Monday, May 2, 2016

Gaming and The Written World: The World of The Written RPG




Photo Credit from submission to Foter.com

Gaming comes in various forms:  Platforms and computers.  Tabletop board games and RPG campaigns.  Card games and party games.  I’m really not even scratching the surface.  Writing is not that different:  Fiction and Non-Fiction, Thriller, Suspense, Military, Romance, Paranormal, Self-Help, Biography, etc.  And let us not discount, blogs, magazine, fanzines, newsletters, and the world of ebooks for all of the above formats.  The biggest similarity that ties these two worlds, however, lies in the RPG gaming aspect.  In both writing and RPG campaigns you are creating characters that you infuse with personality and inserting them into a vast world in which they have to adapt, survive, and grow as people.  You wanna know another interesting thing about their similarities?  In the world of gaming it isn’t uncommon to have people crossover games and try to mash them together; heck, there’s even a game called Smash-Up.  In the writing world crossovers happen regularly.  Writers will cross their own series or if building a world will contract with other authors to bring their characters into their world to visit.  Why then, can’t the world of writing and the world of RPG Gaming cross?  Guess what?  They do.

Writing RPGs have been around for years.  Since the Internet crawled from the primordial digital ooze, places such as Proboards and Livejournal existed, making perfect breeding grounds for the creation of the written world with gaming mechanics.  If you’ve never tried a writing RPG then let me talk to you about what you’re missing.

DM’s host their tabletop campaigns differently.  Some create everyone’s characters beforehand, pass them out to you, and give you the ability to fill in their personality and backstory.  Others give you free reign for creating your character from scratch.  Writing RPGs function in much the same capacity.  Be it setting up a Proboard, a Facebook Group, or in its heyday a Myspace group, the Admin of the group will set up the rules for the board.  From rules of player behavior, to posting limits, to whether or not characters are assigned or allowed to be created from scratch, those rules are posted for reference by all players.  The accounts that you sign up with on the boards are created in the name of the character that you wish to bring to life or you can have one singular account and label each post for the corresponding character...and voila.  Instant character creation.


An Eyeboards forum for The Tribe TV Series devoted strictly to Writing RPGs.
 Instant, but not quite that simple.  Like D&D there will still be work to be done.  If yours is a writing RPG that goes by stats you will have to work those out.  Simply an open world format?  Great, then write up a backstory for your character.  But to do that, you have to know the world you are fighting in.  The Admins usually do that for you.  On most RPG boards you will find a write up of the world that they have created.  Its own beautiful fictional prose, it serves as a short-story all its own to set up the backdrop of the story.  Some Admins, who set up Proboards with multiple forums (Forest forum, Tower forum, The Gobblers Inn forum, etc.) will post a pinned write-up in each of these subs to describe the area for you so you know where you are heading.  You can then work out your character, where they are from, and why they would be going there.  You can even go fishing for pictures to use for avatars and banners your characters.  You think your seven foot tall Elf should look like Jennifer Garner?  Well go grab some Elektra pictures and start “arting” them together for your character profile!

A Proboards created for a Supernatural Group I Co-Ran with Writing RPG aspects.
Character building is fun in any RPG.  Don’t get me wrong.  But it isn’t even the best part of writing RPGs.  For anyone who wants to stretch their legs as a writer and they aren’t quite sure how to get started, I have always felt that this is a perfect starting point.  The world is already created for you; all you have to do is put a character into it and move them along.  Granted, writing is never that easy, but it takes a bit of the pressure off of your shoulders when half of the work has already been done for you.  Once the board is ready for posting players can begin setting up their characters wherever they choose or wherever the rules might dictate that they need to be.  You want your Elf to be searching for her lost lover?  Her first post could be from the forest, and maybe something like this:

This part of the forest always reminded Illyn of Ryongn.  The smell...always full of hyacinth.  He would thank the forest for the blessing of the flowers, pick them, and bring them to her every day.  It was an act that brought a smile to her lips.

Now the smell only made her hate the very forest she’d protected all of her life.

His absence hung in the air even thicker than the smell of the flowers.  She wasn’t sure if she remembered what it was like to guard the forest without a partner.  Without him as her partner.  The Delocrin King had made his intentions of clearing the forest lands perfectly clear.  The opposition of her people had been a thorn in His Maesty’s side, and as their Prince her beloved Ryongn had paid the price.  He had been missing for weeks now, held as a bargaining tool to keep her people at bay.

Many were passive to ensure his safety.  Illlyn was not loved by Ryongn for her passivity, but for ferocious will to fight.  It was this that led her to the edge of the forest, looking down on the township below.  She had never ventured there.  Even now teh site of the wooden buildings made her cringe; she could guarantee none of those humans thanked the forest before they cut down the trees to make those dwellings or burn their logs for warmth or cooking.  The thought of seeking help from any of their ilk made her skin crawl.  Her choices, however, were disappearing as time went by.  To save her Prince and her people she would have to seek help.

First stop would be the town’s local Inn…

You could post this in the sub-form of the board that is labeled for the Inn, adding a bit more to describe her walking into town and  into the Inn.  If you had worked out a story-line with another player, you could write {Tag -player or character name here-} at the end of the post to let them know you are ready for their post, and then they will tag you when they are done.  If you hadn’t worked out a story-line with anyone you leave the tag open-ended for anyone who wants to pick it up where you left off.  It’s tabletop RPGs without the dice rolls, but with a DM (Admin) still keeping the game in check.

Photo credit from Submission to Foter.com
Like an writer or RPG campaign player, the only limit is your imagination.  And of course, what the Admin will allow.  It’s perfect for gamers that love to write and it[‘s perfect for writers that want to stretch their legs and their imaginations.  Original works have been made into writing RPGs, video games and D&D tabletops, even tv shows, movies, and books.  New York Times Bestselling Author Sherrilyn Kenyon created a separate Myspace page back when it was popular for those that wanted to RP her characters so they could pick up a specially made widget to share amongst each other, labeling their character’s pages as “Official Dark-Hunter RP’ers.”  That was just classy.

So go get those creative juices flowing.  Pick a concept, pick a board type, set up a structure and pick your Admins.  Write your board rules and set up the sub-forums.  There’s nothing you can’t do.  The players will help build your world into something even more beautiful than you can imagine and you just have to sit back and watch it all unfold and think “Yup, I thought this awesome idea up.”

Ah, the beauty of creativity…

Christina Sizemore is trained in only four things:  writing, fighting, paranormal investigating, and being a mom.  At this point in her life she truly feels that she is not qualified to attempt to learn any new field.  A twenty year martial artist, mother of three, and writer who is working on the publication of her first book titled “Finding Your Way: A Guide To Your Path In The Martial Arts,” she spends her days working out, writing, making fanvids, going to DragonCon, and playing board games/video games/out in the yard with her kids and husband who are just as geeky as she is.  She is convinced that one day her skills will be of assistance in the Zombie Apocalypse and that while she is of no use in the kitchen, she can Buffy that zombie for ya or teach you the best way to get the blood stains out of your clothes (Psst…the secret is mixing Crown Cleaner and Shout.  Just sayin’.)

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