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 Post subject: Storytelling: What inspires you?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2007 9:28 pm 
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I've come to the conclusion that, despite enjoying the role of GM/DM/referee, I'm a pretty sucky storyteller. I have an active imagination, and I'm a relatively creative person (I enjoy creative writing, art, photography, music, etc).

But for some reason, when I try to come up with a "plot" for my players, I just fizzle out. (I actually have the same issue with creative writing.) D&D, Star Wars, Call of Cthulhu, superhero games....whatever the system or genre, I'm just not able to generate cool ideas or plots for my players to game through.

I'd like to be able to wean myself off pre-published adventures (with Goodman Games' products the exception, of course ;) ) and run my own sinister plots.

Part of the issue is that I don't know how to craft "good" villains. I'm not socially awkward, but I just simply don't understand what makes an evil person tick--their motivation--in such a way that I can create a plot from it. (Does that mean I'm evil...?!)

The stories I create tend to be...elaborate, to the point of being overcomplicated. I think in the abstract rather than the concrete.

I have, in the past, tried to convert current events into fantasy plots....they end up coming across as...well, current events with the serial numbers filed off. :(

I'm also certain that I have a high internal expectation--possibly a false expectation--that my plots have to be original and new and fresh. That puts a huge weight of pressure on me. I absolutely dread cliché, over-used plot seeds....I absolutely must put a spin or twist on any so-called normal storyline...but have little ability to generate new ones.

I have no problem using plots from things my players have never seen / read, but that's few and far between...despite being on the young side, my players are shockingly well-read and most watch a fair amount of TV. I try to steal ideas from media that is typically too old for my players to have seen or read, especially as I'm an old fart myself. :) It's surprisingly difficult to convert stories from one medium into an RPG, though (for me).

So, maybe the developers can help: what helps generate ideas for your plots? How do you "fantasy up" current events in such a way that they're less recognizable as current events? Is there anything that makes converting stories/comics/TV shows into RPGs easier? And how do you develop "cool" opponents for players?


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2007 11:38 pm 
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Excellent questions raised here Ogrepuppy.

I often use old movies or television shows for inspiration. Sometimes the campier shows, such as Lost in Space, are surprisingly good fodder for ideas. I have used current events as well (I listen to NPR and watch the cable news often) but its important to inject fantasy sensibilities—as you say, you wish to do more than file off the serial numbers. Often by using a fantasy race or creature, you can start to pull away from the reality base.

An example: the somewhat recent stories involving scientists capturing (or attempting to capture) a live giant squid on videotape. Perhaps a sage wishes to capture a live kraken for study. Perhaps a mage wishes to secure a vial of kraken ink for her potion research. Enter the player characters. Of course, changing the creature to something non-squid-like might be even better, so perhaps that mage wants basilisk blood, roc eggs, etc. Bingo, instant adventure.


As regards villains, I’ve often heard actors of my favorite villains (such as actor William B. Davis, who played the X-Files’ wonderful “Cigarette Smoking Man”) say that they don’t play the villain as evil, but rather a person who plays by their own set of rules. The villain doesn’t cackle and think, “Gee I’m so bloody evil,” but rather the person simply does what must be done (even if that involves being ruthless) to achieve their goals.

Try not to make the villains cardboard. Give your villains an odd personality trait. Make them a passionate collector of something, or an art-lover, or a loving per owner (even if their pet is a vicious worg), etc. Give them one weakness: a limp, a weakness for the finer things in life, etc. I'm not saying to make them comical, but to make them real people. A villain that could exist is far more frightening and effective than the man twirling his black mustasche.
Watch Glenn Close in the current television thriller Damages. She often acts very much the villain—manipulative, controlling, and extremely ruthless—yet she loves her family and at times betrays emotional weakness. In other words, she’s a human being despite it all. It’s a great character, and the “real” touches enhance her villainy rather than dampen it.

Good luck in the creative process!

