Evolution of My RPG Writings
From time to time I’ve participated in the RPG Blog Carnival where various blogs come together and share their thoughts on some roleplaying game topic. The blog that originally hosted it shut down several months ago, but I’m pleased to see that it’s continued on thanks to the RPGBA.
Why do you write about games? In what form does writing crop up in your campaigns? What’s your process, your stumbling blocks, your passion? How has writing helped you or your table? Or is writing more like a CR 8 Succubus whose torturous, siren song hurts so good and dominates your very being?
I thought a bit about all of the roleplaying game writing I’ve done and I’ve noticed that it has changed considerably over the years. When I first started gaming with the Wittenberg Roleplaying Guild, I wrote quite a few “adventure logs” detailing the campaign from the perspective of my character. Feeling a spur of creativity (and an excess of time since I was at college without a computer of my own to waste time on), I wrote these adventure logs for the D&D 4e campaign Keep on the Shadowfell. One thing I see looking back is that I did a lot of embellishment of what turned out to be a fairly combat-intensive dungeon crawl, especially concerning Paelias’ backstory (with a few references to Morrowind, which I had just discovered the summer before).
Those adventure logs were certainly the longest and most detailed I ever wrote, and soon after I wrote a much shorter journal for Ulrich Hartmann, superhero vigilante “Manifesto” in Andy’s Shadow’s of the Cold War campaign (which I described here last month as part of a blog exchange with Scrolls of the Platinum Warlock). This one was fun because I wrote it in an English/German mashup (which of course goes the way Hollywood would do it, not like how anybody in real life would do it). I also made a conscious effort to have Ulrich’s English improve as the entries progressed as sort of a meta-development of his character. Around this time, I also wrote a writeup for a LARP the Guild ran called “What Happened to Cleavon Washington?” (loosely based on blaxploitation movies) in which I wrote about the events of the LARP from three different perspectives.
The three player logs I’d wrote each became more ambitious than the last with me trying different things with perspective. When I became a GM, I decided to play with this even more. I had intended to write a “behind the GM screen” series for my first campaign ever, a pulp-era game called “Atlantis Awaits,” but unfortunately I never wrote found the time to do so. However for my next campaign, an Urban Arcana game called Thirteen Days, I wrote a summary of each day written from the perspective of a different character (check it out here). And the next campaign I ran, “Star Wars Infinity” (an alternate universe Original Trilogy where the droids never make it to Tatooine), I created an elaborate site where I was chronicling the exploits of my players.
Unfortunately by that point, my ambitions had far exceeded my ability to actually finish the task and I didn’t complete either campaign writeup. College became more intense and I had much less time to write freely and so I never again did a campaign writeup as either a player or a GM. However, I did create a writeup for a Stargate SG-1 one-shot I ran (using an earlier iteration of my Savage Worlds conversion) where SG-1 was telling General Hammond just how their mission went (check it out here). Out of all my writeups, I think that’s the one that I’m most proud of. And it had one of the most bizarre plans I’ve ever seen a group of players create!
After a long hiatus, I was itching to write about roleplaying games again and decided to finally start a blog. And you’re reading it! The Journeyman GM has largely been a transition into my more professional dealings with the roleplaying game industry, both as a freelance writer and as creator of Wild Card Creator. (Shameless plug: it’s a Savage Worlds character creator that lets you import character options from any supplementary PDF!)
I’m definitely noticing a few trends: first my writing naturally reflects what I’m doing with roleplaying games. When I was primarily a player, I was writing about my characters’ exploits. When I was primarily a GM, I was writing about what my players were doing. When I started getting into professional stuff, I created a real blog. In each situation, the scope of my writings has also become much larger as I have spent more time with roleplaying games.
Although I realize that I am a very industrious person and perhaps the amount of writing I’ve done is atypical, I’d be interested to hear if anybody else has had a similar experience in any writings they’ve done about roleplaying games.