It’s another Monday night.
My friend smiles behind his Dungeon Master screen after a player attacks. “Roll initiative,” he says.
The party picks up our twenty sided die, rolling them on the table, in dice boxes, and towers. At the head of the table behind his dragon screen, my friend/DM rolls his own dice. One by one we shout our numbers, taking place in the combat order. The spell casters shuffle through their spell cards, while others prepare their weapons. Someone cracks a joke, and everyone laughs, derailing the game for just a moment.
Dungeons & Dragons is a lot like writing. Something I learned in the near two years I’ve been playing. Authors are DM’s and your characters are the player characters. And as an author/DM, it’s up to you to create a fantasy world and break your cast as much as possible.
When I first started out I was the most quiet player, never really inputting ideas or thoughts, and constantly observing. I still had fun, but I was a little frustrated with how I was playing. My role play has always been shaky and I could never really get involved. It only started getting better after I gave up on my first character: A rogue fairy. No she didn’t die. I just didn’t like playing as her anymore.
Then when it was time to roll my new character I thought, “Why not play as a character I made for a short story?”
That’s when everything clicked and when it became so much more fun. We created Andi, my eight–ten child Bard prodigy, and threw her into party. I thought how she would act in my story, and how I could apply that to our session that night. I roleplayed a little bit better ever since I changed characters. I got to throw childish insults, play on my giant kazoo, shoot lightning, and even run out into a city yelling “WE’RE RICH!”
Writing Andi became so much easier in my short story. She turned from a really unexplored character into a loud, adorable, doesn’t think before she acts kind of character. The more I played as Andi, the more I looked into what she could be. In game, she only knew that her friends were being hurt by bad people or things, so she would hurt them back. She was scared most of the time, but knew if her friends were there, she would be all right. This was something I transferred into my own writing.
If you’ve never played D&D before and you’re a writer, I’d say find a group and try it out. Play as your characters, or invent someone totally new that you can play. Take notes about your character and the interactions you have with NPC’s and your party. Sometime you’ll discover something about your character you would have never seen before! It’ll be fun to read back through and work on your writing later on.
And if you think you can’t commit to a long campaign, there are other table top games out there. Monster of the Week is a really good, bite-sized adventure with few mechanics. And yes, please blame me if you find yourself having the time of your life!