Impractical Applications (Culture and Confessions)

I’ll admit it—much though I love stories in which the culture is one of the most prevalent characters of all, I can’t really think of one stunning example of having done the grand culture-build and made it stick. Instead, most of what I’ve got is a lot of practice cases, going partway into the idea [...]

Why I Love Culture as Character

Yesterday, I talked about the idea of culture as character. To say that I’m a fan is a bit of an understatement—one of the things I was thinking, while sitting through the panel that set off yesterday’s riff, was that I keep trying to angle for an RPG of manners. It’s not just one appealing [...]

Culture as a Character

When I was volunteering at Conjecture, there was one panel that I had decided the moment I saw the schedule that I was going to see. I would carefully schedule my break, I would barter time with the other volunteers—but I was going to go to that piece on Fantasy/SF of Manners and Culture as [...]

An Acceptable Crime

One of the things I find most interesting about the law, both in its real-world applications and as it’s implemented in world-building, is that it manages to avoid the kinds of dichotomy most Big Issues tend to acquire in fiction. You don’t have a universal “breaking law bad, obeying law good” dichotomy; you get shades [...]

Impractical Applications (A Culture/Anger Study)

As with many weeks, the blame for this week’s riffs can be laid at the feet of one of my players: mostly for the exchange at the end of the post, but in general for the range of characterization I’ve seen from him on the subject of anger. In the time since I’ve met him, [...]

Why GMs Love Products of Their Culture

Making a character truly belong to his or her culture isn’t just a way to give her depth, color and a distinctive style. For the RPG player, it’s also a way to score points with the GM. What’s so great about a PC who’s clearly been shaped by her environment?
First, it shows a willingness to [...]

Characters and Culture

Some of the characters I’ve run into could fit in anywhere, really. Maybe it’s just being archetypical, maybe it’s being in worlds that have a lot in common with the other worlds I’ve read, but I could swap them with other characters of their ilk all day and all it would get me is amusing [...]

Invented Historical Periods: Art

Yesterday, I talked about a trick for real-world settings, using various cues to establish the historical era, the decade, or even the year in which the story using the setting is itself set. That doesn’t work near as well in created worlds, since the historical periods aren’t semi-common knowledge among our audience. But creators of [...]