Articles from April 2009



What the United States Census Taught Me About Motivation

You have to give credit to the United States Census; just five weeks with them have taught me more about people and how they work than any other job I’ve been in—and none of what I’ve learned is Personally Identifiable Information.
One of the first lessons I learned from the Census was [...]

Ask GV: Avoiding Villain Decay

We’re continuing last week’s answer to Aywren’s question about avoiding antagonist decay. Nice long one, what more can be said?
So now we know what causes turning good among our kind. That’s pretty simple. Before we go on, I’m going to introduce you to some concepts that might prove [...]

Impractical Applications (How To Make Ravyn Love a Fight Scene)

I’d been going to write about different characters and clothing this week, but then something extraordinary happened, something that hasn’t occurred in my game in at least the last two and a half years.
I enjoyed a several hour fight scene.
So I find myself asking why. What was so interesting about [...]

More Characterization Through Clothing

Yesterday, I riffed on how clothing can help with characterization, covering the basics. Today, I’m going to look at some of the less obvious ways to use clothing to get a character across.

Photo by 1041992
Take the confluence of clothing and climate. Most of the time, people will dress for [...]

Basic Clothing and Characterization

Clothing has an interesting reputation in speculative fiction. On the one hand, there are the people who put too much emphasis on it, spending several pages on a couple of dresses and making their audience wish they could have a picture instead of a thousand words. On the other [...]

Curtains for Your Players Through Metagame Fun

We’ve established throughout this week that one way to encourage interest in your work is to dangle curtains for the audience to look behind. So what sorts of curtains can be dangled in front of RPG players, and how do you know which one’s likely to work?

Photo mine.
To answer this, [...]

Dangling a Curtain: The Secret To Keeping People’s Interest

Yesterday, I talked about people’s fascination with getting to look behind the scenes on the things they enjoy. How can we use this to keep people interested in our stories? One thing we can try is dangling a curtain for them to look behind.

Photo by andrewatla
How do we [...]

Behind the Scenes on “Behind the Scenes”

The story I am about to tell you begins with a project. I had spent the day working on my attempt to create a centralized collection of characterization posts from all over the Internet, mentioned it on Twitter, and Linnaeus link-of-a-linked me to a lovely little post on Kung [...]

Ask GV: Why Do Some of Us Turn Good?

Welcome back to “Ask the Generic Villain”!
Aywren asks:
I have a problem. Every time I design a new villain that I think is effective and cool, he ends up jumping sides. Either he works his way to redemption and becomes a good guy… or he earns enough sympathy from myself and readers [...]

Impractical Applications (Use of the Ordinary)

One of the things I’ve always been proud of is being able to come up with a way to complicate situations based on relatively ordinary issues, jacked up to fit the setting’s magic level and capabilities. Sometimes this is pretty normal; finding work and making social connections in alien settings, [...]