[INFO] - Tips on World-building, Narratives, and Other Forms of Storytelling.

Discussion in 'Out-of-Character' started by Brijesha, Feb 22, 2014.


If you're a story teller of sorts, did you find this article useful?

  1. Yes, that was some informative stuff!

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  1. Brijesha

    Brijesha Teller of Seasons Senior Member

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    While searching the Internet for information on world-building and other things that pertain to storytelling and game-development, I concluded that I needed a place to log my findings. What better place to not only keep track of this information, but share it than right here on the Iridium Forums! Hopefully, the things posted will be of some use to the RPers, GMs and other hobbyists that frequent this place.

    Below is an index of articles and videos that are posted in this thread, so its easy to jump to the title of interest. Thanks for visiting, and well; you should frequent this place more often (if you like it). I update it with at least one new find every day or two. ^_^

    Table of Contents:

    • (World Building)
    • (Writing)
    • (Project Management)
    • (Miscellaneous)
    • (MECHADEMIA 3: Limits of the Human)
    articleicon.png [ix | xi] // Preface and Introduction
    articleicon.png [人間に] // Contours–Around the Human

    ◦ Refiguring the Human
    ◦ The Otherworlds of Shigeru Mizuki

    7 Things to Consider Before World Building

    Written by TERAMIS on NOVEMBER 8, 2013 | via world-building.com

    I talked to a few authors lately who for the first time are giving some serious thought to world building. They’re all coming at the process from different directions: one is new to writing, one is returning after years of not writing at all, one is changing genres and now has to invent something from scratch. But what they all have in common is that they are regarding the world building thing and kind of scratching their heads and saying, “Where do I begin?”

    “Before one can sit down and start the work of world building, there are actually a few things a writer needs to mull over first.”

    Now, there are all kinds of world building processes to follow (not the least of which is outlined in our Gazetteer Writer’s Manual: take a look at the Table of Contents for a good road map to the process). But it occurs to me that before one can sit down and start the task of world building, there are actually a few things a writer needs to mull over first: things that will provide a frame of reference for the work to come, and maybe generate some anchor points along the way. By anchor points, I mean things that are “must haves” for when you get into the nitty-gritty development work.

    So, here are my recommendations for the first high-level pass a writer takes when sidling up on the world building endeavor. This is not an exhaustive list, it is just some things that come quickly to my mind and which I think are most useful as starting points in this process. Many of these points are pretty obvious (I think), and some people will go, “Oh, yeah, of course I do that already.” Or your process may be completely different. In any case, if you are feeling a bit lost as you contemplate the mountain that is World Building, I hope this will provide some toeholds on the path.

    1. What kind of story do you want to tell?

    This isn’t about world building per se, it is about the type of tale you have in mind. What is its tone, its mood, its theme, its genre? Fast-paced futuristic action-adventure with an undercurrent of man-versus-self tragedy? A frontier love story in a re-imagined Old West? A tale of lurking evil and dynastic curses in a quirky not-quite-European fantasy setting, where the Hero’s Journey rules the story arc?

    Just sit with your thoughts and contemplate this before you ever start asking any world building questions. Some world design issues may suggest themselves naturally as you mull your story over (is the love story better told as a Western romance, or should it be a noir Blade Runner-ish kind of thing?) but at this point what you are striving to do is to get an emotional and mental feel for the flavor of your story, and (if possible) the “charge” around it. What is it that draws you to the story you are contemplating? What is it you want your readers to resonate with? What is it that you resonate with?

    This process lets you engage with the intangibles of the tale and get a feeling for its vibe.

    2. What setting works for that story?

    Stay focused on that feeling- now ask yourself what setting(s) would work to tell it in. What’s the first thing that comes to mind? Make a note of that.

    This might be the perfect framing for your story–or it might be your subconscious at work, once again regurgitating your enduring love of, say, epic fantasy settings. Well and good, but that may or may not actually be the best setting for your story. Which is why we then go right on to this next step.

    3. Think of two more settings that could work as well.

    Try to make these additional setting ideas radically different from each other. We’re not talking “James Bond in Paris, in London, or in Berlin.” Rather, we’re thinking, “James Bond in Paris, Giacomo Bondo of Machiavelli’s Florence, or Iacomus of alternate-historical Imperial Rome.

    Another approach that works is to consider the story elements and ask yourself what kind of setting will give good play to the things you want to emphasize. If you are writing a grim murder tale, you might be most interested in dark, gritty settings to reflect that theme. Or maybe a romantic love affair requires a culture with elaborate courting rituals. This will affect the kinds of settings that you come up with for alternatives. The zombie apocalypse might not be the most effective setting for a novel of manners. And so on.

    4. Try these on for mental size.

    Even if you just “know” that you really want to write (say) a modern espionage thriller, look first at the tale and what you want it to convey in terms of tone and theme. Now do a little mental exercise — how would your story play out, or “feel”, if it transpired in a different setting? Imagine it in each of the three you’ve come up with. A spy story might require a modern era–but maybe not. Would it play well in a different era, or maybe a different genre entirely? For there were certainly spies all throughout history. Let your imagination cavort here and see if any new inspirations arise from this process.

    I find this exercise especially useful because all too often my left brain will churn out “logical” plots and “logical” settings, but these results may feel flat and lackluster. I can’t get deeply enthused about the setting, and this is a good signal that story or setting – or both – are not yet properly aligned. Taking this mental excursion, sitting, eyes closed, imagining how my story might play out in different eras and places, helps me to home in on the one fictional world that is really right for the tale.

    5. And the winner is...?

    I did this recently with my work in progress, a novel called Faro City. This features a reconstructed Old West town that modern people visit on vacation. The protagonist helps solve a crime there and ends up staying as a resident.

    That, at least, is the setting as I first envisioned it. When I tried the alternative setting exercise described above, though, the first thing that came up for me was a science fictional take on this story that would read more like Westworld–-a place relying on high tech and robots for its illusion of realism. The other thing that called to me was the idea that someone from modern times steps through a dimensional portal (how? Not important) and ends up in the real Faro City in 1873. How would a modern person cope with that kind of transposition in time? Fascinating question.

    All of these ideas had their appeal, but after trying them on for size, I decided I didn’t want to juggle science fiction elements (and also did not want resonance with the well-known Westworld property). And as appealing as the time travel story might be, that would morph my story too much into a fish-out-of-water thing, and take focus away from modern people attempting to recreate the past.

    Ultimately I stuck with my original idea, but I got more clear on what I liked about it and its setting—and what I must emphasize in my writing—by going through this compare and contrast exercise.

    So which setting feels like the best fit for what you want to do? Pick that one and commit to it for the world building efforts which follow.

