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Finger Dice

You and your friends are trapped on a desert island. What better way to pass the time than to play games? But you have no dice! What do you do? You could whittle some out of coconut, but instead here’s an easy way for a group of people to simulate rolling a six-sided die. I […]

Ben Robbins | August 29th, 2022 | , | 6 comments

Festival of Rain

Story gamers make shit up constantly. It’s a big part of the process. We invent whole cities, cultures, and worlds at the drop of a hat and then maybe burn them down two hours later. We build and explore fast fast fast… and also slow slow slow. And we share our toys. We create specifically […]

Ben Robbins | July 12th, 2022 | , , , ,

Lockdown Level-Up: Mind Over Matter

I was chatting with Pat, part of the old school Story Games Seattle braintrust, about how the online games I’ve been in have gotten so much better since the lockdown. And the logical thought is, yeah, practice makes perfect. We’re playing all our tabletop games online instead of at, y’know, a table, so we’re getting […]

Ben Robbins | April 27th, 2022 | , | 3 comments

Building Better Gods

“I’m the god of fire. I have fire powers” “Fire powers? What are you, a superhero?” We’re in the middle of a game and you need to make up a god. Because you know, we’re gamers, we have to create whole worlds, gods, civilizations on the fly. What do you do? The number one approach […]

Ben Robbins | November 17th, 2021 | , , | 2 comments

Only Say Yes to a Yes

“Say yes” is a fundamental principle of just about every shared creative process. “Yes and”, “yes but” — either way, say yes. And it is absolutely good advice for role-playing games. Accept what other people contribute. Embrace what’s been said as established truth and build on it. Don’t contradict it. But there’s a big caveat […]

Ben Robbins | August 19th, 2021 | , , | 1 comment

Feelings > Actions

When I’m playing a role-playing game, I’m much more interested in hearing what someone’s character feels about a situation than what they do. If we understand the character’s feelings, even taking no action is informative. And if we don’t know their feelings, any action remains a mystery. Why did they do that? We don’t know. […]

Ben Robbins | July 9th, 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

Rewrite the Ending Together

I see a lot of anguish on the internet. Sadness that the latest epic franchise didn’t stick the landing, or didn’t turn out quite the way you hoped, or maybe threw characters under the bus and utterly betrayed what you thought the whole concept was. Other people’s fiction will always disappoint you. Because those creators […]

Ben Robbins | January 8th, 2020 | | 2 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