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Instant Names: Mythic Flavor

Another instant name trick, this one for making up mythic titles on the fly while maintaining a strong cultural flavor. We just played a pre-Conquistador Aztec game (and by “pre” I mean, “hey, what’s that white sail on the horizon?”) so we got to whip it out. And now I share it with you. First, […]

Ben Robbins | April 4th, 2011 | | 5 comments

Instant Names: the One-Letter Trick

This trick is really too simple to even mention, but when I bring it up at games I’m always surprised that people don’t know it, so I’ll record it for posterity. Say you’re stumped coming up with a name for a character in your average fantasy / sci-fi / not-modern-day-Earth setting. Here’s what you do: […]

Ben Robbins | March 1st, 2009 | | 6 comments

Making the Party: Wedge Issues

“You’re playing a grizzled veteran detective? But I’m playing a grizzled veteran detective!?!” Simple stereotypes are great starting points for character creation, but it also means it’s super-easy for two players to wind up with character concepts that look identical. Increase those odds by an order of magnitude in class-based rule systems (“but I’m playing […]

Ben Robbins | October 6th, 2008 | , | 5 comments

Game Plugin: Instant Rivalries

[What’s a game plugin? Go read the working definition. Basically it’s a rules add-on that can work with any game system, so whip it out when you play D&D, Traveller, Ars Magica, Vampire, Fudge, whatever] The Instant Rivalries game plugin establishes relationships and dramatic tension between player characters in any game system. Rivalries can be […]

Ben Robbins | June 17th, 2008 | | 9 comments

Screening Player Characters

Player character creation is the most important step of your game. It is more important than any NPC you have prepared or any plot you have in mind. Decisions made during PC creation will determine the entire outcome of the game. I really can't stress how important it is. Good character creation stacks the deck […]

Ben Robbins | April 13th, 2006 |

Character Creation: Second Line of Defense

The first line of defense for good character creation is the player's good taste, the second is the rules, and the last is the GM.

Ben Robbins | January 11th, 2006 | | 6 comments

Making the Party: Instant Consensus

Having players like their own characters is critical to enjoying the game. But if the party is going to click, it is just as important for the players to like each others’ characters as well. So as a GM, we want that good party, because it leads to a good game. How do we accomplish […]

Ben Robbins | December 9th, 2005 | | 1 comment

Making the Party

You’re about to run a game with a new group of characters. You’ve put a lot of work into preparing your game, which is good, but if the party isn’t good, the players aren’t going to enjoy themselves and all your preparation will be worth about the same as none — which is none. It […]

Ben Robbins | November 29th, 2005 | | 1 comment