Totally Off Topic: Writers Who Role Play

I posted this as a response to a comment about office supplies and role-playing games in one of the “Write A Book With Me” posts.

But I realized I’m curious. How many of you who write are or have also been role-playing gamers? (D&D, GURPS, another system…whatever. If you’ve sat in a room with friends talking your way through an adventure aided by the terrifying click of your DM or GM suddenly rolling dice, I wanna hear about it.)

I never got story ideas from the role playing, but I did use it as a way to test out my universe physics (the magic system, the map, the people and things that lived there) to see if anything could work better. Or worse.

So here’s my role-playing story, from when I was GMing my own campaign with a handful of friends.

I led a GURPS campaign through Arhel while I was writing in that universe and ran (tortured) some friends through the world.

It was…interesting.

One friend whose character had a rope, rope-throwing skills, and superb athletic abilities, insisted on walking through murky water instead of noticing the stalactites above and the stalagmites across the way. Insisted, against the warning of my raised eyebrow.

(I think I even asked her, “Are you sure?” If your GM ever asks you “Are you sure,” klaxons, explosions, and the question, “Think, think, what have I MISSED?!” should be running through your head.

Playing the campaign without feet until a companion figured out the heal spell proved to be a bit of a challenge for her.

Nasty, hungry things LIVE in murky water.

Another bought a flying carpet, asked for instruction on the magic word that started it—GM: “Do you do anything else before you pay for your carpet?” Him, thinking… “No.” GM raises eyebrow.—and flew off.

So he’s up in the air and flying away from the marketplace. His friends on the ground below are watching.

Him: “This is great. So, I turn and head back to the market.”

GM: “Really? How?”

Pause, while nervous expression crosses his face. Note the sudden silence among his companions on the ground below.

Him: “I say ‘Turn?'”

GM: “Nothing happens.”

Him: “I say “Turn left?”

GM: “Nothing happens.”

Him: “I lean over to see if it’ll turn like a bicycle.”

GM: “It’s still going straight.”

Him: (Sighing.) “Okay, so I crawl out to the very edge of the carpet and lift one corner of it to catch the wind like a sail and force it to turn.”

GM: “It’s a carpet, made of fabric, and at the very edge it does not support your weight. It buckles and you fall off. Dex roll to see if you manage to hang on to the edge.”

He makes his dexterity roll. Barely.

GM: “So now you’re hundreds of feet in the air, the carpet is still heading straight away from the market, and you are hanging backward from the front corner of it by your fingertips. Any thoughts here?”

Him: “I should have got all the operating instructions before I took off?”

If the Start command for your brand-new flying carpet is “Atherothromba,” the Turn command is unlikely to be “Turn.”

He was also the one who, while leading the expedition, found a room full of treasure with a clearly marked “beware all ye who enter here” type curse over the door. He entered, (GM raises eyebrow) against advice of the rest of his party, while his friends (who were getting the hang of me) waited outside the doorway.

There was a box. It had a button. The button said, “Don’t Push.”

Against advice from his colleagues and the raised eyebrow of his GM , he pushed the button. There was a moment while the clicking of dice on the table top echoed in a silent room.

Then, “poof!” He went from being the lean, handsome, square-jawed hero to being, ah… extravagantly furry. At which point, to the horror of everyone, including his footless buddy, he muttered “how much worse could it get?” and pushed the button a second time.

The soft click of dice on the table once more, as the device randomizer rolled through its possible combinations.

He became short and female. And STILL extravagantly furry.

There might possibly be good, solid reasons for NOT ignoring signs saying “Keep Out” or buttons saying “Don’t Push.”

I LIKE being a GM.

But I will note that my GMing style rewards the anxiously paranoid player over the “leap-then-look” one.

Imagine all the bad things that might be behind that door. Make them bigger. Give them more teeth.

Now ask yourself how they might be getting into position behind you while you and your companions are futzing around arguing (loudly) over whether it’s better to blow up the lock, shoot it with your arrow, or wait for the guy with the lockpick skills to see if he can get it (quietly).

Players learned to whisper in my world.

Have you ever role-played in relation to your writing? As a research tool, story generator, character development tool, or something else?

If you have, what aspects of the role-playing did you use, and how did you apply them to your work.

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

124 comments… add one
  • Logan Oct 3, 2009 @ 20:46

    Heya! I use Role-playing to get ideas when I get writer’s block. Seeing how others react when stuck in the same situation really helps. Also, I can get my ideas in a better order when I have outsider imput. I mainly do RPs on forums, and the main one I’m involved in has become really major.

  • Benjamin Solheim Oct 3, 2009 @ 20:35

    I DM for years testing out stories on my players because it showed me what was fun and what did not really work as I thought it would. The oddest thing was that found was some of the tools I used as a DM just did not translate well into writing. Like setting up killer traps that appeared as traps, I would still have players try them because every once in a while they could get through and find crazy loot minus a player or two of course. The other thing is after the fact the story lost something being told from one or two perspectives instead of the four to six view points of the gaming session.

  • Amanda Oct 3, 2009 @ 20:31

    My whole group of college friends were all gamers, most of us were writers, and most of us were also in the theatre/communications department. We had all sorts of fun with just about any variation on RPs you can think of. 99% wasn’t for stories directly (ok, most of it was just for fun ^.^), but they were *very* useful for character generation and development. One thing we liked to play with that I found particularly useful was “moshing” – each of us taking a random character from unrelated stories (though we tried to roughly match up worlds so we didn’t have medieval characters mixing with modern, unless it was for a purpose), throwing them into a situation and seeing how they react. For me, what was really interesting was seeing what kind of mannerisms showed up (Akita never slouches – he has back problems; Raury taps his fingernails when he’s nervous (and has a bad habit of trusting those he shouldn’t); Wolf wears his hair covering half his face because he doesn’t like people looking at him [and long fangs affect the way you hold your mouth]).

  • Katie Oct 3, 2009 @ 19:49

    I’ve used role-playing as a tool to build character believability many times. I’ve played D&D and Exalted!, but my favorite is play-by-post role-playing. It gives me a better feel for my characters in situations that I only have partial control of. <3 It's great.

  • Mark Skarr Oct 3, 2009 @ 19:45

    Role-playing and writing, there are two things that people think go great together.

    RPGs are great for ideas about stories and stories are great places to get ideas for RPGs. But, do the two really work together well?

    When I write a story about my characters, the point comes up that I already know the outcome, which is diametrically opposed to the way RPGs work. When I write a story about Holly Brandt fighting the Word of Blake on Hesperus II ([i]BattleTech[/i] for those who don’t know), I know the outcome of the battle. Sitting down with some friends and playing out the battle runs the possibility that [i]Holly could lose the fight[/i]. That’s not good for moving the story forward. Worse, by playing the game, it’s perfectly possible that Holly could die.