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 Post subject: Re: Storytelling: What inspires you?
PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2007 12:02 pm 
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Y'know, I feel for you on so many of these points, I can't figure out how to respond -- but I want to respond because I often feel exactly the same!

I've rarely had my home groups get as excited about my adventures as I. Not to say they didn't have fun, or enjoy the thing, but stuff that had the top of my head blasting off of my body, was just fun for them. So now, adventure creation is much slower, since I try to build up as many head-blasting pieces as I can, so their fun is greater.

I have had more consistent luck running things at cons, so I suppose the phenom is just the dynamic between myself and my regular group.

After years of playing and GMing, I've recently consciously realized that the way to get players involved the most is to design the adventures after having a basic idea for an adventure, pitch that to the players, have them pitch character ideas back at me, and then work up the adventure based on their character concepts. This seems to effectively increase the level of engagement in the plot by the players.

Ogrepuppy, I'm glad to hear someone else out there has played CoC and superhero games alongside of their D&D. I caually mention these things on Wizards boards and get the forum equivalent of blank stares.... :|

As for villains, my suggestion: start with what you know and experiment at the edges as self-education. Make an incomprehensible Cthulhu-inspired villain that is just simply alien. But maybe this alien intelligence has manifested in the body of a humanoid, so bits of personality and motivation seep through. Maybe that idea is rubbish, but maybe as you reject it, another idea will suggest itself.

As for current events or coverting movies or comics, I just try to strip the idea down to the most basic concept and build it back up to suit my sensibilities/the players/the campaign/et cetera. Usually, it zigs where it zagged before, so it doesn't look like I'm using the newspaper in place of a DMG. But I can't say I do a lot of this (at least not consciously).

As for 'cool', well, I've never been on the same wavelegnth as my peers on that. Wolverine? Meh. Anime? ...yawn. PC games? :?

I think I'm rambling now.

...yep, that is rambling.

I'll be going.

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Gnome Boy (a.k.a. "Jon") • DCC play-tester @ DDC 35, Feb 2011. • Beta DL 2111, 7:00 AM PT, 8 June 11.
Playing RPGs since 1977 • Quasi-occasional member of the Legion of 8th-Level Fighters - Holds the power to play gnomes at will!

Here Be DCC Monsters...

General Yoros, Warrior, Str 13, Agl 8 (10), Stm 17, Per 13, Int 11, Lck 8; Law, HP 39, AC 17, R+2, F+4, W+2, band/shld, warhammer, longsword, longbow, pitchfork

Han Dee, (Weaver) Neutral Thief, Str 10, Agi 13, Stm 11, Per 11, Int 15, Lck 14, AC 13 (Leather), HP 25, Luck Die d6, Backstab 3, Sneak Silently 10, Hide In Shadows 9, Pick Pocket 10, Climb Sheer 10, Pick Lock 9, Find Trap 9, Disable Trap 9, Forge Doc 10, Disguise 3, Read Lang 5, Handle Poison 3, Cast Scroll d14+2, birth augur (Born under the loom) +1 to all skill checks (including thief skills), Banepicks (auto pick lock/disable trap, but lose 1d3 random ability loss, if a 3 then 1 pt is perm)


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2007 4:46 pm 
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A bloody good question and I am inspired to respond.

Getting a group excited about something is hard, but not impossible. For a couple of simple tricks and turns I've used over the years.

Since your just starting out writing your own adventures instead of starting with a villian start with a force or group the players can combat. Assuming a 1st level party try a clan of kobolds or if you wish to leave morel quandreis out a war party. Think of absolutly everythign kobolds will need to survive, Food storage, barracks, sleeping quarters for the leaders and guard posts and so on.

Then put things in those places that would be there a chef wit hthe food soldiers in the barracks a shaman in the medicine tent etc.

The go through and pick out 2 or 3 "boss" mobs a lietunant, a chief, a shaman. Make them charecters just like you would design your own. give them 1 or 2 levels in a class. make them exactly what would be in that position and then if you feel the need add a flourish to one. Maybe they have a grizzled tracker who stays out of camp and slees in a tree. when he hears the party assaultign the camp he returns and snipes at them from the woods or down one of the tunnels if they are in a cave system.

