Choosing a Main Character

This was supposed to have gone up a week ago. I don’t know why it didn’t.
A lot of us writers have it easy. We have one strong character idea and are ready to center a story around them, or we have a strong plot idea and just need to design a character who can [...]

Cultures and Children

We don’t often think about children in speculative fiction or our games—at least, not once we stop reading entirely in the children’s section. They might be incidental characters, might possibly serve in a MacGuffin role, but they’re not likely to be the protagonist. As such, it’s easy for us to forget about them in a [...]

Weaponized Weaknesses

I’ve talked a lot about the kinds of things a character can turn into weapons—but then there’s one of my favorite ways, one that backfires easily, but that works spectacularly. What happens when a character uses her own weaknesses as part of her arsenal?
Things get interesting.
Part of it is just the effect. A character uses [...]

Exercise: Ten Questions

Sometimes, you have a character (or other story element or feature) who just isn’t coming through. Sometimes, you have a person—in your audience, in your game group, wherever—whose take on what you’re doing you just can’t figure out. And sometimes, you can get these two things to cancel out.
In some order, choose yourself a character [...]

Purpose-Based Location Design

(Yet another for RPG Blog Carnival.)
Locations don’t come naturally to a lot of people. Sure, they might have one feature they want to play with, or a very vague idea of outline, but the rest is the geographical equivalent of a probabilistic haze. Honestly, that’s normal. We don’t have to know everything. But we can [...]

Can, Can’t, and Shouldn’t: Three Ways Location Shapes Behavior

This is another post for RPG Blog Carnival. Thinking about locations seems to bring out the best in my inspiration.
Locations have many different effects on the characters who occupy them: physical, metaphysical, emotional, you name it. But one of the biggest effects a well-designed tactical environment creates is a change to behavior. Particularly, it creates [...]

The Dreaded Recap

Recapitulation is an inevitability of any sort of part-by-part storytelling medium, particularly as the separation between the installments increases. Giving the players a refresher between sessions, letting readers of a series know what they might have missed and/or reminding them what happened last time, the occasional catch-up for long-running webcomics—without a recap, the audience might [...]

World-building: Some Travel Questions

One of the nice things about the modern world is that we can take travel for granted, and never realize how much it helps us. There’s a lot more impact to what’s available than you might think—even owning a car vs. taking mass transit can be the difference between a half-hour trip to get groceries [...]

Snippets

Or, why I really need to do my blogging in the afternoon while making progress on something else rather than in the evening after an overall disappointing day. I get… snippets. Not large enough to be a blog post. Not small enough to just ignore.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter how epic the foe is, or how [...]

Degrees of Backstory Characters

Into every character’s backstory, a few characters who aren’t the backstory’s central character must fall. They don’t live in a vacuum, after all. (And if they do, they’re probably pretty boring characters, and lack verisimilitude. Even hermits usually had someone who raised them.) That doesn’t mean they’re all created the same, though.
Overall, backstory characters are [...]