    Had I written a story about one of our [i][b]GURPS[/i][/b] Supers games, it would have ended suddenly when my sister (Kindari, she’s below and the reason I’m here) killed my character. No, Kindari wasn’t GMing, she was another player. I got possessed and it was the only way to stop me. My death was perfectly in character and I had nothing to say but “good roll!”

    On the other hand, to end one of our Hero games, instead of playing out the final situation, I wrote it out for the GM. It was the only way I could get the end accomplished the way it [i]needed[/i] to be done. The other players wouldn’t have understood why my character was doing what she was until it was too late. They would have tried to interfere and it would have caused the story to end on a sour note as opposed to ending in a final, awesome way.

    When you have multiple people joining together to tell a story, that’s awesome. It’s one of the most amazing social events you can imagine. But, the problem comes up that you cannot predict or even prepare for how they’re going to respond. Well, not [i]always[/i]. I know, when I’m GMing, who has what buttons to push.

    Writing stories about my characters, for their background or for what they’re doing when the rest of the party isn’t around is a phenomenal exercise and I highly recommend it. The GM for the [i][b]GURPS[/i][/b] Supers game and our regular [i]Hero[/i] GM has said, several times, that he had this plot ready to go but my character’s back-story was much more interesting and we’re going to mess with my character. It happens a lot. I enjoy my characters being messed up.

    Now, I think using RPGs to help you define the characters in your story is a very good exercise for RPGs, but not so much for writing. Characters in fiction have abilities dictated by the story and the plot where characters in RPGs have abilities dictated by the rules. Holly has one, last shot to stop the villain. She has to hit him, in the center torso with her ER medium laser at 360 meters . . . can she do it? Well, in the RPG, we have to calculate the penalties to her skill and then hope she hits. Then, presuming she hits, she has to hit the center torso. The odds are fairly against her hitting in the first place. In a story, if that’s what [i]needs[/i] to happen, then it will happen. Holly will take the shot that hits the target and disables their ‘Mech.

    Sure, you could have a GM that’s more interested in the story than in the rules, but, to me, that’s [i]not[/i] role-playing. If there’s no threat to my character’s safety (be it mental, physical or emotional) than there’s no point in playing. I don’t like games where nothing ever changes and no one ever dies. I took a lesson from John Wick and started telling my GM how I want my character to die. Try doing that and see the look in your GM’s eye.

    I guess, at the end of the day, I’m just saying “Your Mileage May Vary.”
    Keep in mind that I’m the Forum Pervert over at the Steve Jackson Games website, so any advice should be taken with a few grains of salt, and maybe some penicillin.

  • Andrew Vittoria Oct 3, 2009 @ 19:28

    This is a second hand story but maybe it helps.

    A friend of mine saw me reading the Icewind Dale Trilogy and mentioned that she used to roleplay with R.A. Salvatore. Apparently Mr. Salvatore was a DM who used to develop campaigns and see how the role players would respond to certain situations, thus giving him a way to write believable characters who acted independently of his own line of thinking.

    Is this story true? No idea… but it’s believable enough.

  • Ben P Oct 3, 2009 @ 19:15

    I played a variety of RPGs for many years and ran several long campaigns. For me, roleplaying was a natural outgrowth of storytelling. There are a lot of parallels, in particular because the players are your immediate audience. The game, the campaign lives and dies on the strength of your creativity and story telling. Even then it was the interpersonal conflicts that really added depth to the stories.

    Yet there is one big BUT. – My first couple of major writing projects grew out of these roleplaying campaigns and stories. I knew the characters intimately. I loved them and love them still and they reflect truly telling parts of my own soul.

    And that is the big but: They are too close, too tied up in my own history and in my own identity. They are so much a part of me that they stifle my creativity.

    Now, other characters that I have specifically created or been handed by my increasingly cooperative muse (Thanks Holly, Shameless plug for the How to Think Sideways course) are also a part of me, but a part with less baggage and fewer strings attached.

    To truly begin to write I first had to let go of the role playing stories and the role playing worlds, broaden my horizons and look farther afield. (Considering that I’ve recently developed a sincere passion for romance and the romantic-thriller genre I now consider my horizone appropriately broadened. Even though I still expect to be struck by lightning every time I admit to loving romance novels).

    So: Roleplaying:
    Pro: Wonderful practice when it comes to story telling.
    Con: You can get too attached to the characters and the story. Death of creativity.

  • Davide Mana Oct 3, 2009 @ 19:13

    I’ve been a roleplayer, and a GM mostly, for 25 year and counting.
    In the last few years I’ve started connecting my roleplaying with my fiction writing.

    I often write alternate history or historical fantasy – which means LOTS of research, which most of which never shows up explicitly on the written page.
    Also, often a short narrative (i mostly do short stories for magazines) does not provide me with space or opportunity to explore certain aspects of my setting.
    Roleplaying allows me to recycle my research and to explore those shadowy corners, and in the meantime is a great testing ground for new ideas or half-outlined plots.
    The only thing to remember – for me – is, not all good roleplaying plots work fine also as fiction plots – so sometimes it is impossible to transfer on the page what happened around the gaming table.
    But apart from that, I find roleplaying to be quite helpful.
    In a few cases, the stress-test of meeting my players has turned a lame, cardboard character into a well-rounded character for my fiction.
    And LOTS of background inconsistencies get weeded out through player analysis and investigation.

    In terms of games played – I think I played anything available in the game shop, plus a few home-brew systems, but I still remain faithful to good, old Call of Cthulhu, which incidentally really forces me to think about narrative mechanics.
    For my background-recycling games, I’m using Savage Worlds, a generic game engine that’s infinitely faster and lighter than GURPS, and whose mechanics fit perfectly the somewhat swashbuckling style of my own imaginary words.

    Thankfully, I also can count on a team of like-minded individuals…

  • Elise Oct 3, 2009 @ 19:11

    The world I created for my books had its base in an online message board RPs for another book series. Nearly all the characters I used on these online message boards were adapted to become characters in my world.

    The biggest benefit for me is that all the characters became very unique and well developed. Two characters that originally started out with almost the same personality gradually became very, very different. My first attempt at RPing a villain ended up with a very colorful assassin with a rather interesting past. Now he’s a favorite character of mine and he plays a primary villain in the first several books. I have many more plans for him based on more RPing adventures.

    I also had many adventures with other RPers (from all over the world) that I’m adding to the story.

  • Katherine Oct 3, 2009 @ 19:05

    I find it helps a lot actually. It breaks me out of my writers block. It’s also a great way to give a different genre to try once and a while. Of course I’m only sixteen, but to me, it’s a great way to get plots into your mind.