Place some treasure here and there. maybe slap in a couple of traps. If they have a war shrine or pillage tent perhaps it is trapped and made ready for entrance or has some mock treasure.

If you try this once or twice you'll find your able to add more charecter to the villians. maybe start making the bosses first, by choosing a race and building it up levels as if it were your charecter, which it in fact is, remember the villian should always be fun for you to play too, not just neat to kill. And villians always have an escape plan.

I once designed a low level module from the above steps and ended up with a Kobold barbarian that haunted the party for several levels It wasn't my intention to creat a nemissis for the party just the effect of what occured. (He feel off a cliff after being killed) and I decide to bring him back under the he had a healing potion and an undergroud river broke his fall routine.

Another resource you might want to look at, is a book called dungeonscape by WOTC. Its got a lot of nice information on traps and encounter setup.

I hope this helps =)

and again great question.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 1:00 pm 
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Some more notes on good villain design.

As someone earlier said, most good villains aren't MUAHAHAHAAA! EVIL!!, they are simply people with goals different from the players. In the real world, evil is mostly a matter of opinion (there are some universals, though, I think). There are people out there who for whatever reason really enjoy causing fear and pain, but for the most part I think most "evil" doers really believe what they are doing is good. And an interesting game villain will be the same way.

Perhaps the "evil" sorcerer is trying to bring the demon lord to the prime material plane because the demon lord promised him something not evil...like to cure his mother's cancer, or to give a home and comfort to all the orphans in the world, or to crush the slave-trading barbarians of the east. The difference between the heroes and the villain in this case is simply that the villain is deluded or desperate enough to believe the demon lord, or he believes that the harm done by the demon lord will eventually be outweighed by other goods. The "villain" could easily even be a good character who happens to believe that the end justifies the means.

Someone else mentioned totally alien baddies, and that's one I'm a fan of too. One of the reasons I enjoy the DragonMech setting so much is the total alienness of the lunar creatures. Because their mindset is so totally different from ours, their actions don't necessarily have to make sense to us.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2007 11:26 am 
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Gnomeboy touched on an important idea and I want to emphasize it. There is no one set of guidelines to make a good villain for a RPG because it will depend on your players.

Players aren't just your audience for a game, they are your collaborators. You need to get their input, so they become involved with the game as well. Some will prefer melodramatic one dimensional super villains they can smash without thinking and others want a more complex antagonist.

As for plotting, it depends on genre. In Call of Cthulhu, you need to create an intriguing mystery that draws the PCs in, which usually takes a certain amount of prep work beforehand. On the other hand, I found fantasy games to be more spontaneous as the PCs will wander the landscape without necessarily following the plothooks. It's very frustrating to write an adventure and have the PCs decide they want to go in the opposite direction.

In D&D, I tend to write a half dozen or so loose plot hooks and introduce them to my PCs and see what they bite at. Then I focus on that plot to the exclusion of others. Also, I grab a bunch of prewritten material like modules, monsters and encounters and use those to fill in the blanks when the PCs step away from my stuff.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 7:40 am 
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Problems with PC/NPC interactions often come from what I call Parallel/Perpendicular Syndrome - which means that the goals of the PCs tend to either completely parallel those of the NPCs (usually allies) or run totally contrary to the NPCs (usually villains).

Things get more interesting when you put things at different angles besides perpendicular/parallel. For example, you might have a villain who wants to help the players destroy a evil tribe of orcs - after all, once the orcs are gone, it makes his plans of hatching his own plans much easier! You also may have a magic sword located in the local lord's tower that the PCs need to slay an evil manticore - but if the sword is removed from the tower, prophecy states that evil will befall the town. The local lord would probably fight the PCs tooth and nail to keep them from getting the sword.

