Tonight's blog post is about something I am very passionate about, and that is role-playing games. I'm not talking about video games either, I'm talking about table top role-playing games such as Pathfinder, Warhammer, Dungeons and Dragons and stuff like that. Good old fashion pencil and paper with dice games. I have always been inspired to create and tell stories, and you can do that with role-playing ways in various creative ways. Role-playing games help you in two main ways. As a character you have a viewpoint of that character and you role-play according to how that character would perceive something. The other way is through the Dungeon Master (DM) as they are the story teller and have to deal with a variety of changes and obstacles to place in front of the players.
Playing a character or role-playing a character in these role-playing games is what it is all about. You create a character, or as we call it roll up a character. That person is who you have to play as in the game. There are two mechanics involved one is the dice-rolling which is all numbers, math, probability and that stuff. Then there is the actual role-playing, you put yourself in the shoes of a character and accomplish tasks, and great feats. You show the character you are trying to play, you are also more often than not trying to solve a problem, and then you have to try to put yourselves in the shoes of someone else.
You are showing your character, and the best way is to have a backstory for your character. Who is he/she. Where do they come from? What is their race, occupation, religion. What did they do before they went on this adventure? It is these questions that you can use to flesh out your character in a role-playing game. It is a skill that is learned the more you play these role-playing games.
It is not unlike what you have to do when you flesh out a character in a novel. Good characterizations can make good characters. The more unique or more real the character seems it makes them less like a trope. So, I do recommend any would be writer to try a role-playing game as it might help you vision a character, and what makes a good character.
That character is more often than not going to have to face problems, and you will have to give solutions. Sometimes that solution is using your magic spells, sword, or just kicking butt. However, sometimes you can't use violence. There are a variety of ways you can solve a scenario, be it diplomatically or strategically. That is another good thing about role playing games, is that it forces us to problem solve as characters. It uses our brains to find out solutions to problems, which I would say is useful outside the confines of the game.
It is really important when writing a character for a story. If your character is faced with a trial or a problem, you can use role playing to show how that character would deal with the obstacle. There are various literary tools you can use to help you with that such as Try-Fail cycles, and others. It helps the writer make the character into a better character and push a character arc to help them grow.
Remember, though that when you role-play that you are not the one making the decision. It is your character who is supposed to be making the decisions, you are just playing a chracter. If you are in a medieval setting, pulling out a firearm to end a quarrel is not going to be something you can do. You can't always just answer problems with violence, so putting yourself in the shoes of someone who is not going to be provoked to violence is a good exercise.
Character's are only one way to look at role-playing and how it can help writers. The Dungeon Master (DM) or Game Master (GM) is in charge of the game. He or she controls the fates per say of the characters. They are in charge of plot progressing, making the story itself so that the characters can advance it, they build the lore, and they are the ones who have to deal with the changes that the player characters invoke on their game world.
A DM must provide a plot and journey for the player characters. The players are the ones that will more than most likely be pushing the plot. However, a clever DM can allow the characters to push the plot and then mold the plot around the characters as well. Are the characters at the mercy of the plot or are they at their own mercy.
That is what you have to think about when you write a book. Pushing a plot on a character can seem dull in fantasy fiction, and in fact that is what many novelists tell us not to do. It can be a much more rewarding situation as the characters to push the plot forward instead of the plot pushing on the protagonists. Again, exercising as a DM can help you understand how good plot progresses a story and how not to do it.
Speaking of story, the Dungeon master is the one who places the problems and obstacles for the player characters. You are the one who is in charge of throwing monsters, traps, and a slew of other problems at these characters. Sometimes that ends in character death, sometimes that ends with having to reward the protagonists.
This is important for a since of advancement and plot advancement as well in a novel. You are in charge as the writer to make sure that the story is full of problem solving, choices, and conflicts. Going back to the try-fail cycle, is just one of many ways in which you can create a since of advancement in your story. You can get this by doing DM exercises and putting problems for these characters to solve.
As a DM you also are in charge of the lore and world building. Creating an interesting world in which the characters live. Be it diverse, homogeneous, basic fantasy or whatever. It is up to you to create the back drop and help shape the world. You can make it as interesting or as basic as you want. But, try to not bog down the game with lots of world building and exposition.
Speaking from experience, this is my main problem as a DM. I try too much to tell a story in a back drop and give tons of lore information. Instead of progressing the plot. So, my advice is to focus on a few things as a dungeon master, and also that is good advice when writing. Only focus on a few things in your lore when you write a book then add when they are needed.
Lastly a DM must deal with changes that the player character's invoke upon the world that they created. This is a culmination of all the other points. Sometimes things happen that completely change your world, and it is up to the DM to decide if that will stay or if they will use their god powers to change it. This can be as simple as reviving a character who died or deciding to keep a world changing event.
Again, speaking from experience. We just recently played a Pathfinder game where my friend DM'd a campaign in my world. An event happened that completely changed everything. Now I have to find out a way to make this event canon in my universe.
If you are a writer, and you read this blog I do suggest that you try a role-playing games. I'm sure you can find some friends who play a local Dungeons and Dragons campaign. If you can't, maybe you could join in one of my online sessions from time to time.