Articles from October 2011



Messing with the Message

One of the things I pointed out in my first riff on spreading news is that there’s no guarantee that the news will arrive in precisely the same state as it left, nor even that it will arrive at all. Whether it was mean to happen or just happen, interference with news is a risk—and, [...]

As the News Flies

Yesterday, I talked about the movement of information across distances, and all the factors we need to take into account when dealing with them. Today, I’m going to talk about some general methods by which it does so, and how it affects the speed and consistency of the message.
The basic way, of course, is word [...]

Spreading the Word

A lot of us are fond of having our narratives span a wide swath of country. The main characters specifically find themselves questing their way right across the map, or just find themselves bouncing about between locations in which they could get things done; PCs find themselves running to problems, or away from them, or [...]

The Generic Villain Takes Criticism… from Protagonists

Last week, I talked about taking criticism from your minions, what to do and what not to do about it. But sometimes, you’re getting word of the flaws in your plans from neutrals, or even—gasp—full-on protagonists. Those you need to handle carefully.
While it’s quite rare, sometimes you’re going to get criticisms from protagonists in… well, [...]

Impractical Applications (Acclimation and Adaptation)

This week, I focused on acclimation to new cultures, particularly in game. It’s a skill I pride myself on—though I’ll admit, my usual strategy is one part Miller’s Law and one part “This looks like a culture I know” and suggesting quirks to the GM—but more interesting, I think, has been watching my players’ interactions [...]

GM Trick: Culture Acclimation and the Uncanny Valley

This week, I’ve focused mostly on ways that a player can learn enough about a GM’s created culture to be able to at least somewhat fit in (or at the very least, mostly stay out of trouble). But in the case of characters in cultures they aren’t actually a part of, there’s one fact about [...]

Culture Acclimation: Five Ways to Not Give Offense

It’s good to know what we need to know before we turn our characters loose on a new culture, and how to find it out, but sometimes knowledge just isn’t enough to keep our character’s feet safely out of their mouths. Instead, we need to figure out where the cultural traps are, and how to [...]

Ways to Learn a World

I talk a lot about characters fitting into their worlds, but I know it’s not always easy. Most of the time, there really isn’t time—or in some cases, there isn’t much motivation, or enough information—for a player to really understand the world that she’s just started playing in, or even the specific combination of culture [...]

Things You Might Want To Know When Dropping Into a Culture

One of the side effects of dealing with worlds not our own is that we’re likely to be dealing with cultures not our own as well (and if we aren’t, why in blazes not?). From a player standpoint, or from the standpoint of a writer trying to deal with a culture not her own, this [...]

The Generic Villain Takes Criticism

One of the things we Hands of Darkness often find ourselves on the wrong end of is our unshakable belief in our own infallibility. We are convinced that we have correctly predicted all possible paths that our opponents could take; we know for sure that our understanding of our own power and resources as they [...]