My goal is usually to try and put a couple of shades of gray in ordinarily black/white scenarios, so that the player's choices aren't obvious. Yes, they can kill the big bad villain, but there may be repercussions for doing so. If the villain is the captain of the town guard who built the town orphanage, for example, many people in the town just might not believe he was evil, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Also, if you're trying to create a recurring villain, try to let it happen organically. My experience has been that players hate a villain who gets thrust upon them as their recurring nemesis. Don't give him (or her) contrived reasons to survive an encounter with the party, like a ring of teleportation. If a villain you like happens to die in the first encounter with the PCs, so be it.

Also, make the villain tough but beatable - giving a party of 4th-level adventurers a demon prince for their recurring nemesis is kind of cheap, since there's virtually no way they can win that fight. The memorable villains in my games tended to happen by circumstance, and by the players latching on to something they found interesting (which I usually didn't have much control over). You best hope is to give them interesting hooks. Instead of an evil blackguard, try a Jekyll/Hyde warrior who's a blackguard by night and a paladin by day, and isn;t aware of his split personalities. Try an ettin with one head, who hates all dwarves for decapitating his "best friend". It's not a guarantee that you'll get a memorable, recurring villain with such hooks, but they certainly help.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 9:03 am 
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Mike_Ferguson wrote:
Problems with PC/NPC interactions often come from what I call Parallel/Perpendicular Syndrome - which means that the goals of the PCs tend to either completely parallel those of the NPCs (usually allies) or run totally contrary to the NPCs (usually villains).

That is an excellent way of explaining it. I'm going to steal that. :)

clockworkjoe wrote:
In D&D, I tend to write a half dozen or so loose plot hooks and introduce them to my PCs and see what they bite at. Then I focus on that plot to the exclusion of others. Also, I grab a bunch of prewritten material like modules, monsters and encounters and use those to fill in the blanks when the PCs step away from my stuff.

I tend to run my fantasy campaigns in a very similar manner. I come up with several things I think are interesting, throw the plot hooks out to the players, and we follow whichever one they happen to think is the most interesting. In my last campaign I would actually write up a bunch of "rumors overheard" whenever they were in a city, then they'd do a little research (it was gratifying when my players actually started putting lots of points into Gather Information), and go off chasing one or two of them.

As a player, I really enjoy having the opportunity to pursue goals that my character has. Giving players several options is one way to satisfy that need, but tailoring adventures to the characters is also good. Try to tie the adventure into the goals or background of at least one of the player characters. Like many authors have said, if the characters are well-developed enough, the plot will almost write itself.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 12:45 pm 
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Mike_Ferguson wrote:
If a villain you like happens to die in the first encounter with the PCs, so be it.


...and any bits of motivation/background you didn't get to, 'coz they died so abruptly, are ready-made fodder for your next villain....

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Gnome Boy (a.k.a. "Jon") • DCC play-tester @ DDC 35, Feb 2011. • Beta DL 2111, 7:00 AM PT, 8 June 11.
Playing RPGs since 1977 • Quasi-occasional member of the Legion of 8th-Level Fighters - Holds the power to play gnomes at will!

Here Be DCC Monsters...

General Yoros, Warrior, Str 13, Agl 8 (10), Stm 17, Per 13, Int 11, Lck 8; Law, HP 39, AC 17, R+2, F+4, W+2, band/shld, warhammer, longsword, longbow, pitchfork

Han Dee, (Weaver) Neutral Thief, Str 10, Agi 13, Stm 11, Per 11, Int 15, Lck 14, AC 13 (Leather), HP 25, Luck Die d6, Backstab 3, Sneak Silently 10, Hide In Shadows 9, Pick Pocket 10, Climb Sheer 10, Pick Lock 9, Find Trap 9, Disable Trap 9, Forge Doc 10, Disguise 3, Read Lang 5, Handle Poison 3, Cast Scroll d14+2, birth augur (Born under the loom) +1 to all skill checks (including thief skills), Banepicks (auto pick lock/disable trap, but lose 1d3 random ability loss, if a 3 then 1 pt is perm)


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2007 1:01 am 
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Bumping, partially because this is a great topic and partially because I wanted to thank everyone that's posted so far!


