Articles from February 2010



Conditional Validity and the Game Table

Not long ago, I was in an online meeting in which two people were having a discussion and I was attempting to translate from one’s idiom into another’s. The details of the meeting, and what the discussion was about, aren’t all that relevant, but there was one thing I observed when attempting to ‘translate’. The [...]

If You Have To Ask….

“If you have to ask, you’re not having enough fun.” I hear that a lot in my line of work, but yesterday, as an explanation of why yesterday’s riff about character ownership is a bad thing to write, got my attention.
I see these kinds of responses a lot when running around the parts of the [...]

Ravyn’s Theory of RPG Character Ownership

To whom does a character belong?
In most cases of familiar media, it’s easy. The character belongs to the character’s creator. She made him, she gave him a world to play in, he wouldn’t be what he is without her.
It’s harder when you get into shared-world sorts of projects. This gray area is where we [...]

Let Me Tell You About My Character–Please?

It’s the evening of Valentine’s Day, and I’m talking to my boyfriend over dinner about relationships. Sort of. “….and it gets into some rather interesting issues of privilege, and…. yeah. That family is screwed up.” It’s the third time tonight—heck, the third time in the last five to ten minutes that I’ve delivered that last [...]

The Generic Villain Makes a Match

If you want to last as a villain, there has to be something that makes your ongoing conflict with the hero something special for both of you. Think of it like a courtship; if the person you’re trying to appeal to isn’t your type, if you’re looking for pretty poems and time spent together and [...]

Impractical Applications (Plot Devicing Kiara)

I’ve done a bit with character as plot device—or rather, one of my NPCs had a tendency to fall into being a plot device, sometimes deliberately on my part and sometimes accidentally. You may remember Kiara from some of her earlier mentions here, both as a plot device mentor and giving her opinion of the [...]

Two Alternatives to “I Am a Plot Device”

When I did my rant on plot device characters, Michael pointed out that there were alternatives to being a passive plot device, mostly having to do with one character wanting to use another as said plot device and the second character having none of it. Yes, yes there are, and most of those sorts of [...]

I Am a Plot Device. Pay Me No Mind.

“I am a plot device. Pay me no mind.”
It’s pretty obvious when this is how a character is designed. She—in the really old stories it was usually a she, as often as not she’s a she now, and what set me thinking on this tonight was the title character of the Welsh tale “Branwen, Daughter [...]

A Meditation on Can’t

Recently, I’ve been subject to (and all right, contributed to a teeny bit, though it didn’t last too long) a deluge of “I can’t”s, both in my gaming life and in both my primary job and the teacher test prep gig I moonlight in. What I find odd/interesting is how I’ve been reacting to them [...]

Individuality and My Backstory Process

Yesterday, I mentioned that I find some rather interesting interactions between my interest in seeing characters as individuals and my approach to backstories. It’s pretty much inevitable given my own approach to both writing and role-playing, and it’s something I like trying to analyze.
When at all possible, I like to write characters’ backstories in first [...]