March 23, 2020

Bringing Your Story-World to Life

Over the years, I’ve spoken with many tabletop RPG players who are intimidated by the idea of being a GM/DM. Whether it’s conducting a session or doing the voices or having the creative foundation for their own story-world, these players just have a hard time envisioning themselves in the GM chair.

Today’s Worldbuilding Monday post aims to erase some of those doubts by laying the groundwork for prospective GMs to understand one crucial point: your story-world deserves to be brought to life!

What Makes a Story-World?

There’s no one right answer and that’s okay. The real question is “what does your Story-World mean to you?” As counter-intuitive as it may be, a great first step to becoming a GM/DM is discovering how you’ve been impacted by your own story-world.

Think of it this way: you’ve been changed, whether by a lot or a little, by your favorite books, movies, plays, role-playing and video games. And even if you’re not yet conscious of it, you’ve probably been positively impacted by your own natural story world.

Each person has an inner canvas that their creativity and subconscious paint on as they experience both stories as well as just life in general. I’d be willing to bet that there are people, places, things, on your inner canvas that, while they might not yet be part of a coherent story-world, are absolutely building blocks of one!

If you’re considering moving to the GM/DM chair, try and take some time to reflect on what your inner canvas looks like and if/how you’ve been impacted by those components. From there, you can begin the process of stitching together a playable story – next week’s topic! – using those puzzle pieces of inspiration.

The Scale of Your Story-World

When you speak with GMs/DMs, you’ll find that these stories naturally float around their head in one form or another. Inspiration, desire, connection etc. is all different from person to person but the stories themselves being there are what’s important. Equally relevant though for prospective GMs is knowing that many, if not all, of those stories weren’t full-fledged, grand epics when they first started. In fact, many were the “one-celled organism” of stories!

Prospective GMs/DMs should understand that it’s 100% a-okay to start anywhere. A name, an image, a symbol, a song, a sound effect…anything that inspires you can be the launching-off point for your own world. So don’t put pressure on yourself that you don’t have a 100 session campaign 100% ready to go. All you need is something that inspires you.

And that, for me anyway, is where the fun begins. It’s such a wonderful experience to just be able to sit with that source of inspiration and let it wander. For you, that process is 100x easier when you’re not also thinking about what it needs to become – just let it be and I promise you’ll be much more satisfied with the result!