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.
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.