Roleplaying and Writing

So today is a day of new, exciting, and scary things!  Why, you ask? Well I was asked by A Murder of Storytellers to write a blog.  I’ve never written a blog. I tend to have insecurities about my writing as well, despite being an experienced Game Master and being responsible for creating unique and diverse worlds.  Well I was honored to be given this opportunity to contribute to the quality content that aMoS(yeah I did that) puts out so I accepted.

First step? Build up the courage and get over insecurities.  That took a week to accomplish(mostly) and so here I am on this exciting and scary day.   You may have noticed the topic is on “Roleplaying and Writing”. This is a very broad and general topic and can cover a multitude of things, but I think we can all agree that it’s a pretty cool and interesting subject.


I will be breaking this down further into how roleplaying influences and inspires writing, especially when it comes to long standing campaigns with deep and rich world building.

Let’s start with an example.  Read the following micro story and take note of how it affects you.


The Bishna Carrier sounded its evacuation alarm just as another plasma torpedo slammed into its aft section, separating it from the bulk of the ship with a thunderous and violent explosion.  The Bishna captain remained on the bridge and looked grimly at the viewscreen, the display filled with the inescapable enormity of their hopeless situation. Seven Command Battlecruisers fired indiscriminately upon her vessel, including the escape pods, intent on leaving no survivors.

What do you think?  Do you even know what’s going on?  If not, you may be interested in learning more.  Who are the Bishna? Who is this Command? Why are they fighting?


On the other hand, I can guarantee if you are a member of my gaming group, you will know exactly what’s going on and probably have a wide variety of emotions and memories as a reaction to what you’ve just read.   Those players have had characters who have impacted critical moments in that campaign. Those events have profound meaning to those characters and, I hope, the players. This is what I mean when I speak of the inspiration that roleplaying causes and how it can create fantastic works of writing.

The above little blurb is from a Space Opera campaign that I’ve been running for my gaming group now for more than 15 years.  The campaign is called “The Space Between”. The world, or universe if you will, within this campaign has blossomed into a living entity.  The history is deep. The storylines are complex. The characters are epic. I don’t consider myself a writer, but in a way aren’t I? This world I’ve built and verbally expressed over nearly two decades is a saga in itself right?   It’s thoughts like these that help to inspire me towards one day writing a book or series of stories around this campaign universe that I’ve engineered.

You may also be in a similar situation.  Perhaps you have your own campaigns that you run for your gaming group.  Or maybe you have one that you are working on for an upcoming session. So why not expand upon that world of yours and put it into writing?  Creating short stories, blogs, journals, log entries, or any other kind of written content will only serve to further deepen and enrich your campaign world, which not only benefits you, but also your players as well.  

So how exactly is all of this meaningful or impactful?  Well for one, it helps to solidify your campaign world and the characters within.  You can cover topics and subject matter in writing that you may not have had time or the ability to cover in the game session itself.  Even little things can all add up to create a more substantial and cohesive gaming experience. You have the unique position to convey really cool and interesting information to your players about your world you are building through your writing!  Think of this type of writing as a way of reinforcing your creations.  These creations also give your players the opportunity to develop their characters with accurate information relevant to your world!

Oh, and this inspiration goes both ways.  I’m talking about the players perspective.  Do you have a character you have grown attached to because of awesome and amazing experiences they have had in role playing games?  Write about it. You may have already done it. Which is freaking awesome! For people like myself, who have trouble writing, it’s something on my to-do list.  Sometimes it doesn’t even take a long standing campaign to inspire the want to write more about a character.

For example, I have a character named Three who is a steampunk golem with a kind and compassionate heart...errr..core?  Anyway, I’ve only played him a handful of times and he quickly became one of my favorite characters to play. He is named Three because he is the third creation from his builder who was attempting to make a sentient golem.  The first two didn’t end up so well. I’ve always wanted to explore his background further. What was his awakening like? What did he think of his brothers? What are his future dreams and goals in the not so pleasant world around him? A world that views him as a mindless husk worthy of menial labor at best.  I should write about it right?!?!? And you should too.

Check this out:

Severnanos traced an ancient demonic sigil of plane shifting into the air and immediately felt its effects on his body; he would be in the Nine Hells any moment now.  He reached for the ruby amulet so that he could leave it behind as a parting gift to his companions, and smiled wickedly when he realized it was missing. That thief, Luca, had already pilfered it.  How perfect. He laughed joyously, a feeling he had not felt in many years, and regarded his soon to be expired companions. “I would expect nothing less of you Luca. Enjoy the gift. Something to remember me by.”  The final word barely had time to escape his lips before he was gone from this Shadowfell plane of existence. Luca eyed the intensely glowing amulet in his hand and gulped when he realized it was growing hotter and hotter and hotter……

What do you think?  I didn’t make that up.  It all actually happened!(well not in real life mind you)  How cool is that? What happened above was an epic climactic moment in a Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition game being run by a friend of mine.  The scene will be with me forever and I could easily keep going writing the whole saga of what has transpired in that game. These moments in games are the untapped fuel that writers can take advantage of to help weave their stories.

In conclusion, it’s important to note that the Murderers have always encouraged me to write.  So I’ve determined that this exercise was an elaborate plan concocted by them to light a writer's fire under me, fueled with ink and inspiration.  Well played aMoS, well played.


Brent Iwanski

Although writing can be a rare event for Brent, when prompted, he seeks it out from the dark, mysterious, and uncharted recesses of his mind.