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2007 2:13 pm 
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I worry less about plot and more about character. Who are the PCs? What do they want to do in their setting? Who are the players? Do they want any of the same things their characters want? Come up with some answers, and use those as the skeleton of your story.

Keep that skeleton lean - it's easy to overplot, and overplotting is the death of fun. As the GM, you're like the director and producer of a stage play. You set the boundaries, you suggest the theme, you nudge people toward interacting in a certain way. You are not the actors. The players and their characters get all the starring roles; your job is to support them.

And you are NOT the author. Surprise! No matter how much you plan and how much you write, the PCs will follow their own path. And that's the path you then need to follow, too. It's their story.

When I write an adventure, I usually figure out the beginning (where are we? Why would we want do Dangerous Thing X?). I figure out an ending or two (what would be a jawdropping climax to Dangerous Things X, Y, Z, and Q?). And I figure out a couple of things that could happen along the way. But I leave it to the players to figure out where they want to go next. They know what they think is fun. My fun comes in providing it to them - sometimes the way they expect, sometimes not.

Long story short, write less. Plot less. You - you personally, as well as the abstract "you" - can run a great 4-6 hour adventure with only one page of notes and a couple of quick NPC writeups. You just have to be willing to let your players lead you through the story, not the other way around.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 11:04 pm 
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walrusjester wrote:
You - you personally, as well as the abstract "you" - can run a great 4-6 hour adventure with only one page of notes and a couple of quick NPC writeups.


Thanks!

I have no problem with your advice, but I'd like to clarify that you (both the collective and you specifically ;) ) need SOME sort of plot, even a skeleton or framework, to run a "page of notes"....which is the focus of the question.

Where do you get the inspiration for that plot? ...Y'know, the thing that you have a single page of notes of. In my original post, the last paragraph (the three questions) is the crux of the issue I'm inquiring about here.

(As a quick aside, I have a group of players who are a lot more wallflowerish. They actually prefer a mild amount of railroading to guide them to the action. The PCs' personalities are basically that of the players themselves, and their goals tend to be a bit....vague. This is not for lack of trying to encourage them to generate cool backstories, roleplay their characters, etc--all of which I try to do in front of them. Lead by example, and all that.)


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 10:37 am 
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Ah - sorry to have misunderstood you. I run into this issue all the time myself, usually right up to the start of the session. I can suggest a couple of plot-generation methods that have worked for me, and also point you to a cool-looking resource I've never actually used.

1) Create characters, then build plots around them. For instance, right now I'm running a Cyberpunk 2020 game. Before we started, I randomly generated a couple dozen characters just for the fun of it, giving them the same level of detail I give one of my PCs. These characters have provided hooks, backgrounds, and driving forces for every session I've run so far: "Wow - I just made India's answer to Keanu Reeves! What circumstances could get him to interact with the PCs?"

2) Think of 2-4 encounters. Then find threads to link them together. This is my standby method - I think of a couple different cool things the PCs can do/fight/investigate/misunderstand. Then I try to justify how they move from one to the other. Before I know it, I have a plot, often one with enough loopholes or grey areas that it can drive future adventures.

3) Old movies. I often go back to Casablanca or The Maltese Falcon when I need ideas. Westerns are good too. The available technology is different, but westerns and noir films are usually about a few people trying to make a difference despite the interference of bad guys. Plus, a lot of players haven't seen any movies made before 1977. They won't recognize what you're stealing.

4) Look at S. John Ross's list of RPG ideas: http://www.io.com/~sjohn/plots.htm

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 6:04 pm 
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walrusjester wrote:
a lot of players haven't seen any movies made before 1977

LOL

Most of my players weren't born before 1977. ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Storytelling: What inspires you?
PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2008 7:44 pm 
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Some great ideas posted here.

One thing that has really turned on my creative engine is looking at pictures of fantasy art (i only really play D&D). When i see a picture that really grabs me, i wonder how things got to that point. My fav pic of all time can be found at

http://www.keithparkinson.com/gallery.php?icid=3

I mean look at that awesomeness. A lycanthropic necromancer using some glowing thingy to start his army of darkne...i mean undead.