  • Kylen Wiggin Oct 3, 2009 @ 19:01

    Hi Holly!

    First off, I’d like to say that it sounds like you’d be a great GM! 🙂 Those moments in the games you mentioned sound very much like some of my own best times!

    I’m by no means a professional writer, but I’m definitely a well-practiced dabbler in the art of storytelling. I’ve been playing pen-and-paper RPGs since I was introduced to them at the tender age of 6, and ever since then I think they’ve been a lot of inspiration for me as far as writing goes.

    For me, I’ve never actually used RPGs to test out a story or a world on purpose. My very first homebrewed campaign world did become the setting for several attempted stories, and I think it’s great as a brain exercise — especially GM’ing. Having to spin a story for interested players and to keep them interested and going on is very rewarding!

    So, as far as in regard to writing goes, I’ve used it as a brain-energizer, as well as a way to get a clearer handle on how real people act in situations – especially made-up ones — to make characters more believable. I also spent several years in the old AOL chatrooms doing free-form roleplay, which is really more like cooperative storytelling. There are many very involved and complex plots that I co-wrote with random people that I encountered, and I wish that there was still a place like that out there, because those are some of the best stories I’ve ever experienced.

    Even now, when I’m writing, I try to capture some of that spontaneity that existed within those stories, and I wish I had more record of them. It’s amazing how interacting with people in made-up situations can really give you insight both into those people, and also into how people act in general.

    This is a great topic, thanks for bringing it up!

  • Lee Oct 3, 2009 @ 18:48

    That is hilarious, Holly!

    Oddly enough, I only GM’d maybe once in all the years I’ve been PnP’ing. Well okay, actually 3 times. Once using GURPS but on Earth and actually in the setting of my detective series.

    The second was a combination RPG and tabletop gaming. I had this insane idea to run a Mechwarrior campaign and play out the battle scenes using the Battletech rules. That… was interesting. From it came a 95% finished Battletech novel that I probably should have finished and submitted to FASA. I think it was strong enough for the series.

    The third was a Star Wars campaign. I’m a bit fuzzy on the details of it though.

    I used to use GURPS for all my character generations and a few of those characters wound up in a near future thriller that sadly was one of the casualties of my hard drive crash I couldn’t replace.

    Then I designed a full blown RPG system specifically for my SF Universe, but took a look and just decided I was basically reinventing the wheel.

    Around that time I got into the Champions system and actually, along with a friend, managed to submit a campaign book based on my SF series. We even got as far as signed contracts but it happened during a shakeup of the company and our editor went for greener pastures I guess and the incoming hierarchy decided to pass on the project in the interest of paring down product lines.

    Sidebar: These days our would-be editor is writing material for City of Heroes/Villains.

    Then before the crash and writing hiatus I simply used the Shadowrun character questionaire (with slight modifications) for my background material and Traveller (Old School) for the character and game world generation hard data.

    Back when I was playing Shadowrun I wrote a novel that got to about 75% done and it too was an irreplaceable casualty.

    But what’s funny about the whole thing is that one of my friends who was really big on RPGs spent weeks twisting my arm trying to get me to make a character and play in one of his games but I was just highly resistant to roleplaying games to begin with. Finally he waved a copy of GURPS Space under my nose , which was exactly the kind of source material I needed to aid in my SF novel creation and I caved in.

    And about halfway through the first game wondered why I was so resistant to playing in the first place.

  • Eva Oct 3, 2009 @ 18:37

    I am writing role-playing adventures as a combination of novel and adventure, the role-playing material included nicely as sketches, rule-data, and alternatives in addition to the novel. The novel is an adaptation of the role-playing adventure. The idea is to make preparing the adventure an interesting reading experience and to allow the GM to get an intuitive grasp of the story, although the novel can be just one out of hundreds of possible variations of the adventure.

    Some of my main characters (those that experience the adventure) are actually PCs I have played in the past, which helps to make them become alive, to ‘become’ them to some extent, because I already ‘was’ them in role-playing sessions. It’s like answering questions, how they would behave in certain situations, because you have behaved as them in any number of situations.

    Also, creating the content of the plot was pretty easy, because I had created the adventure. I was completely familiar with the logic behind NSC activities, how the problem could be solved in different ways, what needed to be known by who so that the PCs could find out what they needed to know, etc. I have played the adventures each a couple of times with different people before writing them as a story.

    If any of you understand German check it out: http://www.LizajasAbenteuer.DE

  • Eva Oct 3, 2009 @ 18:36

    I am writing role-playing adventures as a combination of novel and adventure, the role-playing material included nicely as sketches, rule-data, and alternatives in addition to the novel. The novel is an adaptation of the role-playing adventure. The idea is to make preparing the adventure an interesting reading experience and to allow the GM to get an intuitive grasp of the story, although the novel can be just one out of hundreds of possible variations of the adventure.

    Some of my main characters (those that experience the adventure) are actually PCs I have played in the past, which helps to make them become alive, to ‘become’ them to some extent, because I already ‘was’ them in role-playing sessions. It’s like answering questions, how they would behave in certain situations, because you have behaved as them in any number of situations.

    Also, creating the content of the plot was pretty easy, because I had created the adventure. I was completely familiar with the logic behind NSC activities, how the problem could be solved in different ways, what needed to be known by who so that the PCs could find out what they needed to know, etc. I have played the adventures each a couple of times with different people before writing them as a story.

    If any of you understand German check it out: http://www.LizajasAbenteuer.DE

  • JanW Oct 3, 2009 @ 17:58

    For a few years, I wrote with a group of other women. We used role-playing in our group of three several times to explore what people would say in different situations and to get the body movements right. It was a good way to test movements in the physical world.

    Because there were three of us, two could do the role-play while the third took notes of the dialogue or observations of the interactions. We didn’t necessarily use it verbatim, but it was input to get us off square one. It also allowed us to physically step into the characters we were writing in a way that mental imaginings could only take so far.

    BTW, one of the members of the group was an accomplished RPG player, so this was quite natural for her.

    Jan

  • Kat Oct 3, 2009 @ 17:46

    Wow, its been years since I roleplayed, but that really does bring back memories! We had one player in particular…well we were playing a Call of Cthulu type game, and lets just say he achieved NPC (insane) status in the first half hour!

    The closes I come to role playing for writing though is using some of the more relevant material as a sort of quick guideline for myworld building. You know, what environments can sit next to what, quick reference for weapon size and info, and so on. The other thing I do is “make believe.” You know, like talking through conversation out loud, or trying out the contorted positions my characters are getting into to make sure I’m not bending them like pretzels. I’ll go through entire scenes that way sometimes if I have huge doubts about something. (Thank god for living alone.)

