Abraham Lincoln

Episode 109: Put a Pointy Wizard Hat On It

October 3rd, 2014 | Robin

Ask Ken and Robin starts us in a murderous frame of mind as Dreaming Johnny wonders about settings and play styles for games where you play assassins.

In The Business of Gaming we helpfully collate all of our advice on breaking into game design as a career in one handy segment.

How to Write Good finds us looking at contrivances and how to avoid them.

Finally the Consulting Occultist gives us the real lowdown on synarchy.

Atlas Games again devotes its coveted anchor sponsor slot with windmill-kicking promotion for Robin’s Hong Kong action movie roleplaying game, Feng Shui 2, which is Kickstarting even as we speak.

Heroic Journey Publishing joins us to tout their Kickstarter for the Mecha: Kaiju sourcebook for their anime-styled, speed-line riddled Mecha RPG.


11 Responses to “Episode 109: Put a Pointy Wizard Hat On It”

  1. Cecily says:

    Excellent bit on contrivance; thank you.

  2. RogerBW says:

    Three things that occurred to me about contrivance:

    At the start of a story (or RPG scenario), it can be assumed that lots of stuff has been happening off-stage until now. Unlike fiction writers of earlier centuries, we don’t find it necessary to start with the hero’s grandfather and the ancient enmity that made the villain what he is: we can explore that within the narrative if it’s relevant. So whether or not there’s an actual justification for what appears to be a coincidence at story start, we’re reasonably willing to take the author’s implied word for it. But things that happen later in a story should generally flow from things that happened earlier, and dislocation from that becomes obvious.

    The TV series Bones, in many respects a generic CSI ripoff, finally got its protagonists together, and to my mind has had something of a new lease of life as a result: rather than constant “will they or not”, we have these deliberately different people trying to build a life together.

    In an RPG context, while I like to have big set-piece scenes available if the PCs go for them, I don’t repine if they do something else; the connected flow of the narrative from actions to results is more important to me than getting in the nifty descriptions.

  3. GB Steve says:

    Robin said, “You’ve come up with your big moments, in your story and then you’ve struggled to connect them. Rather than having one situation that flows out of another situation, out of another situation. […] You will have image or scenes you want to work toward, and you may them around in a virtual or literal space in order to put them together.”
    This sounds like a key part of scenario design, especially on the more improvised end of the scale. Is this a further indicator of the difference between the gaming and literary media, or is contrivance just easier to swallow in gaming?

  4. Brett Evill says:

    James Bond and Jason Bourne are assassins.

  5. Frank Lee says:

    I’m surprised “Increasingly Grotesque Meet Cutes” didn’t get to be the title.

  6. Joshua Hillerup says:

    I have a question for Ken. Do you have any examples of occult figures that I could use as inspiration for the Cleave of Botanists in the third edition Nobilis game I’m running?

  7. […] und Robin weiterhin über Dinge zu sprechen  – this time they are talking about the business of being an RPG writer, an all-assassins setting (and not a […]

  8. Jorge Hidalgo says:

    Hello guys, here’s a question for you

    What advice could you give for running “solo” investigative scenarios (with a single player and one GM) in GUMSHOE?

    Thanks for all your great work! From a big fan 🙂

  9. Ryan Macklin says:

    Gentlemen, I have a Foot Hut question: What is your favorite herb to work with, and what do you tend to make with it?

    I’ve been working with fresh herbs over the last couple years and enjoy the results, so I want to experiment further. I figured you two would have interesting ideas.

    – Ryan

  10. Chris Lehrich says:

    Beautiful counter-example on contrivances: in _Totoro_, little Mei tells her sister and her dad about Totoro. Satsuki laughs, but dad says he believes her and takes them to the giant camphor tree to say thank you to the local kami. At that moment, the whole thing becomes real and plausible despite the apparently implausible setup.

  11. Dreaming Johnny says:

    Thanks for answering the question guys! Really liked the way you broke down the parts and discussed them.
    The idea of some sort of open of legalized assassination is so obvious I really should have thought about it myself.

    In fact “Revelation Space” contains a character who works as an assassin that is hired by the targets themselves. The targets all being incredibly rich and suffering from severe ennui that uses the threat of assassination to spice things up. It becomes kind of interesting since the target is the one who decides the weapon that must be used and the media is tipped of about whats happening before hand as a publicity stunt which means there is a dimension of showing of as well.

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