Articles from March 2011



It’s Not a Mistake, It’s a Character Trait

Unless we’re rolling for absolutely everything, and doing so with loaded dice at that, it’s pretty a much a given that we as gamers are going to mess up somewhere. We’ll say the wrong thing, we’ll react one way when another would do better, we’ll do something that really doesn’t fit what one would expect [...]

Give Bureaucrats a Chance!

One of the things I found myself thinking, when writing about corruption among bureaucrats, is that in many stories and games bureaucrats, desk jockeys and others who live by papers and numbers get the short end of the stick.
We’ve all seen the types. You get the corrupt ones—oh, so many corrupt ones—who are behind everything [...]

On the Corruption of Fictional Bureaucrats

Corruption. It’s one of those dark things that we like to use to make antagonists out of characters who really don’t seem like the type to go into full-out villainy, pretty much as soon as we step into a setting that screams out “bureaucracy”. They’re evil HR managers, embezzling accountants, stock traders with inside information—they’re [...]

Inserting Humor Without Breaking the Scene

We really don’t have to talk about why intense emotion is so common in our stories and games; it’s, well, intense. But the thing about it, particularly if it takes the form of a whole lot of negative emotion, is that it’s tiring, moreso the longer it goes. Fortunately, slipping spots of humor into an [...]

Ask GV: When Protagonists Flirt

Eviltron asks:
Dear GV, lately I think my heroic counterpart has been flirting with me. I am interested, but what if this is a trick? What should I do?”
Dear Eviltron:
The facetious part of me wants to ask “Are they cute?” Even we have to have fun sometime. And there’s always the opportunity to demonstrate that the [...]

Impractical Applications (A Small Party)

Earlier this week, I talked about the uses of casual conversation and of mapping out social situations. I’ve had reason to apply both recently, particularly in my solo game.
It began simply; Kiriko decided to throw herself a birthday party, and invite in a few people from the complex and another few from the office. It [...]

A Week of Reading 3-25

In the average week, I read a considerably larger number of books than I usually get posts out of. Most of them are actually pretty nifty, but either what I’m getting from them is too concise for a full post or just doesn’t strike a nerve immediately. So I’m going to try to use my [...]

Citing Sources for World-Builders

Hopefully, most of you have gotten The Talk About Plagiarism, and know that thou shalt not pass another’s words off as your own. It’s not so easy to be clear on how it works when what you’re borrowing is ideas, though, and it’s easy to think that fiction, and moreso roleplaying, gives you a pass—but [...]

Tales from the Sketchbook: Vega

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, [...]

Mapping Social Situations

One of the biggest weaknesses many writers and GMs have is dealing with a large number of characters active at the same time. This isn’t a mass of mooks in a fight, mind you, nor a large crowd of extras randomly milling about; it doesn’t matter if they disappear. No, this is when you’ve got [...]