Roleplaying Games as Storytelling

Beyond being a writer, I am a storyteller. Sometimes, those stories need a different medium.

I have been playing tabletop roleplaying games – Dungeons and Dragons specifically – for close to twelve years now. As such a long-standing hobby of mine, I naturally have plenty of stories to share revolving around the games I’ve played and would like the chance to discuss those a little bit with all of you, if you’ll bear with me. But before I jump straight into those stories, I should catch those of you who aren’t in the know up on what a tabletop roleplaying game is like and, more importantly, what it means to me.

Most rule books for these sorts of games I’ve seen start with a beginner-friendly “what is a roleplaying game?” section. While that is certainly useful as a base frame of reference, tabletop roleplaying games, no matter the specific game, are games of the imagination and as such have as widely varying tones and themes as the people who play them. As such, I think it will be most useful for me to instead describe what these games are like when I play them.

A tabletop RPG is a game for anywhere from two to six people using dice with different numbers of sides, paper to keep track of things on, and sometimes a board with pieces. One of the players is in charge of playing the part of storyteller for the other players. Some games call this person the dungeon master (DM), game master (GM), or even simply Storyteller. Where the GM is in charge of the story, the other players are each in charge of a single character. These player characters (PCs) are the protagonists of the collaborative story being told around the table. Over the course of play, the PCs overcome challenges set forth for them by the GM, and eventually a complete story is told. There are numbers assigned to characters to help with conflict resolution. If my character is pushing a boulder, I use the Strength stat. For tracking a monster across a forest, I use Wisdom. There are many more numbers and attributes assigned to characters, but that is the general idea.

So why do I love tabletop RPGs? First, they’re a fun way to pass an afternoon. Spending time with friends and working on something both entertaining and creative is a great use of time, after all, and that’s just what these games allow me to do. Second, they serve as an outlet for those stories that wouldn’t quite work in a more traditional medium. Through my years of playing tabletop RPGs, I’ve played all sorts of characters, from a magically animated doll to a humble wandering monk. Third, the chance to run games for my friends also gives me an automatic audience for the story I wish to present. In a lot of ways, running a tabletop RPG is a lot like sharing a story in a writing group. However, unlike the writing group, the other people at the table are also actively shaping the story being told and this causes the plot to veer off in unexpected directions. While the resulting story might be a bit of a mess from a written perspective, it is nonetheless our story, and that makes it special.

And that’s why I play tabletop RPGs. In the future, I wish to explore specific facets of the games themselves, as well as some of my favorite characters I’ve played over the years. I know this isn’t directly about writing in the traditional sense, but I think you will all agree that when viewed as a medium for telling stories, this makes perfect sense to be included.

 

The Clocksmith on Amazon

Editing Services

Map-Making Services

Ask the Author

This is the weekly feature where I take time to answer any questions asked of me, about writing or anything else that comes to mind. There were no questions this week, but if you have one, feel free to ask me. I’d love to hear from you!
Any questions can be sent to me as a comment here, in an email, or through any of the other channels currently open.

Follow me on Twitter

Buy The Clocksmith on Amazon

The Clocksmith on Goodreads

Email me at brigardine@gmail.com

Brigard Fact #61

Pumpkins are a popular vegetable in the northern and central regions of Brigard. While some will eat it simply boiled and lightly seasoned, most prefer to use it as a basis for bread or stew. Called Hurenief, the bread is unsweetened with pieces of walnut mixed in. In the past, Hurenief was asscociated with the Skageran New Year.

Ask the Author

This is the weekly feature where I take time to answer any questions asked of me, about writing or anything else that comes to mind. This week, Juni Desireé asked:

Why do you write?

I write because for me, stories are as necessary to life as air. As soon as I learned to put words to paper, I’ve loved the act of writing. I’ve tried sharing my stories through many other mediums, but writing will always be the form that comes most easily to me.

 

What is the value of keeping a journal/writer’s notebook?

