Articles from June 2008



Leaving the Railroads Behind

Railroad is one of the buzzwords that strikes up ire in most playgroups, the kind that gets players fuming and leads to GMs being reviled. Unfortunately, it’s also a technique that’s very, very easy to fall into.
For the uninitiated, railroading is forcing the characters back onto a plot when they’ve gone astray, usually in a [...]

As the Plot Thickens

Plot.
You’ve probably got the basics of plot at this point. All plot requires conflict, conflict works better with enemies, and you need to find some way to make it interesting. Easy enough, right?
When gaming, it gets a lot more complicated. It can’t just be interesting from a reader’s perspective; you have to find a way [...]

Impractical Applications (Taki at the Ruins)

It’s time again to see some nice impractical applications for this week’s tips.
This week, I’m going to focus on one of my more recent attempts to introduce a new character to my narrative.
Her name was Taki, and she was a musician. I designed her to go with a place I’d created (described in yesterday’s riff, [...]

Scene it already!

It’s easy to forget the world around us, but can you imagine if we didn’t have a background? Difficult, isn’t it?  We’d notice the absence of the background in the real world–and though it isn’t quite as obvious in a story or a game, not being able to see the scenery around the characters can [...]

Expository Wisdom

Long had the Palace of Burnt Cedars stood on the hill, watching over this valley. Its name had come from the fact that it was built upon what had once been a cedar grove sacred to the Ashardala, the indigenous race now driven out by the conquering Raita people, before their ruler, known to history [...]

The Subtle Art of Characterization: An Overview

The most difficult thing about putting together a world is often the people. This goes double when you’re running a game, as the impressions your players can get of your secondary characters can have plot-changing repercussions. (Note: If looking for straight writing advice, substitute “Main characters” and “audience” for “PCs” as seems appropriate.)
So how do [...]

Getting Started, Part 3

“You’re looking for the writers, the musicians, the drama people, and the sociology majors.” That was the recruitment advice I got from the first person who ran a game for me at college. It’s not always accurate, but for people like us it’s a good start.
The big thing about finding a group is making sure [...]

Getting Started, Part 2

So now that you’ve decided to play, and figured out approximately how (no need to commit yet, though, since these things are all intermingled), the next choice is what you’re going to play. Now, this part gets a bit more difficult.
First, there’s the simple question of whether you’d prefer a freeform or an established system. [...]

Getting Started, Part 1

As joanne1398 has pointed out in her response to my opening post, a lot of the problem with getting into roleplaying is knowing where to get started and whom to get started with. This series will be on the basic decisions that go into game setup.
The first thing you want to consider is the medium [...]

Impractical Applications (Introduction to Impracticality)

Friday:  The one day a week on which I spend my time outwitting my own little sources of chaos.  As a result, I’m not going to give you a long-winded rant today, or any other Saturday.  Instead, I’m going to show you how I’ve been using what I’ve been ranting about.
So, since I’ve been making [...]