“Role-Playing Games as a Writing Tool” – The Rabyd Skald

Happy Thor’s Day!

This post idea has been sitting in my hopper since July.  It’s probably about time that I clear it.

In writing, there are a couple of challenges when it comes to characters and their interaction with each other. The first is record-keeping in that you need to make character notes and that can take a lot of forms but you want something simple that can be easily altered as the story unfolds.  The second is the ability to compare characters wih each other.  Which one is stronger, smarter.  Along with this is what can one character do that the others cannot.  This can be tricky if you don’t have a system that can compare them objectively or makes not of the differences.

My solution has been when applicable to use role-playing games (RPGs) for this purpose.  The paper, dice and pen kind. Over the years I have used Dungeons and Dragons for instance to make records of my Fantasy Characters.  By having already made up character sheets and plans to make notes, it makes it very easy to do this.  You also can know which character is stronger or smarter by comparing Strength and Intelligence scores for instance. You can also know that one character has knowledge of history while the rest of the group does not and the other has knowledge of how to speak Elvish and the others do not. I currently use this for my novel which is a fantasy novel, but I have also used it with science ficiton and urban fantasy.  With the first MegaTraveller has been used and with the second d20 Modern with the Urban Arcana addition works very well.

The trick with it though is sometimes you can’t be completely bound by the world the RPG characters are created in when writing. Then you might be writing fan fiction but not original stories.  Fantasy is easier to avoid as you can simply create your own world and adapt the RPG system you are using to it.  But science fiction can be more problematic with this approach.  Science Fiction RPGs tend to be very universe specific. Mostly though as a writer you have to be story-driven not rules-driven.

By opening up my writing schedule recently, I think a good way to get the creative juices flowing would be to create a single RPG character and then take them for a writing fiction ride for a while.  I am going to combine this with my search for a new muse as well. I am thinking I may do a D and D female character – I am thinking a Bard (Skald). 🙂

I also may in time drop into the science fiction world of Megatraveller. I have an idea for fleshing out the background of a character creation of a young orphaned lad who joins the Free Traders and starts traveling the stars.

One thing is for sure I need to get my creative juices flowing and there is a wealth of ideas to draw from RPGs and its time I began to tap into them.

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.


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