Roleplaying – Lessons in Creativity


This was inspired by a blog post by Darius I read on I Believe in Story.  I typed a whole long response into the comments and then something happened and I lost it all, so I thought I would reiterate it here and add in some more.  If you haven’t read Darius’s post yet, I suggest you do that first, because he explains roleplaying beautifully (for those unfamiliar).  So because he covered the intro I’m just going to dive right in.

I’m currently actively playing three roleplaying games and so I have three different characters:

Dixie the Pixie – an all time favourite of mine, Dixie is precocious as hell and powerful to boot.  She can fly, turn invisible and change into any creature between the size of a mouse and a hippo at will.  She’s short and cute and she’ll press any button in her path, or use any magic item she can get her hands on with no thought for the consequence because she’s just a crazy kind of gal.

Nectar Sweetums – Nectar is a sixteen year-old paladin halfling.  She fights for freedom from oppression and lives for adventure.  Her mother was an adventurer (now retired) and Nectar is taking up the banner and venturing out in the world.  She tries to do what’s right and makes mistakes along the way, but like any good paladin she will fight the good fight until her dying breath.

Ophelia – she’s a dark, mysterious, broody teenager who pretends she lives in the graveyard when she really lives in her parent’s mansion and is a secret bronie.  She’s selfish and obsessed with the dark power (demon) who gives her anything she asks for…for a price…

Three characters, three personalities, a million different choices.

What I love about roleplaying is that it’s liberating.  For the hour (or six) you are playing, you can be someone else entirely.  You are transported to a rich, exciting world of the imagination and you get to occupy someone else’s head space…sound familiar?

I guess I love roleplaying so much because I love writing.  I love trying out different characters, exploring their choices and mistakes and ultimately (usually) helping them overcome and grow into heroes.

Because I have a rudimentary grasp on the concept of story arcs and character development, I find that the lessons I take from roleplaying aren’t so much technical as emotional.

Ideas aren’t finite

The first and most important lesson for me is about concept development.  When I’m playing a character I’m often asked to describe a scene or a person by the DM (Dungeon Master).  This helps me feel involved in co-building the world, but sometimes it makes me panic.  What if I don’t have a clue what a place looks like?  What if I create one great character and I’m never able to create another one again?  This is similar to the process I go through with my writing.  I’m always terrified that I’ll run out of ideas, that my most recently penned story was the last and I’ll never have a good idea again.  Obvious nonsense, but still it plagues me and that’s where I find roleplaying helpful.  I’m asked to make choices so instantaneously that I don’t have time to think (or more specifically panic) and the ideas just flow.  Roleplaying helps me to remember that ideas aren’t a finite commodity, I’m actually full of them.

Saying yes is best

Sometimes it’s easier to say no.  No to adventure, no to risk.  Maybe in real life there’s a reason, but saying no in a game just doesn’t make as much sense.  So what if the guy you met on the road to the next kingdom looks a little shady, doesn’t it make the story better to follow him into the woods?  So what if that woman crying in the distant hills might be a trap?  Aren’t you just a little curious?  I find roleplaying teaches me the art of saying yes and that starts to translate into my fiction too.  What would happen if I let me characters say yes more often?  It doesn’t just apply to writing either.  How many more interesting experiences would you have had if you just said yes instead of no?  There are limits obviously, but emotionally I find roleplaying cracks me open and makes me more of a yes girl, which is a state I like to be in when writing, playing or sometimes even living!

Do you role play and write?

What emotional (or technical) lessons have you learned?

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