On Dungeons & Dragons
Never has one thing had such an immediate impact on my life as Dungeons & Dragons (D&D). When I look back at all those teenage years spent without playing this game, spent dismissing it as something just for ultra nerds (even when I played Warhammer tabletop) I almost want to facepalm.
I got into Dungeons & Dragons about a year ago, after reading yet another listicle about the crazy scenarios that can happen in the game. I messaged a group of friends and floated the idea of playing. Surprisingly enough, one of them had been thinking the same thing. Within a month I was playing in my first game, with my first-ever character. Two months after that I started planning my first campaign as dungeon master (DM).
As it turns out, the ability to create stories, characters and plot hooks and have them almost instantly given feedback is something I have been longing for. Ever since I used to post episodic stories on forums, I have always struggled with writing without getting intermittent feedback to help me go along.
Now people are not only reading my work, they’re living in it with their own characters. It’s almost criminal how much better it feels DM’ing a game of D&D than punching words into a story you have no idea will be received.
Within a year my campaign has gone from one small skirmish in a fishing village to an entire world with countries, governments, histories, and religions. Things I would have struggled to create on my own without a fantasy setting like D&D to base it on.
The funny thing is, my homebrew campaign is actually the perfect setting for the writing of a story. I have everything there I need, and I have had feedback on what areas, cities and characters people like best. Yet I cannot bring myself to start that story yet, as I have the stories of my four players to complete first.
There is something incredible about eliciting gasps, laughs, and even anger, out of players through my actions, storylines and imagination. It has been an enormous confidence boost when it comes to my storytelling abilities, even if they happen to be of a set of notes on a Google Doc mixed with improvisation. At the same time, my story is fluid and changes with player actions. I’m not tied down to plot hooks I have 50,000 words in advance, new hooks spring up on a session by session basis.
Perhaps there is a D&D approach to storytelling to be found in here somewhere. Approach the characters in any story as if they were people sat at the table rolling dice. Expect them to do the unexpected, and count on them to make mistakes, swear, stumble over furniture and fling swords from their hands when attempting to attack mythical beasts.
For now, I’ve got a boss battle to plan.