|Picture: Martijn Hendrikx on Unsplash|
I've always been fascinated by stories, and different ways of telling stories. From my earliest years I would fill notebooks with my stream-of-consciousness, hand-written, novels. These would span multiple genres from fantasy and sci-fi to family drama and anthropomorphic animal antics.
When I discovered roleplaying games I realised they were an amazing tool for creating stories, but in a communal fashion, the story emerging organically from the interactions of multiple players (each with their own agendas) and the the gamesmaster's adventure framework.
Not, of course, that I registered this consciously as a 10-year-old kid, but I immediately appreciated that this was a very different style of both gaming and telling stories.
Even at age 10 (and younger), I was already, kind of, roleplaying with my army men and cowboy figures, making up extravagant stories and plot lines for the tales I wove for them as they manoeuvred around my parents' front and back gardens.
I'd even hammered together a rough set of wargaming rules for "cowboys and Indians" gun fights that had a certain degree of roleplaying to them (in so far as a single plastic figure represented a single person, and they all had names and individual specialities and skills).
Not that I knew what roleplaying was at that point, rather these were ideas I'd picked up from the wargaming magazines I read at the time, but in hindsight it now seems inevitable that I would take to the roleplaying hobby like a duck to water.
JB, of B/X Blackrazor, put it like this, in a July 20 post:
"We do not play D&D to "tell stories"...at least, I don't play (or run) D&D to tell stories. We play D&D to experience adventure. To have monumental successes and tragic failures. The stories are what get told after the fact about the experiences we have. We play to see what happens...and to be entertained and (hopefully) moved by fantastic events that would otherwise never occur in our lives. Fighting vampires? I hope not!"
I love that simple line that "the stories are what get told after the fact about the experiences we have".
It's akin to my attitude to spoilers (whether for films, TV, books, or comics): I hate them because I don't want to know in advance what's going to happen, I want to experience it - and react to it - as it happens.
If I'd known what was going to go down at The Red Wedding or in the fight between the Red Viper and The Mountain - on Game of Thrones - in advance, they wouldn't have delivered the genuinely visceral, emotional shock that such well-crafted sequences are capable of, and will stay with me forever.
JB's words sum up my feelings about the convergence of "storytelling" and "RPGs", why I started in this hobby, and why I continue to this day to sling dice with my buddies and see what unexpected stories emerge from smashing together the characters and ideas of half-a-dozen different people.