    6. What happens when an alternate setting is irresistible?

    If one of your other setting possibilities really grabs your imagination, this can present a dilemma. If it is not best suited to carry the tale you had in mind, at least this provides a reality check about the setting with the most appeal to you.

    This often means that a certain setting holds more creative juice for you than others you’ve toyed with. Consider writing in that time/place, instead of whatever else you had in mind. If your present story idea is not a really good fit, maybe you will want to rethink the concept and come up with something that complements the new setting that is calling to you so strongly.

    If you need to “write the first story first” before larking off into other interesting byways, of course, that’s up to you. We all have our own considerations about where to spend our creative energy. But I do find it can be a hidden advantage to write about something that really grabs me and won’t let my imagination go. At the very least it makes the long slog of all the other associated work more tolerable, because I enjoy seeing that particular creation grow.

    At the very least, write down setting ideas in a doc or journal you can refer to later. When you have current projects out of the way, that is one you will probably want to return to, and it is helpful to capture all those fleeting thoughts you have about it now, even if you are not yet doing any concentrated world building for that setting.
    7. What is the WOW Factor ?

    Now that you’ve been all around the block with your original idea and other possibilities, take a moment to note what the “wow” factor is for the setting you’ve chosen to work on. What gets you excited about that fictional world? It might be something that pops so strongly it becomes a “must-have” factor that will play a role, maybe a big one, in the completed world. This is certainly something you’ll take note of and develop more when you get into the world building.

    In the alternative, the appeal of a setting might be much more general or fuzzy in your thoughts, along the lines of “I just love that period in history.” To which I will ask, “Why?” What about that period grabs you? Is it the battle prowess of the knights? The backstabbing intrigue of Imperial Rome? Is it the clothes and culture of manners of the Regency? Get very clear on why you are drawn to the fictional world you envision. If it is based on an historical period that might be easier to do – more challenging if it is a setting you must invent from the ground up. In either case, you need to know what grabs you, because that helps you convey that enthusiasm to your readers and lets it infuse the story as you write.

    When you’re done with all that, you’ll have a good idea of what kind of world you want to build, and why.

    Only then is it time to think about the world building itself.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2015
  2. Brijesha

    Brijesha Teller of Seasons Senior Member

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    Holly Lisle's FAQs About World-Building
    Written by Holly Lisle | via www.hollylisle.com

    How important is worldbuilding?
    How important is your story to you? People hear the word “worldbuilding” and automatically assume that the discussion is going to apply only to people who are writing science fiction and fantasy — after all, for everyone else, this is the world they’re going to be writing in, and it has already been built.
    That’s not the case. You’re worldbuilding when you sketch out a floorplan of the house that your character lives in so that you don’t accidentally have her bedroom on the first floor in chapter one and on the second in chapter three. You’re worldbuilding when you draw out a little map of the town in which your characters live and name the streets and decide that the corner drugstore is on the corner of Maple and Vine. You are worldbuilding when you decide that the town has two churches, one Prebsyterian and one Methodist, and that the Methodists think (as a whole) that the Presbyterians are a bunch of godless heathens and the Presbyterians think the Methodists are a bunch of fanatics.

    You’re worldbuilding, in other words, when you create some guidelines about the place in which your story takes place or about the people who inhabit the place in order to maintain consistency within the story and add a feeling of verisimilitude to your work. So worldbuilding is essential to anyone who writes.

    Where do you come up with names?
    I have a stack of baby name books that I sometimes glimpse through. I usually alter spellings or use only portions of those names, but from time to time I’ll find one that is just too cool to pass up. I also develop languages for the different peoples in my universes, and build the names using the rules of those languages. I notice names in magazines and on the spines of books, and use altered versions of the names of childhood friends. Sometimes I take a piece of paper and run through the alphabet until a letter strikes my fancy. Then I write it down and start scrambling letters after it in a list until I hit something that I think sounds nice.

    I also frequently change the names of characters in the first drafts of books. They don’t all gel for me (though I’m usually pretty solid on the main characters) until I send in the final draft.

    How do you make maps?
    This is something I’ve been doing since I was about six or seven, and I do it the way some people breathe — naturally and without thinking about it. But I took the process apart eventually because I realized how essential it was to the way I worked, and how useful it could be to anyone who wanted to write. The process is time consuming, but if you’re interested, do the Maps Workshop. It will be worth your while.

    How do you develop languages?

    Again, there is a long answer to this question- not a short one. If you’re interested in developing your own languages for the books you’re writing, I’m developing a lengthy workshop that you can go through. It isn’t ready yet, but I hope will be soon.

    Do you do a lot of worldbuilding before you start a book?
    Oh, man, do I ever. I’m at the very extreme end of the curve on this, but I routinely do hundreds of pages of cultural background, linguistic development, mapping and so on.

    Can you do worldbuilding that doesn’t use knights, elves, dragons and castles?

    Yes. And unless you can do something with knights, elves, dragons and castles that hasn’t been done a million times, you really should.
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  3. Brijesha

    Brijesha Teller of Seasons Senior Member

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    Creation: Authorship of the Narrative
    Video discussion via www.5Dinstitute.org

    The videos posted below are a discussion that focuses on the role of Authorship in the increasingly global process of creation. The process of sculpting a world in space and time creates an interior logic that defines both the story and the characters in relation to environment. How does technology support new artistic collaboration and change the way that we create?

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  4. Brijesha

    Brijesha Teller of Seasons Senior Member

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    Worldbuilding - Questionable Categories for Organized Creation
    Written by Sandra Harvey on JUNE 6th, 2013 | via sandrasstories.wordpress.com

    Hi guys! As promised, I am going to post my knowledge of worldbuilding today. I absolutely love worldbuilding. It is one of my favourite things to do when starting a new story. I had a lot of fun building up a realistic world for my new upcoming novel (The Myth of Kalvartr) and now I shall share everything I know. : )

    Firstly, organization is a must. Keep your ideas separated. I use journals and grouped papers for my research. It gets really messy if everything is just mushed together in one big pile.

    Okay. After deciding how you want to organize your stuff, you can move on to the categories of worldbuilding. I’m sure different people have different categories, but these are mine:
    • History
    • Society
    • Religion
    • Food & Dining
    • Greeting & Language
    • Ethics/Values
    • Legal System
    • Government/ Rulers
    • Daily Life
    • Weapons/ Armour/ Clothes
    • Medicene
    • Education
    • Business
    • Foreign Relations
    • Architecture/ Natural Resources
    It is important to understand all of these things when designing a fictional world. If you don’t know things about your world, how is anyone else supposed to know? You can add more if you’d like, such as a magic system. My story does not involve much magic, so I left it out.