Why is he (she?) a werewolf? Why is he a necromancer? Maybe he isn't, maybe he's just following orders. What in the Prime Material Plane is that glowing thingy? Is it from the PMP? If not where? Why is he here, at this lonely wood, to do this dastardly deed?

Answer just a few of these questions and you've got a villian of decent depth. Then you just have to think of a way for the party to cross tracks with this nice fellow.

Best of luck!


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 Post subject: Re: Storytelling: What inspires you?
PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2008 8:33 pm 
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Can't get the page to load, but from your description I wish I could. Lycanthropes are under-used (IMHO).

I swore I had contributed to this thread, but I apparently had not.

What inspires me?

Any media I consume usually contains at least a kernel of something worthwhile...seriously, it can be anything.

For live, home-campaign games, one thing I like to do is base characters off people I know or actors in certain roles.

The party runs into a butler figure? Make him Anthony Hopkins from a Merchant-Ivory flick...he's got a thing for the cute scullery maid, and you can use that to get info out of him.
The bailiff of the crappy town? Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith in the first movie, especially the interrogation scene.
The gnome inventor? Tom Baker as Dr. Who.
The irascible hermit? Burgess Meredith as Mickey, Rocky's trainer.

And so on. I love to pull characters from non-genre flicks (especially those my friends would never see, like chick-flicks) and use them.

For writing adventures, I do much the same thing as Dr. Satan mentioned. I look at a scene from a comic, movie, novel, TV show, or video game and think, "How could I do that in D&D/Call of Cthulhu?"

Another thing that really gets me going is real-world research.
Have you ever really been in a cave? And then turned off your flashlight? Have you ever clung to a tunnel wall, where letting go would have plunged you a dozen feet or so into another cavern?
Have you ever toured a real castle? Have you ever been in a really-real forest? Held (replica) medieval weapons? Attended an SCA war? Been camping under the stars? Maybe by a spooky lakeside?

For me, going on (significantly more safe) real-world adventures really sparks me thinking about what you can do with a pen-and-paper adventure.
Sometimes it's good for me to get out of the house, and out of my comfort zone.

Just my point-zero-two.

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 Post subject: Re: Storytelling: What inspires you?
PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2008 9:31 pm 
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Jengenritz wrote:
...The gnome inventor? Tom Baker as Dr. Who....

I'm sure there must be something about the character of the Doctor that lends itself to Gnomes' characterization...

I had a gnome head-of-mine-operations NPC in one campaign, that was firmly based on Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor. I even did the voice fairly well.

And I played an elderly gnome professor back in 2nd Edition, that was a swipe on William Hartnell's First Doctor.

Still room on the canvas for 7 or 8 more (so far!).

It always seems to enrich an NPC, or even a PC, to draw from a known character (or someone known in life), even if just for a 'voice' or starting attitude... Let's you jump right in to the playing the character instead of 'finding' the character. :)

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Gnome Boy (a.k.a. "Jon") • DCC play-tester @ DDC 35, Feb 2011. • Beta DL 2111, 7:00 AM PT, 8 June 11.
Playing RPGs since 1977 • Quasi-occasional member of the Legion of 8th-Level Fighters - Holds the power to play gnomes at will!

Here Be DCC Monsters...

General Yoros, Warrior, Str 13, Agl 8 (10), Stm 17, Per 13, Int 11, Lck 8; Law, HP 39, AC 17, R+2, F+4, W+2, band/shld, warhammer, longsword, longbow, pitchfork

Han Dee, (Weaver) Neutral Thief, Str 10, Agi 13, Stm 11, Per 11, Int 15, Lck 14, AC 13 (Leather), HP 25, Luck Die d6, Backstab 3, Sneak Silently 10, Hide In Shadows 9, Pick Pocket 10, Climb Sheer 10, Pick Lock 9, Find Trap 9, Disable Trap 9, Forge Doc 10, Disguise 3, Read Lang 5, Handle Poison 3, Cast Scroll d14+2, birth augur (Born under the loom) +1 to all skill checks (including thief skills), Banepicks (auto pick lock/disable trap, but lose 1d3 random ability loss, if a 3 then 1 pt is perm)


