Tabletop RPG Adventure Writing Dice and Paper

Tabletop RPG Writing – Part 1 – by Joe DeMarco

Tabletop RPG Adventure Writing Dice and Paper

Worlds teem with adventure. A framework built by a writer, organized by the game master, and the lived through by players. The player’s fate, in essence the fate of the story, and the world within it are in the hands of imagination’s roll and the roll of a dice. This is the realm of role playing games.

The following guest post has been submitted by Joe DeMarco of Word Art Online

For many years, I was fascinated by the depth of stories and making up adventures in my head. But something was missing: how could I share these adventures with others?

I started writing adventures, while experiencing different genres of tabletop RPG games in college. Some were inspired by video games, others by going for a walk in downtown Lincoln. Character backgrounds I wrote for a modern campaign setting were often inspired by people I met and saw at renaissance faires.

The ability to create a world, filled with characters and adventures, gave me a great sense of purpose and belonging. I now share that world with others, allowing them to explore what I created. This is the fun part of what I do.

What are Role Playing Games?

Role Playing Game (RPG) is a genre of gaming in which the player takes on a role and plays through the game’s story. Digital game examples of RPG games are Fable, World of Warcraft, Elder Scrolls, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and many others. Typically, in an RPG you create a character and enter the world. Some games have a narrow story line (the Final Fantasy series for example) you follow through to the end. The Elder Scrolls, Skyrim, and World of Warcraft games have different story lines you can interact with, but the order in which you interact with them are up to you. This is what makes an RPG attractive. Yet RPGs on the computer are restricted to the limitations of the developers and their abilities.

In a tabletop RPG adventure, you are only limited by your imagination and the imagination of the storyteller. In many cases the system rules will limit your abilities to do certain things. If your rules system or setting doesn’t have guns, then having a character who is proficient in guns won’t happen. Your character design will play a key element in the adventure. Also, how you play your character can also influence the grand scale of a story.

For example, if you develop your character with a low intelligence but a high strength, he may be able to do a lot of damage when attacking. But when it comes to making skill checks, he may not be as good as other characters. Playing off the character traits like this while in an RPG adventure is an enjoyable time.

What is it like writing Tabletop RPGs?

I started writing adventures back with telling stories the players could go through. Some started off as small one shot adventures; others grew into massive campaign story arcs. It’s an adventure of it’s own coming up with creative stories and trying to focus on one adventure before another one pops into my head.

One shot adventures are those that can be done with a strict time restraint. An hour time slot that you would have at a convention, is an example of a one shot adventure. In most cases, one shot adventures are limited to one story. The key difference between a one shot and a campaign is that in a one shot, the story is over at the end of a session.However, sometimes it may be small part of a campaign or story arc.  

Campaigns are created with several sessions in mind. Some campaigns I’ve been on lasted over a year, with us meeting once a week before we finished the overall story.  A larger campaign allows the player to be able to flesh out his character by how they interact with the world. Growth of character in a campaign is a fantastic way to explore one’s creative mind.

Finding inspiration for adventures can also be found everywhere you go. I have found inspiration everywhere from the zoo to watching my son play. One game settings I am currently working on was inspired after going to renaissance faires and science fiction conventions.

My projects have me writing an entire game world. Taking a framework built by the original writers, and providing narrative content to it. I have written many beasts with adventure in mind. What makes our dragons different and makes our RPG setting unique? How these creatures interact with the players? Yet, how the players will interact with these creatures is up to the players. While some of that comes through the written story and how the GM chooses to present the material, a player also needs the framework of the world.

A Role Playing Game story can consist of many different themes and elements to the adventure. Similar to how a novel can have different themes throughout the development of the story, and in some cases from book to book. More on that in Part 2…

Joe DeMarco on Tabletop Role Playing Game WritingJoe DeMarco, single father, aspiring writer and game designer, software tester.

I am a writer on Elfwood, a seafaring campaign setting from Harsh Realities. I enjoy all aspects of writing and storytelling. I get my inspiration at renaissance faires, conventions, playing games with friends, and even from the adventures of watching my son play and craft his own stories through his imagination.


3 thoughts on “Tabletop RPG Writing – Part 1 – by Joe DeMarco

  1. adidas zx 8000 star wars says:

    Hmm it seems like your blog ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to everything. Do you have any tips and hints for novice blog writers? I’d really appreciate it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • matthewenordin says:

      Sorry, the comment must have been too tasty! (and I have issues with things going to spam that aren’t spam)
      Thank you for the encouragement! I’m still learning a ton about blogging as well. The best advice is to stick to a schedule and keep writing content for your niche. I try to follow advice from this site as well:
      They’ve got a ton of great tips! Good writing to you.


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