Articles from September 2013



Challenge vs. Slog, Part 1: Mechanical Factors

There is nothing many game groups like more than a challenging fight. But somewhere in every battle is a point where it goes from a brilliant challenge they’ll be talking about several plot arcs down the road to the worst thing a fight can become: the dreaded slog. The slog might not defeat the characters, [...]

The Generic Villain vs. the Evil Overlord List, Items 54-58

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.
54. No striking a bargain with a demonic being and then double-crossing it simply to be contrary. Yes. Strike all the bargains you [...]

Impractical Applications: Weaponized

I got the idea for this week’s weaponized weakness post from one of my current primaries. Juniper is not my usual character archetype: she hits things first and foremost, she only speaks the minimum possible number of languages to make sense in her context (granted, this is still three, but she’s coming into a place [...]

Wednesday Night Writing Exercise: Dreaming of…

I know which character this came from, but where the idea came from is anyone’s guess.
A year after she gave up home, she gave up her dreams of it. Forced to cast aside the old identity, she had done so not by simple rejection and association retraining, but with a series of mental gymnastics that [...]

Weaponized Weaknesses

I’ve talked a lot about the kinds of things a character can turn into weapons—but then there’s one of my favorite ways, one that backfires easily, but that works spectacularly. What happens when a character uses her own weaknesses as part of her arsenal?
Things get interesting.
Part of it is just the effect. A character uses [...]

Exercise: Ten Questions

Sometimes, you have a character (or other story element or feature) who just isn’t coming through. Sometimes, you have a person—in your audience, in your game group, wherever—whose take on what you’re doing you just can’t figure out. And sometimes, you can get these two things to cancel out.
In some order, choose yourself a character [...]

Impractical Applications: A Library Apart

This week I talked about designing locations around the types of scenes they’re supposed to host. One of my favorites was created for the sake of both social and physical confrontation.
So this was during that big dream sequence a while back. The room that I decided the group would be meeting back in, and that [...]

Wednesday Night Writing Exercise: The Comforts of Home

Because one day, Layana’s GM is going to need to know what this place looks like, even if the original doesn’t exist anymore.
Her safest place is built in the trees. Hers is the room at the heart of the tree—whether because her family liked light more than she did, or because their rooms could [...]

Freewrite: You Ever Had One of Those Days….

You ever had one of those days…
Where you think you wish your GM hadn’t read the boxed text. It’s not like you have a problem with boxed text, per se. Boxed text is cool. Descriptions are nice. This boxed text is something you’ve read and read and read again, something you’ve internalized. You are one [...]

Purpose-Based Location Design

(Yet another for RPG Blog Carnival.)
Locations don’t come naturally to a lot of people. Sure, they might have one feature they want to play with, or a very vague idea of outline, but the rest is the geographical equivalent of a probabilistic haze. Honestly, that’s normal. We don’t have to know everything. But we can [...]