    Let’s take a closer look at each category.

    • HISTORY: You must decide how people arrived in their province/country/world. If there is magic, where did it come from? Does your world have records from the old days? Was there ever any conflict between one country and another? These are just examples of questions you can ask yourself about the history of your world. Feel free to continue on with even more questions. Expand and grow your knowledge of your world.
    • SOCIETY: What kind of time system do you use? What family structures? Do different races live together? Do they all speak the same language?

    • RELIGION: This factor plays a huge part in most fantasy stories and is an important part of worldbuilding. Let’s start with, are there gods in the first place? If so, how many? Are they good or evil or both? Is there rivalry between gods? Are the gods tied to birth, death, marriage, or other cultural events?

    • FOOD & DINING: Do the poor and rich eat together? How do royals dine? What food is present in your world? And what types of food are present in each country/province? Are there poisonous foods? Are certain types of food not allowed to be eaten in certain cultures?

    • GREETING & LANGUAGE: How are commoners and royals greeted? What are ways of showing respect? Is there a common tongue? Do different races have different names for various places?

    • ETHICS/ VALUES: Which words are swear words? What is considered valuable in society? Do different races have less rights/ different values/ taboos? What is considered rude?

    • LEGAL SYSTEM: What is the punishment for crimes? Is torture legal? Can everyone buy/ make weapons? Who deals with the criminals? Can people hire lawyers to defend criminals? Is there a court?

    • GOVERNMENT/ RULERS: What type of system is used? Which governments are allied or enemies? Do some people have less rights than others? How is a country’s respect measured? Who gives support to the country? Who protects the people?

    • DAILY LIFE: What items are hard to obtain? How is waste/ garbage disposed of? What method of time keeping is used? How do certain races feel about foreigners?

    • WEAPONS/ ARMOUR/ CLOTHING: What types of armour are available/ made for different types of people? Do people normally carry weapons around with them? If you have magic in your world, are there also magic weapons? What do people normally wear? Are dyes for commoners or just royals?

    • MEDICINE: How are people treated? Is magic used? Is it expensive? Is there a midwife for birthing? Are there schools to train healers/ doctors?

    • EDUCATION: Who provides it? Is it costly? Is it far away? Universities/ colleges? Is education common in society? Does everyone know how to read?

    • BUSINESS: Are there trading companies? Guilds? What type of money is used? What kind of goods are available to buy in small villages/ cities? Are trades passed down through families? If not, how do they learn their trades?

    • FOREIGN RELATIONS: Are neighboring countries friendly with one another? Are there envoys? Are there treaties? Are there smugglers? Which rulers or lords are related? Which countries are connected by marriage?

    • ARCHITECTURE / NATURAL RESOURCES: What building materials are used? How large are houses for different classes of people? What type of heating is used? What is inside common houses? Where are farmlands/ mines/ hunting areas located? Is there conflict about who gets what?
    You can also expand upon war, creatures, customs, and various other things. Try to be as creative as possible, but remain realistic. It is a good idea to completely separate races and provinces when deciding what each one is all about. Then you can start to intertwine them together.

    Hopefully this post will give you some ideas for your own fantasy story, and help you with your worldbuilding. : )

    ~ Sandra
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  5. Brijesha

    Brijesha Teller of Seasons Senior Member

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    **If the above post was useful to you, than you should view the incredibly detailed guide written below; I assure you, you will not be disappointed. Anyhow, thanks for reading!** - Brijesha
    Fantasy Worldbuilding Questions
    Written by Patricia C. Wrede | via www.sfwa.org
    The following list of questions is meant to aid authors of fantasy fiction who are seeking to create believable imaginary settings for their stories. While many of these questions may be helpful or crucial to certain stories, they will not all apply to every story. It is not necessary for an author to answer all, or even any, of the questions in order to start writing, (or to finish writing, either). The idea is simply to provoke people into thinking about the ways their settings and backgrounds hang together … or don’t. If it’s useful, use it. If not, don’t.

    Some questions apply to more than one topic, and have been duplicated under more than one heading. This should not be considered as an exhaustive and final list, but as a beginning point from which each individual writer can compile a personal list.

    The Questions

    Last edited: Feb 25, 2014
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  6. Brijesha

    Brijesha Teller of Seasons Senior Member

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    A Few Things you Really Need to Know
    as an Anxious Writer and/or Artist

    Written by Springhole | via www.springhole.net

    I see a lot of people fall into a very toxic trap - they spend so long polishing and refining their work that it never, ever gets published or put up anywhere. Rather than put it out there for a test run like they should be doing, they're asking other people whether it's good enough or not. If this is you, then here are a few things you need to start keeping in mind.

    Last edited: Nov 27, 2014
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  7. Brijesha

    Brijesha Teller of Seasons Senior Member

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    The Importance of Real-World Knowledge for Game Design
    Video by Joshua Sawyer | via youtube.com

    ** Joshua Eric "J.E." Sawyer is an American video game designer, known for his work on games in the role-playing video game genre. Wikipedia
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  8. Brijesha

    Brijesha Teller of Seasons Senior Member

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    DM Basics - World Building
    Video by DawnforgedCast | via youtube.com

    Some guidelines and suggestions when considering building your own world.


    DM Basics: Campaign Building
    Videos by DawnforgedCast | via youtube.com

    A 4 part video commentary on building your own campaign for RPGs like D&D.

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  9. Cerberuspaw

    Cerberuspaw Senior Member Senior Member Indiegogo Backer

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    I really enjoy these segments.
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  10. Brijesha

    Brijesha Teller of Seasons Senior Member

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    How to Write an Essay on Settings
    Written by Kori Morgan | via everydaylife.globalspot.com

    A setting analysis looks at how setting creates mood, plot and character.

    Whether it's an alien planet or a spooky castle on a hill, setting often plays an important role in establishing meaning in stories. An analysis of setting focuses on the role location plays in astory, such as creating mood, developing characters or serving as a symbol. You can write an effective essay on literary setting by considering the specific ways the location influences the story, along with using clear examples with textual evidence.

