This is an important topic for me because RPGs represent the most sustained creative process that I have taken part in, in my life. Geekish, heh? Sort of. (OK, OK – how many of your writers out there have been roleplayers – more than are willing to admit, I bet!)
Alright, I admit that as a young teenager I was a bit inadequate with girls, loved scifi and fantasy, immersed myself in creating worlds etc (refer to my first blog – #bio), and just basked in the friendships that grew from this hobby. (Got that one out of the way.) But it was (and I suppose is) still important to me. This seems the right place to rave about it a bit.
I started roleplaying at about the age of sixteen when D&D was out for a year or so, and AD&D had only one of its manuals published and distributed to Australia. The only other RPG game I knew of at the time was Traveller, for those scifi fans out there. It was new, exciting and awesome for a sixteen year old. The system sucked but because it was new and no benchmark existed, it was great. besides, if you didn’t like some rule, you changed it.
I played at High School and University, and eventually settled back in Canberra in 1982, where I formed a group, and they represented the kernel of my friends to this day – this was certainly one of the greatest by-products of gaming for me – as in my youth my family moved around a fair bit and I was never able to acquire a "home base", roots. My best friends to this day come from that group.
I got into other games as the hobby/art matured, ICE’s "Law" series, Call of Cthulhu, Champions, World of Darkness, etc etc etc. Now there are as many types of RPGs as there are pizza recipes. But also along the way serious RPGers emerged, and I was one of them. We were convention goers and we tried hard to add professionalism to the game, and incorporate new concepts (at the time) like Freeform, live action, more indepth plot, world building, characterisation, and so forth. The eighties in particular were "salad days" for RPGers in Australia, and in my view was ahead of the rest of the world.
Also in the eighties a group of us created our own special fantasy world and eventually an RPG system to suit it. It was called the World of Evyntyde and it was a bit of a success among the chosen who attended conventions. We even had a bit of a following. I was enamoured of it, and so were quite a few of my mates. As time went by, and so it goes with any group of people with strong artistic views and differing work ethics, when the group’s Evyntyde endeavours died away… but not before a huge legacy of material was produced. I still wanted to publish the system (still do, but we will see), and I certainly felt strong about the world building that had gone on there.
I’ve played adventures in Evyntyde in my own game nights off and on, but I am now of the view that the system needs to be properly documented before I can follow that trail again… we will see. See my next blog about Evyntyde (#Evyntyde) – but in a nutshell, I felt the work put into the world was such that it deserved more than do die in obscurity. I used it as the basis of my Chronicles of Evyntyde novels, one of which has been completed, and the next is about two-thirds done. I acknowledge the other designers who helped build the world, but the stories are mine and much of the fleshing out of world details are also mine. Of those who still had a "stake" in the Evyntyde RPG, I got their permission to follow my path and publish.
Until about December 2008 I roleplayed pretty much at least once a fortnight since 1990, excepting holidays and health issues. Up to about 1989 I roleplayed a lot more (I was single then). Aside from creative writing, this is the next best thing for me. Also, from a practical point of view, it provided me the following:
- a sense of plot construction, adventure. Hardened roleplayers need quality storylines and action.
- an ability to develop well structured mysteries. Good stories will have well planned plot lines so that surprises are for real, and mysteries can be solved in a "that makes sense" sort of way.
- an ability to create realistic and interesting characters. Sort the stereotypes from the originals – use stereotypes imaginatively to add humour and satire.
- an ability to evocatively build worlds, and be smart about creating the sense of something "big" by describing select "small things".
All in all, this was a thirty year apprenticeship for writing.
I am what I am because of roleplaying.