Category: Genre Advice

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Hellsquid

Like horror? Try this little guy on for size: It’s a real creature, the 25mm promachoteuthis sulcus, a squid found a mile below the surface of the Atlantic. (Here’s its Tree of Life entry.) But in a different size, or sticking out of someone’s stomach, or in place of an otherwise...

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Fear Checks: Always a Bad Idea

Without exception, in every RPG I’ve ever played that used a fear check mechanic — a roll players have to make to keep their characters from running away — that mechanic is always incredibly frustrating. “Fear check” is a general term that covers morale checks, horror...

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Making the Gods Matter in Fantasy RPGs

Most fantasy RPGs feature a variety of gods, and those gods tend to play a prominent role in the world. There’s a spectrum, of course, ranging from settings where the gods are in the background to worlds like the Forgotten Realms — where, in the form of their avatars, the gods...

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Overused Plots in RPGs

Strange Horizons, an online magazine of sci-fi stories (alongside other genres), has an entertainingly dry list of Stories We’ve Seen Too Often in their submission guidelines. There’s plenty of overlap with RPGs in this rundown of tired sci-fi plots — for example: “Visitor...

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Dungeonomicon: Rethinking a Fantasy Staple

My friend Sam, who I game with every week, pointed me to this saucy little minx (thanks, Sam!): The Dungeonomicon, a lengthy thread on the WotC forums that attempts to justify, explain and tweak dungeons, along with a variety of other fantasy RPG staples. It’s broken down into sections, but...

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Flowchart for Espionage Games

Courtesy of Jeff’s Gameblog, a flowchart for espionage missions from Top Secret designer Merle Rasmussen. This chart originally appeared in Dragon #40, and while (as Jeff points out) it does lack Bond girls, it more than makes up for that omission in cleverness. (Via RPG...

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Spy Games are All About Paranoia

This guest post by Patrick Benson (AKA VV_GM) is the fourth in our continuing Genre Advice for GMs series. In this post, Patrick shares a few secrets for driving your players nuts — in a good way. – – – – – Espionage games are one of the more difficult genres of...

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Sci-Fi RPGs: Handwaving and Color

When you’re running a sci-fi RPG, how much the game world differs from the present day will depend on how far into the future the game projects — but given the rapid pace of technological advancement in the past hundred years, an awful lot is likely to have changed. This can lead to a...

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