Gaming My Way

24 Apr

Why Tell a Story Through Roleplaying Games?

Writing a good story is difficult for me. I always want to get to the exciting parts, and I usually find myself skipping a lot of the plot buildup and character development. In short, I end up writing short, choppy stories that leave people feeling like the conclusion just shouldn’t have come out of the beginning I wrote.

This is a problem, since I have lots of stories I want to tell, but telling them through writing is difficult, and I don’t have the budget to start doing television or independent films. Nor the drive for doing film or television, for that matter.

The solution for me is roleplaying games. By playing with a group of people, I can set up the world things are happening in, worry about developing a couple of important characters, and let the players do the rest of the character development. I get to tell my stories through the world, and the players expand upon those stories and create some of their own.

Not only that, but having other people around helps me pace things a little better because the way they develop their characters reminds me of things I need to do to better develop the characters I’m responsible for. In addition, the character development all around reminds me of things I need to do to keep the plot consistent and interesting. This keeps the story on track and believable… as believable as any high fantasy gets at least.

Since everyone is doing some of the work concurrently, we get to the climaxes of any given plot arc sooner in a game than I would in writing a story as plots running side by side can be worked through at the same time, with some adjudication from the GM as necessary. When I GM, I make sure the players eventually find out the full story of what happened behind the scenes as well, because I think it’s more fun when everyone gets to see what really happened and understands why things resolved as they did. I usually try to let them unravel this within the game, though if a plot arc is sufficiently over, I’ll flat out tell them if they haven’t found out in game.

Sure, this has occasional disadvantages, as sometimes the players bring a story a way you would prefer it not to go, but most of the time, I’ve found it ends up being better in the end than what I originally planned. As well, some players may be more interested in breaking the system than telling a good story. I’ve found most players of this mindset really just want to be extremely powerful though, and can be convinced to do some roleplaying as well, as long as the roleplaying doesn’t interfere with the stats on their character sheet. This is fine with me, as long as the other players can still have fun and the exceedingly powerful character is just a good build that fits in the spirit of the rules.

In the end, I find roleplaying games are a very rewarding way of presenting a story, that helps to take the load off one person, spread the work around a little, and allow everyone to tell a new, epic tale.

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