    Your RP story reminds me of one I read last night. Enjoy, but a head up for you and all other note readers–consider the tale rated R (but EXTREMELY funny!): http://tinyurl.com/gg4cb

  • Ke-Yana Drake Oct 3, 2009 @ 17:26

    I love RPGs! I used to GM for an old game called Mage: The Ascension. And after about 5 years of GMing in Mage, I adapted the Mage system to accommodate my universe and character skills and played a game with a few of my friends in my universe. My intention was to actually solve a conflict scene I was writing in Book One, it was a very fun game but from the perspective of my original goal the game pretty much flopped… when you’re a hunted fugitive you don’t go flying from the top of a building down to the fairly crowded street /just because you can/… and being the temporary leader of the group does not mean you can strut around like an ass ordering folks around without thinking… and live… and you certainly don’t go ahead and try to shoot an assassin with scary-awesome gun and dodge skills, when you have shite ratings in either.. XD Lol.
    But, the game set the scene for what I /shouldn’t/ do and ended up really helping me to figure out the scene and how the real characters would behave. I’ve also played games set in the universe where I’ve taken the floor maps and scene planning for the game and used them later in writing. I think the only direct help an rpg session has played in actual writing has been more when I’ve used rpg by myself and played as a few different characters to see how the adapted rpg system was coming along and it’s lead to a background story for the character (which I’ll actually write and use).

    One day… you know in that precious high dream of when I’m “rich and famous”.. lol.. I’d like to fully develop a roleplay game as an addition to my writing universe and have folks actually play it as a legitimate RPG. But that’s a long way off.. I discovered there’s a difference between understanding the system enough to GM and how much you need to understand to actually write your own. But I’m a detail nut, so I’ll probably get there eventually. 🙂

  • Tyrone Oct 3, 2009 @ 17:17

    BTW, the topic sentence is mis-spelled. It should be ‘role-play’. (I could not quiet my inner-editor.)

  • Staci Myers Oct 3, 2009 @ 17:15

    I’ve done a lot of different RPG’s, but it’s the Play-by-Posts (PbP), which combine roleplaying and writing that really get my creative juices flowing. There’s a definite challenge to building a story with 4-5 other people (one of whom is generally the GM), keeping your character in-character while reacting to developments in the game and the actions/reactions of the other characters.

    It’s addictive as hell and incredibly productive. I can turn out over a thousand words a day of my own when I’m cranking on a co-post with another player, and it really gets me in touch with the character that I’m writing, because I *have* to stop and think about how they would feel or respond to a given situation. I can’t tailor the situation to fit them because I’m not in sole control, so it keeps me on my toes, constantly shifting between my own POV & the character’s.

  • Tyrone Oct 3, 2009 @ 17:11

    I have been role-playing since 1982. Although I’ve played most of the major games D&D, White Wolf and GURPS are games I have studied vigorously. (I’m running a game in GURPS currently)
    I’m somewhat new to writing but found that my gaming knowledge helps in world and character creation.
    I use the source books from GURPS and White Wolf to create my characters.
    Writing is much harder than role-playing because in writing you must play all the roles!

    • Lee Oct 3, 2009 @ 18:54

      A friend of mine ran a truly awesome and very detailed Vampire game that inspired me to write a novel around the character I created.

      She was a Moor princess turned during the Crusades and centuries later, events that happened during the Crusades come back in her present to bite her in the ass.

      I know that novel (another I lost during the hard drive crash) is rattling around on a friend’s hard drive. I want to pick it up again, only create my own unique vampire mythos. (still working on that lol)

  • dancingcrane Oct 3, 2009 @ 17:07

    Oh! George RR Martin’s “Wild Cards” series (20+ books) started out as a tabletop roleplay. So, it does work.

    • John McMullen Oct 4, 2009 @ 9:54

      But be careful that roleplaying doesn’t suck your creativity. I had dinner with George R. R. Martin a loooong time ago (me and six others, after a con; it’s not like I know him) before the first wild cards book came out (I think), and he admitted that the first book was a way to get paid for what he was already essentially doing and what was taking time away from his other writing.

      I have to admit that I have two tiers of creativity. If I know the idea is derivative or closely modeled on someone else’s, it goes in the RPG tier. Commercial pen-and-paper RPGs are often–usually–derivative of *something*.

  • Kindari Oct 3, 2009 @ 16:43

    Hello! I’ve been playing RPGs just about as long as I’ve been writing. I’ve written short snippets about the characters or settings, usually. Some of my more recent games, I’ve been keeping a rough journal from my character’s point of view. It helps me remember what’s going on, and when I get it cleaned up, I send it to my brother, who’s the GM. (We mostly play GURPS, but I’d say I’ve tried about half the games out there, even if only for a one-shot deal.)

    I’ve been working on a new world that I like, but I have a lot of questions I have to answer, even before I challenge our gamers to test it out and find out where the hidden problems are.

    Your gamers (or GM) can be a great source of inspiration for ideas, problems, characters, settings, villains, and just WHAT?! that you would never think of. Everyone reacts differenly. When you’re driving everyone, it’s easy to slip into driving everyone the same. But that’s not necessarily what they’d do.

    RPGs have given me inspiration for years for writing. Whether it’s paper-and-pen, text-based, email, play-by-mail, or the existing “RPG” computer games. They’ve all given me ideas and characters.

  • June Oct 3, 2009 @ 16:38

    I started playing RPGs back when you asked for them in the bookstore and got a, “You want WHAT?” (with very confused look) response. The first thing I learned is that I hated playing. But, I loved GMing. I liked inventing worlds and chasing after players tossing story in front of them as fast as I could create it.

    Needless to say, I have lots of stories. But, I’ll stick with a relatively short one.

    My players are always very honest. My brother was playing with us and the party entered a darkened room. He had a glowing sword, so he pulled it out and gave the command to switch it on. They continued on until the came to a doorway that remained stubbornly jet black no matter how close he brought his sword to it. So he says, “I stick the sword in.” I asked, “Sure you want to do that?” He says, “Yes.”

    So, I told him that his sword has been obliterated by the matter-devouring void. And his response was, “But, I probably stuck my hand in too.”

    Honesty is always rewarded. So, this story continues with the fact that after he had his stump healed I allowed him to find a magical mechanical hand and use it.

    Greed, however, is not rewarded. Some time after getting the magical hand, he decided to enchant the fingers with various magic spells so he could set them off at will. I let him get away with it, but made him roll to see is something went wrong each time. Somehow, he managed to avoid disaster right through all four digits, despite increasing the chance of failure each time. My brother is very lucky with dice.

