Articles from June 2009



Four Ways to Show a Character’s Skill Without Having Her Use It

One complaint people often have about bad writers is that they claim their characters are good at doing a certain thing or have a certain interest, but there’s next to no evidence in the text that it’s actually true. Characters who love books don’t seem to be any more literate [...]

Real World Meta: Vitriol in Politics

So, let’s talk about public opinion and politics. (And thanks to @TheGamerDome on Twitter, without whose interest I would never have gotten around to putting this in article format.)

I’ve been thinking about this one for a while; one of the hazards I’ve found in being on Twitter is the people [...]

The Generic Villain on Deceptive Protagonists

Greetings! This is a public service announcement from your friendly neighborhood Generic Villain, particularly for the sneaks and manipulators all over the multiverse.
We’re all used to having an edge over our protagonistic opposition: dishonesty. We’re the ones who change the deal at the last second, or cheerfully inform them [...]

Impractical Applications (Surprise!)

Earlier this week, I talked about arranging surprises for the GM. I’d had occasion to practice; this week, I got to arrange one such surprise in my primary game. Imagine, if you will, having to make an escape from a world that isn’t exactly your own, right under the nose [...]

Abrasive But Not Intolerable

I got a lot more of a response than I expected from my riff on people with hostile or abrasive character concepts, so I think it’s important to clarify; a little conflict isn’t too bad a thing. It’s just how the conflict’s played out that can make a lot of [...]

Is Making Compatibility a Dump Stat Really Necessary?

Into every gaming group, a jerk tends to fall. I don’t necessarily mean the players, though it’s been hard to avoid those too. But I’m hard put to it to think of even one game I’ve been in that has not at some point had a PC (not necessarily a [...]

Surprising the GM

Surprises mean many things to many GMs. For some, it’s a way to see the unbridled creativity of the players, or an extra layer in the running competition between the two. For others, usually the more methodical planners, a surprise is just another wrench in the gears, and as [...]

Is Truth Really Binary?

People who have hung around me long enough are probably aware that I’m not fond of binaries. I like my game-morality gray, consider my view of gender to be more complex than just masculine vs. feminine, and my usual stance in the inevitable religion-science debates is “This is not [...]

Characterization Experiment: Counterfactuals

Many characters are in some way products of their circumstances. Sometimes it was a long-running thing, being brought a certain way by their families or their culture, or adapting to an aspect of their surroundings. Other times it was one or more incidents—sometimes traumatic, sometimes not—that pushed them in [...]

The Generic Villain on Keeping It Quiet

For a lot of us, it’s all about the villain-cred. Sure, we don’t kick puppies or engage in overdone isms just so we can demonstrate ourselves as eeeeeeeevil, we aren’t necessarily mustache-twirlers or cape-slingers or the like—but that’s not because we’re not trying to make a proper appearance as [...]