Before I met my husband, I was adamant that I would never sink so low as to play D&D. I wasn’t that kind of geek. The stigma was just too much.
Right? Long story short, I’ve realized what a snob my old self was.
I’m going to reference D&D a lot here, but almost any other tabletop RPG could stand in its place in this instance. I’ve long since discovered the fun that is community story telling. Because, that’s what it is.
Why You Should Be A Player
While you may not have the complete control of the story the way that you would as a writer, you have complete control of a single character in this world. You, and only you, know this person right down to their very core. A lot of the time you don’t quite know who they are at first game. They reveal themselves to you as challenges arise and you realize how your character might react. Their morals, bravery, and wisdom slowly become this realized person that you are the voice of.
A great exercise for a writer is to play something that you’re not comfortable with. If you are a woman who always picks the female characters, play a dude. Get into his head. Why does he do the things he does? If you’re normally a burn it all to the ground murder hobo asshole like myself, try playing a stout, upstanding character that works for the greater good.
Putting yourself out of your comfort zone can be incredibly inspiring. It also helps you to create more believable characters on the page. Word will begin to flow faster because you are used to the quick thinking that happens in a tense RPG moment. You’ll see how each of them might react to a situation.
If you suck at math, like I do, don’t be afraid. D&D 5E is pretty math lite. It’s largely basic addition until you hit the higher levels and by then you’ll be an addition expert.
Why You Should Be A DM
DM: Dungeon Master. Also known as Game Master (sounds a whole lot less BDSM, but not as cool).
In this role, you are creating the world and the story that the players will be adventuring in, intricately detailing maps and politics while hiding mind rendering beasts under unsuspecting rocks. The kicker: you don’t have any say as to what the player characters are going to do with it all.
The map is set. The NPCs (Non Player Characters) are lined up behind the curtain, and traps are laid, but it’s up to the players to pick their path through your world and your story. They might kill an important NPC or they might entirely skip over a story line you thought was so cool and worked really hard on. It’s going to happen no matter what you do.
I know, I don’t make this sound like much fun, but it is. I promise.
DMing is wonderful for writers. Not only are you challenged to make a world believable to several people at once, you are also pushed to think on your feet. Okay, so they totally ignored the dungeon you built with the totally cool loot and disco skeletons. They don’t know it exists so you can plop it in the next dungeon. They took the path to the town you didn’t prepare? Create NPCs and shops on the fly. Some of the best characters come from the tips of your fingers.
For either part of the game, you can’t be shy. Throw your whole body into it. Hubs can only do an Orc voice if he juts his lower jaw out. I can do great old woman voices, but I hunch over and squint my eyes as if I can’t see anymore. Once you give yourself over to the story, it will come so much easier.
Same thing goes for writing.
Plus! Dice can come in all sorts of freaking gorgeous forms! I have a set of opalescent acrylic dice, but I’m dying to get my hands on a nice gemstone set. I’m thinking something in amethyst.