dungeons and dragons

Better Writing Through Tabletop RPGs

Everyone asks, how can I become a better writer?

The answers are usually something like: read more books in the genre you’re writing, write as much as you can, get feedback from other writers and readers. Yes, you should do all those things, and they will make you a better writer in general. But something that’s often overlooked (perhaps because it’s incredibly nerdy) is tabletop roleplaying.

RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons are amazing tools for focusing the mind on the process of storytelling. By running and playing in an RPG, you’ll develop skills and habits that will make your writing better – or at least easier!

Fire Eyes, Shadowblade

Fire Eyes, Shadowblade

Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not really very good at titles. I’m good at writing long things. Short things, eh, not so much.

That said – I’ve procrastinated long enough. Time to put my money where my mouth is, or something. I’m announcing the title of my first book – my first real story. The first of a trilogy. This has been too long coming, but I have to commit at some point. So here it is, along with a short blurb that I will inevitably change later.

Rift swords

Exotic Weapons in Fantasy Adventure

So, part of the reason why I started training in the salle is that I needed to know how to fight, like I’ve said before. But I also needed to know the limits and purposes of various weapons – whether a dagger would be effective against a polearm or a longsword, what techniques would be appropriate in a pitched battle, that kind of thing. I wanted to avoid ‘unrealistic’ representations of combat.

Of course, I’ve since realized that it really doesn’t matter as long as the combat serves the story, but I still appreciate the richness of my education, and how it allows me to write combat with more conviction. It informs how and why things work the way they do, in armies and in one-on-one fights, when I’m doing world-building. But it presents a whole host of problems when you realize that the fantasy weapons you’ve spent so much time on are now completely wrong!

the bayeaux tapestry

Grimdarkness in Fantasy

Or, as I like to call it, Game of Thrones syndrome!

I can’t really get into grimdark fantasy. Not to rag on George R.R. Martin, but a lot of it comes off as being, well, just there for shock value, and I can’t stomach the stuff. But my big issue is that there’s usually a lot of overtones of REALISM, with the implication being that this horrible world of horribleness was what the Dark Ages in Europe were really like, instead of the lighter, fluffier variety of regular fantasy.

The Swordplay of Lord of the Rings

I have the greatest respect for the fight choreographers of Hollywood. They don’t have an easy job of it – and I know plenty of people like to talk crap about the fight scenes in movies being silly and unrealistic, which is especially unfair when those fight scenes probably took months of work to get right.

(Except for the Star Wars prequels. Frankly, those scenes were godawful.)