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 Post subject: Re: Storytelling: What inspires you?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2008 4:22 pm 
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Chaos-Summoning Sorcerer
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Joined: Fri Jul 07, 2006 1:26 am
Posts: 870
Location: the Towers of Carcosa
What is this "find the character" that you speak of?

:wink:

_________________
Enigma-Judge Narzill Tanntos (armorer Cleric of Amun Tor 4); Strength 15; Agility 10; Stamina 14; Personality 14; Intelligence 8; Luck 16; Neutral; AC 16 (banded mail); HP 24; missing three fingers from left hand.

Please, call me Master Jenks while we're in the Sign of the Three Rats flophouse.

"Will somebody please call all the ambulances?"


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 Post subject: Re: Storytelling: What inspires you?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2008 6:07 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 10, 2006 3:46 pm
Posts: 2179
Location: Left Coast, USA
Case in point: Some years back, we started a new campaign. I wasn't in the mood somehow to create a new character. Just had no ideas at all. So I looked at stuff I hadn't ever played or hadn't played in a long time, and settled on a Dwarf Fighter. Oh, the heights of originallity I was mining with that choice! I even decided that since I couldn't think up much of a background, I'd play him as a bog-standard Dwarf: loves ale, loves gold, suspicious of Elves, surly, gruff, humorless....

Then the DM wanted a short character background written up by everyone. Bored with the idea, I just swiped a bit of Scottish Clan history, changed the names, put a few fantasy trappings on it and was done with it.

On the way to the session, I started to wonder how I was going to find any spark in playing this character. I didn't want to be bored at the table, or bore my friends for that matter, fully aware of how uninspiring my character creation process had been up until that point. I started thinking about his voice and began muttering things to myself in the car on the drive to the game. I decided the gruff/grumbly voice was going to ruin my vocal apparatus if I did it all night, so I went the other way and gave him a light voice, and for some reason started doing it in a Scottish accent, modeled on a business associate from Glasgow. And I thought that was that.

...Until I actually started to play him at the table. Suddenly, the character was fully formed and had opinions and perspectives on things, all down to using an accent. I couldn't say 'equipment', because 'accurtrements' showed off the accent so much better, and clearly made plain that this was a character with some education.... and the things that clicked into place kept coming as I exploited that accent to its limits. What would have been a forgettable character for everyone, turned into one of my all-time favorite characters! Aye... finding a character, indeed...

_________________
Gnome Boy (a.k.a. "Jon") • DCC play-tester @ DDC 35, Feb 2011. • Beta DL 2111, 7:00 AM PT, 8 June 11.
Playing RPGs since 1977 • Quasi-occasional member of the Legion of 8th-Level Fighters - Holds the power to play gnomes at will!

Here Be DCC Monsters...

General Yoros, Warrior, Str 13, Agl 8 (10), Stm 17, Per 13, Int 11, Lck 8; Law, HP 39, AC 17, R+2, F+4, W+2, band/shld, warhammer, longsword, longbow, pitchfork

Han Dee, (Weaver) Neutral Thief, Str 10, Agi 13, Stm 11, Per 11, Int 15, Lck 14, AC 13 (Leather), HP 25, Luck Die d6, Backstab 3, Sneak Silently 10, Hide In Shadows 9, Pick Pocket 10, Climb Sheer 10, Pick Lock 9, Find Trap 9, Disable Trap 9, Forge Doc 10, Disguise 3, Read Lang 5, Handle Poison 3, Cast Scroll d14+2, birth augur (Born under the loom) +1 to all skill checks (including thief skills), Banepicks (auto pick lock/disable trap, but lose 1d3 random ability loss, if a 3 then 1 pt is perm)


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