Behind the Name


Writing, Role-playing, Gamemastering, and Why the Trio Makes Damn Good Sense

So you’ve found my new blog, a chaotic reservoir of writing excerpts, pre-written scenarios, book reviews, and advice for the would-be writers, role-players, and gamemasters of the world.

Especially for those of you who count yourself all three at once.

Before I hit college and sank my teeth deep into the gaming scene, the three seemed like three distinct entities. I was a writer, but role-playing? That was just going too far. And Dungeon Master? Is that like, related to BDSM? Little did I know that one would lead to the next would lead to the next.

But I digress.

Simply put, you creative a compelling narrative in all three–it is only the audience that changes, and even then, only in terms of degrees.

On One End: The Personal

When I’m writing, my audience is myself. No one else is there in my stream of consciousness, and I’m the only one I have to please. The roots for this viewpoint stretch deep: as early as a high school Creative Writing class, I wrote that I wanted to publish the books I’d have wanted to read as a teen but were never on the shelves. Those delicious blends of magic, romance, and darkness that seem to only show up in a few choice series. (Kushiel’s Legacy and The Black Jewels Trilogy come up as prime examples, but The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is rumored to be in that category as well. Well-worth checking out. Just sayin’.)

Perhaps when I progress to becoming a published author, my audience will become my Editor and my Readers. But in the meantime, I have to write for the only person who’s going to pay me, and that is myself. If I can’t enjoy what I’m doing now, I’ll likely not make it to a finished product for anyone else.

More than that, my writing is an escape. No one has to see my words, my secret fears and dreams. It’s just me, the keyboard, and the page.

On the Other: The Political

When I’m Gamemastering, I’m writing in the spoken word and signing with my hand gestures, but primarily for my gaming group. I’m acting, putting on a show for their benefit. I suppose I could simply plot and play for my own enjoyment, but at the end of the day I’d lose the group to another distraction. I’m actively catering to their taste for experience, gold, loot, and badassery. Much as I’d like more intrigue, more characterization, I do what’s best for my group.

Did I mention I have to put on a hat and act like an ass in front of other people? Yeah, not so private, that. And sounds an awful lot like politics.

Degrees on a Continuum

Role-playing, and it’s black sheep cousin LARPing, is the marriage between writing and gamemastering. I’m telling a story, but I am also my own audience. John Wick puts it far more eloquently than I in his Play Dirty (required reading for all Intermediate to Advanced Gamemasters, by the way), but that very fact is what makes gaming so damn magical.

I started Game-mastering extremely early into my days as a role-player–in fact, I wanted to GM before I’d even played–because it seemed the natural extension for my aspirations as a novelist. “You mean I can plot the beginnings and endings and have my players fill the scenes in-between? Cool!” Seemed like the easy way out at the time, but since I’ve learned better. It’s only in my private moments behind the blank screen that I have true control over my creations, whereas behind the GM screen I’m pandering to my players. When I’m one of many sitting around the table, or standing around the RP Exchange in Silvermoon, I can be both. The Player and the Played.

And so my “triple crit” of writing, game-mastering, and role-playing seems less like three points of a triangle and more like two ends of a continuum, on which the third falls in between.

The story has to come out either way. It’s just a matter of whether I’m telling it for my sake, my players’, or both.

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