Category Archives: Roleplaying Advice

Breathing Life in Characters Part 3: Personal Quirks and Histories

In parts 1 and 2 of Breathing Life in Characters, we have talked about how characters gain depth by being part of their societies and traditional schools of thought. This part will examine individuality and the ways that characters can develop as single entities among their fellows while maintaining the ties to the world that make them feel lifelike.

In addition to existing as part of a society, characters should have a degree of individuality. Everyone has a certain personal history and will have their own experiences within the context of the world, and as with the social and philosophical elements of a character these elements can be painted first with broad brush strokes and then refined further into individual elements.

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Breathing Life in Characters Part 2: The Self and Philosophy

The last post in this series looked at the concepts of politics and opinion. Once you have the external elements of a character down, it’s a good idea to look at their worldview. You may not want to do this for minor characters, especially ones that the players are unlikely to interact heavily with, but characters who may need to make consistent decisions or who are going to be showpieces of a session need to get a little more fabric put into their design, and their self-concept and philosophy. Like with political beliefs, many characters from the same society will have similar religious and philosophical viewpoints, and you can create a sort of baseline that lets you direct actions in a believable manner without a lot of micromanagement.

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Breathing Life in Characters Part 1: Politics and Society

One of the things that makes or breaks any story are the characters involved in it, but creating great characters goes beyond individual personalities and delves into the experiences and social contexts of the world that they live in. In short, your characters should be opinionated.

Creating a living world is necessary for characters to be truly vibrant, and one of the best ways to do that is to look at current events and issues that characters are likely to engage themselves with. It is important to remember that in places where there is total agreement there is also little interest to be found: everyone agrees that the invasion of orcs is going to be problematic for the stability and sovereignty of the kingdom in the long run.

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Things I Learned from Being a GM & a Designer

I’ve been a GM and game designer for years now, and one thing that’s always struck me about the process is how much skills overlap there is in the process, and how many nuggets of wisdom carry over from one to the other. I’ve been thinking about some key points now that I’m working on two projects that should see the light of day relatively soon.

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Threads of Narrative: Managing Open Worlds in Tabletop Roleplaying

Game Masters of tabletop roleplaying games have to create a story that works well, and that can often be difficult not only because a story has to be engaging, but because it’s difficult to keep track of the way in which a story will unfold; it’s easy to forget about some minor elements, or conflate them too heavily with the main plot, and wind up coming to a screeching halt. One great way to handle this is to think of each plot as a thread; it develops from the previous events in sequence, but will eventually be brought to fruition by the players’ actions.

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