Articles from September 2010



Description Exercise: Reach for the Sky!

One of the hardest parts of working in pure-prose is really getting across images such that you know people are seeing the same thing you are.
So for this exercise, step outside and look up. Then try to describe it. (I personally find the best skies to base this exercise on are ones with some clouds [...]

Assembled Machina, Where’s My Deus?

Yesterday, I talked about the creator’s reasons why the good (or at least, allied-with-the-protagonists) gods are so prone to not being near as helpful as the ones on the other side. But there’s also the element of in-character reasons for a distinct lack of divine intervention, as UZ started pointing out. Needless to say, this [...]

The (Protagonistic) Gods Must Be Lazy

I’ve noticed a lot of stories in which the evil gods (or at least, the antagonistic ones) are the only ones who ever seem to do anything. Either both sides aren’t allowed to intervene and they’re ignoring the prohibition, or they’re just the only ones who seem willing to do anything, period (except maybe tell [...]

Time Management Revisited (or My Favorite Long-Term Project)

Last week, I talked about applying time management techniques to designing your plot. This isn’t exactly a plot-example, but it is one of my all-time favorite game-related projects to work on, and a lot of why it is illustrates how my time management plot tips work.
Some of you who’ve been around for a while might [...]

The Generic Villain Preempts and Overthinks

Over the last two weeks, I’ve talked about anticipating the ulterior motives behind an opponent’s surrender and how to react to them. But just because you know what their strengths are doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also be thinking about their imposed weaknesses as you bring them in. After all, you’re not just chucking them in [...]

Impractical Applications (What the Cat Saw)

One of the things I love about my solo game is the element of someone else’s perspective: running my old timeline through the eyes of someone else entirely. The player’s been pretty compatible with the situation so far: fully aware of the existing-timeline nature of the situation, focused on character development rather than on making [...]

Tales from the Sketchbook: Scaled Down

A picture paints a thousand words; a picture with context can say a lot about a game; but explanations of the random sketches of an artist-gamer can say the most of all. In this series, I look at the just-had-to-draw-them images distilled from my games: what they are, what they mean, why they demanded drawing, [...]

PCs in the Gallery

Last night, I talked about looking at your plots from the point of view of a minor character who was in some way or another associated with them, and mentioned that one of the ways to do this was to run a smaller game with one or two people taking tangentially involved parts. I find [...]

View from the Gallery

Back in January, I proposed an exercise involving writing plot synopses for the story as it would be seen if centered around one of the secondary characters. At the time, I was mostly thinking about it in terms of caring as much about the secondary characters as the lead, but I’ve found another use for [...]

Where Were You When…?

There exist people, both writers and GMs, who know their entire story from the beginning. Their plot? Outlined completely. Their cast lists? Set in stone. Everything’s ready, it just needs to be implemented. Then there’s the rest of us, who… well, don’t. The plot may have a general direction, but the particulars are figure-out-as-we-go. Characters [...]