by Andi Newton
So, you’ve been writing RPGs, and now you’d like to try your hand at fiction. Short stories, flash fiction, maybe even a novel. Well, good news! All that writing you’ve been doing for games has also been helping you set the foundation for writing fiction.
Sourcebooks? That’s worldbuilding.
Scenarios? Those are step-outlines.
Pre-gens, or NPCs? Back stories and motivations for characters.
Everything that you write for an RPG is a building block for fiction. The big difference between the two is that when you’re writing an RPG — whether you’re doing a sourcebook or a scenario — you don’t know exactly how things are going to go. Even when you’re done and send it out into the world, you don’t know exactly how things are going to go. You provide the information, but the GM and players (and to some extent the dice) decide what happens in the course of the game.
The main difference between writing for RPGs versus writing fiction comes down to decisions and details. And the driving force behind that is POV, or point of view. In other words, whose perspective we’re experiencing the world and the events through. You handle things differently when you have a defined POV (fiction) versus when your POV is unknown (player characters in an RPG).
That’s what we’re going to explore in these blog posts. We’ll compare and contrast the two mediums, and I’ll give you my insight as someone who is primarily a fiction writer but also writes for RPGs. I’ll even have some writing challenges for you to help you put these things into action.
But for now, take a look at some of your favorite RPG scenarios and sourcebooks and compare them to some of your favorite short stories and novels. Could you convert the stories or novels into scenarios? Could you write a piece of fiction that follows the scenario as an outline? What things do you see in the fiction that you’d include in a sourcebook? How would you use the things detailed in the sourcebook to create a believeable, fully immersive world for the characters in a story?
Feel free to discuss this over in the forums!