I’ve talked about my very first role-playing group on the blog before and how important they have been to my writing journey. I have a group of friends, most of them fellow fiction writers, who I play Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) with every other week. We’ve been playing for a couple years now. We all met through NaNoWriMo, and the woman who wanted to try out being a DM (that’s a Dungeon Master, who runs the game) mentioned at a write-in that she had trouble finding players. Most of the write-in attendees were interested, and some of us brought a friend or spouse, so that’s how the original group got started. It was nine players originally, which was way too large, especially for two or two and a half hour sessions on a weeknight.
She broke us into two groups and we went off in different directions in search of answers to the same mystery. She brought us all back together for an epic battle at the end on a Saturday afternoon. Over all it was an incredibly fun game. She ran another game with a smaller total number of players (max 6) so my husband and I volunteered to step back and not play that one. Partially because I couldn’t play every week, and I liked the Adventure Guild idea we were talking about for off-weeks better.
Adventure Guild has been very fun. We’re all taking turns being the DM and we’re developing the world as we go along. We decided the original characters from the first adventure she ran, would be the founders of the guild and the current guild master was the protégé of our original ranger, which explains why he’s so deadpan as well as why he sometimes just doesn’t care and sends us off into horribly dangerous things.
I’ve taken a bit of a leading role in instigating and planning for Adventure Guild. I made the original two primary NPCs for the guild (the guild master and a sort of den mother type who runs the tavern part). I’ve picked out what city it’s in and where we are (we’re very loosely based in the Forgotten Realms universe). At some point before our next session I’m going to come up with a good name for the guild.
What I like best about role-playing games with friends, and our Adventure Guild campaign in particular, is that it’s a form of collective storytelling. I get to tell the story of my character. The DM gets to build a story around the player characters and we all collectively get to build the story that unfolds. Sometimes players will do what the DM expects, and sometimes not. When they don’t do what I expect is sometimes the most fun for me as a DM.
This kind of collective storytelling can be very helpful for me as a writer. I can see where someone else reacts differently to the situation in front of us. I can put players into a situation similar to one in a book I’m working on and see what happens. It’s just as fun for me as a player, when I’m trying to really inhabit the character I’ve built and react as he/she/they would react, rather than how I would.
My particular group laughs a lot while we play. Ridiculous things happen and sometimes it’s just too funny. We also have a great time being together and enjoying the game together. It’s something I’ve really come to value over the past couple years. I missed having a group that got together regularly for some form of gaming or socializing, and this has given me that social space again.
When I don’t have social interaction with someone (work colleagues, friends, even just cashiers while running errands) I can get a little weird and it tends to dry up my ability to write. Making sure I have that social time is important, for my writing and my mental health. Being able to incorporate it into my writing by practicing collective storytelling just makes it that much more useful.
I’d love to hear about how others incorporate their social activities into their writing life, whether it’s as directly as I do through role-playing games, or more indirectly. Where does your energy to create come from? Is it all internal, or is some of yours external like mine?