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2006 - Last resort of kings: violence as a storytelling tool

by Hawke Robinson published Apr 17, 2012 09:35 AM, last modified Dec 08, 2022 10:49 AM
Dewar, Michael (2006, May 19). Last resort of kings: violences asa storytelling tool. Pyramid (online) . 6 pages.

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The Last Resort of Kings

Violence as a Storytelling Tool

by Michael Dewar

The less historically hip reader may be forgiven for thinking that the above title refers to a little island paradise just south of Mauritius, favored by royalty from around the world, but it doesn't. This is about violence -- the roleplaying equivalent, not the kind with real blood and real prison sentences.

This isn't about combat. There are millions of pages in official rulebooks and outside them detailing the correct modifier for a sharpshooter standing on a wet elephant with a toy catapult, trying to hit a dragon's left nostril. The stats have been done.

This is about violence in the context of a story, a few comments and tips to players and DMs about how it can be used to further the plot, or enhance themes, or other Poncy Literary Things.

Aggressive Self-Defense: Reactive Violence

An awful lot of roleplaying violence falls into this category. Your PCs are mincing along through a forest, with nothing more aggressive planned than flower-arranging or writing poetry, and they are suddenly attacked by 1d6 Orc Bandits, who they brutally kill, loot and use the gained XP to level up in preparation for the 1d8 Dire Wolves waiting around the bend. They probably eat a pie or two afterwards.

Or a Crazed Evil Genius tries to blow up New York/Paris/The World/Texas, and our heroes stomp him. Or Texas (depending on your definition of "heroic"). There's nothing intrinsically wrong with the . . .

This article originally appeared in the second volume of Pyramid. See the current Pyramid website for more information.


Article publication date: May 19, 2006