Sunday, May 1, 2011

Creative Writing and RPGs

I’ve been DM’ing a play by email game of S&W with Risus Monkey for a short time now and am a little surprised to find that I’m enjoying it more than I thought I would. We didn’t start out with the idea of playing this way, but being on opposite coasts from one another and scheduling video chat games proved difficult, so we agreed to do this in lieu of live gaming until its more convenient or just logistically necessary.

I’ve never played an rpg like this before, and whenever I heard someone say that they were playing via forum post or email, it always felt like a stretch to me. It is playing in the sense that we use the rules to guide the writing and potentially resolve certain matters, but in many ways it feels more like collaborative writing or a kind of exquisite corpse.

As I’ve said before, what initially brought me back to the hobby was really the thought of using it as a tool to jumpstart some creative writing that a friend and I were collaborating on. Since then though, I game less self-consciously and now for the sake of the game’s enjoyment itself. I wonder who else has done something like this - it's hard to imagine Gygax’s own fiction writing not being directly influenced by his games… Have you ever turned your games into writing projects? If so, have any seen print? It seems like it would be a pretty straightforward thing to do. Feel free to pimp your fantasy writing if you’ve got some to share, I’d be glad to check it out.

12 comments:

The Jovial Priest said...

I've been writing a fantasy novel on and off for twenty years, based on a D&D campaign from my ancient youth. The novel no longer resembles the campaign, except in the most cursory way.

However, one of my plans for May is to, let out a few of the chapters, to gauge opinion. So your post is very timely for me.

Jensan said...

My friend runs a 3.5E Forgotten Realms game over Google Docs, and since we keep all rolls and such boring stuff in a separate document, the main document reads as a story.

The story so far: http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaign/the-prankster/adventure-log (start from the bottom)

Trey said...

My only fantasy fiction to see print wasn't specifically game inspired, but was informed by it, I guess.

In middle school and high school I did rite stories based on my game campaign though--I'd cringe to read them now. The earliest stories I tried to get published in college grew organically out of these efforts, but were perhaps one step removed from gaming.

James said...

Here's a post I wrote, way back when I first started blogging, that presented a location in the form of a fictional narrative. It was all based on an old campaign, but more an amalgamation than a direct recap of events. The links to the big version of the maps are broken. I was toying around with a mapping program, which is what kick-started the post.

The Sign of the Blue Dragon: A Drop-in Locale For Your D&D Campaign.

Loquacious said...

My WOD games inspired some of my very best creative writing, and I've since discovered that my writeups and stories are infinitely better than my roleplaying. I'm trying to incorporate my writing talents in my next RPG adventure in some way. You can check out my tales & fiction here:

http://aychplace.blogspot.com/p/world-of-darkness.html

viz said...

I've posted a few short pieces based on a campaign I ran a few years ago, and that I may develop again.

The Unseen Man
The Death of Markus Duchantle
Stalking the Streets of Autron
Hope Collapsed

ze bulette said...

Thanks everyone for sharing your links.

@Jovial: That’s quite a long term project! I look forward to your chapter posts.
@Jensan: I like all the dialogue in your game journal. I could never remember or write that all down during game play. We often record our sessions and so sometimes I can pick out the exact dialogue from our games to post in journals here. Do you do something like that?
@Trey: Your comment made me think of someone’s short story I accidentally acquired when I bought their game collection - it looks like it was typed up on an old Smith Corona. Very cringe worthy, with awkward bits of fantasy erotica sprinkled through out. I wonder what the original author would think of it now.

Jensan said...

bulette:
Well, it's a play-by-post so we actually write it as-is (dialogues and all). I control the two main characters and my friend DM's so it's more like collaborating on a novel.

ze bulette said...

Ah, 'over Google Docs' - of course. ;)

anarchist said...

I spent a year or so writing what was going to be a systemless fantasy supplement for RPGs (here). When it turned out that there wasn't a market for such a thing, I took my ex's advice and turned it into stories instead.

anarchist said...

By the way, some advice for people who write fiction (I didn't know this until recently): if you put your stories on the web, including personal blogs, most magazines will count this as 'publishing' and therefore count the stories as reprints, meaning most places won't take them.

The exception is if the story isn't accessible without a login AND it isn't indexed by google, as with critiquecircle.com (a good site for getting feedback on stories btw).

Risus Monkey said...

I'm having a lot of fun with the game so far and I can't wait to see how Zakaria and "the old man" manage themselves in dangerous situations. For now, it's cool just play off the their interactions. (I'll post my next response tomorrow... it's been a long weekend).

And yes, PbP is like writing. My Lanhhmar game very much felt like a story when it was all over (and a good one to boot).

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