Tabletop Storytelling

Posted: April 26, 2015 in Composition 101 spring semester, Dungeons and Dragons, Roleplay

“You walk into a dark cave, as you walk deeper into the cave you notice that it starts to get lighter and lighter. You get to the back of the cave and notice a fire. Roll me a perception check.” What happens after this can lead to an amazing story in the right hands. Playing Tabletop Roleplaying Games (RPGs) usually involve a great deal of storytelling and is a great way to improve your storytelling techniques. Tabletop roleplaying games can help with storytelling by, helping create a world, help give characters flaws and help understand how to cause people to feel certain emotions towards certain characters.


Playing as the Game Master (GM) the writer learn how to create a world. The GM is the person who runs the story and tells the players what is going on around them. According to Wending (2011) “ Your words — whether as a player or, more importantly, as the game master — are the central focus.” Your words create the world, everything from the back story, to how the world looks to the creatures that inhabit it. Geigner (2014) states “The Dungeon Master must create a believable world with a back story, adventures the players might encounter and options for plot twists.” The world is arguably one of the most important parts of storytelling, it is where the story is told and part of what brings the reader into the story.


People relate better to characters that have flaws, playing in a tabletop RPG the writer can learn to give their character flaws. These flaws can be something as simple as they are weak or it can be something common such as they do not believe in themselves. Blair (2013) wrote about a character that he created that lacked common sense and used a non traditional weapon for her class. Blair (2013) later states “I came to realize: The best heroic journey is not the story of an incredible person doing incredible things. It is the story of a flawed, ordinary person who—when called upon—rises to an incredible challenge and finds within themselves something truly extraordinary.” No hero in any good story is perfect, people tend to not like the character without flaws. Flaws are what part of what makes people have certain emotions at certain characters.


As both the player and as a GM the writer starts to learn what causes people to feel different emotions towards different characters. Wending (2011) writes “They’ll get mad at a villain. Pissed at one another for botching a plan. Sad at the death of a character. They’ll hoot and gibber, victorious over the death of the Necro-Accountant who’s been making their lives hell session after session. Their emotions worn plainly upon their faces, the masks worn away.” Wending also stated “Every once in a while, you’ll have a moment during a game session where it’s like, ‘Oh, holy shit. These other people are actually worked up over this story. I’ve inadvertently affected them.’” Talking simply about the players, a GM can cause the players to hate non-player characters (NPC), they can want to protect an npc , there can even be friendship or hate among the player’s characters themselves simply how the players play their character. In most stories you have characters that readers hate and other that they love.


While storytelling does play a big part of tabletop roleplaying games, it is a great place to start and to improve the writers storytelling. When the player first start nobody expects you to be good at telling a story for the world, to give your character a backstory and flaws, it is the player’s first time. Playing in these games you pick up tricks, you learn what not to do, sometimes you even learn to develop a story or a character as you go. The problems that you tend to have you will find they start to disappear. Both as a player and as a GM you will create story in the beginning it will lack but as you go your characters become more relatable, your world becomes more vast.



Blair, R. (2013, July 3). 7 Things Dungeons & Dragons Taught Me About Storytelling. Retrieved April 22, 2015, from


Geigner, T. (2014, July 16). An Actual D&D Effect: Inspiring Kids To Become Writers | Techdirt. Retrieved April 22, 2015, from


Wending, C. (2011, September 13). Twenty-Sided Troubadours: Why Writers Should Play Roleplaying Games. Retrieved April 22, 2015, from


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