With writing you sometimes feel like you have to do everything at once. However, if there’s anything that homebrew D&D taught me, it’s that build as you go is a perfectly valid way to write a campaign and, by extension, a book.
Have you played Dungeons and Dragons? Have you? Well, it’s amazing and I highly recommend it. If you haven’t played before, a good place to get started is by purchasing the Player’s Handbook. It’s a bit on the pricey side, but absolutely worth the investment as it delineates the basics a person needs to know about playing the marvelous game of Dungeons and Dragons.
Anyhow, I digress. So, in what ways can RPGs strengthen writing?
Only Provide Pertinent Details
Dungeons and Dragons is great because it teaches improvisation and build-as-you-go style world building. You only provide as much as you need to tell the story, not a bit more and not a bit less. There are hundreds and thousands of random character, name, and store generators that make up for the rest of what you don’t plan before session. Learning to deal with the unexpected actions your players take and cooperate with them on their adventure is optimal practice for book writing. After all, what characters cooperate with you while you write them?
Also, it almost certainly breaks a writer of the need to endlessly mull over an element of their character’s backstory or an element of their world. You have to use it now! Too bad if it’s not perfect, you have to use it. No more time to think about the intricacies of what it means, go go go!
The players aren’t waiting for you if you’re a DM. They’re expecting you to know the game and the rules so that they can enjoy the story. The DM won’t wait for you if you’re a player. They need you to know at least your own character so they can build a world that will cater to that character’s development or downfall (depending on the type of campaign).
This encourages writers to pound out that first draft, no matter how messy. The more you practice it, the closer you’ll get to getting it right. Even if you aren’t a gardener, you’ll learn a lot by participating in RPG based character creation and world building.
I won’t deny that it does have some pitfalls. Please… just don’t start your book in a bar, tavern, or with a group of guys that meet in the very RPG-typical way. It’s not good, 95% of the time. So, to sum up, not everything translates. Some things are better left to the RPG sphere. However, the benefits far outweigh the pitfalls.
What do you think? Do you agree that RPGs such as D&D can lead to stronger writing? Or am I wrong? Let me know your thoughts in the comments down below.
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