Hood. (How full of great, classic fantasy RPG hooks is that??)
The way I see this happening is they'll travel to the village, expecting long-deserted ruins. But the village will be still there, bustling with people in antiquated style houses and clothing. Gloomy lights, cobblestone streets, Victorian manors...maybe a Ravenloft feel. Obviously, because it's blatantly fishy and because they're PCs, they'll be suspicious. Which is fine!
Then, as they proceed deeper into the seemingly-innocuous village, wondering what all the fuss was...maybe they find a few hidden secrets and discover the darker truth beneath the simple exterior. Or maybe there will be some old man on the road warning them not to stay past nightfall, but they do and when the sun disappears the town gets all demonic. Endless possibilities!