When Character Players Tell Their Own Stories 

The image here (by El Gibbs) features Gish Gallup, Bo Monro, Rahjin, and Fonkin. Only Gish is one of the core founders (of four).

So I began this website as both campaign materials and fantasy fiction for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. That went pretty well for awhile. Not precisely anymore.

This is good, actually. Neither the campaign materials nor the fantasy fiction now fully fit here because my players have taken much of the campaign narrative into their own hands. I like to think that this is much of my doing: I happened to encounter the player of Bo Monro, the Dwarf Druid, in a local pub. Over ales we talked about how Bo more directly might participate in his own quest for the beneficial fungus known as Erastil’s Shot. Rahjin, our Half-troll Barbarian, decided he wanted a little more troll in him (who wouldn’t want a couple more points of regeneration?). I told him he might start with a journey to the vat-kilns of the icy tower ruins of his conception.

This is the best kind of roleplaying, the kind in which the characters truly are making their own choices, forging their own adventures in direct relation to their own specific interests. They’re not being arbitrarily tugged from one scenario to another, compelled by the GM to participate in events that often might make more sense for any other kind of party.

So, to bring it back around, this is why my original purpose for this blog is partially abrogated. I don’t have many formal campaign materials to share because I’m making them up almost at the moment of play, endeavoring as much as possible to keep at least one step ahead of my players. There’s little point in writing fiction that parallels the adventures because it’s not my fiction. It’s ours–I might provide the world (in collaboration with Paizo’s writers for the Inner Sea campaign materials) but my players provide the characters and the narrative choices. Roleplaying is an all around different genre from traditional narrative (obviously, informed readers will  tell me), but I think it’s too awkward of a task to take this untraditional form and try to cram it into an unfitting shape. Don’t get me wrong: I hear that this has been done with some success; I would love to learn the full process entailed in producing the Dragonlance series. But I believe that transforming my campaign whole cloth into a novel would be problematic. Traditional novels are shaped by the purposed dominations of their authors. A successful roleplaying game utilizes the opposite. For now I’ll abandon considerations about just how effectively one might become the other. Obviously they share synergies; narrative structures like technique, style, and approach tend to work just as well in either. What I won’t abandon is a third tacit purpose of this blog: the campaign journal. Continue reading