30 September 2011

The Parents Are Dead Conundrum

Okay, it's time to address this whole 'my parents are dead' thing. What is the problem here, players!? Where are all the parents going? And, why is it that it's the same old story? You know the story—bandits killed my parents. Enough is enough. Let's make our parents interesting. What do you think?

Targets of Assassination

We're going to transition into this slowly. Your parents are still dead; only this time, bandits aren't the cause. No, this is something a lot more intriguing. Your parents were assassinated. And, get this! It was on purpose! Your parents were some pretty important people and some other people needed them dead. Who did it? Maybe you know, maybe you don't, but you as a player know. Write it in! Maybe the mafia killed your parents and your character has no idea who did it; it's more interesting when there's a face attached to your parents' killers.


We're keeping your parents dead, so don't have a panic attack, but the next entry won't be so kind, prepare yourself. In this one, your parents were sacrificed or sacrificed themselves. Your god was demanding human sacrifices and your parents were picked. Right before your eyes, they were killed and offered to appease your god. Your parents were part of a ritual that claimed their lives and the result of the ritual marked you for life. Perhaps, it even granted you strange powers because of the ritual. Your parents entered a long-fought war and were killed in battle, or so read the report....


Don't adventurers ever settle? Do they all become merchants? Well, this time it's your parents. Maybe, only one of them was an adventurer and came home periodically until that time he or she left and never returned. What if your parents had met while adventuring together and decided to settle down and have kids? Would it be so bad to have somebody, anybody to come home to? Besides, they probably made plenty of friends who will recognize your name too, and maybe they made a few enemies as well....


That last one probably threw you off, so we'll go back to something you know well—the noble parents. It's going to be different this time. This time, you didn't rebel and leave on bad terms, no. In fact, your parents encouraged you to become an adventurer. They loved the idea so much, they even had you specially trained to be able to go out on your own!

Trying to Kill You

“Egads!” you say. “Why on Earth would this be the case!?”
It's simple. You know it's going to happen if you leave your parents alive. GMs get off on turning your parents against you. Why not just do it yourself? Your parents despise your existence. They see you as a stain that needs to be cleaned, and the only way to do that is to kill you. You've been running from them for almost your entire life, and you've never been able to completely shake them off you. Those suckers are just too determined to see you dead. Maybe it's your fault and maybe it isn't; they're trying to kill you either way.

The best part about all of these? You know who your parents are! No more 'I never knew my parents!'

23 September 2011

Taking the Focus off Player Characters

The latest trend in gaming seems to be a focus on characters—developing their personalities and ignoring the numbers or, more likely, using the numbers as a way of development the characters as more than just stat blocks. How can I get my players to roleplay? How can I get my players to involve their PCs more with the game? How can I integrate my PCs' backstories into the world? These are common questions asked by GMs that focus on the Player Characters. Players are asking similar questions. How can I better develop my character and his/her personality? What are my character's motivations?

All of those questions are good questions to ask and can help build an involved game that can draw a lot of attention to the characters; however, perhaps we spend too much time worrying about PCs and perhaps we focus on them too much.

As players, it is easy to look to your character as your portal into the game world: as a vessel that lets you experience all that the world has to offer; therefore, it's easy to put all of our focus on development that character to be exactly what we want. This can create some issues, and many of them are common for us to experience.

Often, we will make a character and have an ideal development for that character. We can picture the character perfectly in our minds and know their personality in and out, but when we play the character, we grow disappointed in how they turn out. This might be because when we picture the character in our minds, he or she is the main focus—the main character, but when we play that isn't true; all of the PCs become the main character and, in a sense, none of them do. We each focus on our own characters and their developments while ignoring all the other characters and possibly even the world itself.

What if we began asking different questions? What is an interesting story that I can run to get my players interested? What's a cool situation that I can throw in to force the characters to work together? How can I take my players' focus off their characters and put it toward the world? Some of these go hand-in-hand with the previous questions. Integrating a character's backstory into your game is a great way to attract attention from that player, and what if the characters all had a shared backstory that they all created together?

For players, different questions need to be asked. Instead of 'What would my character do in this situation?' try asking 'What would be the coolest thing to do in this situation?' or 'What is my character capable of and how can I abuse that here to spice things up?' Instead of asking 'How can I better develop my character's personality?' try asking 'How can I form a better relationship between my character and the others in the party?'

What if the players in your game asked those questions? What if there was more inner-party roleplay? What if there was more 'What do you think, guys? Would that be cool?' Would you have more fun? Would you be disappointed in your character's development?

21 September 2011

And I Forget

Sitting here
Counting the stars
Gives me hope
And I forget
That my eyes are closed
And that I'm in this bed
And that everyone is worried
That I won't wake up

16 September 2011


*on the way to college orientation*
Father: “You know, son, you're intelligent, but you aren't smart.”

Father: *Loud Sigh* “Son! When are you going back to work!? It's like you haven't been going lately!”
Son: “Tomorrow . . . I only had yesterday and today off.”

*home alone in room watching cartoons*
Father: “Son! Get out there and help your stepmom! She's pouring the mulch into the flower garden herself! I shouldn't have to tell you these things!”
Son: “I didn't even know you guys were back.”
Father: Grr! “Don't talk back to me!”

Stepmom: “Hey. Child was acting up at the babysitter's. He spit on a little girl.”
Son: “Wow. Did dad tell you what Child did this morning?”
Stepmom: “No, he didn't. What did Child do?”
Son: “I caught him peeing on the carpet.”
Stepmom: “Oh. I'll ask your father about it. It's about time for me to call him, anyway.”
*dials phone*
Stepmom: *blah blah* “...hey, Child has been acting up lately. I heard about this morning. How did you punish him?” . . . “No, I'm just wondering so I can punish him the same way if he does it again.” . . . “I'm not checking up on you.” . . . “Yes, I told Son about the limb breaking. He said he'll get it tomorrow, since it'll be his day off.” . . . “Yeah. Well, he's tired and it's dark out and it's a big limb. It's like half the tree.” . . . “Don't worry. He said he'll get it tomorrow.”

