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 [...]

From Whence Warriors?

One thing often not covered in discussions of warrior cultures (or in some cases, only covered in passing) is where they came from. After all, cultures with complex ideas about where the warrior stands in them and what constitutes a warrior don’t just sprout fully formed from a field full of dragons’ teeth—for one thing, [...]

Warrior Standards

One of the most important parts of creating a warrior culture is coming up with the standards to which its warriors are held. Without standards, after all, what is to set a warrior apart from a non-warrior in his culture, or a person who fights from that group of people over there? How is he [...]

Warrior Cultures

From what I’ve seen, it’s practically a requirement in speculative fiction to have a warrior culture crop up somewhere or other. Noble or not-so-noble makes no difference—what matters is that there is a cultural emphasis on fighting, and more to the point on fighting in some way that sets them apart from other cultures. It’s [...]

Amoral Parties and Frame-Up Plots

Yesterday, I talked about plots based on someone—usually someone important to the PCs—being framed for a crime they didn’t commit. We know how these go with your standard good party: the shining heroes devoted to truth and justice will pretty much always step in for their wrongfully accused fellows. Let’s face it, though, not all [...]

Frame-Up Plots in RPGs

I’ve talked a lot already about mystery plots in general, but there’s one subset of mystery plot that strikes me as needing a particular attention: the frame-up plot. Character or group, usually one important to the PCs for whatever reason, is wrongfully accused of some sort of wrongdoing, PCs decide to Set Things Right, and [...]

Process: From Image to Text

I promised earlier this week that I’d talk about how I get from the image in my head through the principles of art to the image I write, when writing action in stories and games.
As with the image composition, I start with the point of focus. Usually this is both a physical point and an [...]

Principles of Art and Process

Yesterday, I mentioned the design principles of art, and how I use them to create the mental pictures that I turn into my descriptions. So how do I get from principles to composition, and from there to a picture?
The principle I start with when laying out my mental pictures is always dominance. Where would the [...]

Composition and the Principles of Art

When I’m trying to get across a piece of imagery, I start with, well, an image. I don’t mean just getting a basic mental picture; I mean taking the time to take that picture and compose it, as if it were a piece of artwork or a short piece of film, then take the important [...]

Starting with a Plot…

The toughest part of beginning with a story or game, I’ve found, is getting enough of a balance between beginning concepts to actually have a story rather than a set of fleeting ideas in nowhere-space. You have a plot, and a vague outline of what the setting might look like, and that’s it. Where to [...]