    • Mood and Symbolism

    Determine the role setting plays in the work. Often, setting creates the story's mood, or atmosphere. In "A Good Man is Hard to Find," Flannery O'Connor establishes an eerie mood of anticipation as the characters travel an isolated Georgia highway where a serial killer roams free. Setting can also be symbolic of a particular idea within the story. The small town in Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery," where the townspeople sacrifice one person each year to ensure a good harvest, is symbolic of their adherence to tradition and resistance to change.​

    • Setting and Character

    You can also write about how setting affects character. In Jack London's "To Build a Fire," the subzero conditions of the Yukon advance the story by forcing him to adapt to survive. In F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby," the contrasting neighborhoods of East Egg and West Egg create the novel's social class dichotomy. Setting can also serve as a story's antagonist. In Kathryn Stockett's "The Help," Jackson, Mississippi is the antagonist, as its rigid attitudes toward race stand in the way of protagonist Skeeter's goal of writing a book about the town's African-American maids.​

    • Thesis

    Your thesis should clearly and specifically state the setting's role in the work and how it is established. To determine this, go back through the story and underline specific passages where the setting establishes mood, symbolism or character. Take the most important three details and formulate your thesis. A sample thesis might read, "The setting of 'The Lottery' symbolizes society's tendency to cling to tradition through the descriptions in the opening, the interactions of the townspeople and the fact that it is the story's only setting."​

    • Essay Development

    Your essay's body paragraphs should include topic sentences followed by an explanation of the point with textual evidence. If you were writing about "The Lottery," you might quote the details in the first paragraph for your point of how the opening introduces the setting. Then you might step back and discuss the significance of the details, tying your point back to the thesis. For example, Jackson's description of the town square enhances the setting's symbolism because it is relatively generic. It could be any small town, just as the rigid thinking of tradition can belong to any community.​

    • Conclusion

    The concluding paragraph reviews the elements of setting you've discussed and briefly restates how they relate to your thesis. A good conclusion doesn't merely summarize the essay but instead wraps it up in a way that gives unity to the piece and introduces something new for readers to consider. For example, the conclusion of your "Lottery" essay might discuss how even though the consequences of opposing tradition aren't always life-threatening, it is still easy to cling to certain ideas in a way that alienates people who oppose them.​

  11. Brijesha

    Brijesha Teller of Seasons Senior Member

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    I'm happy to read you say that! If anyone would like to share their own bits of advice, I'd be happy to link them to the first post. I'm only posting articles I find from the web because I believe I lack the originality and wisdom to write this sort of stuff myself, but if you're more of an original and wiser fellow than I whose brave enough to write and share an article on here, please do so.

    For every original article you guys write and post in this thread, a child of my village will be spared from being hit with a rock. Sadly, we can't spare all the children in this village from being flung at with rocks, but if you (the potential article writer) can add a bit more quality and effort into your post, we the rock flingers will put the extra care into using tinier and smoother stones.

    ch-ohno.png ch-runaway.png
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2014
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  12. Brijesha

    Brijesha Teller of Seasons Senior Member

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    Creating Fantasy Creatures and Alien Species
    Written by Grace Robinson | via storytellergirlgrace.wordpress.com


    I read a great blog some time ago (here and here) about the use of non-human characters in fantasy and science-fiction. It’s true that non-human creatures are a staple of these genres; and for those of us who write sci-fi and fantasy, creating new creatures is part of the fun of world-building.

    I’m not going to lay out rules for creating magical creatures or alien life-forms. However, similar to other forms of world-building, I believe there are some factors that should be considered when creating non-human people.

    Note: these guidelines/suggestions apply primarily to sentient creatures rather than regular animals, as I’m discussing the roles that individuals of these species may play as major or supporting characters. Think Wookies rather than taun-tauns.

    If you’re inventing a fairy kingdom or an alien race to be major players in your story, then you want them to well-rounded and have all the nuances and details of any real culture. (This is not to say that every writer must aspire to have Tolkien-esque creations, complete with their own language, mythology, and land of after-life). But if you want your creatures to be appealing to the reader, they should be more than one-dimensional over-generalizations.

    What are the qualities that make them non-human?

    There’s nothing wrong with simply sticking pointed ears on a human and calling it an elf or a Vulcan, but if you’re going to all the work of creating a non-human race, then why is it important that these people be non-human? This could be for any number of reasons (magical realm, alien planet, plot about human versus non-human war, etc). But my point here is that there need to be some noticeable, and story-specific, reasons that these characters are not mere humans from theneighboring land.

    Physiology: Wings, prehensile tails, fur, gills. Creatures that eat rocks, breathe methane, live in the ice, live in the sun. The plot of your story may dictate certain physical attributes that your creatures have. Again, there’s nothing wrong with a humanoid with pointed ears, but consider other aspects of the physiology as it relates to the plot and other needs of your story.

    Emotions/Mindset: How do these people (as a race in general, or specific characters) think and feel that makes them different from the human characters? Do they consider anger to be a sign of strength and prestige? Do they have no concept of betrayal, and so your character experiences completely new emotions when betrayed by a human character? Since I’ve been talking about pointy-eared folks, consider the Vulcans and their mindset of placing reason above emotions.

    Culture: This one sort of goes along with the previous entry of emotions and racial thought-process, but it’s a bit broader. What about the culture makes it so radically different from any human society? If your pointy-eared elves look, think, feel, dress, eat, talk, work, and play exactly the same way that most any human society would, then why bother making them non-human? How does their clothing indicate each individual’s role in the family structure? What is unique about their art or their music? What do they eat during special ceremonies? Not every detail of a culture has to be established (and if you’re writing a long epic or a series, many of these details can be revealed over the long haul). But again, try to make your people unique as a race in more ways than just pointy-eared humans who all wear purple sashes on Fridays.

    Example: Hobbits. Yep, they’re pretty humanoid (and have pointed ears!) They even have a lot of human cultural traits like fancy silverware and books on the bookshelves, ale-drinking at pubs, fireworks at parties. But what are some things that make then distinctly non-human?

    Hobbits have giant, furry feet that are sturdier than the best shoes. Frodo and Sam hiked all the way to Mordor barefoot, and sore feet was one thing that never bothered them. Hobbits frown upon adventures and doing anything wild and crazy and new. The very human-like craving to explore and do something new made both Bilbo and Frodo outcasts of a sort. In broader cultural terms, hobbits shun boats and water, despite the prevalence of rivers in their land. And they avoid outsiders, not so much out of fear, but rather out of a cultural mindset of believing that their land is immune to the problems that plague the rest of the world.

    What are the qualities that make them human?

    Now we come to the flip side of creating imaginary creatures and alien races. Unless you’re writing a humans-versus-creatures-who-have-no-redeeming-qualities story (like, say, in the movie Independence Day), then you want your people to have some human qualities to make them relatable. Chances are your human characters will be interacting with the non-humans in many different ways, and having some point of familiarity can smooth rough patches or add to the tension, depending on your plot and how you use it.

    Also, some human qualities will make these made-up creatures more likeable by your readers. Again, unless you’re doing an Independence Day-type story, you want your readers to enjoy reading about the creatures you’ve created.

