Articles from November 2010



Impractical Applications (Voice, Description and Snarky Tour Guides)

Yesterday, I talked about using a descriptive voice and a character voice to work with interactions and contrasts in tone. It’s not a coincidence that I came up with it this week.
One of the places my group is visiting over the course of their adventures is most easily accessed through the ruins of a city [...]

Scening in Two Voices

When getting ready for this week’s session, I found myself thinking about ways to describe a scene or a sequence of events, and how I could get them to work together.
On the one hand, you’ve got third-person description. It wends its way through the background, describing things as they appear, with—I wouldn’t call it less [...]

Landmarking: A Real-World Example

Yesterday, I talked about how to make a place a landmark, literal or narrative. I’m going to illustrate—not with a fictional example, but with an old story.
Back when I was turning four years old (and only just getting into the stage where I was remembering things long-term), my parents went on a trip to Britain, [...]

Landmarks and Distinction

There’s a lot that goes into design of a city: things like its population, how it’s governed, where it gets its food and water, what sorts of things it imports and exports. Your audience, be they reader or gamer, might remember those, but that’s not what seems to stick in most people’s minds when they [...]

Seven Advantages of Coordinated Character Generation

I’ve seen two general patterns of character generation in my time gaming. There’s the one where everyone comes up with their own characters individually, coordinating with the GM but not really comparing notes unless they feel like it or they want to make sure someone else hasn’t already chosen the role they want; I get [...]

Learning from NaNo: Placeholders

One of the biggest problems I’ve had with my attempt at participating in NaNo is how the emphasis on speed interferes with the ability to produce good names. Names are important to me, to the point where I can ignore the question on Mary Sue litmus tests about whether the name means something relevant because [...]

Ask GV: Protagonist Question on Appearances

Shinali, on behalf of Samar Nadra, asks,

What can a person considered evil by those around her learn from Hands of Darkness without compromising her morals?
Dear Samar,
You are aware I am contractually obligated to attempt to compromise said morals in hopes of recruiting you to my cause or at least neutralizing your beneficial effect on the [...]

Impractical Applications (The Demon Who Came to Dinner)

I didn’t really describe it. Only one of the PCs had known it before it was re-introduced, and that was mostly offstage. The character it came in with wanted to squash it. It doesn’t even have a name! And yet it seems to have been adopted by the group. It was a little demon bug, [...]

Five Ways to Tell a Player/PC “Please Ask Questions”

Sometimes, a person just needs to find something out, both in character and out of character. A new group needs to learn how the world works, a new hand in an old group could do with being brought up to speed on the group’s history, someone needs to give a character an excuse to know [...]

Going Beyond Straight Description

(Sorry about the delay; unable to enter new posts due to server being down.)
Some people describe their characters and places with a quality but don’t show how they qualify (beautiful happens a lot, let’s put it that way). Some get them across by describing everything down to the minutest detail and hoping that the images [...]