I mostly use journals to keep track of my ideas. If I didn’t have a place to write them down in a coherent manner, I don’t think I’d ever be able to remember them all. In fact, I have two. My main journal is for keeping track of all the details I’ve already established, but I also have a smaller notebook I keep in my car in case an idea comes to me while I’m away.

 

Where do you find inspiration?

I consider myself extremely fortunate in that practically anything can inspire me. But when I know I am looking for inspiration, I’ll usually grab my encyclopedia and flip through the pages until I come across something interesting. I like to go into really fine detail when world-building, and learning how things as mundane as weather patterns and geology work in real life is often enough to help me visualize what I need in the kingdom of Brigard.

 

What do you write?

I primarily write fantasy stories of varying lengths. Since the majority of these stories are all part of my Brigardine series, this has required a lot of world-building from me. But as I mentioned earlier, that aspect of writing is one of my favourites and so it rarely poses a problem.

When I’m not working on a novel, I usually fill the time by writing poetry. As far as poetry is concerned, I think I’m best at shorter forms such as haiku or sonnets, but I did try my hand at an epic once.

 

What’s the best writing advice you’ve been given?

This question’s a bit tricky to answer, since I’ve never been directly given any writing advice. However, I do have a story that I like to think counts as advice in a roundabout way.

In my last year of high school, I had an English teacher who thought very highly of my writing. When it came time to ask for letters of recommendation for college, I naturally went to her. When she asked what I would be studying, I told her I would be attending a college for video production. To paraphrase her response, she – somewhat disappointed – told me that I should try to find a way to incorporate my writing abilities in my future career.

I consider this writing advice because I’ve always looked at it as a way of telling me I shouldn’t give up on my passions just to please those who didn’t think as highly of me.

 

What writing advice would you give to others who want to write?

That would depend on who was asking. If someone wanted advice for publishing, I would say do not self-publish unless you know you can market yourself. Trust me, it is far more difficult a task than it sounds.

As far as general writing advice goes, do not wait around for inspiration to strike. If you want to write, you have to actually start getting words out of your mind. Some days, you’ll have to force yourself to sit at your desk (or wherever else you write) and you might not even get anything done. But even then, actively trying to write and failing is still more productive than toying with the idea of writing.

 

What does writing mean to you?

To me, writing is breathing life into a new world. Someday, I hope that my stories will inspire others to imagine and create. It is a lofty goal, I know, but you know what they say about shooting for the stars. Also, not to sound too money-focused, but I would like to someday support myself with my writing.

 

Do you have any questions for me? If so, I’d love to hear from you! Any questions can be sent to me either as a comment here or through my email, brigardine@gmail.com.

Brigard Fact #33

In the southern end of Brigard grows a plant known as sparkle-vine. Sparkle-vine is a climbing vine that wraps its way up tree trunks and along the lower branches. In late spring, the vine produces an immense number of conical, maroon flowers. These flowers make an iridescent pollen that scatters in even the slightest breeze, which attracts the butterflies which are crucial to their survival. Due to their pretty nature, sparkle-vines are popular as garden plants.

Brigard Fact #32

Although no one in Brigard would ever dream of sailing on the ocean, there are a number of towns with the word ‘harbor’ in their name. This peculiar naming convention comes from the Skageran culture, which occupied what is now the northern part of Brigard. The Skagerans were an especially brave group and would travel along the coast in long, narrow boats. Those towns located on parts of the coast known to be safe from the Leviathan’s influence were called ‘Hemenskagar’, meaning literally ‘safe coast’ or ‘harbor’. Even after the Brigardine Conquest, those towns formerly of the Skageran kingdom kept their original names, though the meaning fell into disuse.

Ask the Author

This is the weekly feature where I take time to answer any questions asked of me, about writing or anything else that comes to mind. There were no questions this week, but if you have one, feel free to ask me. I’d love to hear from you!
Any questions can be sent to me either as a comment here or through my email, which is brigardine@gmail.com.