So I’m a huge nerd, in case you hadn’t figured it out. And recently (sorta?) I got into D&D, after tumbling down the endless rabbit hole into the world of tabletop RPs, lots of dice rolling and generally sucking at keeping my characters alive.
How it has anything to do with writing, I have no clue, my friends. I’m figuring this out as I go.
I took the liberty of tracking down some of the D&D source books, as one does when getting themselves tangled up in D&D lore because otherwise you’ll be so lost within the multiverse and all its surrounds that you’ll probably lose your mind. Anyways, I happened to come across the D&D 5E Dungeon Master’s Guide, and, of course, being that sourcebook hoarder, I added it to my ever-growing list.
How does a D&D source books help with writing? Well, still no clue. But if you do find yourself curious about what this “Dungeonmaster’s Guide” is all about…long story short, it’s an instruction manual on how to run a D&D campaign. And, I mean, I figured I might as well take a look; ya never know when you might end up running one of those RPs and having no idea what you’re doing. Let us begin. (cue lightning and thunder and stuff)
So, anyways, I did take away a few things from that book, and first of all:
1) Create the Variables.
If you have some dice available and a list of variables on hand, you can do anything. No, seriously. Roll some dice, see what number they land on, mix and match from your lists, you got an all-important tavern built on the site of a once-famous castle.
I’m not saying steal it all from D&D. But hey, you can always make your own lists, assign numbers to the variables and use them as a backup when you blank out on names and places. Be smart about it, though. You don’t want to end up with an evil castle made out of white chocolate and candy ruled by a grumpy old wizard named Bob (actually that might make for a good story, huh).
That brings me to my second thing:
Whatever you have planned for your plot, you need to dress everything up to match. Kinda like clothes. You can’t wear a dinner jacket and nothing but underwear. Honestly, Bob the Wizard is hardly likely going to go on a dark quest to end an evil sorcerer’s reign of terror and restore balance to humanity, all while searching for his true family. Or, ah, maybe he will. Er. Moral of that story, kids, throw everything I say out the window when it comes to setting and do whatever the hell you like. Just don’t change your mind halfway. If ya wanna do something, stick to it.
My third thing would be to thoroughly consider your world. Let’s use Bob again because he’s a cool dude and I’m beginning to like him. Think about how the world around him might affect him. He lives in an evil castle practically made out of sugar. How the f*** does that happen? Maybe he made the castle because he was a bored wizard and had nothing to do with the copious amount of white chocolate he was given. Maybe he used to live in a real castle and that evil sorcerer cursed it into white chocolate and candy. It’s sorta a given, but be creative. Or not. That castle might literally exist “just because”. The forest surrounding it might exist “just because”. But then, those answers are never much fun, so y’know.
4) Bad Guys.
Also, did I mention bad guys? Because I’m going to mention bad guys.
Who is your main antagonist? What do they want? How do they oppose the protagonists? Our evil sorcerer – let’s call him Max – could be power-hungry and hellbent on destroying the universe. Or maybe he has a grudge against Bob for some long-forgotten thing that happened that neither of them really remember but it’s just kinda there. Of course, he’s gonna want to stop Bob from re-balancing humanity and saving the world, so he sends his army of blind flying monkeys and soluble fish to murder Bob in cold blood. Or he sends them to invite Bob over for tea. No, scratch the second one, it doesn’t work.
If you’re still reading, I must say, congratulations on putting up with my (figuratively) drunk, sleep-deprived brain at a hellishly ungodly time of night.
Anyways, so inviting Bob over for tea doesn’t work, because there’s this thing called the suspension of disbelief that happens whenever you’re reading stuff or watching stuff in a movie and it’s supposedly important. Y’all know everything that goes on in the movie ain’t real, it ain’t gonna happen in real life (most of the time), but you can kinda-sorta pretend it IS real for the moment, if y’know what I mean. So if you imagine watching this ridiculous piece of trash called Bob and Max play out on the big screen, and you know that Max hates Bob with a burning passion, you know he won’t ask the grumpy old wizard to tea. Unless it’s a trap. But then it’d be a terrible trap and you know Bob ain’t stupid enough to fall for it.
What I’m trying to say is, you don’t wanna go and do something so far stretched that your readers immediately go “hang on, this doesn’t make sense”. So no, Bob and Max won’t be having tea together anytime soon, they’re going to battle.
Onward to the ending.
So yeah, this was coming, of course. As with my highly questionable example previously, your ending should also be satisfying and not hugely overstretched into something that makes no sense by any definition of logic. And did I mention satisfying? Because I like Bob, okay, and I don’t want him to die or fail. So if during the final showdown between Bob and Max, Max the evil sorcerer destroys Bob entirely and subjects the world to his endless evil torment…that…that kinda sucks.
But then again, you wouldn’t expect it to be all sunshine and rainbows, either. It needs to be exciting, climactic, and most of all, probably not feature the situation of my above example. Or maybe it will, if you’re that evil and you want to leave your readers sobbing into their carpet forever.
So, um, yeah. If you’re still here, I…you…you need a medal. I don’t even remember half of what I wrote at this point and I kinda feel like I’m just typing aimlessly, but if you found what I wrote helpful, that’s a win for me.
In a very, very brief summary, do whatever you want, follow rules when you want, break them when you want, and write a story you want to read.
Chiefy ou –
…yeah, no, I’m not writing about Bob and Max if my life depended on it, sorry guys. Someone else take that if you wanna.