Articles from July 2009



MCRDSD: A Portrait of a Military Library

When I was first hired on, I’m not sure what I was imagining a military base library to be, but I didn’t expect the interesting range of similarities and differences to public libraries that mine had. And between the fact that not everyone who reads this is going to have seen a military library, and [...]

On the Differentiation of Libraries

Do you want a way of explaining where characters acquired or could acquire knowledge without having to worry about where they keep the books? A point of contact for academics, with each other or possibly even with everyone else? A way to make sure that knowledge in your setting, be it facts or stories or [...]

New Players, Knowledge, and Suspension of Disbelief

Imagine you’re reading a story about a group of people. They’ve been traveling for a while, gotten themselves into and out of loads of trouble, and in general been through just about everything together. Then someone comes upon them, refers to one of them by name before they’ve even been introduced, and in subsequent conversations [...]

Pulling Down the Walls

A new player joining a pre-existing group requires two elements: the group and the player. Duh. Yesterday I discussed how the player can adapt to the group, but it can’t be just her job; today I’m going to talk about what the group can do for the player.
First: provide a welcoming atmosphere. You may not [...]

Five Tips for New Players in Old Groups

It’s pretty common for a group to acquire a new player in mid-story; maybe the group’s been whittled down too much and needs to get back up to their old numbers, or the new player’s old game dried up and the GM figured they needed somewhere to play, or a hefty portion of the group [...]

The Generic Villain vs. the Plucky Comic Relief

You often see these little nuisances hanging around the protagonists. They’re characterized by being engaging underdogs—usually small and cute, but sometimes just lesser in power or Narrative Vitality than the protagonists themselves and somewhat more personable. (Given what angstballs today’s heroes are, though, that’s not hard.) They’re likely to have odd speech patterns, or compulsive [...]

Impractical Applications (Inspiration Synergy Case Study)

Inspiration style synergy is all very interesting, but I haven’t touched so much on how it works as that it works. On the other hand, I’ve been fortunate enough to be in a group that’s practically powered by it.
The primary group I play in currently has four members, counting the GM, though we’ve had more [...]

Inspiration Style Synergy

I’ve talked before about how the creative process doesn’t need to exist in a vacuum, and can in fact benefit from collaboration with other people. Inspiration style—particularly knowing the form of inspiration, be it expansionist, mechanist or conceptualist—can help by letting you figure out whose skills and approaches are likeliest to complement yours.
In all cases, [...]

Identifying Inspiration

Yesterday, I talked about inspiration styles, and Michael asked, “How do I tell what my inspiration style is?” So I thought I’d share a bit on how my process works.
I usually begin with form, as that’s the easiest to sort into one category or another, and certainly the easiest to find within myself. Think about [...]

What’s Your Inspiration Style?

We all know ideas come to different people differently, and all have some idea what sorts of things tend to trigger us, whether it’s reading or music, thinking about the problem or working on something else to let the subconscious take over, or any of a number of other inspiration tricks. But we don’t often [...]