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Roleplay

Cussing in Character

There are three general categories of cursing, none of which is mutually exclusive: (1) Appealing to a higher power to harm the enemy; (2) invoking a bad fate upon the enemy; and (3) comparing the enemy to something culturally taboo. By “enemy” I mean whatever has provoked the character to swear—a lost sword, a recalcitrant […]

Roleplay

Player Cheating

There are three basic motives for cheating: (1) The desire to “win,” (2) the desire to be better than other characters and (3) the desire to save a character from death. Motive The desire to “win” This is a motive most common to new players, especially those who have been suckled on video games where […]

Roleplay

What a Character!

You’re sitting at the kitchen table surrounded by dice, books, and paper. You’ve just written down your new character’s vital statistics, you’ve come up with a name, and maybe you’ve even given your character a personality flaw after reading “The Joys of Imperfection.” Now what? The game is tomorrow at noon. What else can you […]

Roleplay

How to Host the Perfect Game

Cleaning House The first thing you’re going to be concerned about before hosting your little RPG soiree is the condition of your house, apartment, or half a dorm room. For most gamers, nothing short of an emergency call to Merry Maids Cleaning Service will do—and tell them to bring their haz-mat suits. If you can’t […]

Roleplay

The Joys of Imperfection

Perfection. Excellence. Superiority. To be unparalleled. To be sans peur et sans reproche. To be boring. When you create a character, you probably do the same thing everybody else does—start with a vague character conception, choose race and class, roll dice for statistics, assign points or proficiencies, and finally settle on a name and sketch […]

Roleplay

You Win Some, You Lose Some

“Ninety percent of everything is crud.” —Sturgeon’s Law The last guest is out the door, the gaming paraphernalia has been swept away, the trash bin is overflowing, the sink is piled high with dishes, and the clock is showing 2 a.m. Another gaming session over. And, invariably, the GM will wonder, “Did the game go […]

Roleplay

Ask Not for Whom the Die Rolls…

When the gamemaster sits across from the players and starts a game, s/he becomes, simultaneously, cooperative storyteller, impartial judge, and ruthless opponent. The GM must tell an entertaining story, make fair decisions about the characters’ actions, and present the characters with challenge and danger. These three duties often conflict, and never more so than when […]

Roleplay

Divvying Up the Loot

The villain’s dead, the dungeon’s sacked, and it’s time for the characters to start divvying up the treasure. The DM sits back and pops open a soda, knowing that this is going to take a while…. There are several ways to split treasure. Some are irrational, some are rational; some favor the sneaky and some […]

Roleplay

How to Run a Good Bad Guy

Sometimes we GMs get so busy counting turns, rolling dice, and keeping track of our monsters’ hit points and spells that we forget to act, which is a pity, because acting’s a big part of the fun of being GM. Some of my favorite times as a DM are when I get to play the […]

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