Dungeons and Dragons… aka D&D.
The game often associated with geeks, nerds, foam swords, cloaks and basements. But move past the stigma and what is D&D at its core?
It’s an interactive story in a “Role-Playing Game” setting.
You Roll a “History” Check… 15
Now despite everyone knowing what D&D is and just not admitting to it, let me give you a very simple description of the game.
It’s a fantasy tabletop Role-playing Game, where players create their own characters, choose powers and embark on a quest created by the story’s writer – the Dungeon Master (DM).
You declare actions and roll a dice (often with 20 sides), if the dice scores highly, the action is successful, if the score is low then the DM will decide your outcome.
The DM creates the world, the antagonists, the NPCs (Non Playable Characters) and the narrative.
But you make the decisions for your character.
This isn’t like “kicking down a door” on page 10 of a Choose Your Own Adventure book.
You can literally do anything… or, I should say, you can try anything – dice roll and DM depending.
The DM will spend hours planning the story, thinking of every branching narrative and the consequences your character’s actions have on the journey.
You roll a “Street Wise” Check… 12
Why is this good for storytelling?
Because with interactive media, if you give an audience the choice, they will always do the thing you least expect… and you have to be ready to improvise when they do!
“You enter a ruin, there is a statue in the centre, it’s dark, but you can just make out the statue’s silhouette as the moonlight reflects off it… what do you want to do?”
The amount of interactions that spin off that simple sentence are infinite.
I have both seen and done some outrageous things during campaigns!
Everything from watching someone lose an arm for getting cocky with a powerful NPC to intimating a wolf cub… even torturing a child killer!
…things can get pretty dark sometimes.
D&D is almost a derivative of the original “Cave Man Camp Fire” stories – where the storyteller would adjust the narrative based on the audience reactions.
(I always love how the D&D board resembles a campfire – an item surrounded by a group of people, who gather to go on a fictional journey together).
You Roll a “Craft” check… 18
So what has all this got to do with Storyworlds?
Well the devil, along with the answer is in the details.
To play D&D is to create or explore an entire world, so detailed that it takes a team of people weeks, months or even years to explore it all.
You have to create every town, every villager and every monster.
You have to know what the water tastes like (just in case one of your idiot friends tries to drink it without rolling a perception check for poison warnings).
And you have to be ready to expand your world at a moment’s notice.
Did someone roll an engineering check to look for hidden tunnels?
Do you want them to find one?
You Roll a “Perception” Check… Natural 20!
One of Bellyfeel’s Storyworld Development Techniques is to step inside your Storyworld and explore… I can think of no other game better suited to this kind of fictional world exploration.
Even if you’re just playing, the things you can learn from watching the storyteller is amazing. As a filmmaker and writer, it took me by complete surprise the first time I played.
I was in awe at the ease the DM told a partly improvised story and how compelling and suspenseful it was week after week after week.
I realised very quickly that I couldn’t improvise a compelling story twist as quickly as the DM for anything I had written… I just didn’t know enough about my Storyworld.
To say it was an eye opener is an understatement. It was a full on punch in the gut…
You Roll Out of One Reality and Into Another
One of my friends is aiming to stretch it to a digital level.
In addition to the RPG, he’s planning some animated videos, pictures, histories, and even wants to stream it online for the community.
As a Transmedia fanatic… I’m all for it.
So forget about the nerdy basement crap associated with D&D.
It isn’t like that anyway. We hide behind the cliché to keep you Bozo’s out of the way!
It’s storytellers and audiences doing what they do, and what they’ve done since the beginning of time.
So give it a go, and create the best interactive Storyworld you will ever make.