    Physiology: Physical features are perhaps the least important (at least, in my opinion) for the human-relatability factor. But if the needs of your story demand the humans and the non-humans to interact in any way beside total war and annihilation, then having some common ground to work from could be good. In the classic Star Trek episode “The Devil in the Dark,” the non-human character was a living rock. But even then, the Enterprise crew and the alien found a common ground when the humans figured out that the rock was a female protecting her eggs. Not that humans lay eggs, but the mother-protecting-her-young thing was enough to launch an understanding.

    Emotions/Mindset: This category, and the next one of culture, are where you can build the strongest human-like elements in your magical or alien race. It doesn’t have to be big or obvious. But if your fairies have a sense of humor and laugh at jokes – even if those jokes make no sense to the humans – that is your common ground. The fairieshave a sense of humor, just like humans – even if each race has to struggle to understand each other’s humor.

    Culture: Again, you don’t have to go overboard with similarities to human culture (refer back to the pointy-eared just-like-humans-in-almost-every-way example I used earlier). Unless, of course, loads of similarities is part of the plot or theme of your book. But in general, just a few commonalities is enough to make your fantasy creatures believable and understood by your readers. Maybe your elves put the same emphasis on fashion that most human cultures past and present have? Maybe your aliens are radically alien in every way, but even they bond and find community while eating together? Make it as big or little, emphatic or unimportant as you want, but some little human element can help hook and ground your human readers.

    Example: The dragons from Jeff Smith’s epic fantasy comic Bone. Physiology is where they are the least human – they’re dragons, after all. But even the main dragon character The Great Red Dragon has distinctly human-like hands, complete with smooth flexible fingers and opposable thumbs. The dragon racial mindset and culture is one rooted in fear, despite their great wisdom and power. Fear does strange things to people and makes them do things they might not normally do if they were thinking clearly – and this is what has happened to the dragons as a people as the story begins. The Great Red Dragon finds himself trying to be the lone voice of reason to both his own kind and the humans – a position that most people could understand, if not identify with.

    So there’s my take on the populating of fantasy worlds. These are far from being rules, for sure, but are just common elements that I’ve noticed from some of the best sci-fi and fantasy stories. Now go grab some humans, some pointed ears, and let your imagination run wild!
  13. Brijesha

    Brijesha Teller of Seasons Senior Member

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    All Your Characters Talk the Same
    -And They're Not a Hivemind!

    Written by Charlie Jane Anders | via io9.com

    It's one of the biggest problems plaguing fiction — and it seems to hit genre fiction especially hard sometimes: the characters who all sound exactly alike. How do you keep your characters from all having the same voice?

    This is something I've struggled with in my own fiction, and it's a much messier problem than you would think. Even when you feel like your tough woman space captain and your sensitive young astro-biologist are incredibly well drawn and full of character and neuroses, and nobody would ever imagine they were the same person. And then you're looking over your novel for the tenth time, and you realize that they're all sounding absolutely identical.

    It makes sense, in one way — your characters are all aspects of you, after all. They all came out of your head, unless you based them on your friends or other fictional characters (and even if they're based on someone else, they're still your creations, when it comes down to it). You're speaking through their mouths. But that doesn't mean they're doomed to sound like you, or like the same person. This is totally a solvable problem.

    Here are some solutions to the issue, ranging from least crude to crudest. If the least crude solution works for you, then you don't need to worry about the rest of them — but I've used all of these methods at various times, and there's no shame in using tough measures on your characters.

    1) Listen to how people talk. I have a feeling this is what "real" writers do. Don't listen to how people talk on television or in the movies — go to a bar or cafe and just listen to the conversations around you, and try to hear how people are speaking. If you can write down snippets of people's conversations without being a total creep, then do that. V.S. Pritchett writes about doing this when he was a young writer — and one of those snippets of conversation even found its way into a short story that he later published. Try to get a feel for the rhythms of conversation, and the way different people form sentences. Bottom line is, if your characters all sound the same, then they're not sounding like natural dialogue at all.

    2) Try to "hear" your characters' individual voices. This is not really cruder than the first one, actually. If your characters are really that vivid in your head — if you really feel like they're real, breathing people that you've brought to life inside a living story — then you should be able to hear their voices. And they don't just sound different because they choose different words to express themselves — they are saying different things.

    Say Space Captain Starjumper makes lots of definitive statements, because she's got lots of points to get across, while Astrobiologist Second Class Sparrow is constantly raising tentative half-questions. Maybe Captain Starjumper has an undercurrent of insecurity, and that's part of why she has to make sharp statements all the time. And Sparrow really knows more than he's saying. The way in which people say the things they say also provides the reader with more information.​

    3) Realize your characers are not talking to you, or directly to the reader.Unless you're really doing some kind of post-modern fourth-wall-shredding exercise, your characters are talking to each other. And think about what kind of reaction your characters are hoping to get when they say something. Not the reaction they actually do get — it's too easy to jump straight to that — but the reaction they expect. Fine, Navigator Angstrom's revelation that he turns gay whenever the ship is in hyperspace meets with a stunned silence. But was Navigator Angstrom hoping for a stunned silence? Was he trying to provoke an angry response, or some kind of accepting, reassuring statement? Was he trying to guilt-trip the captain for making so many hyperspace jumps lately? It sounds obvious, but it's often hard to remember: the response you're hoping for shapes the way you talk. And every one of these characters has a script in his/her head for how this conversation is going to go, whether it goes that way or not. You, as the author, know the way you want/need for the conversation to go, but you need to know what the characters want/expect as well.

    Update: Zack Stentz, writer on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Fringe, points out another helpful way of looking at this: "Every interaction between two people is on some level a negotiation for status." Remember that, and your characters' speech will automatically get richer and more interesting. Apparently this advice originates with Terry McNally, co-writer of Earth Girls Are Easy.

    4) Try giving each character a few unique verbal tics, or habitual words. Maybe Captain Starjumper says "I declare" a lot, in between all those declarative statements she makes. (Okay, bad example.) Maybe Navigator Angstrom makes lots of puns, or tosses lots of sarcastic jokes into the end of every comment. Give each character a few habits of speech, and maybe after a while those props will help you hear each character speaking differently. You may even be able to go back and take out some of these tics, if they get too repetitive, and if the speech around them has started to differentiate itself from the rest.


    5) Go one step further, and give them catch phrases and stuff. This worked for Dickens, after all. A lot of Dickens characters basically have the same verbal habits over and over — the most famous of these, of course, is Mrs. Malaprop, who always uses words incorrectly, and gave us the term malapropism. (Update: Various people have pointed out this is not true. Sorry about the mix-up. I've read almost every Dickens novel, and somehow I believed this incorrectly. My bad!)

