Role-playing games aren’t just about mechanics and strategy. Board games are often better at that, and there are some truly amazing board games whose mechanics have been polished to a mirror shine. What makes the difference with an RPG is the role-playing. That is, playing a role, a character, and making decisions for them. Which usually means dialog and talking in character to other PCs and NPCs!

An important part of being a Storyteller is fostering role-playing in your group. Every Storyteller that I know is happy when they get to spend an entire session just having their player characters…


Some role-playing games contain mechanics for removing control of characters from the hands of their players. Sometimes it’s psychic or magical mind control, or berserker frenzies in which the character can no longer control their own actions. These kinds of scenes can be interesting and incredibly dramatic… Or just really frustrating for players.

There are all sorts of reasons for Storytellers to be careful when taking control of a player character. For one, your players came to the table to, you know, play their character.


We’ve written before about the concept of buy-in: Storytellers and players alike treating a character according to their concept. Respect the physical power of the barbarian, the charisma of the bard, and the intelligence of the wizard — even if the dice aren’t. When the Storyteller and other players treat your character like they are the upright badass paladin you made them to be, it’s a lot easier and a lot more fun to play them.

So now let’s talk about the Storytelling version of all this. Storytellers can — and should — buy into their player character concepts. But…


If you use maps or tokens for your table-top role-playing games, then you need art for characters and monsters. Maybe you draw it yourself — and if you do, well done! That’s damn impressive! But for the rest of us, we need some help.

The best option is to hire an artist. There are thousands of amazing artists who do custom commissioned artwork. Websites like DeviantART and ArtStation can be excellent places to look at work and contract with an artist whose style is a good fit for your game. I also follow a lot of artists on Twitter —…


I’m not as experienced a Storyteller as Aron, and one of the most common mistakes that I make is not ensuring that my players and their characters always have a goal. I often start out my campaigns by just dropping the player characters into the fictional world and letting them explore. Sounds good, right? It does, and it’s an easy mistake to make.

But why is it a mistake? Because until I give them at least some small goal, my players lack any direction at all about what to interact with in the sandbox that I’ve just dropped them into…


In novels or other long-form fiction, there are all sorts of guidelines about how the story should unfold. One of the most well-known and popular is the three-act structure. In a nutshell, the first act is the story setup, the second is the meat of the narrative, and the third is the resolution. By page-count or runtime, the first act usually makes up about 25% of the story, the third act is another 25%, while the bulky second act is about 50% of the whole thing.

The three-act structure works quite well for role-playing games, too. We use it in…


Aron and I have talked about Vampire: The Masquerade (VtM) a lot on this blog. It’s one of my favorite role-playing games of all time. But we play an old edition, written and published in the 1990s… And it shows in a lot of places. Second edition White Wolf (now known as Onyx Path, though Modiphius published fifth edition) has a lot of problems, ranging from how they present mental health issues to accessibility to very cringe-inducing cultural archetypes — and a lot of other stuff in between. While we love the world and system, we’ve heavily house-ruled a lot…


Recently, I wrote about the first session of a text-based role-playing game (TBRPG) that I started up this year. It’s a Vampire game that I’m running just for Aron, and his character begins not as a vampire, but as one of their numerous minions. Not that he knows that yet. The character, I mean. Aron is perfectly aware that this will be a vampire game.

In this particular setting, vampires live in the deepest shadows, and do not generally reveal their existence to mortals. They do, however, manage vast networks of humans using mind control, blood bonds, and exchange of…


I just started up a new game! Because we’re still in covid-19 lockdown and I can’t use any online gaming platforms, I’m running just one-on-one for Aron. And because I’m A) primarily a writer and B) my last campaign went down in flames that left me really nervous about Storytelling again, I’m running this campaign as a text-based role-playing game (TBRPG). Playing through text gives me a lot more time to consider each description and line of dialog, to make sure it’s just what I want it to be. …


Role-players and Storytellers take a lot of inspiration from novels, movies and television shows. We’ve talked a little before about playing a character from another media form in a role-playing game, and why it can be a challenge. This time, though, I want to discuss a major difference in how RPG and novel characters are often created.

The main character (or characters) in a book or movie is usually the one with the most to lose. The one whose life or family is on the line, the spy whose career has been destroyed by an enemy faction and who is…

Erica Lindquist

Writer, editor, and occasional ball of anxiety for Loose Leaf Stories and The RPGuide.

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