Posts Tagged ‘Encounter-Design’

The Bigger They Are, The Bigger The Headache: The Proxemics Of Scale

I’ve been thinking a lot about the size of creatures lately, because it seems to me that size poses unexpected problems for the GM. This is a subject that’s been at the back of my mind for years, ever since it was pointed out to me that Dragons are never as tough as they are […]

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ATGMs42: The Hollow Echo Part 2 – Musical Traps

This is (still) the fifth of these Ask-The-GMs that I’m tackling without recourse to my usual allies and fellow-GMs. Traps and puzzles are always a tricky problem for the GM. All too often they focus attention on one particular character and leave the rest sitting around doing nothing, possibly for what feels like an extraordinary […]

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The Hollow Echo Part 1 – Adding Music To Your Game

Music can provide an iconic trigger that instantly transports the listener into an associated memory. Soundtracks and scores for Film and TV have long recognized this effect and played on it. You might not know it, but every major character in a movie or TV show has their own “theme”, a handful of notes, usually […]

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Engagement vs Involvement: The forgotten balance

Every player, and more importantly, every PC, who is participating in an RPG is a member of a team. That team can be constructed to form an idealized “machine” if the players collaborate on their character designs, but more normally, things are looser. At best, you have the GM constructing a team model in which […]

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Not Like My Tribe – Sophisticated Primitives, Part 2

In Part 1 (make sure you have read it before continuing) I made reference to a map of Australian Aboriginal Languages which contrasted so strongly with the media stereotyping of these peoples as a single collective population that it was revelatory and inspirational. I meant to provide a link to that map, but ran out […]

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The Incremental Art Of Escalation

There are all sorts of situations in which the GM wants a situation to escalate by a measured, finite quantity. There will usually be several such escalations that he intends to occur before the situation reaches its climax and resolution. It can be quite difficult to actually plan these escalations as a smooth progression, especially […]

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Small Motives and Personal Activities

Bringing characters to life in a story or an RPG is always a challenge. Keeping characters consistent from one appearance to the next is also a constant challenge. There are a couple of tricks that I have found to help meet these challenges; and the technique that I use to satisfy the first of these […]

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Choosing A Name: A “Good Names” Extra (Revised & Extended)

This entry is part 9 in the series A Good Name Is Hard To Find

This entry is part 9 in the series A Good Name Is Hard To Find Something unusual this week in that today’s article is a revised and expanded version of last week’s article on Names. There are two reasons for that: first, I didn’t have time last week to prepare all the examples and material […]

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Character Incapability: The distant side of the coin

Last week, I wrote about creating adventures based on what a character could do. This week I’m going to look at the far more difficult proposition of basing a mini-adventure on what a character can’t do. This task is much trickier; just because a character is incapable of the action that would resolve whatever problem […]

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Character Capabilities: An often-forgotten source of plots

Recently, for the Adventurer’s Club campaign, my co-GM and I had to construct a number of small plotlines – one for each character – simply to mark the passage of a period of time in which the PCs should be doing something. We employed an old technique of mine – but one that has never […]

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Support Your Local Hero

Heroism is part and parcel of most fantasy campaigns and certainly central to Pulp and Superheroic Campaigns. In fact, most campaigns, driven by the need for drama, will incorporate heroism in some fashion, whether that be from greed/opportunity, enlightened self-interest, or the real deal. How can heroism stem from greed/opportunity? Heroism is doing the right […]

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New-player Character Immersion Issues: Gambling To An Answer

A Guest Article by Jack Hank You’re a GM in charge of new campaign featuring a group of novices that aren’t quite sure how to assume the guise of a character. So what’s your next move? Ingratiating new players into a game in the hope of building a successful campaign is never easy and there […]

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