    But it's true of a lot of minor Dickens characters. And especially if you're going for humor, there's nothing wrong with having a character who comes out with variations on the same funny line on several occasions. Maybe your astrobiologist character constantly states the obvious, but prefaces it by saying, "I have made a cunning observation."

    6) Realize that you may have, at most, three or four character "voices" and refine those. As regular readers of this blog know, I utterly, unreservedly love Joss Whedon. But he is a perfect example of a writer who has a few voices that he uses over and over. There's always the stilted British person (Giles/Wesley/Adelle), the funny, quippy nerd (Xander/Topher/etc.) and the lost/crazy girl (River/Echo/Fred/etc.) And the amazing thing is — those characters are all wildly individual and have tons of depth. You would never mistake Giles for Adelle, even leaving apart that she's way prettier. (Well, somewhat prettier.) Whedon may have a few basic voices that he reuses over and over again, but he finds other ways to make his characters unique and distinct from each other. He's also worked, over the years, to refine each of those voices and make the most of their strengths.

    7) Vary your sentence lengths, and play with punctuation. If all else fails, try this. In real life, some people tend to speak in longer sentences, others in shorter ones. (Actually, we all vary our sentence lengths all the time, but our average sentence lengths vary quite a bit.) There's nothing wrong with just deciding arbitrarily that Captain Starjumper's average sentence will be five words long, while Navigator Angstrom's will be twenty. Also, you can try giving one character lots of emdashes or colons in his/her speech — but do this sparingly, and only for one character. In my new fantasy novel, I have one character who includes lots of parenthetical statements, and I put those in actual parentheses. But I made sure to avoid any funny punctuation games with any other character's speech, so it didn't start annoying the reader too much.

    8) Adjust the French/Anglo-Saxon mix. Those of us who write in English are lucky — it's actually two languages in one. (Plus random language detritus from a dozen other languages.) We're speaking a mixture of Anglo-Saxon and French, the language of the Normans who conquered England in 1066. And just as the Enterprise's engines are a mix of matter and anti-matter, your speech is a mix of French and Anglo-Saxon. And some people definitely use more words of Latin origin than others — it's often a badge of education and upper-class status to use lots of obviously Latinate words. So if all else fails, try experimenting with having one of your characters use more Anglo-Saxon words than the rest of them, or more fancy French words. Grab a dictionary of etymology and think about which words come from which language — you can give your characters a more Germanic or more French "voice" without actually making them speak a foreign language at all. You could also just try having some characters use more one- or two-syllable words than the rest, but this might be subtler and more fun.

  14. Cerberuspaw

    Cerberuspaw Senior Member Senior Member Indiegogo Backer

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    I do not have much to share on word building as I am new to it as well. I would like to say this though, If you are writing a novel, story, making a role play, table top campaign, or just trying to improve your story telling ability. Everything Brijesha is posting is wonderful direction. I myself am currently using it and finding the results to be much improved over my previous endeavors.
    Brijesha likes this.
  15. Brijesha

    Brijesha Teller of Seasons Senior Member

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  16. Brijesha

    Brijesha Teller of Seasons Senior Member

    Local Time:
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    Designing Good Roleplaying Adventures
    Written by Mark Cunning (A.K.A. The Dead One) | via thedeadone.net


    I saw Nick’s post on LJ about how many adventures and other gaming stuff he’s written and ran. It made me start thinking about my own work; which is certainly not as prolific as Nicks. In all the adventures I’ve ran, I can count on one hand the number I think were good or successful and yet still have fingers left over. Not that I’m putting my GMing or writing skills down, but that writing an adventure is different from designing a good adventure.

    Let me elaborate. I believe there are a number of components to a good adventure. I’m talking about tabletop roleplaying in the traditional model of one GM and 3+ players and a single “adventure”. That is, an adventure (or story) that has a definitive start and end and runs only over one to maybe two to three sessions. Part of my purpose here is for myself to define what those components are, not to criticise other approaches. By defining them, it makes it easier for me to handle and better design my own adventures along the lines I believe make good adventures. They may not be the only elements of a good adventure but I feel they are the most crucial (as in IMHO people!).

    The four components, I’ve named “The Hook”, “Creative Freedom”, “Part Deux” and “Group Cohesion/Direction” and I will explore all four in this article. Of course, I may be coming late to the race in this and that most good GMs are pretty familiar with these ideas or they have their own concepts that encompass theses. Thats great, I certainly don’t mean to say there is only one way to design an adventure.

    I have a number of caveats before I begin however. Players can make and break any adventure no matter how well designed or written they are. A destructive or bored player can not be solved by good adventure design. You’ll have to deal with such players on a person to person level.

    I offer up the maxim: “Know thy players”. What is your target audience? If your designing for players you’ve known a long time, you’ll know the kind of games and stories they like. If your writing for a convention, make sure you know what type of players would (or might) enjoy your adventure and write your blurb to reflect that (if you can). A mismatch between player’s and GM’s expectations can be disaster. But simply being aware of the problem and heading it off early enough often solves this before it becomes an issue. Don’t assume the players know what to expect, no matter how long you’ve (as GM) have known them!

    Now, lets say you have an idea for an adventure. Put it to one side. Write it on the top of your blank sheet of paper if you wish. Your idea is normally actually secondary to designing your adventure. Most of us who run our own adventures are inspired by books, movies and game settings. We come up with plots (or plans), scenes, characters, etc. This is great, this is the creative juice flowing through are gaming veins. But they do not necessarily make a good adventure. Now let me explain…

    The Hook

    If you take one thing away from this article, it is this: The Hook. It is the most important aspect of an adventure. You can be a shit GM, have a bad plot with implausible characters… but if you’ve got The Hook (either by accident or design), it doesn’t matter.

    But be careful. Roleplaying games are very different to other media. A Hook in a movie might be the initial action-packed scene or the witty dialogue of the first characters on screen, in a book it must be in the first paragraph or chapter that makes you want to read the rest. A Hook in roleplaying adventure may have nothing to do with the adventure itself! While this is partly true for movies (i.e. the hype), if the movie sucks most critical people will realise quickly.

    A Hook can be a new setting or a new system. Imagine one of your friends gets the latest White Wolf release and everyone is exciting to play… there is your Hook. They want to play, it’s not that important exactly what happens. But don’t depend on this type of Hook. Players get jaded quickly and you’ll have to come up with other Hooks to keep it going. You can’t depend on the system and setting to make The Hook for you all the time. As a teenager, roleplaying in itself, was more than enough of a Hook (sadly as an adult I’ve gotten more cynical and critical). Hell, a Hook could be just a group of old friends meeting up to play a few roleplaying games and have fun.

