Articles from February 2009



Organizational Manipulation: Power and Subtlety

The second style of manipulator I mentioned in Monday’s riff was the manipulator of organizations. This one is relatively easy to understand, but hard to characterize in detail, as many people have trouble figuring out how this sort of manipulation works.
Interestingly enough, there are as many ways to manipulate an organization as there are to [...]

Individual Manipulation: Precision and Skill

Yesterday, I discussed the concept of manipulation styles: different ways in which characters can attempt to get others to do what they want. Today, I’m going to go into a little more detail.
The individual-based or personal manipulation style is the one many people think of when they imagine a manipulator. Most tricksters in folktales are [...]

What’s Your Manipulation Style?

Sometimes, people just don’t understand what it is they should be doing, or saying—or maybe even thinking. Something needs to get done, and there they are, focused on something else entirely, and they can’t just be told what needs to happen. So what’s a character to do? Manipulate them, of course. This is a particularly [...]

The Generic Villain: Ex-Protagonists and Ensembles

If you’re like most ex-protagonist recruits, you’ve come from either a heroic ensemble or a long-standing rivalry. This means that your former teammates, or that idiot you’ve been trying to surpass, will come and try to get you back. In your inevitable confrontation, you will have several advantages. One: Unless you have done something to [...]

Impractical Applications (A Look at a Session)

Looking back on this week, I realize there’s not much I can do to tie the week’s posts into tonight’s session. And I could do something themed for Valentine’s/Singles’ Awareness Day, but honestly, I did that yesterday and the last couple weeks, and I’ve never been fond of the holiday anyway. But that’s all right. [...]

On the Appropriation of Holidays, or The History of Valentine’s Day

One sign of a living world is that its features have visible changes, particularly over time. Not everything stays as it began, after all.
Holidays may seem constant to us, but they do a lot of changing over time: sometimes with help, sometimes without. Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite examples.
While it has never been [...]

Role-Playing: What Is It, Why Does It Matter?

“What is a role-playing game?” they ask tentatively. And I feel the need to preface the answer with a story.
Though I didn’t get into role-playing games fully until after the turn of the century, my gamer stepbrother had introduced me to the concept with war games in my parents’ garage a good decade and change [...]

An Explanation for the Price of Fame

This topic’s a bit of a stretch from my usual. It’s a question of human nature and society, more than anything else—but what else is a writer, if not one who looks at human nature or society? And I’m never one to skip a chance to look at something that could provide interesting characterization on [...]

How to Keep Couples Spicy

The love story is a timeless classic, one that has been passed down through the ages and even has a genre to itself. We get that. While that does give it a great deal of appeal, it also means that many of the people looking at such have seen it all before. How do we [...]

Five Ways to Annoy a Group with a Character in Love

Romance is practically a fact about human nature, and quite possibly one of the most popular plot elements the writing world has ever seen. It is also one of the hardest to do well, and one of the likeliest to annoy people in the process. In a game, some of the likeliest people to be [...]