Articles from January 2011



Clarification on “Will Always Win Because…”

The comments to last week’s “Will Always Win Because” riff made me think I hadn’t really made my purpose clear enough in the original riff. So here, instead, are some examples from different games I’ve been in. Note that while the character’s foes winning is treated as because of a feature of the character and [...]

The Generic Villain on Ways to Play Dead

Last week, I talked about the uses of being able to fake your own death. We all know, though, that it doesn’t always work. One really can’t guarantee success, since most people are genre savvy enough to know that if they haven’t found the body that’s likelier to be a sign of the other person [...]

Impractical Applications (Two Subtexts)

This week, I talked about subtext in a scene, and how the amount by which it matters can affect what to do with it.
What gave me the idea were two parallel scenes I found myself involved in in my two games. In my primary game, we were wiki-running a situation in which Sky was pretending [...]

…Will Always Win Because…

We’ve all run into characters in our or other people’s narratives that are just stupidly hard to put a real challenge to, let alone defeat. I know I’ve often tried to design good villains, only to realize that I’m not entirely sure what exactly is going to lead to their defeat. Or someone else is [...]

Subtext: To Resolve or Not To Resolve?

I’ve written a lot in praise of creating a scene to be heavy in subtext. It’s something of a passion of mine. But one of the biggest questions when introducing new or otherwise unexplained subtext—in short, subtextual cues that the audience does not have context for—is whether or not to explain what’s really going on [...]

Five Reapers: Myth-Dissection

Over the last couple of days I’ve dipped into mythology a bit, with a crew of anthropomorphized Deaths and a new legendary look at quicksilver. Now I’m going to look back and see where they came from—who’s up for a little myth dissection?
I find the best thing to do when toying with mythology is to [...]

Five Reapers: Death Metal

They say, in the land with the five reapers, that quicksilver is the symbol of death.
It is liquid, and one cannot escape a liquid. What would stop a rolling stone, it simply flows around; what the air would not have the weight to move, it overwhelms. Quicksilver is captivating. Like water, it beads up, it [...]

Five Reapers

This was a thought-exercise I came up with while freewriting; I still haven’t come up with a decent world for it.
In this country, there are five Deaths. Each person—or each person’s heart—chooses one, to bring them to the afterlife.
The first is an assassin. His presence is not known, his footsteps not heard—there is only the [...]

The Generic Villain on Reasons to Play Dead

Sometimes, the thing to do is to fight to the death. But far, far more often, the key to your survival, to your plans, to your very future, is to find a way to let ‘em think you’re dead.
What’s it get you?
The first thing it buys you, of course, is time. Most protagonist-types are either [...]

Impractical Applications (A Case of Wiggle Room)

I talked this week about licensed worlds as RPG settings, discussing premises and plots and settings and wiggle-room. Goodness knows I’ve tested the wiggle room of the settings I’ve played in at times (though in my case, most of it turned into a big load of “screw canon”). But the most interesting case I’ve seen [...]