    On the thumb, however, his luck wore out and he failed his role. Now, it’s boring to just blow things up or make them stop working. So, I made the hand sentient. At odd times it would get a mind of its own — like it would decide to pick the pocket of the city guard’s captain while he was having a pint with his entire troop on his birthday.

    The hand outlived the character, was buried, and later dug up by a totally different party of adventurers (and a totally different group of players) in a game that was happening a thousand years later (in world time). Some ideas just keep giving and giving.

    • June Oct 3, 2009 @ 20:54

      Oh, forgot to talk about RP and writing. Worldbuilding would be the first place. I got used to doing that on the fly for players and I still do it for books.

      The other thing would be more insight into me. I’m not good with rules. Pretty much as soon as we’d find a new system the group and I would tear it apart — not playing that rule, we’ll do this a different way, might use this. This is also true in the writing. If someone says, ‘You can’t do that’ I almost have to try. I just have to break rules. It’s in my DNA or something.

  • Eliza Oct 3, 2009 @ 16:29

    Hey, Holly!

    Actually, RPing was the big boost for my writing. I joined a RP chat & fanfiction circle based on the movie NEWSIES back when I was in college. There were different lodging houses & establishments based on NYC in 1900. A player would submit a character profile with physical information, history, relationships, etc. When approved, the player could join chats and create storylines with other players, which then turned in to fanfiction. Most of the canon characters were disregarded because we were so immersed in each others’ OCs.

    I’m still pulling characters from my pool back then. The trick has been separating them from other peoples’ characters and stories.

  • Adam Oct 3, 2009 @ 16:21

    LOL! coincidences abound. my friend last night was asking how my novel came to be…

    i started creating the world about 10 years ago so my soon to be wife and a few of her friends could play AD&D (i use 2nd edition player’s option ruleset heavily modified). a small group of them played through the Axius invasion of Valok and Noricum, the two human nations in the west. that campaign ended with the PCs captured by demons because i tired of one of the players cheating on their dice rolls constantly, making my point that the GM can always take out the players if that is their intent. that individual never returned, and i worked on other areas of the world unsure that i’d ever use it again.

    another group of friends got convinced to play by my wife about the time the last LotR movie came out (and LotR risk began to get boring). This group i set in Karat-Sizan, and started building the city, its politics, and the Axius invasion of Tillia 25 years after the first group i ran. They changed a few things in the city, but became enmeshed in a quest that splintered the party. Most of the males in the group quit playing around that time (why the party split), but the women wanted to keep playing. Amber (my wife’s character) and Zara (our friends character) traveled across the world, through the plains to the south helping the Valok build a new home, to the northern reaches of the Jyn-Lao homeland and Zara’s master’s tower, and into the ancient Del’s underground kingdom in the Zwerghaus mountains. in order for them to accomplish this, they needed allies, and Tzalaran was created.

    Kraz had been a character that advised and assisted them in Karat-Sizan, so i made his little brother to go on the quest with them, along with a few other characters that they would meet along the way. As they adventured, they started slipping hints about what they had been doing to the people that used to play, and over a couple months we went from 2 players to 8. i needed to get rid of some of the NPCs, so had some fiends that leave nasty little seeds inside the bodies of people they attack that gestate into new fiends go up against the group, focusing on the NPCs. Tzal didn’t get a seed, and had developed a close bond with Belise, the Faedan seer, who transferred her abilities to Tzal in order for the wisdom of her tribe to continue. this was expected to drive him insane, and thereby remove the last of the unnecessary NPCs from the group (it also made for quite a few dramatic death scenes and really heightened the stakes to the players).

    when i was about to let Tzal go crazy, i allowed Zara to roll percentile dice because she didn’t like the thought of losing her bodyguard. i gave a 24% chance for him to be able to regain his sanity, and a 1% chance that he’d learned to control the power Belise transferred to him. she rolled 100.

    The group continued on to complete the quest, freeing Amber’s mentor from her demonic bond. They quested to gain the rest of the materials and processes for Zara to complete crafting her staff of power, and then headed to the Jyn-Lao empire and moved against the forces of a greater demon massing his forces in the jungles to the south.

    i started taking classes and no longer had time to devote to running a game, so they never were able to finish either the Axius or Jyn-Lao storylines. at work i started writing scenes from Tzal’s childhood, and different scenes that came through my mind. by the time i was done with school, our group had moved and we no longer were able to get together to play. i wanted to finish the story, and began telling that tale through his eyes.

    after a while, i realized that it was all really his story, and changed my perspective and direction with it. The book i’m writing now was never part of the game, but the 3rd (and maybe 4th) book(s) will be what they played through. the final will be Tzalaran and Marash (Amber’s mentor) taking on the Empress of Axius.

    Last night, as i was telling this story to my friend, when i got done he looked at me and said, “So everything you’ve been doing the past few months, and your plan for the rest of your life (as i told him i didn’t see myself not writing ever, even if i never get published) is all because of a dice roll.” i laughed and agreed, and we both found it rather fitting.

    All my world building and game mastering gave me the inspiration, plot lines, and theme for what i’m doing now. Websites like yours have given me the affirmation that this is something i can do. now it is just putting it all together and working on it. 🙂

    to answer the question, many of the plots that the players didn’t take on have surfaced in this work, along with characters that they interacted with. So far, i’ve not used anything that was directly the result of our game, but it is in the plan.

  • Kayelle Allen Oct 3, 2009 @ 16:11

    I write within a universe I created for immortals who play a role playing game that’s real. They must live one forty-sixty-year role as the person they design and roll skills for. Losing costs them a year of death at the hands of the gamemaster.

    There are a series of books based on this concept. Rather than focus on the game itself, I use it as the inner conflict for the immortals as they move thru the worlds in which they live. I wrote a trilogy based on their mortal helpers, as well as those who’ve been “adopted” by one of the immortals.

    Studying RPGs and attending some of my son’s have helped me learn a great deal.

  • DTS Oct 3, 2009 @ 16:08

    First the my favorite roleplaying anecdote…

    I was running a campaign that we all intended to keep to a three or four session affair. Everyone made wild, outlandish characters that might never have seen the light of day otherwise. Lo and behold, everyone fell in love with their awkward (and often handicapped) characters and we played for quite some while.

    This is important, because one of the players made a rather uptight and fussy cleric who frowned upon physical intimacy. As the player took him for a spin outside of the church walls, adventure ensued and the characters wound up back at an inn for drinks. The cleric’s player decided to try the wine, insisting (against that infamous eyebrow) that his god had blessed him with a mind that could never be befuddled by the vice of drink. He attempted to prove this to other characters, failed a few rolls against intoxication, and wound up in bed with a barmaid.

