100 Word RPG Hook: Conspiracy is a Chore

100 Word RPG Hook: Conspiracy is a Chore

Apr 21

You can tell why this program is secret. Half the participants are children, and errors in the quantum mathematics that guide the machines are common. Not everyone who walks in walks back out. One of the engineers says that they’re sending most of us to Mars. (He tells the cuter girls that they don’t even know if it’s Mars in the distant past or some far future.) But I never see anything...

Behind the Screen: Culture in Your Campaign

Behind the Screen: Culture in Your Campaign

Apr 11

Variety is the spice of life, and the same often goes for gaming.  That GMs are busy people and will search for aid and inspiration anywhere is equally true, which means that many of us will base elements in our games on existing cultures for a variety of reasons; including variety itself.   Naturally, this applies to historical games and those based in the modern world, but we also use...

100 Word RPG Hook: An Unfinished Voice Memo, Followed By 1.5 Hours of Static

100 Word RPG Hook: An Unfinished Voice Memo, Followed By 1.5 Hours of Static

Apr 07

As responses to rejection letters went, this one was a doozy. Tell some nut you’re not interested in publishing his book on (impossibly) ancient cults in the North American hinterlands and he sends you a thirty-five pound box. With no return address. Better, at least, than rejecting “The Confessions of a Self-Taught Pyromancer.” (She tried to burn down my apartment.) This time, it was a...

Behind the Screen: Professional Clue Juggling

Behind the Screen: Professional Clue Juggling

Mar 28

Clarity is in the eye of the beholder, which makes it one of the lesser-known Beholder powers, and more importantly a common GM misconception that can frustrate nearly any gaming group. Where the clarity misconception can trip people up is when a GM has set forth clues in a campaign that hint at a larger mystery either in the immediate arc or the overall story.  In both cases, GMs often forget...

100 Word RPG Hook: For Services Rendered

100 Word RPG Hook: For Services Rendered

Mar 24

It’s widely thought that the guys who sue hospitals — you know, the ambulance chasers? — are the scum-sucking bottom feeders of the legal profession. The lowest of the low. They aren’t. It’s actually guys like me: the schlubs working mail-order legal assistance. It’s boring, mostly wills and contracts. Crackpot patents. But then, this: “My name will soon be known to you; I...

Dispatch Ultra: Hemingway vs. the U-Boats

Dispatch Ultra: Hemingway vs. the U-Boats

Mar 21

Ernest Hemingway was known for many things. Certainly, he was a gifted author, winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. He terse, muscular prose had an immense effect on 20th Century fiction. He’s also the sort of author that purposefully cultivated an image — that of a “man’s man” who hunted, fought, and drank all across the globe. That image has only grown since his death...

100 Word RPG Hook: The Roman

100 Word RPG Hook: The Roman

Mar 17

I had come up town to see the man they called the Roman. He was there, but wouldn’t be answering any of my questions. Engine Company 205 was pulling his remains out of the smoldering wreckage when I got here: ash and soot masquerading as a man. You know the Romans – the real ones – used to sacrifice to the old gods with fire. It’s where we get the word immolation. Animals and barley...

Behind the Screen: Having an Episode

Behind the Screen: Having an Episode

Mar 14

I talk a lot about the differences between long-term campaigns and one-shots games because there’s often such a different approach required for the two styles that it’s difficult to assume anything that works in one will work in the other without some serious finessing on the part of the GM. But that’s ignoring a third, much rarer model that too many groups still overlook:  the...