Posts belonging to Category GM Advice

The Dreaded Recap

Recapitulation is an inevitability of any sort of part-by-part storytelling medium, particularly as the separation between the installments increases. Giving the players a refresher between sessions, letting readers of a series know what they might have missed and/or reminding them what happened last time, the occasional catch-up for long-running webcomics—without a recap, the audience might [...]

World-building: Some Travel Questions

One of the nice things about the modern world is that we can take travel for granted, and never realize how much it helps us. There’s a lot more impact to what’s available than you might think—even owning a car vs. taking mass transit can be the difference between a half-hour trip to get groceries [...]

Trust, GM Willingness, Player Interest, and the Backstory Character

Yesterday, I talked about four categories of backstory characters, and mentioned the particular importance of understanding them to tabletoppers, both GM and player. Today, I’m going to look at why. Note that I am using the same terminology as in the previous post: the central character is the character being provided with the backstory, while [...]

Degrees of Backstory Characters

Into every character’s backstory, a few characters who aren’t the backstory’s central character must fall. They don’t live in a vacuum, after all. (And if they do, they’re probably pretty boring characters, and lack verisimilitude. Even hermits usually had someone who raised them.) That doesn’t mean they’re all created the same, though.
Overall, backstory characters are [...]

A Short Thought on the Visual First Impression

They say that a writer should research and backstory and take all the notes in the world, then file them all away and only directly reference about 10%, with the rest leaking through in dribs and drabs as the narrative progresses. I begin to think that the people who describe their character stepping into the [...]

More Characterization Catalysts

Yesterday, I talked about factors that might affect how easily someone can backstory a character. Pretty much as soon as I’d finalized the post, I found a few more.
Minimum requisite information. Some worlds just seem to demand a better idea why people are what they are and do what they do than others. If you [...]

Characterization Catalysts

Over the break, I found myself involved in three new games (long stories, all of them), so I found myself doing up characters for all three in the span of about a week—and all of it was right smack dab in the middle of another noveling attempt, meaning that I was, in different ways, working [...]

Reprise: Secondary Character Exercise: Someone Else’s Story

Originally posted January 27, 2010.
One of the biggest problems people often see with secondary characters is when their creator doesn’t take much of an interest in them. I’m not saying they suddenly need to steal the story, but it helps to spend a little time in their heads, make them more than [...]

Reprise: How Not To Misplace People in a Scene

Originally posted August 12, 2010.
One of the biggest problems with having four or five people operating in the same scene, regardless of its type, is the risk that the better-imaged ones will take over and the less-definite ones will get lost in the shuffle. A couple days ago, UZ asked how to [...]

Reprise: Comparing Conversation and Combat

Originally posted on August 11, 2010.
What’s the difference between conversation and combat?
I found myself asking that of one of my friends, while thinking about UZ’s recent question on keeping all participants in a conversation involving more than four characters at once. I have difficulty with that sort of thing too, so I didn’t [...]