Father: “Son! Wake up!”
Son: “Huh? What time is it?”
Father: “It's 10:30! You don't get to sleep in till 10:30!”
Son: “Oh. Sorry.”
Father: “Why is that broken limb still in the yard!?”
Son: “I was gonna get it today. It's my day off.”
Father: “No! It is not your day off! You work for me!”
Son: “Yes, sir. I'll go get it now.”

*Father walks out, leaves door open comes back minutes later*
Father: “Are your arms broke!?”
Son: “Sir?”
Father: “Why's the door still open!?”
Son: “...I thought you needed it open.”

Father: “What's that under the dishwasher?”
Son: “Oh! It looks like just water.”
Father: “Well, why didn't you clean it up!?”
Son: “I didn't notice it until you pointed it out.”
Father: “Are you blind!?”
Son: “Maybe I need glasses.”
Father: “You watch it!”

Father: “Son! Why is this milk out with the lid off!?”
Son: “Stepmom must have done that.”
Father: *cheerily* “That girl.”

14 September 2011

I Can't Forgive Him

We all just pretend it never happened.
But every time I look at him,
I remember
And I can't forgive him.

09 September 2011

Victim of my Greed

Oblivion is a place of nothing, and not much of a place either. I formed here, the guardian of nothing. I started changing things once I got bored. I would take lost spirits from the mortal realm and bring them to Oblivion. It became something—a transport to the afterlife, a chance at redemption for those who would have been forced to wander the mortal realm.

Some revered me as a god and chose to remain in Oblivion with me. Others shunned me as a demon. I dealt with those who would lay curses on me the only way I knew; I destroyed them, made them one with the nothing.

But things became stale and unexciting—once again, I was bored and my followers could not entertain me. I looked upon the afterlife and saw the wonders of having everything and I grew envious. I wanted it, but I could not take it. The leader of the afterlife was too powerful for me and my mere army. If only there were two of me....

I turned to the mortal realm; perhaps one of the lost souls could grow into a being like me. After lifetimes of searching and studying and trial and error, I found a mortal with potential: a scarred soul, lost in the midst of those who would shun her. She kept a secret lust for another.

I would have to test her. Would her lust for power match mine? Her love had taken another lover and I saw my chance. I came to this woman in a vision and offered her the power to gain her lover back. She would become one of my minions in the mortal realm—a witch, as they were called. As a price for this power, she would enter Oblivion upon her death.

She knew the risks. My mortal minions were being actively hunted in their realm. She did not care; she took the deal and gained her lover back. This was not enough for me. I came to her many times and taught her well; she grew strong and hungry for more. She wanted to rule the mortal realm—that was not my will.

I came to her lover as, what she called, an angel. I told the lover of the witch, my protégé, and led her to the witch's lair. My protégé caught her lover and betrayed her. She sentenced her to be burned at the stake, a price my protégé should have paid.

I watched the witch take her own life in regret. Good. We would have the afterlife as ours.

07 September 2011

Who is This?

She called him and said,
“I love you.”
And he said,
“Who is this?”

02 September 2011

Victim of my Betrayal

The fire crackled and she screamed like a devil and the crowd chanted, “Burn the witch! Burn the witch!”

I turned my eyes away and started back to my house; the chanting echoed in my ears long after I had entered my basement. I remembered my lover's glowing red hair before the fire torched it, long curls that bounced past her shoulders.

When she saw my lab for the first time and her eyes grew wide and started watering, my heart sank. The betrayal she must have felt threw her into a rage. I still have piles of swept-up glass from broken vials in the corners.

“You're not a witch!” she said. She held my hand and stroked my face. “This isn't yours!” She made excuses.

I had to be calm, but she couldn't be. She fell to the floor and clung to my dress pleading, “Please, no.” But the answer was yes. As cold as it must have felt to hear, “Yes.”

Our love was hard enough for us to keep a secret and I knew she couldn't handle the betrayal. When she left, she left full of hate and I filled with sadness. I knew what would come next, but I'd hoped it wasn't true.

With the remaining equipment I had after our fight, I concocted a potion to make my flesh clear and my footsteps silent and I followed her. Straight to the sheriff's home. It was out of my hands at that point. My work was vital to ending the witch hunts and I couldn't let it be lost. I had to act.

I had a precious advantage and the plan was formulated and put into motion. I beat her by a precious few minutes and silently slayed the sheriff and his family. I knew she would be in shock at the sight and I knew I'd have to to rush back home. I grabbed some vials and raw ingredients and placed them in a hidden place in her home and it was done. As soon as she reported the crime, she'd be the first suspect.

The rest was like walking through a dream. The search only lasted a few hours before the items I had planted were found. There was no trial, she was a witch and they had the proof.

It took only a few hours to get the fire set up for lighting. She never looked at me the entire time and she never spoke my name, not even to cast blame. I guess that's what hurt to most. I had just condemned her to be burned with fire and she wouldn't do the same to me.

I wiped tears from my cheeks as I prepared my final potion. The curves of the vials were her curves; the fires were her burning; the bubbles and fumes were her whispers. I put the potion to my lips, her lips to mine.

In the end, my work would be abandoned, unfinished. But, I couldn't forget the picture of her eyes locked on mine as her face became smothered in flame. I would love to imagine we'd be together in death, but I was to be cursed to oblivion.

My hand trembled as I tilted the potion and drank my bitter death.