Articles from March 2010



Awesome Vs. Better Than You: A Character Continuum

I find there’s a continuum over which powerful characters (either compared to the PCs in a game, or compared to the world in which they’re in) tend to fall. On one end, you have the characters who are truly Awesome; one can envy them, but they’re much easier to respect than to hate. On the [...]

Basic Ways of Making Emotions Personal

Yesterday, I talked about the difference between personal and generalized emotion. Of course, useful a tool though making emotions personal for the audience is, it’s no good unless you can actually get to the point where the emotion is personal. What sorts of things help?
In a general sense, time can be a strong factor. This [...]

Personal Vs. Generalized Emotion

“Are you familiar with the difference between an academic and a visceral threat? …I see it more as the difference between something that’s far away and not likely to be an issue and something you’ve definitely had experience with and know is definitely threatening you.” –delivered by one of my PCs during a rather interesting [...]

The Generic Villain on Why We Stay Evil

It’s rough being evil. It seems like we can’t leave the lair without dealing with the next band of irritating heroes, there’s always that nagging feeling that we’re never going to get our long-term success, and Narrative Causality strings us along until we believe it’s on our side and then dumps us like the Obligatory [...]

Impractical Applications (Disasters at Work)

I spent most of this week riffing about disasters. It’s actually a point of annoyance for me that I can’t really live up to my ideals writing about the things; every now and then I get a flash of something that would be nifty, and sometimes it almost makes it into game, but then I [...]

Do Disasters Need Motivation?

The question is properly “Do events need motivation?”, but since disasters are the subject of the week, I’m going to approach the question by looking at them. After all, the disaster is one of the few things that could reasonably be an event that does not need an in-story cause; it doesn’t take a protagonist’s [...]

Four Difficulties of Narrating Disasters

Just as there are reasons why a disaster can make a nifty plot event, there are also reasons why people might shy away from it. That doesn’t mean people should avoid them entirely, but it does mean it’s good to know why people might avoid them, just to be able to plan for the issues [...]

Why Use Disasters?

Flame pours along the flanks of the mountain, turning a local landmark into something that looks more like the set of a volcano flick. People walking through the desert—or along the coast, for that matter— suddenly find themselves face to face with a wall of water and debris. The rain is sheeting down, the power [...]

Characterization Exercise: Description of Peers

I first started using this exercise because of one of my players; we’d been discussing the possibility of a character arc, which he was somewhat concerned about because he didn’t want the character to lose his identity, and to assuage those sorts of fears the best thing to do is figure out what the character’s [...]

The Quandary of the Missing Player

What happens with a player who’s gone missing? I don’t mean the ones who you expect to slack off and vanish, but the kind whom you know haven’t lost interest, who may be late sometimes but will always tell you why and what happened, who return all your calls—and then one week they don’t show [...]