User Menu
The Home Page
The Site Index
The Handbook Forums
Current Gaming News
Current Site News
Featured Links
Get Listed with Us
Link to Us
Contact the Webmaster
Roleplaying Info
Roleplaying Types
Character Creation
The Name Generator
Classic Archetypes
Breaking Stereotypes
Building Storylines
Using Hero's Journey
Campaign Settings
Example Stories
Advanced Help
Proper Etiquette
A Small Glossary
About Foxfire and Afira
Be a Sponser:
Texas Mafia - Art, Comics, Message Boards, and Community.
Featured Links
RPG Gateway
RPG Host
RPG Archive
Burning Void
Big List of RPG Plots
Roleplayer's Guide
RPG Information
Planet ADnD
Other Links
Foxfire and Afira's Handbook to Role-Playing

For gaming purposes, at least three types of stereotypes exist:

Character Character stereotypes are conventional or expected repetitive patterns that develop from conforming to a known behavior, psychological disposition, verbal word choice, or physical appearance.
Storyline Storyline stereotypes originate from simplistic or unimaginative plot building by the storyteller.
Mechanical Mechanic stereotyping is derived from either the abuse of standard game mechanics or the overuse of game mechanics, this can either be a perceived or a real abuse.

Storyline Stereotypes
A more insidious problem of stereotypes in role-playing is one caused by the very person people need to trust and believe is competent. A game master is the sole individual responsible for the next type of issue at hand. When it comes down to the wire, what happens when your characters and players can see the plot of your storyline like looking through a glass window?

1) Players will become bored of letting the game master create plots and storylines for the group, and a lack of communication can lead to a destructive end for all individuals involved
2) Players fail to get involved in the storyline and will seek to antagonize or simply avoid others in the game
3) Players will know what's coming, can react faster and meet their own selfish goals without furthering a storyline or adding to its depth
4) A lack of cohesive guidelines or too many plot elements leads to a confusing and generally unrewarding experience for your players

From a Player's Perspective:
While the responsibility of making a storyline is dependant on the storyteller, many problems can be solved by simply being open and communicative with the game master. If you feel that there are issues with the plotline or elements inside the plot, being either too simplistic or too complex, simply bring the issue up after a session, and talk to them privately. Be sure to inquire politely about the method or way in which the individual is handling the situations.

From a Game Master's Perspective:
As a game master, no lets face it, a gaming GOD, you are the sole individual responsible for taking care of your players and the storyline. I realize this responsibility can be tough, but we shall learn to persevere. There are three ways in which storylines become living nightmares: simplicity, complexity, and the muddled mess.

Firstly, storyline simplicity is the easiest the spot, and usually the least rewarding for your players. Oddly enough, sometimes it is justified to bring in novice characters. Initially, it is suggested to bring in novice players using a very simplistic and easy to follow character building session prior to incorporating them into a main storyline with other more experienced players. While this is fine, main storylines need to have twists and turns, NPCs that are helpful and those that aren't, as well as desirable prizes and painful pitfalls. Not all treasures should be good, not all princesses should be beautiful, and not all glory should be rewarded with love and devotion from all who see your players. If your players are advanced and know enough to expect higher standards, meet them. Communicate with your players and make sure you have the right levels of challenges and rewards.

Now, onto the subject of complexity, as it is perhaps one of the pitfalls of many great storytellers. In the effort to try to entertain, captivate, and intrigue players, game masters feel that they must add in every little detail, flesh out every NPC, and put every clue to the next step behind eighty doors guarded by dozens of trolls bearing ill-will toward our heroes and a smell that could wake the dead. Fortunately, this isn't the case. Players need to have a balance of easy clues and hard challenges, and you need to be able to balance those with the needs of the game and the people involved. Sometimes clues need to fall into their laps, and you need to be the one to initiate it. Aside from this, creating too many little details to fill in the world and plot that aren't necessary can lead to the next problem in storytelling.

The muddled mess is the generic name given to the plotlines that have no definitive goal or end in sight. There are seven different pathways to get somewhere, none of which lead to anything in particular, or may lead to a clue behind a fight, around the corner, that leads to six other pathways to take, and has the essentials of a run-on sentence that doesn't stop for three pages. Players need to have a maximum of one or two main goals at any given time to make sure they stay on track. Minor goals should lead to the main goals or character development. As a game master, you can control how fast they get there and where they have to go to get there as well. Take a step back and change the course of challenges if they succeed too early, and throw a puzzle in their way. "Why doesn't the key release the treasure?"


[Go Back] [Home] [Index]
Got questions or comments? Contact Us.
Important Info
All articles are copyright of Kerri Cordle.
Do not copy without permission.
Contact the Webmaster.