Posts belonging to Category Thematics

Character Kernels: Under Theme

A while back, I wrote about getting to understand the kernels of one’s characters by casting them into character roles from an existing story. That’s a fun way to find the parts of the characters that define them, but it’s not always easy; as often as not, most stories aren’t going to get you anywhere [...]

In the Un-Real World: About Those Old Stories….

The world isn’t what you expected it to be. Things, generally supernatural, are pretending to be completely normal and hiding everywhere from the sewers to your neighbor’s preschool. And you’ve just figured this out and are trying to figure out how to make sense of it. Grasping at straws in the process is a perfectly [...]

Magical Location Design: Establishing a Mood

I talked yesterday about designing a magical location around the effect it was supposed to have on the audience. But it’s one thing to say “I want this effect”, and another thing entirely to get the effect in question. How do you go about it?
First, of course, is actually choosing the effect. It goes without [...]

Three Starting Points for Designing Magical Locations

What fun is a fantasy world without inherently magical locations? They make it clear which genre you’re operating in, provide a little color, and because of the ability to use elements not present in mundane locations, can often create a more intense and targeted mood than their mundane counterparts. I usually begin with a combination [...]

Nonvisual Manifestations of Magic

A long time ago, I asked a question: why do we always see magic? The answer I originally worked with was that it was easier, since people are visual; I know the English language has more sight-words than sound-words or taste-words or scent-words. But sometimes, it makes sense to make someone’s arcane senses pan to [...]

When Setting Knowledge Is OOC

I’ve always been the kind of player whose greatest weapon is her and her character’s setting knowledge. No fewer than three languages if I can help it, maxed informational skills if at all possible—in short, trying to ensure that anything I know, the character knows too. But then I ran into an interesting sort of [...]

Untouchable Concepts

In any world, there are some things you don’t question. They are, and that’s all there is to it. Or at least, that’s what everyone says. (Which of course means that some main character, particularly if what we’re dealing with is a game because those things beg for PC questioning, is going to question them.) [...]

Creating Ambiguity

Yesterday, I talked about how ambiguity in the creation of a world can make it more interesting than clear right/wrong binaries can. But how does one go about making a world in which these things are clearly ambiguous?
To understand that, it helps to understand how not to do it.
It’s pretty easy, and pretty common, to [...]

A Case for Ambiguity

One of the things I’ve noticed about many created worlds, and felt that it might be good to reverse the trend of at some point, is that there isn’t much vagueness. In our world, you have a lot of things that may or may not be real or effective depending on who you ask, from [...]

Salvaging the Power of Friendship/Love

Yesterday, I went into a big long rant about the Power of Love and/or Friendship and what under what circumstances it annoyed me. But it’s just not right to do a post about how something can go wrong without a follow-up on how it can be done right, so here are some ways to make [...]