Articles from April 2010



The Mindset Barrier

“You’re still new to this kind of thinking. It’s understandable.”
One regular theme I find in my world-building and characterization is the idea of people being raised or trained not just to use a set of skills or to speak a certain language, but to think in a certain manner. Most often, it manifests itself in [...]

Characters and Worldbuilding: So What Do I Do With This Hat?

The first responsibility of a worldbuilder is to create a culture: to figure out what sorts of things it does, what it values, which activities are popular—in short, what combination of factors it is that creates the Generalized Member of this particular culture. In short, to design its hat. So far, so good, right?
But then [...]

The Generic Villain on Losing Without Losing Dignity

In our line of work, image is everything. But some image is more important than others, and there’s one flavor of image that is absolutely vital. It’s not necessarily how evil (or good) you look, though villain-cred and the ability to pass for an ally of the protagonists are useful in their own right. No, [...]

Impractical Applications (Salvage Work Begins)

I hate to say this, but my game needs a good looking over.
We’ve got two players out, the only one left from the original crew is on his third character, and the last player seems to still be getting his feet under him after a couple years in the group. The characters don’t seem as [...]

Let Me Show You… Gawin and Ancreta

More for my end of RPG Blog Carnival. (C’mon, people, let’s not make this all my work.)
Gawin and Ancreta, unlike any of the other characters I’m likely to be showcasing, weren’t created for my Exalted game, but for my experimental Mouse Guard one-off. In the original plan, one of the other players was going to [...]

Shorthand Attributes and Character Cues

Sometimes it’s accidental; we just have a tendency to give a certain trait to characters who act a certain way. Sometimes it’s deliberate, trying to clearly code protagonists and allies as opposed to antagonists as opposed to neutrals, or those who are to be trusted as opposed to those who aren’t. Either way, what we’re [...]

World Creation: About This Theory of Yours…

One idea I’d been playing with for my world, probably not plot-relevant but definitely interesting in its own right, came up back when my main culture was still primary influence unspecified but very, very scholastic. It’s always seemed unfair to me, picking on scholars’ ideas when they just didn’t have the resources available to be [...]

Salvage Work

This can’t end well, you think as you look over the game, and you’re probably right. Something’s gone wrong, probably multiple somethings. The group isn’t getting along, the characters’ motivations and the storyline aren’t working together, you’re pretty sure you started in one style but the players are expecting another, and at least someone isn’t [...]

When Style Beats Realism

I’m going to talk about the movies for a bit. Don’t worry, it’s relevant.
I’ve noticed today’s trend towards hyperrealism in animation. 2D isn’t necessarily replaced by 3D, though many film studios certainly assumed otherwise, but it gets short shrift, and the 3D gets as close to realistic as you can get without falling into the [...]

The Generic Villain on Becoming a Powerful Thing

I had a phase when I wanted to be the most powerful thing my world could accommodate. Like unto a god, perhaps, that phrase always sounded nice. If not better. Why settle?
Then I thought about it for a while. This isn’t a “should I destroy the world” kind of question by any means, as seeking [...]