Articles from August 2008



Not-So-Great Expectations

And on the subject on life inspiring art, I got this one from two otherwise awesome people getting my gender wrong in the same day. (For those of you who haven’t figured it out from the about page: I’m a girl.) Also influenced by the main question of this post; while I think it might [...]

Impractical Applications: Ravyn Vs. Reactives

This week I didn’t get to run. Again. At least it wasn’t my fault this time. I did, however, have most of my players, so I started asking them to plan.
A word of explanation: I’m a reactive GM. My players are reactive PCs. I also have an absurd number of inspiration-sinks to get into, and [...]

Proactive Vs. Reactive Styles – Player Initiative

Just about everybody knows at least some of the major varieties of playstyle. You’ve got rules-heavy vs. rules-light, deep roleplaying vs. beer and pretzels, gritty vs. over the top, balance between combat and intellectual puzzles and social situations, and types of metagame enjoyment. (If you haven’t read this last one, you should; it’s awesome.) But [...]

Generating Local Color – The Quirky Tradition

There’s nothing that gives a place more color than the quirky traditions it’s amassed over the years. Many of these serve no apparent purpose, or are a matter of superstition, but some are useful behaviors that have just been rendered irrelevant by changes in the world.
There are two major ways to create traditions like this. [...]

Why Am I Here, Again?

Most people who have taken up writing have heard of Chekhov’s Gun. For those of you who haven’t, the premise is that if there’s a gun on the wall in Act 1 of a play, it will go off by Act 3. (Or its lack of going off will be a plot point.)
The most important [...]

A Practical Application (Really!)

The biggest complaint I get from people who don’t participate in my hobbies is that there’s no real-world benefit, or that it’s all escapism. Just as much in writing as in gaming, mind you. (I’ve known some real downers in my time.)
I would like to take this opportunity to thumb my nose [...]

When Little Things Take Over

Isn’t it fun when a little detail becomes something major?
Seriously. You introduced it as a plot element. A joke, even. Or it happened as a coincidence, a bunch of lucky rolls. But now it’s got a life of its own.
There are a bunch of documented stories of a nameless NPC becoming a force of nature [...]

Changing Up Metaphors

In the vein of my posts the last two days, I’d like to play a little more with description and imagery.
Some people tend to get hung up on a certain variety of metaphor. The most common, I think, is the tendency for women in romance novels to be compared to food, but that’s far and [...]

Impractical Applications (Describing Ruby)

Yesterday, I discussed how different characters might describe people in different ways. Telling isn’t enough, though, so let me show you how it works. Remember our friend Ruby, from the character development sequence? I’m going to describe her from a few other character viewpoints.
Lirit, her mentor: “Ah, Ruby… you’ll know her when you see her. [...]

In-World Description

Most people, when they try to describe a person for a story or game–or when someone within the story or game is trying to describe another person–tend to hit the same few qualities. They’ll do hair color (maybe length if they’re feeling ambitious), eye color, approximate height, weight (or body type), race if such is [...]