Articles from March 2009



Setting As Character: How the Writer Sees It

You often hear, sometimes in GM advice but more often in writing workshops, that it’s not enough to simply have a setting; instead, the setting needs to be a character in and of itself. This is interesting advice, but why is it important? Why must the setting be a character, and how do you do [...]

Writing/Worldbuilding Exercise: Three Things You Can Find in a…

One of the things that makes a world seem more like a world and less like a static backdrop is the presence of things that are suited to the location and aren’t directly relevant to the action. In some cases, this says something about the individuals occupying the space; I’ve already written about what you [...]

Ask GV: Never Ask a God To Do a Villain’s Job

Reader Swordgleam, on behalf of an interested third party who is definitely not a paladin of Torog or anything like that, asks:
Dear Generic Villain,
One of my protagonists has angered a dark god. You’d think that would be the end of him, right? Wrong. That protagonist also has a goddess on his side, and if the [...]

Impractical Applications (Anathema)

This week, I talked about intelligent magic items and how to implement them. This is a topic near to my heart, as I’ve spent the last few months dealing with a double-edged sword of my own design. Allow me to introduce you to Anathema, my primary example.
This little charmer was the result of several weeks’ [...]

Avoiding the Hazards of Intelligent Magic Items

Intelligent magic items can serve a lot of roles in a storyline, particularly in a roleplaying game. Unfortunately, with their advantages come disadvantages, particularly the world-altering variety that so many GMs, myself included, tend to default to. While they aren’t insurmountable, it’s best to be careful, particularly when you’re dealing with a magic item that [...]

Living With Your Intelligent Magic Item

So you’ve just picked up a new magic item! It’s one of a kind, blasted useful, and best of all, it does something none of your friends’ fancy artifacts does: it talks. Yes, you’re the proud owner of an intelligent and probably rather snarky magic item. But pretty soon, you’re going to discover the one [...]

Giving Personality to Intelligent Magic Items

Yesterday, I went through the basic considerations of creating an intelligent magic item. It’s a good summary, but it skimps a bit on personality. Today, I’m going to fill in the gaps.

Photo by ATunska of stock.xchng.  Is that not the biggest bronze (brass?) fly ever?
In giving a magic item personality, many people start with the [...]

The Basics of Intelligent Magic Items

A common thread in fantasy plots and worlds is the intelligent magic item. Like a familiar, it is usually associated with one person, and often doesn’t have enough agency to be treated as a character in its own right. Unlike most familiars, though, an intelligent magic item can be powerful enough to make or break [...]

RPG Bloggers Make Yourself a Monster Meme: The Ravyn

Doesn’t everyone sometimes wonder what they’d be if they were an RPG-style monster? I did, as part of a coordinated RPG Blogger Bestiary… and I ended up with this.
The ravyn is a curious creature, both in look and in personality. Ranging in length from four to five and a half feet, it resembles a very [...]

Ask GV: Heroes Aren’t the Only Ones with a License to Meddle

Reader DrBurst, on behalf of Henchman #984324957893462, asks:
Dear Generic Villain,
I want to aid my master (GM) in making things more interesting… The heroes have many conflicts within their group. One member finds another really annoying, the whole group dislikes the healer, it would be so easy to rip them apart, but we can’t. Got any [...]