November 23, 2020

Bringing Your Story To Life

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, doing the voices, or worldbuilding, these players just have a hard time envisioning themselves in the GM chair.

Today’s Worldbuilding Monday post though aims to help erase some of those doubts by shining light on a simple and crucial truth: your story-world deserves to be brought to life!

What Makes a Story-World?

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

Think of it this way: you’ve been changed, perhaps greatly, 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 story-world too.

Every person has their own, unique inner canvas in their mind’s eye. As they experience stories, and life in general, their creativity and subconscious “paint” on that canvas. It organically grows, develops, and evolves as those experiences occur and accumulate. I’d be willing to bet that there are people, places, things, on your inner canvas that, while they might not be part of a coherent story-world yet, 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 how you’ve been impacted by what it holds. 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 once 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. And that process is a hundred times easier when you’re not also thinking about what it needs to become. Just let it be. I promise you’ll be much more satisfied with the result. So start/keep exploring your inner-world. There are limitless possibilities for amazing tabletop RPG stories there just waiting to be discovered!