Articles from December 2008



Enlisting PCs for Betrayal

The biggest problem with betrayal plots in games, as readers of yesterday’s article have pointed out, is that for a betrayal to really matter, there needs to be a connection between the traitor and the group. The problem, of course, is that it can be very difficult to get a group attached to an NPC.
This [...]

Notes On Betrayal

Betrayal, by its very nature, is a strong dramatic element. The emotions it sparks run the gamut from sadness to rage, more so than standard conflict would; in addition, it can shape the worldview of those who have been marked by it.
Of course, this makes it an excellent addition to the toolkit for any storyteller [...]

Having Chosen Secrets

So you’re either the GM or a player, and you want to have a secret. Secrets are tough things to work with; fun, but very prone to backfiring. Here are some questions you might want to ask yourself.
Why does it need to be a secret? Some situations are epically suited for it: if you’re secretly [...]

The Generic Villain on Women in the Industry

Recorded live from a presentation by the Generic Villain at this year’s EvilCon.
All right, ladies, listen up.
I just got a note from PR saying that women in evil are still having issues with their intimidation quotient, particularly among secret agents, the educated, and snarky accidental rulers of major geographic locations.
Something’s got to change here.
First off, [...]

Impractical Applications (Farren and Wallis)

Earlier this week, I talked about references: how to use them, how not to use them. Like I said, the best reference is a subtle one, or at least one that isn’t completely in your face. Such was the case with Farren and Wallis.
Farren was a friend of the group’s, or rather, a friend of [...]

Old Things in New Ways: A Poetic Demonstration

The best skill of a writer is being able to look at something, or someone, or somewhere and see something else entirely. I could tell you how it works, but I don’t have to; I can show you instead. See if you can tell me what this poem’s really about.
Demon’s Bargain
I knew a girl, once.
She’d [...]

Lost Holidays

Holidays are always better with a little bit of “did you know?” And one of the best “did you know?”s is what happens when holidays or parts of holidays go missing.
It’s a pretty simple process. Some parts of a holiday have more ritual associated with them than other parts, and people tend to remember those. [...]

Dangerous Demeanors

Not every personality is cut out for intrigues, political games, and other contests of wit and manipulation. Some, for various reasons, are just better suited to the job than others. These are some of the personality types that often fit well with manipulation-games.

Unflappable: This one’s a good one because they’re very hard to score against. [...]

How to Insult Someone in Civil Conversation

When you’re dealing with court intrigues, tightly-run organizations, or general polite society, staying out of trouble can be complicated. One of the biggest facets is making it look like the other guy made the first move in a squabble, and the most important way to do that is delivering insults that don’t necessarily look like [...]

Doing References Right

You’ve probably seen yesterday’s riff about things that can go wrong with dropping references. But they’re such a useful tool that they shouldn’t be dismissed outright, so how do you do it right?
I’ll start with humor, since that’s where I see most of my references, and that’s where it’s easiest to go sour. The biggest [...]