Articles from March 2013



Impractical Applications (A Tale of Two Controls)

Earlier this week I riffed about RPGs and mind-controlling the PCs. Unlike many of my subjects, I’ve seen that both go wrong and go right, so it’s a lot easier to put a few “do”s in with all my “don’t”s and the occasional “never ever not even then”.
The one of these that set off Tuesday [...]

Wednesday Night Writing Exercise: Behind the “Makeover”

For this one, I was doodling at an incident from That Saturday D&D game. Lamora is one of my most prolific when it comes to off-stage characterization; I’ll get revelations about how she works while walking home from the trolley station. Sadly, it almost never comes up in character. The context: two goblins, one group-satellite, [...]

Ravyn’s Rules of Mind Control

Into every game, a little mind-controlling the PCs seems to fall. And why not? It ensures they’re fighting one of the scariest things on the field, it forces them to change their tactics, and it gets one or more of them out of your hair. But when we’re doing this, we still need to remember [...]

Hey, Weren’t You Supposed To Be Sympathetic?

When I was talking last week about sympathetic antagonists, one of the disadvantages I listed was that it was easy to slip somewhere and end up with an antagonist that just doesn’t come across as sympathetic. Let’s face it, when it comes to antagonist sympathy, subjectivity is a more dangerous opponent than the protagonists. But [...]

The Generic Villain vs. The Evil Overlord List, Items 26-29

The Generic Villain continues a point-by-point facedown and update of that reference material of all baddies with imperial ambitions, The Evil Overlord List.
26. Think twice before ordering a prisoner sent to your bedchamber. …forget think twice, just plain don’t do it. One, even though it’s taken us years to get it, it’s never [...]

Impractical Applications (Sympathy and Success—or Lack Thereof)

I talked earlier this week about sympathetic antagonists, and their advantages and disadvantages. I’ve seen them go a lot of different ways—success, failure, combinations of the above, all depending on what I managed to do wrong, do right, or occasionally do a little too well.
I’ve written before about my last adventure with an antagonist without [...]

Wednesday Night Writing Exercise: A Room Without Stars

This one wasn’t prompted. I was thinking about personal spaces, and about the viewpoint character from my newest project, and… it just happened. Along with her plot role, she’s just started college, so a change in location is pretty much inevitable.
For the first time in my life, I am in a room without stars. No [...]

The Hazards of Sympathetic Antagonists

I talked yesterday about all the cool features of sympathetic antagonists. It has to be admitted, though, that sympathetic antagonists come with their own set of inconveniences; you can’t have the good without the, well, bad. Mostly, these take the form of difficulties and complications for us; they may be cool dramatically, but they’re a [...]

The Joys of Sympathetic Antagonists

One of the character archetypes I find most interesting is the sympathetic antagonist—that living obstacle to the primary characters, whether villain, antihero, or just inconveniently motivated, who through her characterization elicits some level of sympathy from the audience. But what makes these sorts of characters so nifty, useful, and all in all effective for us?
Sympathetic [...]

Impractical Applications: Beware the Honest Ones

My group loves honest manipulators; it’s almost a given that in any game, one of us will be playing one.
The game in which I played Tuyet had somewhere between one and two. Tuyet herself was the uncertain fraction; on the one hand, she was a very good liar and had an inordinate fondness for secret [...]