Tag Results

Teaching Games

A snippet from the discussion section of the new edition of Kingdom: If you’re reading this, you are probably the person teaching everyone else the rules and how to play: what we call a “facilitator”. First of all, thank you! Learning and teaching other people games is a great public service. You are already a […]

Ben Robbins | March 30th, 2021 | , , , | 3 comments

First Rule of Gaming

My first rule of role-playing games is to care more about the people at the table than the story. The players matter more than the fiction. The danger is getting caught up in the wonderful story and forgetting that.

Ben Robbins | December 28th, 2020 | ,

Making Characters: The Fine Art of (Not) Fitting In

Taking a break from my kickstarter (and the worrrrrrlllldd) to talk about a character creation trick that’s extremely applicable to Kingdom, but also applies to a whole host of other games. Say you’re playing a game (like Kingdom) where the characters are supposed to all be part of the same organization or group. Naturally you […]

Ben Robbins | October 5th, 2020 | , ,

Story Games Online: What I’ve Learned So Far

I’ve spent most of my life playing roleplaying games at the table, in person. I’ve only started playing online much in the last few years, so I’m no expert, but here are some things I’ve learned so far. I follow the “simpler is better” approach with technology. I want no bells and whistles, unless those […]

Ben Robbins | March 28th, 2020 | , , | 9 comments

Great Players

I know a lot of great players. If there were an Earth-threatening crisis that could be solved by the power of play and I had a red phone, I could pick up that red phone and I would know who to call to save the world. What do I mean by great player? Knowing the […]

Ben Robbins | August 30th, 2019 | , | 2 comments

Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

I love good, dramatic conflict in a story game. But sometimes players shy away from or downplay an established conflict or history. Our clans have decades of grievance and blood feud, but yeah, that’s not such a big deal, let’s just forget that and work together, okay? And now we’re buddies. Sometimes the player is […]

Ben Robbins | June 10th, 2019 | ,

Story Games 101: Protagonist, Be Transparent

I talked about good antagonism a while back, so let’s talk about the flip side of the coin: good protagonism. When you’re playing a protagonist in a story game, you have a very important job: want something. Have desires. Have needs. But merely wanting something, deep down inside, isn’t enough. You have to *show us* […]

Ben Robbins | June 23rd, 2018 | ,

Story Games 101: Saying Terrible Things

“We expect kindness and maturity from everyone who attends and so should you.” That’s what it’s said on the Story Games Seattle website for years. When your charter is to game with strangers every week, maturity and civility is fundamental to making that work. We did not tolerate bigotry or discrimination in any form and […]

Ben Robbins | June 13th, 2018 | , | 4 comments

Story Games 101: Angle the Chairs

This is a simple trick we’ve been using at Story Games Seattle for years. It may seem trivial but it’s not. Your physical environment has a huge impact on your social interactions, and a role-playing game is just one big social interaction. In the kind of games we play — story games with no game […]

Ben Robbins | September 20th, 2016 | , | 2 comments

Defy Everyone

In story games, a character can defy everyone else and succeed entirely on their own. A player cannot. Big, important distinction.

Ben Robbins | September 15th, 2016 | ,

Story Games 101: Shifting to Third Person

You’re sitting at a table, playing a game, and someone across from you says: “I grab your neck and put a knife up to your face and say “Tell me what I want to know, or else!’” Story games can be intense. Sometimes too intense. If you need to cool it down and avoid scaring […]

Ben Robbins | January 31st, 2016 | , | 2 comments

A Beginner’s Guide to Making Scenes

(This is an excerpt from Kingdom, but it’s a good recipe for making scenes in just about any story game.) The secret to making a good scene isn’t coming up with an amazing or surprising idea. The secret is painting a clear picture so players know exactly what is going on. Being able to visualize […]

Ben Robbins | January 6th, 2014 | ,

Antagonism 101

or, being the right kind of mean “So, you’re trying to expose government corruption. Well, a car drives up, and a bunch of guys jump out. With guns! And… they shoot you! Uh, dead! Conflict!” “Allll-right…” We play a lot of story games where there’s no GM, and each character has an arc or agenda […]

Ben Robbins | December 2nd, 2010 | , , | 6 comments

Partners In Crime: Teaming Up at the Table

The game table can be a lonely place. Everyone else is running around, having fun exploring their pet plots or doing cool things, but no one seems to be interested in the thing you want to do. So you sit quietly and wait, and you get more detached and disinterested in the game. You drop […]

Ben Robbins | February 10th, 2009 | | 1 comment

Stepping Stones: Telling More Interesting Lies

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive…” –Sir Walter Scott Lying to someone in roleplaying games often goes something like this: “I want to convince the guy these are not the droids he’s looking for.” “Okay, roll.” >roll roll roll< "I win!" It's simple: you have a goal and […]

Ben Robbins | December 26th, 2008 | | 6 comments

Play Constructively: Pass the Ball

You’re a good player. You’ve got all the basics down pat: you understand your character, when it’s your turn you make decisions (even bad ones) rather than hold up the game, and when you sit down at the table you are ready and eager to play. You’re definitely holding up your end, but as you’ve […]

Ben Robbins | September 16th, 2006 | , | 2 comments

Ask Questions

A good GM asks questions. A good GM doesn't say “this is what happens” unless he follows it up with “what do you do?” A good player asks questions. A good player asks how high is the wall, how far is it to the shore, does the innkeeper seem irritated or just busy? A GM […]

Ben Robbins | June 18th, 2006 | , , | 1 comment

Three Sins of Players

Gaming is a social contract. Everyone has agreed to show up and spend their time participating to the best of their abilities. Just as the GM has agreed to not (intentionally) create a situation which automatically wipes out the party, or precipitously violate the framework of the imaginary world by having German tanks roll out […]

Ben Robbins | May 14th, 2006 | , | 1 comment