One of the many diversions in my life is role playing games. I’m not talking about computer games here either. I am mainly referring to pen and paper RPGs. Yeah, the ones where you sit around face to face with actual people, roll dice, and have a great time. Sounds almost quaint nowadays. Or, put another way, the epitome of geekdom.
However, RPGs of the pen and paper sort have always gotten a bad rap. Some people still associate it with the over-hyped devil worship nonsense from the 80’s. Some look at it as the sole province of your garden variety sweaty, overweight, basement dweller; tossing dice and ranting about special powers while digging through massive rule books that could give Black’s Law a run for its money.
Well, really, it’s none of those things and frankly it is what lies at the foundation of my writing. RPG’s are nothing more than collaborative fiction where rules apply only so much as they support a great story and rolling funky shaped dice simply adds an element of randomness.
If you are the type of person that likes to read or watch television and wonder why the heck the characters are doing the stupid things they do and why oh why won’t they just ask the right questions or kill off the guy that is obviously going to stab them in the back down the road, (in other words, the type of person that LOATHED Lost), well, maybe, just maybe, RPGs are for you.
What does this have to with writing? Well, if you ever want to put your fictional thinking cap on the spot, really tax your ability to brainstorm character developments, plotting, scene building all in front of a bunch of real-time “beta readers” then running an RPG with some friends is the way to go.
What does this mean for writing? For me, it means my rough drafts are a little less rough; that writing “by the seat of my pants” is possible with no prep, outlines, or scene lists. It also means I’m flexible and willing to adjust things midstream and rarely get hung up on little details. So far, in the limited success I have experienced, it has made writing to deadline a bit easier as well.
Still not sold on the connection? My next post I’ll show you the nuts and bolts of an RPG I’m playing and how you can apply some of those tricks to your writing!
A surprising nuembr of gamers indulge in traditional tabletop gameplay, as well as MMORPGs. In fact, many of us PC gamers got our start in D D, and play our online games as a type of substitute for in-person gaming. There’s nothing quite like a D D group with a great DM. No online game can approach the feeling of completing a challenging objective that exists really in your imagination. Having other people right in front of you just magnifies it. That said, a 10-man raid (or more if you’re into that) with the right people over Ventrilo can be a ton of fun. It’s a different type of excitement, though. Traditional face-to-face RPGs don’t seem to lend themselves well to online play, which can be a challenge for those of us who don’t know people who game, or don’t live close to a comic book or gaming shop. It’s definitely a bit more work to find a good tabletop RPG group than it is to find an MMO guild! Well worth it, though.