    As he (and his church order) frowned upon such things, he requested atonement from the church, something which was necessary after we all realized everyone wanted to continue with the characters. He was atoned by the church, received his divine powers back, but wrapped up in the atonement was an oath foreswearing all future loving embraces of any sort.

    Which suited him just fine, as he intended to never embrace someone lovingly again, and retreated behind his mental walls of virtue and piety.

    Until he found his long lost sister….ran to her crying joyfully…hugged her…and BAM! The quirky laws of the universe (ie: me) saw him in an embrace of love and he lost his divine powers once again.

    I’ve often used RPGs to test ideas on the guinea pigs unfortunate enough to be in my game groups.

    As Dungeons and Dragons remains the most popular and widespread, I tend to use it most often, but only for working the kinks out of a setting. The ruleset is a little too well-defined to easily test out the “rules” of another fantasy setting, but the familiarity of it allows players to have their characters really dig into a setting.

    It’s tough at times, when you realize that certain aspects of the setting simply don’t appeal to the players, at least when it’s all the players. With a diverse group there everyone will be excited about something different, but when every player from every group reacts with a shrug to something I think is just oh-so-super-neat and critical it forces a necessary rethink.

    The flexibility of GURPS allows me to test out power structures in a setting. Is anyone more powerful then I assumed they could be? How do I change that, or the setting to match? Does any group not have a “power level” high enough to deserve the role that I’ve given them in society? If so, how does that need to change?

    And in both rulesets, it is always fun to see other people get to know the places you know so well, and to know the people you love, hate or are merely understand.

  • Elena Oct 3, 2009 @ 16:02

    When I first saw this topic, I thought you meant going out in real life and playing the role of your character. I do that! I have been to a night club, church, an atheist group meeting, and a couple other little things like that, for my research. I don’t think I’ll end up using most of that in the story, though.

    I often make my characters in The Sims 2/3. I learn a lot just by trying to pick out their personality traits. I think of some good story lines that way, too (of course 90% of the things that happen won’t make it into my books, but some of it does!).

  • The Pencil Neck Oct 3, 2009 @ 15:59

    When I was younger, I was in a lot of role playing games both as DM/GM and as a player.

    I found it interesting how different people from different walks of life approached problems. In one game, I played with a guy that eventually became a lawyer and he was the sort of player who examined the rules and looked for ways to take advantage of loopholes. In another game, I played with a guy who was also a biker in real life and that guy did things to “interrogate” people that I’d never thought of. And never want to think of again. But I’m using some of them in my stories and hadn’t even realized it. But I have tried to recall some different people’s approaches to problems when I’m writing similar characters.

    But for my story development, I use bits and pieces from different systems: star system development rules from Traveler, character classes and things from Traveler and D&D with a lot more of the Runequest approach added in. When I do fantasy with magic, I try to create a workable magic system that I could use with an RPG with rules and limitations.

    I’ve got an old Archaic Names book from Judge’s Guild that I sometimes use (although I’ve made it into a program.) There’s a book called Cityscape for building cities that’s got some good stuf in it. There are just a lot of great world and culture building sources out there for RPGs that translate for novelists.

  • Donna Oct 3, 2009 @ 15:48

    I’ve only just started role-playing in the last year and I have found it has helped be grow in creativity. I used role-playing as a way to refine my writing by writing about the events that happened in our games. I also like using the character creation to make my characters much more real and easier to write about. I have recently joined a game where the character I created I am playing had to have background but not from any established setting and so I used a setting from one of my stories. It worked so well I see new ways to use this character in my story that fit so much better! I’m still a newbie but I’m reaping the benefits as well as the fun of role-playing!

  • Ivye Oct 3, 2009 @ 15:48

    I used to play D&D when in High School and College… There weren’t many D&D players in Italy, back then, but our DM’s uncle happened to work for the Italian publishers of the game, so…
    I was in my fantasy period, back then, and I remember forever trying to hijack the stories to resemble the things I wrote… and usually failing. I’d come up with some idea that sounded great to me, and my friends would roll their eyes and ask “Is this something you’re writing?” Since my elf was also supposed to be the group’s chronicler and would-be poet, it worked both in character and OOC, which was sometimes confusing. (“As in me Darin, or me myself?”) I did write stories loosely based on our campaigns, but never finished them, for the same reason that never let me finish any fantasy project before MK: I didn’t really like to write in someone else’s universe. True, I still have this half-idea about my D&D elven character, but somehow it never really coalesced, so I guess either it’s not that good, or I didn’t like it all that much, after all. Still, role-playing supplied the nearest thing to ambushing, outmaneuvering, knifing, robbing, taking prisoner someone else I ever experienced. I have very vivid memories of those gaming sessions… I was very young, and took it very seriously, you know, and now and then, some of it still translates into my writing.
    And you know what? I really miss it. I don’t think I have played in fifteen years… oh, for a group of friends to play D&D again! 🙂

  • Sal Oct 3, 2009 @ 15:37

    Since December 2004 I’ve been playing in and moderating a journal-based RPG firstly on Greatest Journal then Insane Journal. It’s based in a nameless American city and revolves around the lives of the people who share an Art Deco apartment house. We have about ten regular committed players writing about 50 characters. It’s a bit like a soap opera with a supernatural twist in that the past can affect the present and ghosts regularly turn up.
    One of our writers is a published author of successful romances, at least one of which was given a trial run in the game, and I’ve tested characters and scenarios there as well. All 4 years and 10 months of the game is archived and it’s huge fun to read over – a real tribute to imagination and cooperation!

  • dancingcrane Oct 3, 2009 @ 15:34

    Like Kiki and Hannah, I’m an online text-based roleplayer, and have been on several forums. Themes vary from science fiction, fantasy to anime, or based on existing universes like x-men or “Heroes”. We create characters according to that forum’s template and backstory, if any, and interact with others’ characters to build a free-form story, sometimes following a storyline/plot envisioned by one or more of the participants. No dice, no stats, just basic ground rules that keep ‘powered’ characters from god-modding. All of my characters from the past 6 years come from those scenarios. However most of them aren’t tied to their origins. For example, a character originally created for an x-men forum is the launching point and descendant of main characters in my novel-in-progress set during the real Ukrainian Genocide of 1932-33.

    Roleplaying done well is incredible muse-food. I know and love my characters well enough to drop them into any scenario and just watch them react. I give them free will, so they are always surprising me, and taking the story where THEY want it to go. It’s been a blast! Want more details?

  • Andre C. Oct 3, 2009 @ 15:25

    I love role-playing and have been designing my own games for a while now. Right now, I’m building a world which I plan to use for both a game and a novel or a series of novels; and I find RPG’s are a great way to flesh out world details, develop characters, and so on.

