Articles from May 2012



The Generic Villain on Load-Bearing Bosses

Most of us should be pretty familiar with the idea of load-bearing bosses—the monsters or spellcasters or whatever sort of entities so powerful, destructive, or just plain tied to their environs that if they’re taken out, the structure around them goes with them. Heck, some of you probably are load-bearing bosses. We use them a [...]

Impractical Applications (Why We Use Null Actions)

It was early 2011, I was running game online, and the group was planning. You do that, when you’re about to go up against one of the setting’s well-known social monsters to end all social monsters. For all they couldn’t be quite sure what they could do about what they were up against, the group [...]

Null Actions

Let’s face it, just because a character is in a given situation doesn’t mean that she actually knows what to do. PCs, NPCs, writers’ characters of all levels of relevance: all of them will at some point find themselves in a situation where they’re indecisive, redundant, physically/emotionally paralyzed, or in some other way unwilling or [...]

On Play-By-Posts and Social Contracts

Ah, the play-by-post game. You’d think it would be a supremely stable means of gaming; after all, it can work despite people being on opposite sides of the world, and people actually get to think about their turns without their fellow players being bored out of their minds.
But a vast majority of play-by-posts tend to [...]

Making an Ally of “How Does That Even Work?”

When I’m designing worlds, or more often when I’m basing a plot point on some previously unexplored bit of metaphysics, one of the questions I most dread is “How does that even work?” A lot of the time, what happened did in fact pretty much bend around the plot, and while I hadn’t explicitly declared [...]

Slipped Details and How to Set Them Up

Those few of you who check back regularly may have noticed that the site hasn’t updated for a few days. I’m patching up the missing posts now—just because I don’t have, or don’t think I have, server access on a given day doesn’t mean I’m not going to write for it—but this little misadventure has [...]

The Generic Villain on Selective Villainy

Not all of us are all evil to all people—that’s ridiculously black and white even for us, makes it hard to hang onto our minions, and just plain gets boring after a while. Instead, a lot of us are selectively villainous; while Dramatic Necessity and the Laws of Causality may have clearly tagged us as [...]

Impractical Applications (A Few Fantastic Creations)

KJ Davies’ RPG Blog Carnival about Fantastic Creations got me thinking about my own systems for magic item design. I’ve been a go-to designer for my group for a while; if someone wanted quirky, one-of-a-kind and still decently effective, they had but to go to me, and I’d set them up with something that looked [...]

Things You Might Want to Know When Teaching Someone

We most often see teaching as a subplot, or as a necessary component of a more vital plot—the character, often young, is thrown into a situation for which his or her skills are not sufficient, and it’s up to the mentor to get the character up to speed. This is the case whether it’s a [...]

Adding Description to Dialogue: The Comic Method

The biggest challenge in writing dialogue, I think, isn’t necessarily actually writing good dialogue. Most of us can find examples of snappy one-liners or decent conversations. The problem, instead, is making sure that the dialogue doesn’t yawn and swallow the rest of the scene, leaving us with a couple of characters talking in what for [...]