Condensing the Rumor Cloud

When you’re trying not to make your hints too obvious, or you want to give people a cross-section of what’s going on in a location, sometimes just one rumor isn’t going to do the job. Instead, you’ll want a rumor cloud: a set of rumors with varying levels of truth and relevance. I find the [...]

Dissecting a Rumor

I’ll be honest—when I first started writing this post, I’d been going to spell out steps for devising a single rumor. Then I realized it isn’t necessarily sequential; I, for one, start with the subject and message when I’m planning a rumor ahead, but a lot of the time I have to come up with [...]

All Rumors Are What?

I talked a lot yesterday about how useful rumors as a narrative device can be, but they often run afoul of dubious execution. In particular, I find one treatment of rumors that, unless the whole point is not-so-subtle herding, drops a lot of what makes rumors useful: when the story falls under the description “All [...]

The Joys of Rumors

Whether they like them in the real world or not, when it comes to their own worlds, plot creators—writers, GMs, you name it—tend to love rumors. Why?
Rumors are everywhere. You don’t have to worry about justifying people maintaining such a perfect oral tradition that the one little poem that perfectly describes how to circumvent the [...]

Expositionary Hand-holding

The other day, I found myself railing at a bit of boxed text in a game module I was being run through (at least, I hope it was just the boxed text and not my GM’s addition). It described a place, lots of visible details that made it obvious that we’d just walked into the [...]

The Double Life of In-World Slang

One of my favorite things about new worlds, particularly settings with a subculture-high, inner-city emphasis to them, was all the nifty slang I was going to run into. People would throw around all sorts of colorful similes and metaphors referencing things I’d never heard of, and I’d read through and grin and take note for [...]

The Multipurpose Scene

Some of us have nice simple plots and worlds, and this is just fine. They’re straightforward, each scene doesn’t need to do too much at once, so they can focus on getting one plot to work well. And then there are some of us who have a tendency to try to juggle multiple plotlines, build [...]

A Peculiar Conundrum

So I’m sitting and talking with one of my former players, and he asks me a question: why can’t these characters let their emotional shields down when the whole group’s around, since they seem to do just fine in sidechat? That gets me wondering. After all, the inner lives of the characters are my favorite [...]