Over the last few weeks, I’ve spent a bit of time steeped in storytelling. Specifically, at the prompting of a friend and my own curiosity, I’ve taken up the mantle of Dungeon Master for a game of D&D.
I wanted to share all of that excitement with lessons I learned about this experience so far:
- Every story is told on the shoulders of a giant. There’s a lot I could have done wrong, but I didn’t because I had access to the experiences of others. I learned about things that make the story hard to enjoy or engage with. It let me go further. While my story is uniquely my own (and fabulous if I do say so myself),, it has a history and an ancestry, too. So does yours.
- Stories are a collective effort. I had my ideas, but then these players – five of them total – took this story and interacted with it and it became big. Breathtaking. I spend a lot of time how on earth I even got into this wonderful thing. Here’s the takeaway: your best ideas will bring other people into the fold. Remember: your vision grows in proportion to the relationships you can gather around it.
- Great and good are very different things. I could have made a story that is just enjoyable and full of combat, but that’s not my style. I enjoy depth to a story, so there’s a lot of elements in this campaign that make people question what they experience and who they are as people. That brings the best out of my players from what I’ve seen. There is a distinct difference between moments that you enjoy and moments that you both enjoy and remember. I’m going for the latter and that has made me have to make things not easy in this story. The challenge is worth it and I think that’s what is making this story a great one.
- Remember to be normal, too. I asked my players to tell me what their characters like to do in their free time. What they aspire to in life. What would make them happy or sad. That dimension is important because your characters in game aren’t just chess pieces or pawns in battle. They live and breathe. Just like us. That adds an interesting angle that allows you to bleed in reality when you want to while also providing the escapism we all enjoy in games like this.
So then: how are you telling your stories? What stories are you telling? Who are people becoming as they listen?