Are you a writer who also plays a tabletop campaign like Dungeons & Dragons? Have you ever thought about how your writing and your campaign go hand in hand?
Hi, I’m Zoe, and I’m a writer and a Dungeon Master for a traditional 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons game, as well as a Star Wars 5th edition game. I love writing, and I also love bringing worlds to life for my players.
I do a lot of thinking about my novel worlds, and a lot of thinking about how my campaign world is run. Often I am asking myself, can they intersect, and if so, how?
Today I want to go through some ways that I have found to bring my passion for storytelling to the table.
Go with me here for a moment. You might not be the DM/GM of your game, but as a writer, you are still uniquely capable of understanding story arcs. As a player, your knowledge of story can come in useful for your tabletop game because you understand how stories are built. This means you are able to make decisions that not only further your game, but also create more meaningful and satisfying stories.
Character Arcs come in many shapes and sizes. Just as with story arcs, writers playing tabletop games understand the beats that are necessary to develop regular, run of the mill characters into deep, realistic beings. You know what it takes to make a character feel real, and you can use that knowledge to not only make your own character more compelling, but your party’s characters as well.
Unused Character Ideas
It is not uncommon for games to go awry, sometimes resulting in your character’s death, or even a TPK. While GM’s and DM’s don’t generally try to make encounters that will kill you specifically or your entire party, mistakes are sometimes made. The dice have final say and can make or break you if you roll really well or really badly. The more unused characters you have as a writer, the better when it comes to playing tabletop games. Having a backup plan is always a good idea. Additionally, if you have a GM/DM that is willing to work with you in collaboratively telling the story in your world, you could pitch them some of your character concepts for them to use as NPC’s.
Unused World Elements
Have a cool concept for a blaster pistol modification? An awesome idea for a tool or piece of equipment? Perhaps you or your party members can take up crafting in your game and make the item. Want a specific familiar for your campaign? Often times, a DM/GM can “reskin” an existing in-game item, or find or make stats for something that wasn’t previously a thing. Chat with your table about the things you want to see and do. Your GM/DM wants to make the game interesting for all of you, and giving you wickedly cool items is one way to do just that.
Consider Becoming a DM/GM of Your Own Campaign.
Huge Harry Potter fan? Run a Hogwarts-based table. Can’t get enough Lord of the Rings? Run a Middle Earth Quest table. Super into space operas? Maybe try out a space campaign. I run a 5th Edition Star Wars game that began a few days after Emperor Palpatine announced Order 66, and my group of Jedi, Engineers, and other Force-Sensitives are in hiding from the Empire, saving a Princess and starting a rebellion with Bail Organa of Alderaan. (This is not an ad, but I highly recommend the system. It can be found at SW5E.com).
Being a writer and a player first and then transitioning into a DM or GM is very helpful. You have learned the system, understand how tabletop gameplay works, and understand story. That makes you a prime candidate for becoming a DM or GM yourself. Use an existing system, or create an entirely new world on your own.
There is no shortage of people wanting to play tabletop games, and playing online has never been easier, but there are tragically few people running those games. You don’t have to even stop being a player in your existing tabletop games. In the conclusion of your own player arc, consider becoming the DM or GM for other players who need you.
What do you think? What ways have you used your writing knowledge in playing a tabletop game? Let me know in the comments below!