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Yes, you ARE telling a story.

But you aren't composing a novel or reading a script . (Not during an RPG session, anyway.) This is a long blog post about pervasive mistakes and miscommunication in the debate about "storytelling" in RPGs. "D&D is storytelling , so it needs a plot ." You can find plentiful resources on the internet today offering advice for Dungeon Masters on how to prepare a D&D campaign plot so the players will have a good story . Even though they are not the same thing, the words campaign and plot and story seem almost interchangeable in these discussions. The advice suggests that DMs begin by deciding how the campaign will end, typically with a "boss battle." You should devise a story arc before play. The DM is supposed to write a campaign before it happens . The advice can be personal or highly generic : Devise your plot. [...] Plot can roughly be defined as the action that will occur no matter what the player characters do. The models for these DM-de
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Fifty Years of Dungeons & Dragons

Fifty years ago this month, the first 1000 copies of the original Dungeons & Dragons were printed and then boxed up at Gary Gygax's house. It's supposed to have been late in January of 1974 , but we don't have a specific date. January 1974 is good enough for me. And what counts as the specific origin date, anyway? The final draft? The actual printing? The availability for sale? We're close enough. I'm saying it's been fifty years right now. Without more precise information, it's not too early to begin commemorating the half-century of D&D. It was not the first role-playing game. It barely represents the range of role-playing games that exist and have existed. Still, its influence is undeniable, incalculable. When David McDaniel ( Tedron ) tried it in 1975--this was the guy who coined the convention that we all use now, of saying dee-[number] to specify a kind of die--he wrote, It's a hell of a game. It is, as I suspected, a new order, a new dime

Those Who Cross the Boundaries May Be Attacked: Gamers Hating Other Gamers

Millions of people have had a chuckle at the short YouTube video about the guy outraged on the internet that other people like the thing he doesn't like. Probably all gamers will identify with this in one way or another, either because they have felt those feelings or they've been targeted by the rage of those who feel those feelings. "Your games are bad! My games are good!" This is not a new phenomenon, of course. Along these lines, already in 1983 Gary Alan Fine had an interesting observation in his book Shared Fantasy: Role-Playing Games as Social Worlds of 1983, on the sociology of RPG players. The passage deserves attention on its own (p. 154): Even though this is a relatively small social scene, considerable fragmentation exists. Although the number of hard-core fantasy role-play gamers probably does not exceed 5,000 persons, schisms are common. … The gaming world is not made up of individuals who love and respect each other. Gamers have their own styles of p

A Reality Check for Language Rules in Your Fantasy Game (and rationalizing alignment languages)

People enjoy being impressed by multilingualism. “Wow, Mary speaks seven languages !” One hears this kind of thing. It sounds amazing. Speaking a lot of languages seems to mean you are especially intelligent. (As I will explain, this is not really so.) If you tested Mary and her seven languages, you would find she is not equally capable in all of them. She’ll have one, or maybe two, main languages of daily use with high fluency and a wide range of expressiveness, but varying and limited degrees of proficiency in the others. It’s cool to be able to order food at a restaurant and to ask for and receive directions in Italian, but that doesn’t mean you can have a profound conversation about your feelings or discuss the aesthetics of nineteenth-century paintings or explain physics in Italian. You know enough to get by in those other languages, and that’s all. It’s also a lot easier to learn to read a language with a dictionary than it is to attain spoken conversational fluency. Peop