    The Hook can be also, what I call the “what the fudge” (or wtf) and/or “wow” moment. Sometime early on into the adventure the players (not the characters) are surprised or excited by something that happens or is revealed in the adventure. This is where “know thy players” is so important. What will make them want to play the rest of the adventure?

    The Hook does not have to be present in the first moments of the game. The Hook, as I’ve said, my have nothing to do with the adventure itself, however the Hook should be early enough in the game. The beginning may build up to it or it may become apparent at some point.

    The Hook does not necessarily have to dazzle, it can be very sublime or simply provide a goal for the players to complete. For example, in an Ars Magica adventure I ran recently, the Hook was that the groks of the PCs’ covenant were being mauled by a supernatural fish creature. The PCs leaped on this as a threat to their covenant that must be defeated. The Hook here was the supernatural threat to the players (note I didn’t say PCs) covenant or character’s home which only the characters could really deal with. It provided a goal for them, one they could achieve with some thought and effort. It certainly wasn’t a wtf or wow moment. Of course you can’t start every adventure with a threat to the characters home.

    The important thing here is not to think about just the setting or characters. It’s the players that are important. What will get them going about your idea? In my opinion, it is rarely just the story itself that is the Hook. The story is what follows the Hook (see the section on “Part Deux”). Don’t get me wrong, the Hook itself could be a story, for example a build-up to a revelation about the plot. You can of course just fluff it and use your exuberant skill as a GM to get the players going, but not all of us are so skilled.

    Once The Hook is in, the players are tied up in the adventure, they want to see it through. So when you design or write-up your adventure, write it around the Hook, not your idea. Sadly, you can’t always get The Hook right and all I can say is learn and try again.

    An adventure needs a Hook to work. But if your running over a number of sessions rather than in one go, each session needs a Hook too. The players need to have a reason to continue in the adventure. Ending a session in a quiet moment is not a great idea. There is no Hook for the next session. The Hook should have the players wanting more. The Hook does not have to be something that starts the next session, it could be a cliff-hanger from the previous session or discussion over email about the adventure. Of course your initial Hook might be good enough to carry the adventure through the multiple sessions, which is great if you can manage it. Also, don’t over use or depend on the same Hook, players are (unsurprisingly) people and they will get jaded and bored if the same Hook is used every adventure (or session).

    The second thing I’d like you to take away from this article, is that The Hook is about the players, not the PCs, the setting or the system. If the players don’t bite, your adventure will flop. I’ve learned this the hard way, more than once (in fact, more then I can count on both hands).

    Creative Freedom (or Player Chaos)

    A friend of mine would refer to this as “chaos” and argues that the system is there to control it. This is Bull. The players should have some level of freedom in your adventure. Even if most of your adventure is static or plotted out, you should still have room for the players to do their thing. If they can’t, they’ll get frustrated or worse… bored (which can lead to destructive behaviour). A good adventure design may give the players a direction or a goal and then you have a natural fence for the player chaos.

    Without this freedom, I see no point in tabletop roleplaying. Players are clever and imaginative, let them use it and they’ll enjoy the adventure even more. Give them a goal and let them figure out in their own way. Do not depend on an expected result or path of actions. You may get it, but then your either lucky or you know your players very well. The Hook can be incorporated into this Creative Freedom. Their actions could reveal the Hook or the Hook itself is the freedom the players have. It make even take your adventure in a completely different direction. I don’t see any problem with this.

    What I’m trying to get at is, that you can design your adventure to make use of this “chaos” rather than fighting against, unfairly restricting players or throwing systems at them. Going back to that Ars Magica adventure I mentioned earlier, they were given a threat, a supernatural fishy monster was attacking the local folk. I never planned how they would defeat it, only that they would try. They tracked it, they came up with a simple trap and executed it brilliantly. The players feel then they have an impact on the adventure. It’s not just them against some set pieces. It is a story that revolves around them (or their perspectives), their choices and their actions.

    If you’ve got players that just cause trouble for the sake of it… well you can’t design that away. If thats what your players want, give it to them or deal with them.

    Some people would consider “combat” to be a form of controlled chaos. I’d say it depends on the player(s). Know thy players!

    Ironically, I’ve found that an adventure can appear more consistent and realistic if you give the players enough Creative Freedom and don’t put expectations on what they are going to do and how they will do it. Simply let your world react as you would realistically (depending on the setting) expect. Just don’t hold back (or “if they fudge, they fudge up”) and don’t put up barriers to protect your story (such as preventing the players from some action that might reveal a plot twist), let it happen.

    Part Deux

    Part Deux is about structuring your adventure. You may do this naturally already. Actually I find this a tad unnatural as it feels like it goes against the flow of the story. Yet it doesn’t and provides a much more rounder feel to the player experience.

    There are lots of ways of structuring a story such as the Heroes Journey or Trilogies. If we take a movie, it is generally broken down into three parts. The beginning or act 1 which sets up the problem and ends with the “point of no return”, the middle or act 2 which faces the problem and the end or act 3 which resolves it. I believe this is probably too complicated to use for running adventures. Players get bored with the middle part, wanting to get onto the end and GM’s are trying to keep up with everything in Real Time. It’s not as if you can do a second draft to get the structure right.

    Instead I split the adventure in two parts (often with a squishy middle or glue that forms the Creative Freedom for the players). You’ve got your Hook, the players have their Creative Freedom and then “Part Deux” starts. Suddenly things change, the pace increases, the threat is bigger or different, an external or unexpected event happens propelling things forward, etc.

    Part Deux is like a twist in the story but it doesn’t have to be a plot twist. It’s kind of hard to explain what I mean. It’s the introduction of some new element by the GM. It may be a plot, a bad guy, a consequence, etc.

    Going back to this Ars Magica adventure I ran, the PCs managed to trap and destroy the supernatural fishy monster. The villagers took the carcass, cooked it and celebrated the victory of the PCs. Thats when the mother of the supernatural monster appeared and wanted to kill the people that killed her child. To make it worse she was Godzilla-like in proportions. Again the PCs were given free reign in how to stop this monster but the threat is much, much larger.

    Another example, this time the PCs were supernatural heroes of a pseudo-Celtic fantasy village. Viking raiders were discovered and the PCs went off and fought them. Part Deux entered and on their return to the village they discovered some of the Viking raiders pretended to be traders and were then protected by the “custom of invitation”. The PCs had to think up a much cleverer plan to get rid of them.

    We always say “railroading” (forcing players down a particular path whether they like it or not) is bad. That’s not true. It’s only when the players feel frustrated and bored that “railroading” is bad. It’s more the perception of the players than the technique. Constantly forcing your players with unexpected twists and threats is head-wrecking and not necessarily fun. If the players are given no Creative Freedom, they’ll tire of your “railroading”. Give them enough of a rope and they’ll take it as an unexpected twist.

