Money Isn’t Everything

Scrooge McDuck

Once, when collecting my student loan money at university, I found out I’d already been approved for a grant. I wasn’t about to say no to a free $800, and didn’t. The loan officer commented, “There’s nothing better than free money!” Actually, there are lots of things better than free money. In fact, almost anything is better than free money, because I’m going to take that free money and trade it for things.

It’s simple, in a game where people essentially play professional hobos and mercenaries, to say that a character is motivated by money. That they’re looking for the payout, plain and simple. But the fact of the matter is that no one is doing that, and that wanting money for the sake of money isn’t really a motivation worth having. So today I want to talk about why, and some ways to describe mercenary tendencies without talking about them in terms of money.

Read more

Hero Wrapup


That’s right, the last post on heroes for the time being. Next week we’ll move on to something else, maybe have a bit of fun with it. So far, I’ve discussed what a hero is, how heroes can be guided by values, and what some of those values are, as well as different types of heroes and how they fit in. Today I just want to close with some final thoughts on heroic characters.  Read more

Hero Types

Bilbo Baggins

Heroes choose what’s right over what’s practical. This is what gets them in trouble with the rest of the party, really. We talked about that. We talked about how heroes can be better understood by their values than by any abstract system of good and evil, and about six different heroic values. But this all assumes a certain kind of hero, the paragon of virtue, the knight in shining armor who acts on her value without fear or reservation. And not all heroes are like that. Today, I want to talk about some other kinds of heroes, and how they fit in with this mix. There are four other kinds of heroes that I can think of besides the paragon. If you can think of more, leave them in the comments, and we’ll talk about them!

Read more

Story Arcs


Party Time

Wayne’s World, etc. Last week I talked about getting players to tell the story of how they got together, and I said to ask questions and work to get their story to fit with the setting. Basically, to play the role of the producer, rather than the director. There were a few tweets on what you actually do for that, so I’m going to do a short series on it. It’s easy to say, but harder to do, so I’ll get to some of the tools. This week is about helping them create a story arc. You’re the GM. You make these kinds of things up all the time, and often on the fly when they wander off the reservation, which is pretty much always if your players are like mine. They have a lot less experience, but here’s how you can help them without making the decisions for them.  Read more

Finding Feathers

Frostmourne, Runeblade of the Lich King

The other day my charge and I were at the park, and he found a feather. Fascinated with its softness and delicacy, he took it home and played with it for hours. Despite having lots of toys and movies available, the feather was his treasure. He asked me all kinds of questions about it. Why was it structured the way it was? How did it help birds fly? What kind of bird was it from? Some I had answers for, and some I didn’t. But it got me thinking about treasure. Treasure’s a component of most rpgs, but with leveling  and the quest for ever better gear, it can be hard to make treasure meaningful. There’s a point where it loses its wonder and becomes a pile of shiny numbers with which to destroy one’s enemies. Today I want to look at some ways to recapture that wonder.  Read more

Broad Strokes

The wonderful thing about Tiggers is that they're CR 5 w/10 hit dice.

I spent the week with a friend’s kids, and learned a lot of really interesting things, one of them which I’ll share today. We’ve watched a lot of movies. Kung Fu Panda, Winnie the Pooh, Happy Feet, all kinds of kids movies, and there’s something that I’ve noticed. They always focus on the broad strokes. Everything’s over the top, the villains are darker in some ways, and the heroes shine brighter. The stories involve sweeping and constant themes, and the characters all have traits that plainly set them apart from each other. They’re archetypal in a way that’s very useful for GMing, so today you’ll learn how to focus on the broad strokes, thanks to kids’ movies.  Read more

Dreams vs. Goals

Killer Bunny Slippers

When creating a character, a vision of the future is important. A person’s goals speak to what they want to accomplish, and their methods of doing it tell a story about their motivation and their values. But there’s a need to distinguish between dreams and goals. Goals can be accomplished in the scope of the game, and include steps you can take, but dreams are far more elusive. As a GM, I’m chiefly interested in goals, because those are the things that shape what a character is doing nowRead more

1 2