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Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Dungeonmaster to Novelist

I was once a creative Dungeon Master who developed my own milieus in that old tabletop roleplaying game which was popular back in the 80s - Dungeons and Dragons. I realise now that the skills involved in being a Dungeon master ruling over players, creatures and milieu alike was perfect training to be a novelist. Maybe a successful novelist.
Today gamers don't have the interaction they once had. Most games seem to be restricted to a few favourite milieus which the Dungeon Master no longer personally creates for the players. How many DMs actually modify their milieu to tease and torment their players? How many create their own maps, traps and creatures from scratch? My guess is that few now do.
If you long to create your own millieu and adventure within it with your friends - there is still no replacement for D&D. A set of dice, some graph pages, a map, a pencil and imagination and maybe a few other people is all you need to create something entirely new, progressive from moment to moment and interactive to a degree which computer generated games and internet generated games can merely hint at.
Writing a novel has the same level of excitement and creativity - a seriously good thing.
It was and is kind of sad that more milieus have not been utilised by D&D gamers - there's plenty of scope for Christian milieus - with the Soldiers of God hunting down and destroying the angels of darkness, Hospital adventures, Local neighbourhood adventures, Sci Fi adventures, hunting animals and humans through Africa or Asia, or in NYC; instead of a perpetual presentation of opponents from the monster manuals - undead and orcs - who do not interact and are simply disposed of as rapidly as possible in a maze or invented planet or continent - often imitated from some other person's creative vision.
While many pleasant hours may be had online adventuring - the player is trapped within the parameters of the set milieu offered by the game. There is no scope to go beyond into pure creative action and reaction.
If you as a player want to attempt something oddball like paragliding in a medieval war setting - well you just can't do it in an electronic setting - it has no flexibility or creativity. Whereas if you were in MY game and you as a player wanted to paraglide, hell, I wasn't going to stop you. But you would have to develop your glider, build it, fight off the wolves and natives and convince your group that it was a good thing. And then fly it. No problem. I LIKED my players to come up with new ideas. You wanna go to sleep in that room? Sure - you are going off on your own down that corridor cause no one else wants to go there? Excellent!
It is true young gamers do not necessarily have the breadth of vision, patience and creativity that a novelist develops - but a background of gaming and the creativity that pure old fashioned D&D offers will stand a novelist in good stead.
I've discovered that much.

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