    I should add that there is a whole subcategory of games which are designed to build a story through collaborative gameplay rather than fitting the players into a story pre-written by the GM. These “narrativist” or story-oriented games are usually more about moral decisions and a literary premise than traditional game systems.

    It’s a style more common to so-called “indie” games; but I think it’s worthwhile for writers to check them out, as they seem to be an emerging artform, and a new way of telling stories. Some examples include: Dogs in the Vineyard (by Vincent Baker), Sorcerer (by Ron Edwards), My Life With Master (by Paul Czege), Burning Wheel (by Luke Crane) and others.

    Sorcerer, for example, is about the moral price you pay for the ability to summon demons. My Life With Master is about escaping from dominating & abusive relationships (told through the eyes of a hunchbacked servant to an evil genius). There’s even a game called “Breaking the Ice” by Emily Care Boss, which is essentially helps you create romantic comedy stories.

    Check out The Forge (www.indie-rpgs.com) and Indie Press Revolution (www.indiepressrevolution.com) for more info.

  • Texanne Oct 3, 2009 @ 15:23

    Really fascinating post–another new thing to try, applying role-playing to stories. I haven’t played the games in ages (back when my mother was dungeon master for the neighborhood) but still do act out scenes, mainly to see if a certain action can really be accomplished in the same amount of time as the dialogue that’s supposed to cover it. This is way cooler.

  • Kate Oct 3, 2009 @ 15:18

    I’ve been role-playing online in the form play-by-post RPing in forums for almost five years now. I’ve only been working on novel writing for about two of those years. I have pbp RPing to thank for the majority of my development as a writer and my sanity as I continue writing my novels (it’s a great way to get the creative juices flowing). It’s a great hobby as well as an incredibly helpful tool for me when it comes to developing compelling and realistic characters.

    For anyone who isn’t familiar with pbp online role-playing, here is a wikipedia article about it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Play-by-post_role-playing_game

    I find that this type of role-playing forces me to stay on my toes and confront problems with my characters that I wouldn’t normally think about on my own. My fellow RPers post things that put my characters in situations that force me to learn more about them. For example, one of my characters’ best friends died unexpectedly when he was accidentally killed by one of his allies (who was also his cousin and the man who was developing a relationship with said friend’s former girlfriend ;)). I wouldn’t have killed my character’s best friend in my novel, but now I have a good grasp on how she would react to that situation, and that’s incredibly helpful to me.

    Right now I role-play about seven characters based on characters in my novels. They are quite different from their novel counterparts because they have been put in a different setting (though it’s similar). However, their personalities and histories are similar enough to their novel versions that I can apply what I learn through RPing to my novels. Also, some of them are at different stages in their lives than they are in my novels (for example, one of the characters I RP is based on my protagonist before she enters the story).

    Aside from that, pbp role-playing keeps me writing every day, even when I don’t feel like I can write something earth-shaking. Because I’m writing with other people, I’m motivated to get something posted so they can continue writing their portion of the story. RPing this way is a great warm-up activity for novel writing, and it’s a hobby that lets me improve my writing constantly.

    Also, pbp role-playing has exposed me to a lot of different ideas and techniques by keeping me connected to other creative writers and allowing me to read about an incredible amount of settings, plots and characters. Communities for pbp role-players have given me a lot of information about what not to do in my writing (what’s over-done) and how to impress my target audience.

    Play-by-post role-playing is just incredibly fun and beneficial all around!

    I’ve rambled far too much, but I hope my comment has been somewhat helpful. I get the feeling that using pbp role-playing to test characters and develop them isn’t very common, and I want to spread the word because it has helped me tremendously.

    • Staci Myers Oct 3, 2009 @ 17:33

      I’d definitely agree with that. I don’t have any of my PbP characters in my other writings at the moment (or vice versa), but I think that my favorite PbP characters are the most fully developed of any that I’ve written.

      I just have to be careful that I don’t spend *all* my time writing for PbP’s…I’ve limited myself to a single game right now, but I have two other co-writing projects going to wrap things up with characters in another game that ended.

      • Kate Oct 3, 2009 @ 17:44

        It IS a challenge to keep the PbP role-playing manageable. It can get very addicting, especially when writing with people who really know how to keep you guessing. Sometimes I post thousands of words per day (maybe five posts) while procrastinating on things that I should be getting done ASAP. 😉 In the game that I’m spending a lot of time with now, I intended to play only one character. I now have eight there, most with multiple threads and complex plots, and I adore them all.

        Also, I must add that I really enjoy seeing how other writers’ characters can change my characters’ lives completely (it really makes me think). I’m not a player who likes to plan everything out before starting a thread, so I’m often surprised by how my character reacts to things and how each event plays out. The best example is how a random meeting between my character Aislinn and the rebel leader’s temple-keeping spy son unexpectedly led to Aislinn and said temple keeper expecting a child and getting married (and boy, is that a tough relationship). The unexpected twists and turns really help me when it comes to planning my individual works.

  • Donna Oct 3, 2009 @ 15:16

    I did a RPG several – many – years ago & it was great. The DM that we had had created the universe, based loosley on the general RPG rules. I was a cleric, one who couldn’t keep to the back of the group and just heal people. My crowning achievement was hitting a demon with my mace and getting open ended damage rolls that put that demon into outer space. The DM was totally shocked – I was NOT supposed to do that – & I did die later, but, man, oh man, it was fun!

    I did keep detailed records of our adventures and had thought about writing them in story format, but that didn’t work out. Broke up with the guy that introduced me to the group & the DM moved off. But I can still see some of the adventures as if I had seen a movie.

    Oh, yes, I can definitely see how running a game – or even just participating in one – could generate story ideas. It’s started giving me some ideas again.

  • Joe Oct 3, 2009 @ 15:10

    I like to use characters in D&D to get reactions from the other characters. This helps build stronger supporting characters by offering valid reactions to certain behaviors and/or situations and it also let’s me take a look at how that main character may interact with those types of people and situations at the same time. Certainly building a history for your character to help identify the motivations for that character’s actions is also a nice exercise.

  • Mike Oct 3, 2009 @ 15:08

    I think role-playing is good for helping with character development. It helps to see how others would react to the same situation. What type of quirks people might feel as being either amusing or a way to get pity and attention from others. The only issue I had for RPing, was the fact that there are more weird ideas and actions that I would have thought stupid, but then again, it would make for interesting scenarios to get a person out of.

  • Andrea B. Oct 3, 2009 @ 15:05

    I chat-roleplayed some of my characters.
    It was an open roleplaying-chatroom, where you could meet almoust everything and it was very helpfull to see how my characters reacted to situations I could never have imagined.

