One of the things that’s been entering my mind recently as I work on Hammercalled and playtesting is how differently I approach the topics of writing for a game versus writing for a published product. With a handful of exceptions, I’ve never published a setting that I’ve been playing in at the time of publication. That’s not because I’m against sharing my work (like this, the campaign I’m going to start running Hammercalled in in a couple days), it’s just that I don’t think it works as well.
And I have a few reasons why I choose to work on settings devoid of running a game in them, since I know this goes against the prevailing industry wisdom.
Continue reading “Writing for Games versus Writing for a Game”
One of the things that I’ve been asked about a few times is ending a campaign of D&D or other roleplaying games.
It’s the sort of thing that comes up from time to time because of the fact that many of these games are entirely open-ended. There aren’t any real stopping points or times to end the campaign scripted into most games, and barring a catastrophe that kills all the player characters (deserved or not), it’s hard to reach a point where the game comes to a satisfying conclusion.
Continue reading “Wrapping Up an RPG Campaign”
I’ve written on worldbuilding before, and I want to go over some very broad general ideas before I get back into it (which I’m hoping to do soon).
One thing that I want to talk about is how particularly to write for worldbuilding where you can have an effective roleplaying game based off of it. Many settings are really good at this, and some really aren’t, depending on how they’re implemented and written.
Disclaimer: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links.
Continue reading “Worldbuilding for Roleplaying: Hows and Whys”
As a GM, one of the greatest things that I found kept me back when I first started trying to provide a gaming experience to my players was my desire to create an “original experience” for them.
This led to a number of things that didn’t work: trying too hard to be original can mean that you reject the useful methods of the past that have been proven successful, and it can also mean that to compensate for the lack of existing material, you simply pass over into the realm of spectacle.
Continue reading “Drawing Inspiration For Games”
If you missed the previous entry in this series, Improv GM’ing Dos and Don’ts: Improv is not Unprepared, I’d suggest going there now and checking it out.
This is part 2 in an ongoing series about improvisational Game Mastering for tabletop roleplaying games. As such I’m assuming you know more or less where I’m coming from with regards to the preparation you need to do before starting the game.
Continue reading “Improv GM’ing Dos and Don’ts: Connect the Dots”
This was originally going to be a velotha’s flock post, but I decided that some of this should be a stand-alone thing. One of the issues with game design, I feel, is that most of it doesn’t really go down the road of storytelling. Even more narrative-focused games often do so with a focus on “story over rules” rather than following any sort of storytelling praxis.
I think that there are a few reasons for this, and I’ve got a brief breakdown of what I think GMs and designers can do to prevent mediocre storytelling in their games.
Continue reading “On Archetypes, Heroes, and RPG Characters”
When I GM a game, I’m an improv guy. I can’t do it all the time, and I can’t do it with every game, but when I run a game, I tend not to do a whole lot of work ahead of sessions on specific sessions. Recently I’ve been running pretty hard on the improv stuff, and encouraging some other people to take up a similar style, but I think that I need to point out that there are a few caveats to consider that I don’t know I’ve fully explored elsewhere.
Continue reading “Improv GM’ing Dos and Don’ts: Improv is not Unprepared”
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.
Continue reading “Breathing Life in Characters Part 3: Personal Quirks and Histories”
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.
Continue reading “Breathing Life in Characters Part 2: The Self and Philosophy”
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.
Continue reading “Breathing Life in Characters Part 1: Politics and Society”