This is exactly how I would like my combat to go, but how do you get there? I have worked on narrating actions of NPCs and the reactions of enemies that the PCs are engaging, but I have only managed to get a few interesting bits from my players. Trying to inspire is great . . . but what else is there?
I suppose I could try awarding XP for stunts, but that seems cheap and will probably wear off after awhile. I suppose my question becomes: what tricks do the GMs on this site use to encourage better combat roleplaying from their PCs? This article does a great job of showing us the goal. Now where's the rest?
I agree with MoonHunter -- this is a good article, overall. However, it really frustrates me as well, because it could have been so much clearer. The first part of the paper starts off well: how could the events of a PCs childhood be used to explain some of their uncommon and/or antisocial behavior? I got the impression from the title and the intro that this was the whole premise of the paper. To support it, you give some clearly defined subheadings (wanderlust, accepting of violence) and that worked really well.
But when you got to the part about the Magistrate, the whole paper shifted. No longer are we talking about PC childhood, but about how the PCs react to the brutal treatment of children. These are two very different subjects, and the abrupt changeover left me feeling dissatisfied.
Don't get me wrong -- the imagery that you employ here is stunning. Perhaps too vivid and confrontational for me to want to include it in my game, but well written nonetheless. I just wish that the article had stayed on topic. Maybe a few more subheadings (self-importance, confidence in their unique destinies, etc) would have helped.
Just my 2c. 4/5
Very, very well done. All of the cheeses sounded at least plausible in a fantasy setting, and I enjoyed the bits you included about the misunderstood or mistaken origins of some of them. I can't find anything to fault -- I wish you'd do another for a sci-fi setting!
Used this in a Forgotten Realms campaign, about 6 months ago. I really liked the whole "river of golden coins in the sky" image, and wanted to include it around Athkatla (the City of Coin) as a visible demonstration of its wealth and power. Unfortunately, one of my players (a big FR fan) rebelled, saying that it didn't fit the setting (why the hell not?). So the next session, the players were told that the coins were an illusion which materialized over the city once a year to commemorate the Festival of Our Lady (a celebration of Waukeen, the goddess of commerce and the city's patron deity). Gave me a good excuse to invent a celebration, and they *still* provided a cool visual effect.
Had intended to use this as just a little side encounter to chew through a few minutes while I was working something else out. I'd forgotten, however, that one of my characters was a druid. Once they tracked down the screaming bird, and I had described it as "something similar to a parrot", the druid decided to speak with it to find out why it was screaming.
Smelling an opportunity, I used the moment to seque into the plot for To Die For Love. Basically, the bird claimed that it was enchanted this way by a wizard who had tried to "help" him escape the bounty placed on his head by his deceased wife. The wizard was able to break the enchantment, and the party had a handy guide into the city as well as a new quest to pursue.