Mining Tropes for RPG Nuggets: Season 1 Boxed Set

One of the lessons I learned from the Ennies Nominations is that my Site could gain from better navigation tools. This post is a step in this direction as I’ll put a link to it in my sidebar.

Director’s Intro:

I discovered the TVTropes wiki on the ‘Okay…Your Turn‘ gaming forum early in September 2007 (I’m Jag Dell, the newbie blogger gushing all over that thread).

At that time I was struck by how appropriate it was to consciously use tropes in RPGs since they are a form of narrative entertainment like movies, TV shows, novels and plays.

What started as a few stabs at a huge subject rapidly became my specialty.  It became a Series that I named “Mining Tropes for RPG Nuggets” and I had a blast writing them.

This post is going to be an annotated repository of links to all the trope posts of the “1st Season”, This should be useful for newer readers long time readers alike as a reference link.


Bonus Feature #1

  • The Rule of Cool: The post that started it all.  Short, effective and to the point. One of my all time best I think.
  • The Rule of Fun!: A later post that complements the Rule of Cool.  Both together resume my GMing philosophy in regards to RPGs.  That probably makes me a proponent of the Tyranny of Fun and I’m damn glad to be!

Episodes (and commentary):

  • Opening up the Mine: I defined what a Trope was and how subverting a trope could surprise players and create a stronger emotional kick in the game.
  • Meet Marty Stu:  I tackled the Pet NPC syndrome and suggested not overshadowing PCs.
  • Running on the Edge: I tried to tackle, with limited success, the D&D 3.5 Crunch involved in climbing on a humongous humanoid construct to defeat it.  If I was to remake this post I’d get rid of the Crunch altogether.
  • Let Them see the Light: Where I advocated allowing fantasy PCs skill-independent knowledge about monsters and magic and then subvert it once in a while.  I like this one a lot!
  • Glowing Fluff Elemental: Making stuff glow means it’s more powerful and just plain Cooler… ’nuff said!
  • …And cut!: Using the diagonal cut trope to enhance the description of a Critical hit makes players feel badass!
  • The Blessed Curse: Where I describe how to use a great power, like immortality, to make it into a campaign-wide curse.  I so need to use the ‘nobody can die’ idea for a mini-campaign.
  • Grab a Can of Evil: One of my favorite Fantasy/Supernatural trope, dealing with ultimate evil sealed in objects.  The exchange in the comment is a mini-campaign in waiting.
  • Halloween Special: Where I discuss combining multiple cool tropes to create hybrid concepts.  Chainsaw Axes, Firethrowing Fantasy tanks and sporks!
  • What a Coincidence: Coincidences is the ultimate shortcut a GM can take to make a gripping story while still cutting corners.  Players won’t notice, they’ll be too busy being the center of all that attention.
  • Gravity? Pfaa!: Occasionally ignoring balance checks and tedious Jumping rules can make for an acrobatic action filled RPG session that players will remember for a long time.
  • Ice, Ice baby: I was snowed in and pissed off at all that white stuff.  I made a trope post about it!
  • I, Overlord: I tackled the Overlord trope in various forms.  I’m very proud of that post.
  • Fighting Depression with Some Deep Pression: Once again merging real life issues with tropes, I discussed how to tackle depression in NPCs/PCs and the gameworld itself.
  • You, Bastard: Another of my favorites.  The Magnificent Bastard character trope gets presented in various NPC forms. Revisted here as a reader request.
  • Have Time, Will Travel: The Time travel tropes! I initially wanted to make this into several posts (starting with the Stable Time Loop) but it proved harder than I thought and I ended up abandoning the idea.  Maybe I’ll revisit in season 2.
  • This is the End Friend: Ending a campaign with an apocalypse.  I’m proud to have successfully pulled off this trope in my campaign.
  • The Crowning Moment of a Character: Make your PCs true Heroes and give them each their 15 minutes of glory.  Players love this!
  • The Quest Improbable: Applying the Mission Impossible structural trope to an adventure.  Makes Brilliant Planners happy and encourages players to be creative about solving problems.
  • The Truman Mirror Tomato Surprise!: Playing with the reality of the game world or the perceptions of said reality of players/PCs. A good season finale!

Bonus Feature #2:

  • The Bad, the Killer and The Evil: A tongue-in-cheek description of 3 GM types. I should write more of those short posts.
  • That Would Make such a…: At one point I started a “Tabletop and Tropers” series where I planned to tackle tropes that originated in RPGs.  It didn’t fly for long because I ran out of inspiration fast and I had trouble getting the message out.  This post is about not stealing the ideas of a whole movie but to borrow just a few tropes to recreate the feel in your game.

That’s all of them!  I might make then in an E-Book someday if there is demand for it.  In the meantime it’s available to all.

As some have noticed, I renamed the Series “Afterschool Trope Special” and I started tackling tropes from a wider perspective of campaign design.  I still don’t know where I’ll go with it…but that’s part of the fun isin’t it?


  1. Virgil Vansant says:

    I just found this site Friday, and I wish I had found it earlier. There’s a lot of good stuff. I’m about to pull off a trope in my campaign: revealing an ally of the party has been their enemy the whole time.

    Oh, and the Truman Mirror Tomato Surprise sounds interesting but the link is bad…

  2. Fixed!

    Welcome to the blog!

    Thanks for the Kudos!

  3. Should the fridge logic post be on the list?

    ScottMs last blog post..Setting Creation

  4. The Fridge logic is part of Season 2… the Tropes Afterschool Special series… also a one I’m rather proud of.


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