Articles from September 2008

The Wrath of the Dice

Yes, I’m still riffing on failure.  In fact, I’m likely to be failing all week.
The first rule of a failure is that if at all possible, it should be more IC than OOC if at all possible, and as removed from the GM as is feasible. The former is, of course, for the sake of [...]

How to Name a Failure

The thing about in-game failure is that you need to be able to figure out how to define it. Not all failures are created equal; most players will have stories of things going wrong where they wanted to throttle the GM, and stories of failures that they enjoyed every minute of.
So what constitutes a “good” [...]

The Vital Element and How to Handle It

Before I get into a full-fledged rant on failure, success, and how to combine them, I’m going to begin with what I consider to be the most important part of a role-playing game, the part that sets it apart from many older video games and all books, movies, and similar media.
The word we are looking [...]

Impractical Applications (Two Shining Failures)

Yesterday’s piece about failure got a lot of bad reactions from people who’d been on the wrong end of failure-plots. I was probably more surprised than I should have been; I’ve had decent luck with failing on both sides of the GM screen. (Including playing a woman who spent so much time falling into enemy [...]

Why Heroes Should Fail

I’m not going to get into the Tyranny of Fun argument; it’s been done to death, undeath, redeath, and nonliving states we don’t even have concepts of. Instead, I’m looking at the idea of people—even protagonists—not always succeeding from a more dramatic standpoint.
First off, failure is generally better for characterization than success, particularly when the [...]


Up until now, I’d never really understood the need of webcomic artists to celebrate their hundredth strip. It’s what, a little over three months? Only significance is that it’s a three-digit number. Now, half a year, that’s impressive.
And then I actually started blogging, and I began to understand it a bit better. Keeping to a [...]

The Generic Villain on Heroes’ Animal Companions

The Generic Villain writes again!
I’ve already given you the word on choosing your own companion creature(s). Wouldn’t it be nice if the privilege were limited to us?
Unfortunately, the protagonists are at least as likely as we are to have picked up such companions, and those companions have disproportionate odds of throwing wrenches in our plans [...]

Guest Post: Implied Setting

Today’s post is a guest post by the illustrious UrbaneZombie from the Girl-Wonder forums. We’ve been discussing game theory for a while now, and after I thought about his explanation of stories and implied setting (see yesterday’s third reason to write details), I couldn’t help but ask to share it.
The thing that I’ve found in [...]

But They’re Our Details and Fiddly Bits

More on detail in the world, this time from the creator’s side.
While the world is almost invariably for the audience, the details themselves often serve purposes that are more creator-oriented. I’ve seen three major reasons why people come up with these sorts of details. One is to demonstrate our artistry with said little details. Another [...]

Details and Fiddly Bits

After last week’s run on ways to come up with animals and sample ways in which they might relate to humanity and to the world, I got a lot of responses to the level of detail I was putting in, some more positive than others.
This got me to thinking about the role of fine detail [...]