Articles from July 2010



Combat, Comfort Zones and Comparative Difficulty

While many of the people I know would probably disagree rather strenuously, I think the most difficult part of any given RPG is managing the combat. But it’s interesting looking at the relative difficulty of most of the different aspects of it: what we expect, and what we actually find.
It’s pretty much a given that [...]

A Speech-Writing Process

Rhetoric. It’s the purview of a speaker, a common way of showing why a leader is so popular, an excellent use of a high Performance score, a way to show off one’s own writing skills—but on the other hand, as techniques go, it’s also a bit intimidating to write, and when one is writing a [...]

Nonvisual Manifestations of Magic

A long time ago, I asked a question: why do we always see magic? The answer I originally worked with was that it was easier, since people are visual; I know the English language has more sight-words than sound-words or taste-words or scent-words. But sometimes, it makes sense to make someone’s arcane senses pan to [...]

The Generic Villain Helps Out

Last week, I talked about things to take into account when trying to interfere with someone else’s plan. But it isn’t always to our advantage to be the fly in the ointment; sometimes, what they’re doing is almost as convenient to us as it is to them, and the best thing to do is to [...]

Impractical Applications (Yardsticking with Kes and Kiara)

This week, I had an odd situation in my solo game. It’s still in the phase where it serves as a prequel of sorts to my primary game, run from the perspective of another character entirely—and yet there I was writing a scene where the two NPCs present, plot fixtures Kestrel and Kiara, had managed [...]

Authority Levels and the Gaming Table

Yesterday, I talked about comfortable authority levels, the general hierarchical positions to which people tend to find themselves drawn. But they aren’t just for characters; I’ve noticed that comfortable authority levels can also have a large influence on how a person both GMs and plays.
Of yesterday’s types, leaders are the likeliest to end up GMing [...]

Character Exercise: Comfortable Authority Levels

Like everything else, how much authority and in what form people are comfortable with varies from person to person, and from character to character. I find, though, that there are certain bands in which they lie, and knowing about these bands can make for an interesting way of further differentiating characters and figuring out where [...]

Ramblings on Motivation

Without motivation, there is no story. If there’s already a plot, it needs to be possible to get the characters motivated to do something about it. If there isn’t one already planned out, the characters need to want something enough to pull the story themselves.
When they don’t, bad things happen.
A character without motivation might follow [...]

Short Story (ish): Morgan’s Dream Log

A snippet from the dream journal of my Call of Cthulhu character Morgan, not long after the Taser Tourist incident, written for the GM of that game.
It’s a restaurant. If that’s the right word. Wooden furniture, leather tankards, either it’s very period or I’m going and dreaming somewhere else entirely. The colors are warm reds [...]

Yardstick Characters

While it may be technically possible in games, being able to completely quantify a character in clean, objective terms is difficult, and in a straight story, it’s next to impossible (and even if it were possible, you’d have to be careful how you did it). So for the most part, characters are often seen in [...]