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Posts tagged ‘Techniques’

Writing a One-Off Game

- By Skimble

I recently had the pleasure of writing and running a one-off World of Darkness scenario called “Fresh Meat” for a weekly meeting. While I was working on the game I spent quite a bit of time thinking about the general process of writing a one-off  scenario.

This article is the result of that thinking. Hopefully you will find it useful if you’re interested in running a one-off game, especially if you’ve never done so before.

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Characterisation

By Skimble

Characterisation is one of the most useful skills that a roleplayer can learn. Done well it adds immeasurably to the gaming experience for both players and GMs, providing memorable characters and moments that people will still be talking about many years later.

Conversely, cookie-cutter NPCs and recycled characters can drag a game down, making it feel stale and forgettable.

The aim of this article is to give you a toolbox for building and portraying memorable, interesting characters who seem real (or at least verisimilar) to the other players. For the purposes of this article, “character” is used to refer to both Player Characters and Non-Player Characters.

If you have any tips or tricks you’d like to contribute that I haven’t mentioned, please tell us about them in the comments!

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Deciding on Game Linearity

By Skimble

Roleplaying games don’t have to be like any other storytelling medium.

While branching or interactive stories have been developed to one extent or another in other media, nothing can rival the flexibility afforded by the dynamic nature of a tabletop roleplaying game session.

In a book, video game, film or a TV series the narrative is pre-defined or, at best, built with branch points that enable the consumer to select from a limited number of choices. Even “sandbox” or “open world” video games that offer self-generated content provide only limited flexibility in the primary story experienced by the player.

Contrast this with a tabletop roleplaying game, where the player(s) can theoretically do anything that fits within the constraints provided by the game’s rules and its setting.

In practice however most games have a degree of structure and linearity imposed upon them by the GM. To an extent this is necessary; without having any idea what is at least likely to occur, how can the GM plan ahead in preparing his sessions?

The question is, how much linearity is too much?

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Narrative Conflict

By Skimble

Narrative conflict is an important element in the creation of drama. Since roleplaying games are in the business of telling dramatic stories that involve rich and detailed characters, it is therefore a useful concept to bear in mind when devising plot hooks or resolving the consequences of the players’ actions.

While combat might be the most obvious type of conflict it is by far not the only one that can arise.  In fact I would argue that it is one of the least narratively compelling forms of conflict.

So what are some of the other types of narrative conflict, and how can they be used effectively to tell dramatic, exciting and interesting stories?

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A DM’s Guide to Character Creation

By Andrew Moran AKA Rannos

Character Creation

The best campaigns have the best characters in them, The GM creates the story and the world and moves the plot forward, but the players themselves supply the fun and excitement that will keep them coming back week after week.

So how can a DM help?

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Thinking Outside The Box

By Skimble

Players are well known for coming up with actions the GM could never have anticipated. Give them an innocent-seeming maiden who pleads with them for help in dealing with some kind of heinous monster and they’re just as likely to kill her on the spot due to their suspicion that this is the lure in some kind of cunning trap.

Rather than being something to fear though, this propensity of players is something that can be encouraged and even, sometimes, rewarded.

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Invoking The Tasteful Veil

Or “How much is too much?”

By Skimble

I suspect we’ve all been there. The oversexed, chainmail-bikini-wearing battle maiden uses her wiles to seduce the enemy spy in order to extract from him the relevant secrets even as she uses said wiles in more… physical… pursuits. The GM pauses for a brief moment, looks around the players, takes a deep breath, and has to decide whether or not to invoke The Tasteful Veil.

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Verisimilitude

By Skimble

People often talk about ‘realism’ in roleplaying as a desirable thing, but in actual fact the quality that they are seeking is verisimilitude. What is it, what is the difference between verisimilitude and realism, and why is it a good thing? Finally, how can it be achieved?

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