Writing a homebrew campaign for Dungeons and Dragons is one of the most creatively fulfilling things I have done in a long, long time. I have always enjoyed turning my hand to a variety of creative hobbies. In my spare time, I do a lot of fiction-writing. I also come from a family who are into crafting or art in some capacity too.
However, imposter syndrome has often stopped many of my writing projects before they have come anywhere near to being completed. Each time I’ve started something, I always end up consigning the latest project to a file on my computer and never coming back to it. However, now I simply do not have that luxury.
My role as “Dungeon Master”
As the Dungeon Master for four players, I am completely responsible for dreaming up a world for my group. A world they can mess around in that has to be challenging enough yet still fun. Where they come prepared to inhabit the world as specific fictional characters, each with their own desires and goals. I am responsible for designing the whole world for them to play in.
That means I am forced to have a grip on all sorts of things in my fantastical setting. Essentially, I’m playing at being Tolkien or Pratchett. I am making up an entire fantasy world and populating it with cities, characters and creatures for my players to meet and work with (or against!). I have to know what gods they might worship, who their friends and enemies are, and what kinds of risks their fictional adventures may bring, to name but a few things.
Not only do I have to have this encyclopaedic knowledge of a world that only I know anything about, I also have to be able to breathe life into it at a moment’s notice, with each player decision potentially having massive implications for everything I’ve got scrawled in my notepad.
It probably sounds a little bit daunting, right? This couldn’t be further from the truth. I love this new hobby of mine. Time that until recently was spent scrolling aimlessly on social media is now channelled into writing stories, designing fiendish puzzles and traps or scouring the many books that D&D publishers Wizards of the Coast have produced for new monsters or magical items to give out.
The improv aspect might sound intimidating. A tip I’d give is to keep a note of any material you do think up on the spot. That way, you can just build those ideas back into your world later.
Now, I am actively recording my own game sessions. Alongside this, I have decided to turn them into my own collection of fantasy stories. Sure, I probably won’t be the next Tolkien and publish these stories anywhere else. But, I am getting far better at telling stories because I have to think carefully (and efficiently!) about the many aspects of narrative so frequently.
More importantly, I can’t give in to the niggling desire to abandon my writing as “not good enough”. I am depended on to plan a game. If I decided not to do my work, that means our group would no longer have any games to look forward to. Being depended on to constantly be creative is meaning I am writing frequently, all the while growing more confident in my own writing too!
Dungeons and Dragons has grown more and more culturally relevant
Online streams of random games such as those played by groups like Critical Role regularly pulling in thousands of viewers. If you’re at all interested in writing or feel creative, I urge you to give D&D a go! The basic rules are fairly simple to grasp, and there’s plenty of helpful advice on how to get going. If you’re specifically interested in fiction, check our Dungeons and Dragons! Running your own game might be a great way of exploring story structures, through building worlds!
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We’d love to hear from you! What hobbies have you taken up during lockdown? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below 😄