Pick #49: Writers could help Gamers

Have you ever wondered if George Lucas first role played Star Wars before he wrote the movie? I did. I'm sure there must be moviemakers and writers out there who use role playing as a source of inspiration. Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman of the Dragonlance Chronicles certainly did.

And there's logic to that, as writing, moviemaking and role playing are related. They are all forms of storytelling. I noticed that some of you out there have the same notion, with writer's blogs on your blog rolls. Writers can give useful tips to role players and vice versa.

Like these from K.M. Weiland, about why the Devil is a boring bad guy, for example. She explains that if your evil is thoroughly evil and dark, your good guys (read: your player characters) may automatically become one-dimensional "good". And one-dimensional good guys are pretty boring, bad role-playing opportunity too. So, turning that argument around... a more grey, not all evil antagonist might give your players more room for better role playing. I'd say, fellow Game Masters, let's give it a try.

Have a look, and see what else we could learn from writers.

With thanks to Sean Holland from Sea of Stars for spotting Weiland in the first place.


  1. Bah, this tired old argument again. It essentially translates as: things should never be clear-cut for the players/reader. While this may have some truth (even children find straight-up episodes of Barbapappa boring after they get used to the gimmics of shapes and colors)... I think it's a fallacy to believe that villains and heroes *need* to be less-than-pure. In my opinion, some of the most-loved archetypical figures in fiction land, from Professor Xavier to Darth Vader, ARE primal figures. Sure they have more dimensions than 2... they all need *reasons* and origin stories and do have those. Now whether you find those raison d'aitres compelling or not is, of course, highly subjective.
    Just don't tell me purity is boring. Even "grey" archetypes like Wolverine are admired by most of their fan base precisely because of their purity. Their characteristics are themselves pure. In case of Wolverine: oh he is one of the good guys. Absolutely. He just doesn't take any shit :-)

  2. I dunno if the good guys become one dimensional just because the bad guy is Satan.
    In (DC)Comics you have Darkseid the personification of evil, the struggle to fight him does not make the characters fighting him one dimensional.
    Same for LotR, they fight satan on earth (personified in this case by a faceless lidless eye which a high gas-bill). The fellowship is far from perfect as everyone is shown their weaknesses and temptations.
    There is however the fact that a less powerful, bad guy that needs to struggle to achieve his goals that are not even necessarily that evil become a character to rally for. Someone you can almost admire because, shit he's struggling as much as the good guy.
    But evil usually masterminds, and thinks in bombastic soundtracks when it thinks up a plan.
    Even SPECTRE from James Bond was still an organization basically because they figured evil made more monies.
    So a decent bad guy... hard, a realistic one... well men rarely consider themselves evil, at the most they'll see themselves as pragmatic or opportunistic, not even selfish.
    Still, gotta keep fighting the good fight, and placing your flawed hero at the lines is always fun, no matter the odds.