    Part Deux is distinct and separate from The Hook. This is where you can actually use your original idea but you may find you end up only using part of your idea, particularly if you give the players a healthy dose of Creative Freedom.

    Group Cohesion/Direction

    You would think that the direction would be provided by (or is) The Hook in many cases. Still I think it is worth it to consider the dynamics of the PCs separate from The Hook, Part Deux or the idea itself.

    Why do we have a group of PCs here in this adventure? Why would their direction or motivation be? A lot of the time this answer is quite obvious. The setting or the system may describe what the group of PCs is all about or this adventure is part of a long running campaign so the group of PCs is already established. Even in this last case, it is worth thinking about what motivates the PCs or players. I’ve seen adventures fall over right at the beginning (before even getting to The Hook) because the GM didn’t appreciate the motivations of the PCs, players and/or the group. Setting a bunch of warriors in the middle of a royal political scandal probably won’t work and this is pretty obvious mistake. But it’s the subtle misunderstands that really frustrate both the players and the GMs. For example a GM expecting the PCs to find it alright to trust an NPC who will give them The Hook but instead the PCs are instantly suspicious of this stranger in their home.

    If your designing the PCs, life is a little easier and you can design your adventure to much better accommodate the PCs or vice versa. Even in this case you need to consider the purpose of the group of PCs. What binds them together that prevents them from fracturing and heading off in multiple directions? They may be friends, allies, trapped, family, sole survivors, bound by plot links, etc. It depends on the players themselves if the bonds can be made in-play or are required before play.

    One-shot Adventures versus Campaigns

    Much of my thinking has been focused on the single or once-off (sometimes called the one-shot) adventure, so perhaps not really relevant to campaigns and particularly those that don’t have strong distinctions between one adventure and the next. But I still think my ideas are applicable.

    A campaign is made up of adventures even if they flow into each other, therefore I feel my advice in this article is still valid for campaign based tabletop roleplaying. If it’s still not clear, just consider each session being an “adventure” as it’s a delimited experience for the player.

    I’ve also been wondering if what I’ve described here is useful at the scale of campaigns (or any series of adventures). I would say yes but I’ve never done it and the concepts would change as you scale them so your mileage may vary. I can imagine The Hook for a campaign could be spread over a number of adventures using foreshadowing, hints, unresolved mysteries etc., the Creative Freedom then is probably more about character building, world building, character based plots, etc. and the Part Deux is the delayed kick-start into your “grand plan” for the campaign.

    LARPs, Writing and other uses

    Can my ideas be applied to things other than tabletop roleplaying? Possibly. I’m not into live action (LARPs) so I don’t know what kind of Hooks you would find in those games but I certainly think the way of thinking is very useful. For example such as for writing fiction or blogs. Thinking about your audience, what grabs them and how to keep it going. But most other medias already have well established ideas about these things. I think I must leave this as an exercise for the reader. [​IMG]

    What does this mean for RPG systems design?

    There is some considerations for RPG system design I would hazard but nothing I would consider hard rules. They would be more guidelines or “things to think about”. I don’t think you can or should try to make a system that would encourage good adventure design but if you do, I’d love to see your efforts and there certainly is a vast number of innovative RPG systems out there that I have on my to-do list to explore.

    There are a number of systems and settings that have build-in Hooks. White Wolf’s Vampire is a prime example, the Hook here is not justing play a Vampire (which is really a weak Hook) but playing a character who has become a Vampire and must struggle with the balance between the beast and his humanity.

    Sure the setting provides lots of other potential Hooks about politics, art, combat, etc. and a GM is free to use these as he sees fit. But a vast amount of the system is dedicated to this balance between a PCs humanity and beast and it impacts so much of the system including the powers. It even going so far as to define what it is to act humanely. This isn’t as such a bad thing, but every adventure or campaign won’t be about this Hook, players get bored of the same thing. But when it’s not about this Hook, you end up with a whole chunk of system and baggage that is irrelevant to your adventures.

    Also, having such an explicit Hook might end up putting people off your RPG in general. One of the major Hooks provided by White Wolf games, at least for WOD1.0, was the story (also called the “meta-plot”). I didn’t like it but others did follow it and enjoy it.

    White Wolf’s “Mage: The Awakening” tries to model itself on Vampire and I found (personal opinion!) that I don’t like the explicit Hook it presents, putting me off the whole thing. White Wolf’s original “Mage: The Ascension” did not have such an explicit Hook and I found I’m drawn to the old game because I do not have to crawl over any major built-in Hook in the system.

    Does this mean you shouldn’t have explicit Hooks in your system? No. I think you can, if it makes sense, but just to be aware of it and it’s impact. A setting or a system with no major Hook might have a wider audience but it might be harder to get them in while a good Hook might not have such a large catchment area but it would certainly generate a more loyal user base.

    Systems and settings can easily handle Group Cohesion and Direction by simply giving the PCs a reason to be a group and giving them potential direction. Also various different RPGs out there already offer a huge range of levels of Creative Freedom, from playing a mortal with no hope (Call of Cthulhu) to play demi-gods that change fundamental aspects of reality (Nobilis). There are even games that remove the power of the GM and give it to the players (Universalis or Capes).

    So where does that leave everyone?

    Hopefully, you’ll have agreed with some of my thoughts. If not, I’d like to hear your disagreements, at least once (you can comment below). [​IMG] I certainly don’t think I’ve sown it all up and this is just a snapshot of my current thinking. I am allowed to change my mind in the future. [​IMG]

    If nothing else, I hope you’ll take away something about The Hook and “knowing your players” and that is not a bad thing.
    Related Posts:
  17. Brijesha

    Brijesha Teller of Seasons Senior Member

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    Eeek! I neglected my personal duty to update this thread at least once every day or two... So, in regards to the next article to be posted; Is there anything in particular that someone would like me to research or attempt to add perspective to?
  18. Cerberuspaw

    Cerberuspaw Senior Member Senior Member Indiegogo Backer

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    Possibly Tips on progressing a narrative forward
  19. calmchaos

    calmchaos Moderator Staff Member Senior Member

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    Very in-depth -- nice job

    story badge.png Here is your thank you for contributing to the community.
    SaguraKirux likes this.
  20. Brijesha

    Brijesha Teller of Seasons Senior Member

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    Oh my? A BADGE!? I still haven't found (or written) a new article on progressing the narrative for Cerberuspaw yet (my apologies btw)... This is just so sudden, I err ughh... *gives a random passerby a high-five* THANK YOU VERY MUCH!
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2014
    SaguraKirux and Cerberuspaw like this.

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