Recurrences, Plot and Catch-22

We all know about recurring villains. They’re fun, they save you chargen, they exist as reasons for the PCs to get better and as targets for them to go strike at when they might be otherwise unmotivated—in short, they’re blasted useful, so we use them. Good stuff. On the other hand, that means that every [...]

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 [...]

How Not to Talk to Yourself

Yesterday I talked about things a GM can do when running a scene in which it makes sense for the focus to be NPCs talking to each other. Enough positivity; let’s look at what not to do.
Don’t make it an uninterruptable soliloquy. Heck, don’t make it something where it could technically be interrupted, but the [...]

The Art of Talking To Yourself

Running a scene, or even part of a scene, in which the only ones talking are one or more NPCs is a vexed issue among tabletoppers. On the one hand, the PCs are expected to be the focus on the action; if they weren’t, why else would we be playing? The game’s about the PCs. [...]

Things You Can Do When the Party Hates Your NPC

Yesterday, I talked about situations in which the party hates an NPC you need them not to hate, and how not to make it worse. Today, I’m going to look at the positive side—ways to actively try to get the NPC back into the party’s good graces.
If it was something they did, admit error. Yes, [...]

Things Not to Do When the Party Hates Your NPC

They tell you in the real world that first impressions are everything. It’s even more the case with RPG characters, particularly the ones you want to keep around—and sometimes it’s just going to go wrong, and for whatever reason the entire party is going to decide that they loathe the character you’d wanted to pin [...]

Running for Smart PCs

It’s pretty easy for a GM to manage a group whose idea of ideal characters to emulate are your standard sword and sorcery hero. Provide plenty of things for them to pound/spellcast at/otherwise beat to a pulp (possibly with variations for the ones who do it from behind, or do it with a little bit [...]

Ravyn’s Rules of Mind Control

Into every game, a little mind-controlling the PCs seems to fall. And why not? It ensures they’re fighting one of the scariest things on the field, it forces them to change their tactics, and it gets one or more of them out of your hair. But when we’re doing this, we still need to remember [...]

RPG Transitions: Play-by-chat to Face-to-face

We all have our favorite formats—ways of running or playing our games that for whatever reason we’re more comfortable with. But the more we specialize, the more likely it is that at some point, we’ll need to step outside that format and try running a game in a different context. The group that was scattered [...]

Selling a Conflict: Two Key Points for Your Players

All of the conflicts I’ve seen work have made two major points to the players/characters: It has to be you, and it has to be now.
It has to be you. This is probably the most important of the two, playing as it does to the egos of the players—and to the verisimilitude of the overall [...]