  • Margaret Oct 3, 2009 @ 15:03

    Had you been the DM of my first D&D game ever, I probably would be a gamer now. As it was, the DM rewarded those who entered the room after describing all the horrors and why it would be very stupid to do so AFTER having the newbie (me) go first. I, logically, decided if it was so horrible beyond the door, we should seek another path and so was eaten by a random monster outside the door when abandoned by my party :p.

  • John McMullen Oct 3, 2009 @ 15:02

    I have used roleplaying for writing, but I have a couple of caveats.

    First, always use something other than the world provided for the game. (I say it this way because, unless you’re writing a book for a game line, the world belongs to somebody else. Use the world the story is going to be set in.)

    Second, match the realism level of the game to the realism level of your story. If the game involves swinging on dental floss (such as, say, Macho Women With Guns), and your story would not, what’s in the game won’t work for your story.

    Third, there are concerns in a game that don’t come up in a story. Do most stories need toilets? But your players might need to know where the toilets are.

    Games are great for fleshing out a world, or for testing scenarios, or for seeing if there’s a way to munchkinize your rules (er, optimize the results) that you haven’t thought of. They aren’t great for character background or for actual world creation. (For speed and efficiency in most games, you’ll go with cliches, because folks know them.) Games also have a lot of fun action…but you shouldn’t translate that into a book directly. It has to be filtered by the character viewpoints. (Or maybe I play with people who have worked with too many wargames.)

    As far as games I’ve played or run? CORPS, EABA, Hero, Mutants & Masterminds, D&D (2, 3.0, 3.5, 4 ed), Vampire: The Masquerade, Trinity, Deadlands, Reign, Call of Cthulhu…

    Games I’ve played with a story intent? Hero, CORPS, and once GURPS.

  • Zabrina Oct 3, 2009 @ 14:59

    Yes! I love roleplaying! <3

    I was going to quote all the sections that made me giggle, go "I DID THAT!" or "I WANTED TO KILL MY FRIEND FOR DOING THAT" or facepalm, but pretty much the whole post did. Particularly this:

    "If your GM ever asks you “Are you sure,” klaxons, explosions, and the question, “Think, think, what have I MISSED?!” should be running through your head."

    I could relate my story of my teammate who ignored the GM's "Are you sure?" and, AFTER finding the treasure stash, decided that the humongous double door in the room must hide even more treasure and pulled it open. Needless to say, a red dragon was a bit of a nasty surprise he wasn't expecting, and my poor gnome sorcerer had to be raised by the friendly local cleric again…

    Anyway! I really love roleplaying, both in the tabletop D&D form and the writing form (like writing a novel with more than one person).

  • Shaiha Williams Oct 3, 2009 @ 14:59

    I would have loved having you as a GM! I am not a writer but I did game for years. I finally got out of it as RPGs became populated with kids and GMs that find it easier to reward the player for killing things rather then thinking and playing thier character.

  • Seleane Oct 3, 2009 @ 14:56

    Hey Holly. I’ve been roleplaying for years now and as a result I have developed a practically fully fleshed world, 5 races and their cultures, the layout of the world, and the MC of the world. All in all, she and her world are my favorite because there are so many ideas flying around in that world that I could write in it for decades, and probably will at some point.

    Also, my current WIP was directing influenced my my first try at roleplaying. I started officially writing the book in Feb. of 2008 and the poor book and story have gone through many changes in almost 3 years and I’m not done with it yet. *sigh* But I love the characters and detail and info I learned about the world with the roleplay.

    I have even developed a school setting while roleplaying as well and hope to mess with it some day. 😀

  • Rebekah Oct 3, 2009 @ 14:56

    I love role playing and one of my main characters I am using in a story started out nothing more than a character in a role playing game. She’s taken many diffrent forms and different layers in different games but the basics don’t really change that much. I really do think that the role playing sort of fleshed out her character. In that I had to write down descriptions of my character, what powers she held, weaknesses, as well as physical appearance.

  • Hannah Oct 3, 2009 @ 14:55

    There are also PBEM (play-by email) games and forum-based games that rely totally on cooperation between players, no stats or dice rolls involved. You really learn how to make interesting characters without resorting to magic and other flashy special effects.

    I’ve found that people gravitate more towards normal characters with interesting quirks, a solid core concept, and odd active stories, or threads. Nobody ever wants to play with the winged neon werewolf with an incomprehensible name, who does nothing but drink beer in the tavern and woefully wish that someone would do something interesting. All in all, good litmus test to see if people like your characters, and are interested in the stories surrounding the characters.

  • Kiki Oct 3, 2009 @ 14:54

    Hi, Holly. I’m an avid roleplayer, but not in the way of DnD type roleplays. I run a text-based RP forum. It’s not based upon my ideas for Valacia, but it’s a fan-based Pokemon forum. That doesn’t really affect anything, though. It’s a very very open-ended forum that allows pretty much any ideas to pass through. I sometimes bring in Valacians to RP with to help me build on some smaller details of the planet such as how one becomes a Star Listener and such.

    I have this one character that I use sometimes that helps me to build smaller parts of the Katrin culture. She’s an angel/Katrin hybrid, so she’s been on the wrong ends of the culture, so I can see how the Katrin treat such outcasts.

    These random characters can prove very, very insightful into the finer aspects of the cultures/ideas that I only have a general idea for.

  • Saje Williams Oct 3, 2009 @ 14:33

    Hi, Holly. My books actually started out as an RPG I designed and playtested through half the eighties and all of the nineties. Many of my favorite characters originated there, as well as some of the fictional agencies and such in my Infinity: Prime series. Oddly enough the magic system I developed for the game didn’t work for the books, so I had to restructure it to make it fit and am having a hard time reverse-engineering it to work in a gaming universe. (I had some thoughts about creating a d20 version of my game world–once I had the time and the direct motivation).

    The game provided background, some characters, and their personas, but never really had anything to do with the scenarios themselves. A pity, since a lot of them were funny as hell, but I couldn’t remember them quite well enough.

    As you might imagine, this whole subject is near and dear to me. Thanks for bringing it up.

  • Emily Oct 3, 2009 @ 14:20

    Okay, THAT was a very interesting post. I’ve never played RPG before, but it sounds fun. Does anyone keep a transcript of their games?

    • John McMullen Oct 4, 2009 @ 9:48

      I doubt you can find a transcript of a table game, but one played in IM or IRC would have a transcript.

      As well, I think the guys involved in Penny Arcade and PvP both have been involved with a game or two and it’s been put up on the web. (One of them with Wil Wheaton.) I’ll try to track down the link and post it here. That will give you an idea of what it looks like. It won’t convey half of the fun of being involved, though. 🙂

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