September 28, 2020

Playing Stories Builds Lasting Relationships

Great, lasting relationships are built on the foundation of shared experiences. Whether it’s the couple who have been married fifty years, or a group of best friends since childhood, or even a long-running team in sports, the foundation of the experiences that they’ve shared form the strength and depth of their relationships.

Marriages, friendships, and teammates are all natural foundations to begin sharing those experiences. And over time, if the parties involved invest in the relationships, then oftentimes they flourish, grow, and evolve, blossoming into something really special.

The Foundation of Shared Experiences

Think of your favorite stories, whether it be a novel, film, play, or video game, and the impact they’ve had on your life. Surely you’ve been changed in positive ways by those stories. Sometimes it’s the characters that stick with you. Or other, the amazing scenes and the culmination of numerous plot threads coming together.

So it should be no surprise then that experiencing a story together has an amazing tendency to form these lasting relationships. The power of stories lies in our ability to relate and live vicariously through their twists and turns. We feel, see, and experience a magnificently nuanced set of emotions and thought – our minds running the gamut from happy to sad to inspired to contemplative.

Tabletop role-playing games (TTRPGs) are the platform for playing stories together. They empower us to collectively experience those twists and turns, those nuances, those amazing moments together. Instead of a passive reader/viewer, we’re an intimate part of the story. We’re the characters who live and breath in the story world of the game master’s design.

Through those characters, we too grow and evolve. We work together, we solve problems, and have an absolute blast doing it. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that those amazing experiences that come through sharing a story together yield great relationships as naturally as any other!

The Worldbuilding Puzzle Piece

TTRPG worldbuilders need to connect the shared experiences that naturally come from playing stories together to the relationships that get forged as a result. That crucial puzzle piece of their role in tabletop role-playing games, in playing stories, needs to become a core tenet and value of their worldbuilding process.

When the story & story-world you’re designing have the players’ and characters’ relationships as their front-and-center, the ultimate campaign and sessions you play will be made all the better for it. By investing in the shared experiences you’re investing in the relationships between everyone at the table.

Take the time to get to know the players as people the same as you’d take to get to know their characters. Talk with them about what they’re looking for, why they’re at the table, and where they want the story to go for themselves, their character, and the group as a whole. Find out what makes them tic and do your best to plant seeds throughout the story that will add to that players’ investment into the story.

Tying It All Together

For many players, it’s not natural for them to reciprocate at first. But over time, many players will recognize how unique and special this shared story is for their group and really begin to buy-in. So as the worldbuilder, go out on a limb and set the pace for the effort, time, and commitment to the story to set that foundation for an incredible shared experience.

I promise you that when tables come together and really invest in a story, the relationships that get forged can be just as strong, just as bonded, just as special as any other. So worldbuilders, give it a shot! And please let me know how I can help.